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PROJECT PROFILE: McHenry Printing Database


McHenry Community High School offers multiple courses related to the graphic design and printing industry as part of its career and technical education (CTE) offerings. As part of the program, the graphics program, "Warrior Ink," operates a fully-functional print shop for students to garner hands-on experiences relevant to the industry. The Warrior Ink program was previously using an array of spreadsheets and physical papers to organize and manage work orders. In an increasingly technology-reliant age, the graphics program needed a more efficient and accurate way to manage important data. In addition, collecting the data in one place could provide valuable insights. We developed a user-friendly dashboard to integrate multiple datasets and calculate key figures without the need for third-party software.


Warrior Ink already had a website full of learning content for students to follow remotely. Program managers wanted to keep the department's digital footprint small and integrate tools as much as possible. Since students may need to access work orders from multiple devices or geographic locations in the future, we decided to build a web-based solution on top of the already existing website, rather than build a local database. Warrior Ink built its existing website using the Wix platform, which offers a robust API and developer platform that can be scaled with ease. We chose to continue using the Wix platform because of its already-existing infrastructure and ease of use for administrators and students to make changes to the interface in the future. Data is securely saved to a cloud database and invoices can be generated straight from the datasets using Adobe Indesign. While a solution like this could absolutely be built using platforms like AWS or Azure, it made the most sense to keep everything consolidated and low-cost for a client like Warrior Ink.


Students or instructors can create work orders on a unique page that will use javascript logic to save input values to a new record in relevant datasets. Work order numbers, or the primary key of the datasets, are created using a rolling combination of input and date values from the new order, eliminating the possibility for duplicate orders to be created in error. Warrior Ink has many types of work orders which need unique data values stored, introducing the need for multiple datasets based on order type.

The work orders dashboard is a dynamic page which queries the datasets based on filters toggled at the top of the page. Instructors decided which relevant data from the set should be displayed on the order "tiles." The tiles are built into repeater elements, providing a consistent design with every order displayed. When a user clicks "view" on a work order tile, the user is directed to a page that allows editing and further entry of work order details. Each work order has a unique URL, providing a way for specific orders to be accessed directly in the future if necessary. The editing page retrieves fields, values, and graphics based on details present in each specific work order. For example- if the order type is screen printing, only screen printing attributes and data will load on the page.

The order page can calculate printing dimensions, material costs, and other relevant calculations using mathematical functions built into the datasets. Default values for costs, material types, and calculation specifics can be amended by instructors at any time. The warrior ink dashboard is truly dynamic, with absolutely no JavaScript or SQL knowledge needed by users.

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Because Warrior Ink uses its work order system year-round, we developed the new dashboard's framework and logic during the season with the fewest orders. We observed the prior system of organization and made notes on potential implementation challenges and additional features we could produce to further lesson the burden on students and instructors. When we had an operational product, we employed a parallel implementation strategy at the beginning of the fiscal year. This choice of strategy allowed us to use real data while also mitigating risk, as we still had the old system as a backup if we were to to encounter any major problems.


As with all projects we work on, the Warrior Ink database receives continued support and addition of features even after the initial deployment. The dashboard has extensive documentation, allowing instructors and students alike to view what changes have been made to the platform and when they were made.

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The Montu team created a lightweight, low-cost solution atop Warrior Ink's already-existing infrastructure. The print shop can now collect, organize, and view data related to its operation in real time. The data collected from work orders can be used to draw insights and support future decisions relevant to the program, which would have been nearly impossible prior to the implementation of our solution. Have any questions, or think a project like this one could benefit your organization? Do not hesitate to contact us.

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