This is a rare techy post (and those of you who know me will also know that my techy competence is not so great so apologies for any mistakes).
Along with a university partner, Pontydysgu bid for a small contract to develop a system to allow the visualisation of labour market data. The contractors had envisaged a system which would update automatically from UK ONS quarterly labour market data: a desire clearly impossible within the scope of the funding.
So the challenge was to design something which would make it easy for them to manually update the data with visualisations being automatically updated from the amended data. Neither the contractors or indeed the people we were working with in the university had any great experience of using visualisation or web software.
The simplest applications seemed to me to be the best for this. Google spreadsheets are easy to construct and the interactive version of the chart tools will automatically update when embedded into a WordPress bog.
Our colleagues at the university developed a comprehensive spreadsheet and added some 23 or so charts. So far so good. Now was the time to develop the website. I made a couple of test pages and everything looked good. I showed the university researchers how to edit in WordPress and how to add embedded interactive charts. And that is where the problems started. They emailed us saying that not only were their charts not showing but the ones i had added had disappeared!
WordPress is using shortcodes for embeds. But there are no shortcodes for Google Charts embed. There is shortcode for using the Google Charts API but that would invalidate our aim of making the system easy to update. And of course, we could instead post an image file of the chart, but once more that would not be dynamically updated.
In the end my colleague Dirk hacked the WordPress code to allow editors to post unfiltered html but this is not an elegant answer!
We also added the Google code to Custom Fields allowing a better way to add the embeds.
So (fingers crossed) it all works. But it was a struggle. I would be very grateful for any feedback – either on a better way of doing what we are trying to achieve – or on the various problems with WordPress and Google embed codes. Remember, we are looking for something cheap and easy!