Friday 7 October 2011

Group synergy

During the last few weeks we have been intensively designing and implementing what would come to be the new data portal. Oliver described nicely the new stage our team has entered in his last blog post Portal v2 - There will be cake. As my personal opinion, I think this has been truly a group experience as we have decided to change our paradigm of working. Normally we would have worked on different components each one of us and later try to integrate everything, but now we took the approach of just focusing on one subcomponent, all of us, and driving our efforts into it. From my point of view, the main advantage of this is that we avoid the Bus Factor element, that we as a small group of developers, are quite exposed to. Communication has increased among our team as we are all on the same page now.

As a general overview, the portal v2 will consist of different subcomponents (or sub-projects) that would need to interact between them to come up with a consolidated "view" for the user. Currently we have 3 different sub-projects on our tray, Checklist Bank, Registry, and Occurrence Store and our plan will be to have an API (exposed through web services) which will offer all data necessary (from these projects) for the portal to consume. The portal will then need to make use of a simple webservice client to communicate with this API.

Currently we have been working on the Checklist Bank sub-project. As Oliver pointed out in his previous post, some members of our team are more familiarized with certain sub-projects, and the checklist one does not escape from this reality. So for many, including me, it has been a learning experience. We have started development following very strict guidelines on API design and code conventions (which we document internally for our use). Even decisions that are sometimes taken in seconds by a single developer, are placed under group scrutiny so we are all on the same track. We have taken the commitment to apply the best coding practices.

Specifically on the checklist sub-project, we have come up with a preliminary API.  Please note this API won't be exposed to the public as it is. It is subject to change as we try to refine it. It is just nice to show to the outside world what we have been working on.

I personally think we are in exciting times inside GBIF and that the final product of all this effort would be a great tool that would benefit the community in big ways. Expect more from us!

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