Cross-post: One developer's perspective on the SWS's course search resource

The University of Washington’s Office of Information Management (OIM) invited me to be a guest blogger on their On the ROA blog*. My post, titled “One developer’s perspective on the SWS’s course search resource,” appeared there today. It was an honor to be asked to write a summary of my experiences leveraging the UW’s Student Web Services to build a web application.

The application itself was an improvement to the UW’s course catalog search functionality. Instead of relying on a Google Custom Search, the application I wrote was a front-end that consumes course data from SWS and presents it in a much-improved interface. More details about the search can be found in an entry I wrote for the Office of the University Registrar’s own blog. It’s written for a general—not technical—audience so feel free to take a peek even if you think the term “web service” sounds like something a spider would get at a restaurant.

If “web service” brings to your mind concepts like “machine web” and “RESTful,” you’ll feel right at home diving into the post. In brief, I cover how I:

  • implemented PHP’s cURL library and SimpleXML extension to consume the web service’s XML payload;
  • designed a user-friendly form to pass search queries to the web service;
  • threw in a little eye-candy by employing the jQuery javascript framework and ajax;
  • captured user feedback to find out what users of the beta course catalog search wished it could do, and passed that information along to OIM.

I’d like to thank Tony Chang at OIM for inviting me to guest-post. It’s the first time I’ve had such an opportunity and I really enjoyed it.

* The blog’s title is a play on Jack Kerouac’s seminal work, On the Road, only with “road” replaced with the acronym for “Resource-Oriented Architecture.” Clever, huh?
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