Going Live

October 19, 2007

Seems like forever that I’ve been working on a web-based task for the university to allow students to reply online to Awards Ceremony invitations. The fly in the ointment (or sand in the Vaseline if you prefer) was that the university charges guests of students to attend. We hold the ceremony off-campus as we don’t have anywhere large enough, and hence have to cover the (enormous) cost of the venue.

It was a long and painful wait while the university signed up with a payment service provider, and then a real slog to work out how to integrate that with our student records software, which manages the ceremony invitations and replies. This is the first time we’ve attempted to create a task that calls out to another web site and then accepts a call back to complete the task once payment has been made. Also there were other ups and downs as we tried to decide how these students, who have left and therefore had their accounts disabled, could be permitted to access the web site to carry out the task, and what the ramifications might be on other services. On top of that we’ve had to learn a lot about browser security issues to try and maintain a trusted connection (showing a padlock icon) through three different sites so that users feel safe entering their card details. A big hat tip to all m’colleagues who have helped this to what I hope will be a successful conclusion.

To cut a long story short, today we finally signed it off into the Live system and it will open next week for a pilot on the February ceremonies. I’m sure we’ll find a few things we’ve missed, but we’ve done a pretty good job of thinking it out I believe. Now I have to document the beast of course, and then I can finally get on with some of the other jobs that have been demanding time but got pushed to the periphery during the Big Push. Kitkats all round I think!

Of course that’s not quite the end of it either. We’ll be doing it all slightly differently for the summer ceremonies and we’ve got to find ways round a couple of compromises we’ve had to make for the pilot. It all makes work for the working man to do.

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