Last week emminent colleague and all round gentleman Roan Lavery had a stroke of genius whilst the office were ruminating on whether Mrs McCluskey from children’s tv series, Grange Hill was still alive. Lamenting the lack of a web site to simply elucidate this exact piece of information I set about knocking something up to do just that. An evening’s work later brought about dCeased – a RIP-ipedia asking that age old question “are they dead yet?”
In terms of technical gubbins it was built in one evening using PHP to scrape the wikipedia API to find people then the wikiparser class to establish whether they were with us or not. However, experienced a number of issues with extracting meaningful and accurate data from wikipedia’s proprietry markup, notably
- whether someone was, in fact, a person, and
- whether they had expired
That was, until the astonishingly clever Brian Suda pointed me in the direction of freebase a data junky and web enthusiasts nirvana with well structured data easily interoggable through their exhaustive api. a few ammendments later and dCeased now seems pretty robust at answering the question it set out to do.
A few wee enhancments include a random phrase to express a person’s death drawn from wikisaurus and using the proposed date of death microformat. The design is a bit rough around the edges but will do for now.
Deliberating on whether to buy a domain for this baby or just to keep it sitting as a sub-domain of my web work at TINY v but in the meantime, as Brian pointed out hoping it will at least settle a few disputes in the pub. And to answer Roan’s original question, no she isn’t.