We are honoured to recommend John Etherton as an Ushahidi Trusted Developer. In addition to being the technical brains behind Ushahidi Liberia, he is a passionate and prolific contributor within Ushahidi Developer community. John often shares his knowledge with new deployers and community members. When we launched Tunis 2.1, John joined our Ushahidi SWAT team to dig into Quality Assurance (QA) testing and add bug fixes.
Here’s a full report from Kate Cummings, Program Manager for Ushahidi Liberia:
John is a remarkably talented developer and teacher. He has dedicated much of his time to not only creating contextually relevant plugins and features for Liberia’s Ushahidi instances, but also has spent the last 8 months conducting intro to programming training for the local staff so they can contribute their own code to the Ushahidi platform (and beyond). Working with John is an honor; he’s a natural humanitarian, always seeking ways to combine his technical expertise with pressing needs in places like Liberia.
The Simple Groups plugin – allowing multiple organizations composed of several unique users to have private admin access to the same Ushahidi instance. Each group has a private admin page that contains their own messages, reports, and admin map. Here are features we’ve added for groups:
- Whitelisted phone numbers – trusted sources’ phone numbers can be linked to particular groups
- Tagged reports – each group’s report is tagged with the organization’s logo so viewers can quickly identify the source that has approved and determined the verification status of the report
- Admin Map plugin– many partners to keep certain reports temporarily private due to their sensitive content. We created the Admin Map on each group’s admin page that shows all unapproved reports as black.
More features of Admin Map:
- Multiple categories can be compared at once using the Boolean functions OR and AND. These logical operators give groups a new way to look for trends in their data
- All of these features have also been added to the instance’s homepage (all except groups’ unapproved reports). Click on the “Big Map” button at the top of the election homepage
- Location Highlighter - When our partners are turning messages into reports, it can sometimes be difficult to find the message’s location on the map. To expedite this process, the Location Highlighter tool outlines Liberia’s counties and districts on the map to narrow the scope of the search. Because most of our groups work with low bandwidth, the Highlighter’s clear parameters allow admin users to spend less time clicking and dragging across the map and more time searching a clearly defined area
- Forwarding Messages feature – Because several of our partners have a customized instance and are Simple Group members on a shared instance (like Liberia 2011 or LERN), the “forward messages” feature was added so messages could be shared between the admin sides of both instances. We also created a code library for interacting with the Ushahidi API; this made it easier to use the API for forwarding messages, and will make it easier for all Ushahidi developers to interact with the Ushahidi API.
- Print Map – A map that’s setup to print well on letter and A4 sized paper. This page also adds a key to the map, so when it prints the user can see what categories were selected. The print map page also lets users create a link to just their customized map and selected categories. For example, if you wanted to show someone the reports of violence (one category) and women & children (another category) send them this link generated from the Print Map page at the bottom
- SMSSync and the platform – After extensive testing led by John Etherton and Ushahidi’s Henry Addo have formed a reliable protocol for operating SMS services in Liberia. Several issues were corrected in the SMSSync plugin and additional software was used on our phones to ensure the phones don’t default to “sleep” mode (which was disabling SMSSync). We now forward SMSs to our Ushahidi instances reliably.
- iFrame Map - This is for people who want to embed Ushahidi in another website. For an example, see this demonstration. Some of our partners that use the LERN site are using this feature to highlight their maps on their own websites
- Density map plugin - Another new feature on the instance is Ushahidi’s first Density Map plugin. Located on the right side of the homepage, just above the categories, the Density Map option makes it easier to separate reports by geographic region – in this case, by county. All reports that have been associated with a particular county will show up using the Density Map. This feature was requested by UN OCHA as well as other local partners, and serves as a small step towards making the Ushahidi platform a data analysis tool.
- Internationalization – Thanks to John’s twice-a-week programming trainings with Ushahidi Liberia’s local staff, many of the plugins written for Liberia have been setup to work in other languages. This helps to ensure the work we do in Liberia can be used in other parts of the world.
About the Ushahidi Trusted Developer Program
We are very thankful for our growing community. Each of their contributions are valued. We started the Ushahidi Trusted Developer Program to recognize excellence in Ushahidi software development.
Thanks John for all that you do! And thank you Kate for sharing.