About the implementation
Project management, requirement analysis, user interface design and implementation of most of the specific components for this web site where done by software contractor, Helgi Borg. Graphic design and CSS design where done by Hugsmidjan Software Company. Additionally, many employees at IMO worked on the implementation of this web site.
The IMO web is in many ways different from most other web sites. It holds large quantities of dynamic data. It serves a very broad audience. Many users are quite dependent upon data on the web. The web is also important for security reasons. Because of this and other reasons, it was decided to do a thorough requirement analysis at the start of the project.
The requirement document is founded on results of a user survey, brainstorm meetings with IMO employers, work group meetings and more. Helgi Borg wrote the requirements document and it was reviewed by the IMO web team members at the time: Einar Sveinbjörnsson, Gunnar Guðmundsson, Halldór Björnsson, Sigrún Karlsdóttir and Þórður Arason.
This web site serves various user groups. As an example, this web must serve computer novices users that use the web seldom, as well as professionals that use the web on daily base. It must also pass accessibility validation to be of good use to blind people, sight impaired people and other disabled people.
The main design decisions where to:
- Honor classical design principles that have evolved in recent years, e.g. using two and three column layout.
- Start by implementing simple and clear interface, accessible to all, for the main information. Add later, if needed, more advanced and complicated user interface for specific information.
- Implement weather forecast maps and observation maps that although having many forecast times, may be used via gprs-connections.
- Use DHTML for client side logic. The options where to use DHTML or Flash. Flash is inapplicable because of accessibility requirements.
The user interface design was carried out by Helgi Borg.
The graphic design was carried out by Hugsmidjan. The design foundations were sketches from the requirements document and the user interface design. When graphical design conflicted with usability objectives, the design was changed in order to fulfill usability objectives. The graphical design goal was to obtain tidy and low profile appearance where usability goals are in the forefront.
It was decided to use the Eplica content management system. It is as a Java based system so specific dynamic components were written in Java. It was decided to use Servlets and the MVC pattern, with minimal usage of Eplica API. This way the components may be moved and reused with minimal efforts in other Java CMS or converted to Portlets (JSR 168) if and when needed.
In this projected a considerable amount of data processing had to be implemented. A large portion of it can be used by other systems at IMO. It was thus decided to implement this data processing as web services. SOA (service oriented architecture) fits nicely in heterogeneous environment like the one at IMO.
Hugsmidjan carried out the CSS design. They have substantial experience in CSS design that complies with strict accessibility requirements. Additional CSS design for some dynamic components was done by Helgi Borg.
Implementation and setup
The Prototype.js and Script.aculo.us libraries are being used. The most complicated logic is in the Station forecasts and Observation maps pages. Instead of displaying bitmap-maps for each valid time, the weather information is overlaid on top of a base-map by using dhtml. This way the user experience is smoother and faster. Further, these web pages are usable via gprs connection. Helgi Borg carried out the dhtml-programming.
The criterion was that the CSS design and dhtml implementation would work in Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 6, Firefox 1.5, Firefox 2, Opera 9 and Safari 2.0.4. There are some layout issues in Opera and Safari that were left unaddressed because of resource shortage. (Currently there is a problem in the Prototype.js library that causes pages using dhtml to fail in the Opera browser. This will presumably be fixed in a new version of Prototype.js).
Dynamic components and Web Services are implemented in Servlets using the MVC pattern. The Web Services SOAP connectivity is implemented using the Axis-library. Database functionality in the Web service uses the iBatis-library
Implementation of components for the Aviation Weather pages was done by Einar Örn Ólason and Hörður Þór Sigurðsson. Implementation of other components was done by Helgi Borg.
Implementation of the Weather Web Service was done by Helgi Borg, Kristján Guðni Bjarnason and Garðar Þór Magnússon. Implementation of Aviation Web Service was carried out by Einar Örn Ólason. Implementation of Avalanche Web Service was carried out by Hörður Þór Sigurðsson.
Implementation of dynamic images
Sæunn Halldórsdóttir, Hrafn Guðmundsson and Hróbjartur Þorsteinsson implemented images for element forecasts, Atlantic Ocean forecasts, cloud cover forecasts, satellite images, weather radar and more. These images are implemented in IMO‘s Visual Weather system.
Einar Örn Ólason implemented the meteograms and earthquake time-monograph. Gunnar Gunnarsson implemented the earthquake location-maps. This site continues to publish some maps and graphs that have been publish for some time on the previous version of the web site. These were implemented by Þórður Arason.
Usability test were performed on all major pages of the site. The methodology from Don’t make me think was followed. Test groups with 3-4 individuals were used. After each run, issues were fixed and the tests repeated. Helgi Borg carried out the tests.
Setup and translation
Many IMO employees took part in the setup of the Icelandic and English web sites.
- Hardware and software setup: Hilmar Ævar Hilmarsson and Einar Indriðason.
- Setup of enclosed Eplica components: Hilmar Ævar Hilmarsson and Elín Björk Jónasdóttir.
- Station insertion onto station forecasts and observation maps: Garðar Þór Magnússon
- Editorial tasks: Guðrún Pálsdóttir, Elín Björk Jónasdóttir, Sigþrúður Ármannsdóttir and Jóhanna Thorlacius.
- Translation: Matthew James Roberts
The Eplica CMS was already used on a few sites that were certificated. Thus it turned out effortless to use it for normal pages in such a way that were accessible to disabled users. As new components were implemented, steps were taken to make them accessible as well. That was harder since some of the components have complicated dhtml logic. Council assistance for this work was provided by SJA ltd.
Before opening the Icelandic site, it was tested and complied successfully for accessibility certification. Further information on the certification can be found on SJA web site.