RMIT Engineering Google Sheet Integration with RMIT website

RMIT University
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I’ve worked with Sanny over the past two years on a number of web projects. I’ve found the experience to be excellent as Sanny has great insights on UX and has his finger on the pulse on the latest developments in web publishing. The kinds of sophisticated and agile solutions he has built for us would not be possible otherwise. Sanny has produced clean and professional work in a timely way and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him to others.

Jason Murphy, Coordinator, College of Science, Engineering & Health, RMIT

The Brief

  • RMIT Engineering needed a way to display a huge database of research projects (over 250) that were managed by 12 different departments within the Faculty.
  • Keeping track of each individual project and updates became a nightmare task of administration over emails and phone calls.
  • This was compounded by the fact that the new RMIT CMS built on Adobe Experience Manager was managed by the centralised IT services as they could not attend to the multiple updates due to their heavy support queue.
  • An interim solution of creating 12 separate department project pages was built, but updating these pages was a manual and very time consuming task because multiple staff members were not trained to update the pages and a lot of information became outdated by time the projects went live on the website.
  • The Adobe Experience Manager system was not able to provide a custom built centralised database solution for the project listing that would be specific to the requirements College of Science, Engineering & Health. It simply did not have such a feature out of the box. Building one would be incredibly expensive and time consuming. As project funding deadlines drew closer, this became less of an option.
  • RMIT Engineering consulted with Edu360 to find out if another solution was available.

Our Approach

  • As an external contractor, we could not get system administration access to Edu360 so we could not go into the CMS to see what we could build with Adobe Experience Manager.
  • The 12 department managers were not trained or did not have access to updating content on Adobe Experience Manager so the separate department project pages solution was not a viable solution either.
  • The pages that were created became very long. and was throwing out the design of the RMIT website.
  • We needed to find an alternative solution that did not reply on Adobe Experience Manager.

Our Solution

  • Upon further consultation with the project manager and department staff we settled on building a shared Google Sheet that would store the project information.
  • Each department staff member was given access to the sheet and a separate tab was created for each department to store their project information. This way they could manage their project information like they were updating a spreadsheet in Ms Excel.
  • We then built a custom application using PHP, Ajax and jQuery that read all the data from the Google Sheet and turned into into a cool interactive table with search, sorting and filtering functions.
  • Our application turned all that complex programming into a simple little embeddable script that was as simple as embedding a YouTube video.
  • When you updated ANYTHING on the Google Sheet, the application automatically pushed out the updates and refreshed the embedded table.
  • Our application also took all of the branding and styling of the Adobe Experience Manager CSS so that the table looked seamless with RMIT’s design.
  • Only one page was to be built to store over 250 project information that could be search and filtered.

The Results

  • The department managers loved the application. It was super easy for them to update their project data on the Google Sheet. They didn’t even need to login to Adobe Experience Manager or know how any programming in HTML or CSS.
  • Our application instantly refreshed the project data onto the RMIT website so when important changes were made, the updates were published instantly in seconds.
  • The addition of search, filtering and sorting functions made the table very user-friendly.
  • It has become an invaluable tool for the RMIT Engineering faculty. It is the go-to reference point for research projects being undertaken at the Faculty.
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Sanny Veloo
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Sanny is a Melbourne based website consultant, designer and developer that has been working for the Education sector since 2011. Read more

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