Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Who needs a full time web developer?

Hire a company to do it for you.

I had an interview today with Jean Dubail, the AME/Online at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They've been working with a California-based company called Caspio. Basic idea is that you get them your data through a wizard on their servers. They will then generate html code that you import onto your pagees. Readers can then search the database from your site, pulling information from their servers. Cleveland.com has used this a great deal for campaign finance information, crime, etc. Seems like a great way to get the developer in your hands when you need them most.

Couple examples built with the help of this Caspio technology:
Guitarmania http://www.cleveland.com/guitarmania/
A United Way fundraiser - like the cows or the rocking chairs Charlotte had a while back. Start from this database, pick the guitar you want to look at and it pulls the vitals from the database and then maps the location for you.

The King James Statistical Bible http://www.cleveland.com/sports/lebron_stats/
One of Dubail's favorites, this one lets you take a look at Lebron's stats in any number of ways.

Earthquake report http://www.cleveland.com/weather/earthquake_report/
A minor earthquake a couple months ago. The website asked readers to add their information to the database. It's then mapped on a Google map.

Cleveland.com's top hits are routinely sports - with the Cavs in the NBA Finals that's off the charts right now. Browns fans can't get enough. Dubail gave me today's stats: the top 5 stories were all sports. About half of Monday's unique visitors went to sports pages and accounted for about 45% of the page views.
They're developing a database of all things Browns that will encompass the 60-some year history of the team. It's taking a lot of manpower, but they're aiming to have it running in time for preseason. The hope is this database will let you search game by game for stats AND for stories from the PD. There's also one in the works for a huge high school sports database of schedules, records, results and the like.
For a town where sports traffic means big business, these two seem like fabulous ideas.


Andria said...

Imagine doing hurricane coverage the way they did earthquake coverage. Save the time of two or three or four reporters running to the coast -- or use those reporters in different ways.
Ideally, folks could report their data from a cell phone, instead of just the web, given that home electricity in emergencies is often cut off...
Question: who owns the database once it's uploaded?

Leslie Wilkinson said...

Yep, hurricane coverage could be a great application of this one. Or flooding. Or potholes. Or what streets have been plowed during the snowstorm (remember that craziness during the ice storm?).

I'm not sure about ownership. Some of the information they've used was public to start with. I'll have to ask about the information that gets compiled.