Rethinking Online Cancer Resources

October 1st, 2012 by Gage Pacifera

One of the cooler web application projects I’ve worked on since starting Harmonic Northwest was a prototype app for Association of Online Cancer Resources. This was another Krysora venture, with Harmonic Northwest doing the design, HTML markup and the UI-oriented javascript.

The Quick Summary

The current ACOR site is the entry point for a plethora of cancer-related listservs that are used by patients, researchers, caregivers and medical professionals. In the new prototype application, we expanded upon that functionality to give users more ways to get information and more ways to connect with each other.

The core piece of the prototype is a home screen that contains a list of feeds in a facebook-style format. Users can see three types of feeds: listserv, twitter and mendeley. Users go through a wizard to narrow down feeds that might interest them and then select which feeds to subscribe to. On the feed screen, they can share feeds through the usual social media channels and directly reply to listserv messages. The app also integrated a standard listserv setup, allowing users to manage their listserv accounts, view forums they are subscribed to, etc.

The Technology

As with the previous Krysora project, this app was built on java and google web toolkit. We used some jQuery for the UI javascript effects and then the usual HTML and CSS for layout. All of the listserv functionality was based on old-school LISTSERV framework.

Having worked with GWT before, I was prepared for many of the problems we ran into. We ran into a few issues with the UI javascripts fighting with the GWT javascripts, but other than that no major obstacles.

Working with the LISTSERV setup was interesting. It took quite a while to sort out the labyrinth of template files and the ins and outs of the admin interface for content editing. There was a lot of stripping out of 90s-era table based code to get the layouts to work out right.. I get the impression that it has been a very very long time since the core LISTSERV UI output functionality has seen any updates. But in the end we were able to work with it and create layouts that were pretty close to the comps.

Posted in Portfolio, Web Application, Web Development

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