Oleville.com is the official website for the Student Government Association SGA. SGA has recently launched a Web application that allows students to order pizzas, complete with customizable toppings, all in a very easy and intuitive way. The impressive app even allows students to track their orders by giving an estimated time of delivery. The application seems rather straightforward, but development on it started almost a year ago.
“If the whole process feels simple, that means we’ve done our job right,” said Drew Volz ’16, the main Web developer on this project.
The complexity of most computer software is hidden from the user. Programming is a very iterative process; the very first incarnation of the online Pause order app probably looked nothing like what the St. Olaf community sees now. The Pause has been wanting to create an online ordering system for a long time. It’s far more efficient for both the customer and the Pause staff.
The way the system works is that the Pause Kitchen has a screen where new orders are posted immediately, as soon as they are placed.
“They get a big sound every time a new order arrives, like a beep, so that it can be heard over the loud music,” said Volz.
Whoever starts working on the order then clicks a button to let the system know that the order is being processed. This is done several times during the pizza making process
“We basically have all the same tracking features that the Domino’s tracker has, except for the delivery part,” said Volz.
The system also knows how many orders are in queue and can tell the orderer if the pizza will take a little bit longer to get ready. All the hard work seems to have paid off. The app is quickly gaining popularity, having accrued a total of $500 worth of online orders since its launch over Interim. It was not developed just for the sake of providing students with the gift of pizza, however, but as part of a larger vision for Oleville.
“We want Oleville to act as the hub of information for students,” said John Bruer ’16, the Webmaster. “We want it to answer questions ranging from ‘What sort of activities can I get involved in?’ to ‘What can I do on a weekend?’ or even, now, ‘How do I order a Pause pizza?'”
The core development team consists of four students who continually manage the technical aspects of the Web site and write code that updates it with new features. They have recently revamped the Web site. While the new design looks very slick and makes the Web site easier to navigate, the changes happening behind the scenes are much more impressive. The development team has been working hard to internally restructure the Web site and build the tools that will help SGA reach and connect more efficiently with the student body.
For example, there used to be a weekly newsletter that went out to the student body with updates from SGA meetings. This was useful, but quite painful to manage, since there was no interface system. Every newsletter required changes in the code, and if another branch of SGA wanted to send a newsletter, or wanted to change how it looked, it would require the technical knowledge to dig into the code and change it.
The new tools will allow any branch of SGA to easily customize a newsletter in terms of style and content and send it out without needing any technical background.
“Transparency is one of the issues we want to address,” said Bruer. “Our goal is to be able to broadcast as much information to the student body as possible.”
Doing that without inundating everyone can be a challenge, but these tools can set the foundations for that. The plan is to expand so that student organizations can also use the same tools to easily broadcast information and connect the interested students to the right organizations.
A tremendous amount of work has gone into updating Oleville, and more exciting changes are on the way. Students should watch for these upcoming changes, and in the meantime, enjoy a Pause pizza that was ordered online.
Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER