web application for managing a busy court interpreters office.
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README.md

InterpretersOffice

is a web application for managing busy court interpreters offices (in the English-speaking United States judicial system).

At this writing, the application is still incomplete, but I am actively working on it. The intention is to make it available to any court interpreter offices that are interested in using it. The motivation is that there is to my knowledge no software available, commercial or otherwise, specifically designed for managing a busy staff court interpreters office. In my own workplace we use an application that I wrote (and which sprang into being precisely because of this dearth of alternatives), and it works great, but needs updating and has too many baked-in features that are peculiar only to our Interpreters Office's needs. So this project will become the world's finest federal court interpreter management system by far (the competition being pretty scarce).

InterpretersOffice is designed primarily with the US District Court system in mind, but I'm trying to keep it flexible enough for use in state courts as well. (I should also mention, though it may seem obvious, that this an Anglophone-centric project. Court interpreters are required in a vast number of language combinations around the world. But this app assumes that English is the language of the court.)

requirements

If you're considering adopting this software for managing your own interpreters office, you'll be pleased to know that the requirements, in addition to the application source code itself, are straightforward. In lay terms: you will need standard hardware and software for serving a web application. That means a computer on a network with its firewall configured to allow web traffic; installed on that computer, a properly configured web server such as Apache; MySQL or MariaDB as a database server (others will likely work, but we haven't gone there yet); and the programming language PHP version 7.2. On the client side, users will need no more than a standard web browser and network access to the server where the application is installed.

With docker having become such a thing, the chances are very good that we will also make this application available as a docker image. In English, this more or less means a single, self-contained thing that will depend on little else being installed on the computer where it resides.

If you're planning to run InterpretersOffice on your court's intranet, your system administrators should readily understand this stuff. If you opt instead to install it on a commercial web hosting service, that will work as well, because as we said, the underlying software requirements are standard.

For the entire software stack -- operating system, web and database servers, application code -- you can (and should) use open-source software costing you nothing. If you're running InterpretersOffice on your organization's network, even a single ordinary, inexpensive commodity PC should be powerful enough to do the job.

All of this is to say that in terms of cost, InterpretersOffice and the supporting software are completely free; the hardware you'll need is inexpensive.

installation

As of yet I don't recommend trying to install InterpretersOffice because it's still incomplete, and setup is a chore. But when the time comes, you will need to have installed the industry-standard PHP dependency manager composer. Download (or clone) this repository and then run composer install from the application root. Then next thing you'll need to do is create your mysql database and a mysql user/password for it. Finally, there will be a couple of configuration files to edit. Details will be in the README files and/or comments in the source files.

features

There is an administrative interface with which authenticated users can manage the calendar for their office: view, add, update and delete events involving court interpreters. Events have attributes like date, time, language, judge, docket number, type of proceeding or ancillary event (e.g., attorney-client interview), and of course, the interpreter(s) assigned. You will also be able to record metadata such as the identity of the person making the request and the date and time it was made.

You will be able to search your database based on all these criteria (date range, docket, judge, language, etc.) and run activity reports.

An optional module will allow users outside your Interpreters Office to log in and submit requests themselves, greatly reducing the amount of data entry required of the Interpreters and eliminating the opportunity for error.

Another optional module I have in mind will generate claim forms for contract interpreter compensation and keep track of the money expended. The work flow currently happening in our organization is preposterously tedious, and this will help immensely.

acknowledgments

Our server-side code is written in PHP 7.2 and relies heavily on the Zend MVC Framework 3.x and the Doctrine Object Relational Mapper. The front end makes use of Bootstrap front-end framework, the jQuery Javascript library, and more.

the author

My name is David Mintz and I'm a Spanish interpreter on staff at the Interpreters Office of the US District Court, Southern District of New York, located in New York City. And I like coding web applications.

questions? comments?

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.