UBC Sustainability

Sustainability Website

The UBC Sustainability Office’s website needed to be redesigned to showcase UBC’s new environmental initiatives. The website is used by faculty and students, as well as the mainstream media to hear about UBC’s progress on initiatives. The solution was to create a Drupal website with several custom modules. Three main tasks were required: display course data in real-time from the UBC course catalogue, import existing website content into the Drupal website, and convert and improve a JavaScript widget for use on the Drupal website.

JustPlainSimple was contracted to provide data architecture and Drupal development. UBC Sustainability was to be the first department to interface and retrieve course data that included tagged metadata from the Enrolment Services department’s course catalogue system. This system was a data warehouse that used SOAP to deliver data to external clients, but since nobody had interfaced with it before, we needed to build the first client. Data and services at UBC have traditionally been siloed, and this data-sharing relationship was to be used as a template for further collaborations with other departments.

We met with Enrolment Services and set out the usage guidelines and patterns, as well as how the course metadata would be tagged by UBC Sustainability administrators. We then built a SOAP client as a Drupal module and allowed it to populate the Drupal website in real-time.

The second feature request was to transfer all existing UBC Sustainability website content to the new Drupal system. To accomplish this in a repeatable and testable manner, JustPlainSimple wrote a Ruby script that could crawl the existing website and convert it into a format that was then imported into the Drupal website.

Lastly, the original website contained a JavaScript widget that provided consumption statistics for various utilities at UBC. This widget needed to be converted to a Drupal module, and also improved to use improved calculations developed by the UBC Sustainability department.

The project launched with great success and the client was extremely pleased with the result. Other departments are now interested in the technologies used to create the course listing from UBC Enrolment Services.