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Emily Niespodziewanski

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August 31, 2012

Reveal and review: Talus through development

August 31, 2012 | By | No Comments

Well, kids, it’s finally here. Please, allow me to present the mobile web app version of:

TALUS!

Check it out on your smartphone or shrink down a browser window to see it in reasonable dimensions.

I set out with a pretty clear vision of the product I wanted to create. Starting from total zero, besides an inclination towards technology, I learned the basics of html, JQuery, and am more oriented in terms of product creation – both for websites and apps. Although the presentation was up in the air at the beginning, I’m fairly pleased that the “meat” of this project was right on from the start.

I gathered the material that I wanted to create a home for, then learned how to structure its home by reading Information architecture for the World Wide Web, colloquially known as the Polar Bear Book. This early-web structural guide explained rules and logic for the layout of a web page. With a few adjustments, such as the chrome mentioned below, I was able to apply its concepts to Talus. Learning what a chrome is (the framework within which you see the meat of a site – think headers, footers, and title bars) and how to apply it throughout a JQuery formatted file (hint: create a “chrome” ghost page that you can copy and paste whenever you need a new page), expanded my appreciation for many of the barely-noticeable choices that go into the creation of any digital product.

I talked a little about some of the tools used for this project, such as JQuery Mobile and Codiqa in an earlier post. Oh, and don’t forget to download Notepad++ for free to edit your html. It’s the little things that people forget to tell newbies.

The future of Talus includes both content and capability enhancements. With a mobile web app version live, I can send Talus out to colleagues across the country and ask them to provide feedback on what they think is missing. Although I referred to SWGANTH (Scientific Working Group in Forensic Anthropology, the standard-setting board) documents and the standard operating procedures of more than one lab, I was too scared to talk to humans about the content. Now, my little project is out there in the universe, for people to yell, “Emily, you cottonheaded ninnymuggins, how could you forget about the Lamendin method!?” And then I’ll cry a little and get right on adding the Lamendin method in to Talus.

As far as capabilities, a major step forward will be the ability to do calculations within the program. Even simple things, like “Which phase do your sternal rib ends exhibit?” could prompt Talus to present the age range, mean, and standard deviation of Iscan-Loth phase 4. That one isn’t even a calculation. It’s just much more user-friendly than displaying a small-font table with the same information for all 9 phases.

Then, of course, there are some cosmetic enhancements that I’d like to make. Maybe develop an icon and a splash screen for when the program is loading? That would add a nice polish.

When this next batch of things has been addressed, with the help of the @chi_initiative (as always), I’ll run Talus through PhoneGap Build so that it can be a standalone app available through the iTunes App Store and Google Play (formerly Droid Marketplace). You’ll hear when that happens. For now, enjoy the fruits of my labor, and may Talus make your bioprofiling a smoother process.

 

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