Continuing on from the previous post, we proudly present our final two Ship It Day projects:
Getting the right information onto the television screens that dot our office was something we did on a per case basis. This meant manual work that we had to figure out every time we wanted to change something or set up a new one. This in turn meant that the screens became underused in many cases. We set out to create an easier way to do things.
Then we took a detour and started on a platform to create complex dashboards, with a secondary goal to show them easily on our screens. That might seem like it’s coming out of the left field, but we have a lot of applications that have dashboards and are creating new ones on a regular basis. Just take a look at the other Ship It Days projects. Getting that information on easily customizable dashboards was a necessary first step.
We used Foreach’s own Across platform, a set of Java Libraries built on top of Spring framework. We like it quite a lot. And it allowed us a to create a number of dashboard designs which could easily be filled with different types of widgets, either by consuming the API of an existing application, or simply by embedding a URL. This was all pretty straightforward (except, surprisingly, getting any Google Analytics metrics on there, that was a pain). Getting it easily onto the screens, however, was a more daunting task. Doing it once is easy, of course, but we wanted to provide a way to display a dashboard automatically when no user was using the television. While we had some ideas on how to do it, it proved to be too difficult a task to handle within the Ship It Days timeframe. Still, easily customizable dashboards are a win in our book.
Quickly looking for a meeting room at a certain date is not something that’s really possible with our current system. Outlook has all the data, sure enough, but getting only the information you need is, at best, a chore. That would not do, as far as we were concerned. So we set out to make a dashboard that would give the info you wanted at a glance, without all the hassle. And it totally worked.
Using an EWS Java API Client we managed to get the data we needed (pro tip: make sure you use the correct account from the start; it’ll save you a lot of time). Then, Spring Boot 2 for the back, React for the front, and presto, a clean dashboard. It wasn’t really that simple (design wasn’t our team’s strong suit, but everybody and their mothers had an opinion), but neither did we come upon notable roadblocks after getting the data.
All in all, a simple but useful tool that we feel will be used extensively by pretty much everyone at Foreach. There are still some features we’d like to add, such as filters for location or for a specific meeting room, additional visible info, like the maximum number of people per meeting room or who booked it, and perhaps some Slack integration, because that’s always nice.
But you know what? Our design is actually perfectly fine, thank you very much.