Designed a database

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Team Leader - Innovation, Tech and Web, The Information Access Group
Jul 31, 2018

Easy Read image database with Django


In 2018, I designed and developed a Django web app that works as a document database for our team at the Information Access Group.

At the Information Access Group, we create Easy Read documents. These are documents that use images and icons to illustrate the meaning of the text, specifically for target audiences with low literacy.

To create these documents, we use Microsoft Word. While Word is easy to use for our editors and graphic designers, it doesn't remember the location of image files after they are inserted. This means that if a graphic designer wants to re-use an image from a document, they need to manually track down the image file on our shared filesystem.

In 2018, I had an idea for a better way to organise our documents and images - a Django web app that would act as a database of our Easy Read content.

To make a tool that would help the rest of the team, I:
  • designed the backend database structure, including documents, images, image instances, word list terms and definitions
  • designed the front-end user interface for adding documents, and searching for images.
  • integrated the imagehash open source library to store a hash of each image, so that the database would be able to identify duplicates, and show the designer where an image had been used across multiple documents. This also made it possible to link up an image in a Word document with an original source file on our shared filesystem.
  • allow the user to search by image alternative text - as we add image descriptions to all of our documents, this means that a designer can quickly search across thousands of images to find exactly what they're looking for.

Since 2018, the Easy Read database has become an integral part of our workflow for the team. It's one of my proudest achievements, to be able to turn an idea into a real web app that has been so useful for the team.
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