Boston Restaurant Week, Winter 2009
Feb 18, 2009

I can't believe I haven't written about this yet, but BostonChefs.com's the unofficial guide to Boston's Restaurant Week for Winter 2009 is live. I've been working on this particular site since 2007 when I first help make some PHP-based improvements to it. Last summer it became my first professional Django-based project when I completely redeveloped it in Django. This year I've made some further improvements to the Django codebase, including a completely re-implemented and much improved Google Maps mashup that lets you view the restaurants geographically. Previously this had been using some old code that I had inherited from the original site. It was pretty good code, but more modern tools allowed me to vastly simplify it. Specifically, instead of always loading every restaurant and populating the map with markers, then simply zooming in on a specific neighborhood or restaurant, it now only loads the restaurants appropriate for the current target. If you select a specific neighborhood, it only loads the restaurants for that neighborhood, and puts markers on the map for them. Because of that I was able to use Google's API to automatically set the bounds and zoom level of the map to best show those restaurants. This removes the need to manually pick a set of coordinates and zoom level for each neighborhood (having, then, to fine tune it for each neighborhood individually) and instead takes care of all that automatically. The result is a map that's simpler to manage, presents the relevant information more intelligently, and is much quicker to load. All in all, I think it's a pretty big improvement.
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