A great day at work and reevoovision (twittervision for reviews)
A few of days ago I came across twittervision. Just ten hours later I had checked some code into our repository that allows us to do the same thing (as twittervision) but for our reviews. Yup, it was a very good day indeed. Although the initial code was complete within a few hours, it needed a bit of polishing (kudos to Paul) which meant that we only got it deployed yesterday. I guess one working day between proof of concept and deployment isn’t that bad… Anyway, go check it out - reevoovision.
The days events
I started the morning by creating an xml feed of the ten most recently published reviews. On filling a review, the reviewer is asked to enter their town, which needed to be converted to latitude/longitude to allow us to plot a point on the map. Luckily, a little googling revealed the geonames web service that did exactly what I wanted. So, using a combination of ruby, rails, curl, hpricot and mongrel I had a simple web server that downloaded and parsed the reviews, converted place name to lat/long, and plotted the results on a google map (with help from the fridays google map book). A good proof of concept but not quite right.
I was reminded that we collect the purchaser’s postcode from our retailers. This, in combination with a free list of UK outcodes (the first bit of the postcode) against latitude/longitude, allowed for much greater accuracy (well, to within about 2km) in plotting the location of the reviewer.
Reevoovision currently selects and displays published reviews at random to provide a constantly updating map, although maybe it’d be cool to get it to display submitted/published reviews in real-time.
I can’t get over how addictive it is to watch the reviews pop-up all over the country, it really emphasises the fact that these are actually real people writing about their experiences. Hmm, that sounds a bit sales & marketing. I do mean it though, honest.