- The initial planning of the idea came in around July when our Head of Sixth was considering the move for better security within the school, this is as sixth form students are plain clothed and are otherwise indistinguishable from other members of the school.
The idea went dormant over the school holidays, during this time I started to experiment with Flask and started to play with some SQLite databases, creating some basic input projects that saved an entry to a database. When we came back the idea was suggested again, I suggested that I could write a programme to meet their requirements, otherwise it would’ve been contracted out at expense to a large company, likely the company who do our official photographs.
- The project would be better if done in house, as the school can say a student designed them and there’s better communication than there would’ve been and more personalisation available.
- Creating the software also gave me a project, something that would be a bit of a challenge and an opportunity to familiarise myself more with Flask.
- The cards were created with little finance (so we couldn’t buy an ID card printer), they had to be durable but only printed on card, this was solved by using Instant Laminating Packs
- The only quality of photo we were provided with were the ones provided to the school for SIMS (our MIS) use, they were 140x180 pixels so they scaled poorly. I asked a friend to retake pictures of all students for them (as we’d need them for the end of year yearbook, anyway).
- Understanding of technologies:
- Initially the cards were printed with a QR code verifying the students name, form and academic year but there was confusion within school management due to lack of understanding over the functionality of a QR code, thinking that they always link to URLs (the most common use of them, which would be a data protection breach) whereas in reality they were a text QR with no data being stored on external services.
- The project has overall been a success, with 90 lanyards being deployed so far to students
- The design liked by students and staff, it’s minimalist and displays all the required information
- I’ve been asked to redesign all staff cards with the same design so there’s uniformity and due to this design being clearer than the one they currently used
- However the project has some limitations too:
- The programme doesn’t connect to MIS so data isn’t updated when student data is and requires manual entry which takes time (another college in the area uses a bespoke system that allows one central system)
- Data entry also takes quite a while (it’s manageable for 90 but going much further above will cause problems)
- Printing all on one page from PDF (as an export method) causes problems when ninety 6MB images are loading at once
- In the future I might go back to revisit IDme and add to it, some additional functionality that would be useful would be:
- Add white label functionality, custom CSS for different institutions
- Import from CSV (this will be interesting and very useful)
- Bring some authentication in, currently it runs as an instance for a single user but allowing multiple users to edit would be more practical
- Compress images on the server when uploaded
- Allow individual student record to be printed