Saturday, December 1, 2012

Using My Creative Energies To Promote Unitarian Universalism

The story behind the webApp whose image you see below started when a set of very colorful and inspirational posters or "banners" suddenly appeared in the sanctuary of our Church, the First Parish Church of Groton, in Groton, Ma. I'm sure they were long in the works for those who created them, but at that point they were all new to me and I admit I was quite taken by them. They were the inspiration for what I describe in this posting. 

What fun — and what a learning experience — it has been creating the page that I call: From the beginning, I dreamed of having a web page where you could just see each of those banners as an animation because that's exactly how I 'see' these values and principles playing out in our UUC community.  

A secondary motivation that I had for WhatIsUU is that I was looking for an excuse to brush up on my JavaScript because it has been a while since I used the technology and because I wanted this to be a standalone page — using client-side scripting, if necessary — but otherwise not needing any special support from the web server.  

And then there were the end-user requirements: I wanted someone to be able to really read the page, so that meant that I had to do more than just have it be a picture annimation — because people read at different speeds. Hence "next / prev" vs. slide show modes which are mutually-exclusive and intended to support both reading models. To add a little flexability to the slide show there is a DropDown where you can chose how long the WebApp waits before it shows you the next UU banner.  

A final JavaScript challenge was to see if I could provide a search capability on the page where the thing that you end up searching for is a function of which banner you're looking at. For that one I tried several different techniques, and although each one of them quickly led to a solution for one browser, typically it wouldn't work with other common browsers. That's why I ended up with what you see on the lower right-hand part of the page where it says "Find Out More".