Our University’s front-end development community

Last fall, I sent around a survey to members of the University in advance of setting up our new Front-End Development Community. The survey asked for information about how people might want the community to work, and also about what they were doing in their jobs. In this post, I’ll share some of the results along with my thoughts.

The survey was sent out to various groups that either do or engage with front-end development. Not all of these groups were technical – for example, I also included some of the user groups for our University CMS platform, EdWeb. This could include everything from content authors to administrators. Overall, only 66 people responded to the survey, so we are only seeing a small slice of the University as a whole. However, it still gives an interesting picture of some of the work which people are doing. I was surprised to see the diversity among some of the responses.

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Combining pdfs and images in ColdFusion using Java and iText

pdfs, images and text combined in real time

We were writing a ColdFusion application that allows users to claim expenses and add PDFs or images of receipts electronically. The client requested that a single PDF for each claim be created which included both the claim details and ALL electronic attachments.

Using <cfpdf> chewed memory and created huge files

ColdFusion has built in PDF functionality but we found that adding BOTH images and merging other pdfs on the fly had performance issues and created documents with bloated file sizes.

Using iText provided a solution

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Django Training

After the Python course, the same group of developers met again with Toby for a Django framework training.  The Django course was a day shorter than the Python one and felt more focused and intensive.  We were given a great opportunity to build upon our Python knowledge and learn how one does web development using the Django framework.

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Positive side effects of automated testing

We’ve recently been doing more automated testing in the SSP, and with that has come a lot of the benefits you might expect: an ability to spot faults as we make changes, and a guarantee of functionality working as prescribed among them. But I’ve come across a whole bunch of bonus benefits we get, some related to managing stories and projects, and some as personal gains for me.

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