I started a new web project this weekend, I’m not going to say too much about what it is until I have done a bit more of it. What I will say is something about the challenge I have set myself this time around. I am going to build the site just using free online hosted tools. The site itself is not on a topic that makes this a particularly obvious choice, in fact it is on a non-web subject, it was just an idea that appealed to me, is relevant (in an oblique way) to my current role at work and above all is a new nut to crack. The site requires a certain amount of content management, also holds some date/time based data and a small smattering of geographical information.
First off was picking a platform, I looked at a couple of choices, wordpress for example got junked from the list mainly because people are looking into how to use it in interesting ways at work and I didn’t want to be tempted to just go ask them what they are doing. The next big pointer was the need to run a calendar, Google have a pretty good one which if allied with their mail app gives people an incredibly easy way to give you their data, just send you an invite. This and the fact that I already use blogger and have a grasp of its templating system, pretty much made it a shoe in to use Google stuff as the basis for the site. Another advantage is most of the tools involved have published APIs so if I do fail in my challenge and have to write some of the glue code I won’t have to throw everything away and start again.
The next task was looking at what was out there in terms of good quality mashup glue. The answer looking through the extensive library of gadgets available (the same one as for iGoogle) was that I could have 4 million different games of hangman but not a suitable way of presenting data from the Google calendar, for example. So I decided to look into the standard data display widgets and put in some appropriate layers of intelligence using yahoo pipes. which is roughly where I am now, creating data feed manipulations by playing Pipe Mania. It looks like these will be used for other things as well, such as generating some more interesting navigation than the standard blogger stuff.
Next will be adding a smattering of extra shiny, this will require looking into what is good in the way of available online hosted user interface libraries YUI will probably be the first one I look at but do you have any suggestions?As readers of this blog may will have spotted.