EvalTool – a Journey from Adobe Flex to AngularJS

it all started out in the Pizza Blitz in Oerlikon – not quite the Silicon Valley of Switzerland, but nevertheless – for us it was.

Raphael from Pulsmesser and Dominique frequently met for – you guess? -Pizza Lunch there and slowly the idea was born to develop a software for schools – that would help them in their quality management.

Since most people have no clue about asking the right questions in a questionnaire, QSS as we called it, would provide the right questions along certain quality dimensions and quickly help the user in publishing a survey with a set of questions surrounding a dimension.

That was only the Beginning, soon we were contacted by Matthias from the FHNW, a large institution funded by several swiss cantons about a project.

Together with swiss federal representatives and quality assurance gurus, EvalTool was born. It turned out, that FHNW already made up huge item pools around quality dimensions, i.e. questions around the same subject, that could be asked to the parents, the children, the teachers, the school board – and all rainbat had to do, was pack it into a tool and make it accessible to the users in a guided assistant.

This is where Adobe Flex came into the Show – in 2006 the Browser World of the Userbase (the teachers) was simply uncontrollable – it ranged from Windows XP and IE to Mac Computers and some Safari Version XY to who knows what – some even had javascript disabled, because the administrator was convinced it’s an evil checkbox …

Adobe Flex produces Flash Files that run inside the Flash Player on the Clients Computer and thus provided an equal experience across all platforms. And we jumped on it – those days about 5 long-term projects were based on Flex – and it really worked – the first Version of ISD, another Pulsmesser Project was actually an Adobe Air Programm distributed on Memory Sticks to the Teachers – and it worked like a charm.

So one said day, Steve Jobs made it clear in an open letter to Adobe, that Flash will never be part of the iOS world, and surely be blocked out of the Mac World entirely – that was a bold move – it pushed us to the rewrite of several projects.

It turned out not to be a big problem – fortunately angular rose to the point, where binding data from HTML forms to XML and JSON, exactly what Flex was so powerful in with its Two-Way Data Binding, was also possible. Unfortunately Angular was not really in our Heads those days, but an Indian based Company called iFlair could do a sensational job in translating the Actionscript 3.0 and MXML Code to Angular and PHP. They did a great job! The code they produced is so exact and readable, that maintaining the Application and Bug Fixing / Extending the code base is a no-brainer for us.

… and that brings us to the …. Ducks – the mighty Ducks – what you may say? well read on then