The team at work in the early afternoon

With barely one week left till the submission deadline for our theme project, the entire group has been practically cooped up in our work-space at YueYa Building from early afternoon till night the entire week. We had to split our group up into two teams, with one team working on the code for our data visualization program while another team worked on other deliverables such as the thesis and poster design (not to forget the video too omg help).

The team at work in the early afternoon

For the coding team, there was a very steep learning curve as we attempted to create our webtool for data visualization. Almost everyone on the team had just self-learned html and JavaScript one month ago, and we were already given further readings on a JavaScript module called d3.  Besides having to plough through 200 pages of reference materials on d3 in a few days, our teaching assistants also gave us a few coding assignments to complete in order to help us get familiar with the basics of html, JavaScript and d3.

End result of the assignments

The assignments were relatively simple enough as it only involved simple html division tags, some CSS styling, static charts and simple d3 transitions for the bar charts. At this point, the project sounds pretty manageable right? WRONG.

The problem came when we had to actually create our data visualization program. There was a huge jump in difficulty as we attempted to move from static graphs to an animation video, and this was evident in the code as the code file increased from 80 lines to over 2000 lines really quickly.

2000 over lines and we’re not even halfway through?? I can’t even…

In the end, the coding team had to go through almost every single line in order to edit and verify how every function was used to create the respective event handlers and animations which definitely wasn’t easy (keeping in mind that we had just learnt all of this minutes ago). We even reached a point where we starting talking in JavaScript (oops). To make matters worse, we couldn’t freely search the web for help with our coding problems thanks to the Great Firewall…

However, the silver lining was that we had our (unstable) VPNs so the situation wasn’t completely hopeless. Additionally, our teaching assistants would check in with us at 9pm on a daily basis (we’re even having conference calls now woohoo) so we could always consult them for the harder coding problems we encountered.

The team at 9pm for our nightly conference

Haha, but throwing all the pessimism aside, this week has been pretty fulfilling as we could see our program slowly taking shape. Also, since everyone started this project with practically zero knowledge on JavaScript and html, I think we deserve to give ourselves a pat on the back for picking up so many new things within such a short period of time. (Not to mention it was all self-taught through unstable VPNs!!)

1st version of our Program
2nd version of our program
We’re-almost-there? version of our program

Lastly, not to forget to give credit to the other team who are grinding through the poster design and thesis. I think everyone worked really hard this week and let’s hope we can last till the deadline!

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