Mike Onslow 16/03/2017 Ansta, Design, Development,

On the display screen in the Ansta office, we have a page which shows the current status of all of the development team.  Simulating the desk layout of the office, each developer has a box with their name, status and what projects they are working on. The status (green, orange or red) signifies how interruptible we are at any given time.

To take “QuietZone” (as we nicknamed it) to the next level, I set about building a tray app for our computers that would allow us to update our status at the click of a button without having to edit PHP files or navigate to an unnecessary admin area.

To accomplish this task I would be using Electron, “an open source library developed by GitHub for building cross-platform desktop applications with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.”  In short, Electron allows you to build otherwise complicated desktop apps using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, making the build process much more similar to building a more familiar web interface.

The functional purpose of the app is simple: to post data from the user’s machine to a specified URL within QuietZone in order to update the screen. Each developer has the app installed on their machine and fills in a couple of simple form fields, sending the data to QuietZone which refreshes every 20 seconds.

QuietZone Preview

The app then sits in the tray (down by the clock on Windows) and shows an icon that reflects each user's current status: a green tick, orange exclamation mark or red cross. This extra visual aid helps remind everyone to update the app when their status changes.

QuietZone Tray

QuietZone is built to work on Windows and Mac, both of which are used in the office and is constantly developed to include new features and bits of functionality, which make great practice for similar development projects that may come our way in future.

Whilst the app is not developed for use in a production environment, something that would require a number of extra considerations such as security, it is nifty little tool which we will use internally to help aid our internal resource management. In addition to this, creating the QuietZone app was a great learning experience for me personally.


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