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Help me fix my nifty webapp
July 7, 2011 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Help me repair or replace this nifty instrument availability web app on my facility's website.

I am trying to update some features on the website for the instrumentation facility where I work. The instrument availability table is something I'm pretty clueless about. As far as I can tell, the script is written in Perl with a MySQL table that collects the logon-logoff information. This was written by some guy named Kyle six years ago, and even my predecessor isn't sure how it is pieced together. We can't even actually find the Perl script buried deep in the web server. So I'm kind of starting from scratch.

What I have:
1. Five (soon to be six) computers that get logged on and logged off multiple times per day. It is possible I may extend this to other machines that are used in the facility in the future, but for now I'm just focusing on the five that I manage. (Obviously there are more than 5 machines in the current table, and some of them are no longer in use, and some should read BROKEN but I don't know how to change the color.)
2. A logon-logoff script on each computer that calculates how much time the user is on the computer which we use for billing purposes (I can get more information on this script if it would be helpful to figure out a solution). This data is collected in a central program for billing purposes.
3. Computers on a variety of platforms. WinXP, a few flavors of RedHat, and some Solaris machines just for funsies. The Solaris machines are the only ones (of my machines) that are actually working with the script right now since the other machines were moved last fall and something in the database was borked when they were brought back online. (VXR300 and VXR400 are the only two of mine that work in the table at the moment. AV600 and DRX400 don't work properly and I have a new one to add.)

What I want:
1. Something similar to the current setup to this that tells users live usage information so they can know what machines are available. It could be fancier than this, or it can be just as simple.
1a. Something that is easily scalable for when we add new instrumentation.
2. Options for open-source or commercial software packages that would do the same thing that I wouldn't have to code.
3. If #2 is not an option, direction as to the best scripting language to use for this task and how to accomplish it. "Hiring a computer science student part-time" is an option we have if I can't figure it out ;)

Thanks in advance!
posted by sararah to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
 
Well, it sounds like something's not being included in the logon/logoff scripts for the non-Solaris machines, but I'd personally work backwards from the webapp side, unless you're looking to scrap it and start over.
posted by odinsdream at 12:52 PM on July 7, 2011


Also, colorblind users won't like this app, so if you do work it out, please include textual indicators along with color.
posted by odinsdream at 12:53 PM on July 7, 2011


I'm pretty sure something in the way the webapp points to the machines got borked during the move (different IP address, I assume). I can't find the location of the original Perl script on the web server (after looking extensively with the guy who used to administer the web server) so I'm essentially looking to start over.

Good call on the color issue, I will take that into consideration with the redesign.
posted by sararah at 1:34 PM on July 7, 2011


The webapp probably queries a database which is updated by the logon-logoff scripts. Otherwise, every visitor to that website would cause the webapp to query X number of machines for their statuses. While not inconceivable, this would be an odd way to do it.
posted by odinsdream at 1:43 PM on July 7, 2011


Are you saying that the page you linked to above, http://www.cif.iastate.edu/ is being produced by a perl script, which is still working, but you can't locate that perl script? Surely the MeFi hive mind can help you find a script on a server! I would start from that question if I were you.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:10 PM on July 7, 2011


Just the webapp (the table) is being run by the Perl script, which I cannot find on the webserver, yes.
posted by sararah at 7:01 AM on July 8, 2011


Do a "View Source" on the page you gave us; i think it's being done via javascript.
posted by at at 7:45 AM on July 8, 2011


That's the little popup windows that show a picture of the instrument. There is a mythical Perl script, and a MySQL table which I have found.
posted by sararah at 11:06 AM on July 8, 2011


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