On New

I’d forgotten how odd it was to be the ‘new guy’, how much information we all take for granted, and how much we presume others know.

As such, I’m trying to keep a note of things that I wanted/needed to know, and also to try and embellish what exists in the hope that other new starts will benefit. One idea I’ve had, and this is certainly pertinent in a software development office, is to create a floor plan. Nothing radical I know, but by adding an extra layer of information I think it could be very handy.

We have an intranet which has a page of photos, one for each person. That’s fine if you want to email them, but a little awkward as it requires you to wander round the entire office to find “Aggie fae accounts” (names have been changed to protect the innocent). It’s doubly hard when the office is completely open plan and everyone, from M.D. to office junior, sits out in the open area. A floor plan seems kinda obvious in that situation.

However, within the development team I want to add an extra layer, a page per person, which lists their knowledge area. Basically it’s a posh way of tracking the answer to that age old question: “who do I ask about ______ ?”

Of course it needs to be a web-based system, easily updated and repeatable. I’ll rule out using a database as I don’t have the time to set something like that up, but a simple HTML based solution should be possible.

Thing is I can’t for the life of me figure out how to do it.

I don’t currently have Visio on this machine, which is probably where I would start, but even then I’m unaware of how good it is at outputting HTML. So, does anyone have any suggestions for this? Does anyone know of an easy way to create a ‘hyperlinked’ floor plan? Answers on a postcard please, and if it works out well I’ll post the solution here (with names removed, obv.!)

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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Me, I’d set it up with a database. As someone recently said, use XAMPP to do the hardwork…

But basically all you’d need would be location_id, person_name, person_role – oh, and a floorplan diagram from Photoshop, Visio or whatever with the location ids on it that’ll match up to the DB.

Then you can have a little admin back-end thing where you can enter/update Who Sits Where.

Job done.

MediaWiki might not be the ‘auto floor-plan generator’ you’re after, but a Wiki can be a great tool (and you could probably get something going easily enough with some tables and artistic license?). Of course, it requires more than one person to use it, and entrenched culture/practices make any new tool/system an uphill task unless everybody loves the idea.

If I had a pound for every time I’d introduced a Wiki/Issue Tracker and then had to battle for months for folk to take it up, I’d have, ooooh, £3 and some change.

We have several heavily used internal Wikis already, that’s not an issue, and is where I’d hope to place this little floor plan idea.

Lyle, yes the database could manage the data (funnily enough) but I can’t run XAMPP on the network here, and it’s more bloody work than necessary for something that is, essentially, a few hyperlinked HTML pages (pulling on the wiki idea, people would keep their own details up to date).

Well, you could use a customised WordPress install, and/or little mini site, hosted outside t’intranet.

Using WP, you could even set it up with one page per team/department/floor/unit/[whatever], and still let everyone edit their own stuff in the same way.

Mind, you’ve probably had enough of customised WP…

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