Empowering lecturers, teachers, and students to share resources.

Power an online community

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) launched uShare to allow academic staff and students to create, comment on, rate, and share links to open-source learning and teaching material, such as articles and videos, presentations and research that assist with the delivery and study of a number of SQA qualifications and awards.

uShare is powered by Ffora, which we describe as a "fully amorphous user generated content engine", but it's perhaps simpler to think of it as a cross between Disqus and Revoo. Users can author content, create threaded topics and discuss resources. For webmasters, the most convenient aspect is being able to embed it on any web page.

Modular Development

We built Ffora as a modular JavaScript application. Using require.js, the application's architecture embodies the principles of composition to piece together the functionality of smaller, reusable backbone components into a larger application. This approach affords each component a single responsibility that is easier to conceive, test and dsitribute; which ultimately offers incredible flexibility to the application as a whole, since each part can be improved in isolation.

Each component follows backbone's model-view pattern to organise the code base, and seperate the concerns of functionality and presentation. Templates are written in Handlebars.js, which are precompiled during build time, and styled using a customised version of Bootstrap's CSS framework.

Ffora’s business logic is dependent on Spring Data Elasticsearch module, which offers advanced search algorithms, full-text search and schema free JSON objects provided by the Elasticsearch Search Engine.

User Testing, Design, and Development

We worked in collaboration with the SQA to produce Ffora, conducting user research and testing, the creation and build of the application's user interface and the development of the back-end engine.

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