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Blockbox translates to 'Blokkendoos' in Dutch. Blokkendoos is the name of a Windows (VB) application written by one of our clients.

What does it do? (short version)

In The Netherlands, we have some large rivers such as the Maas and the IJssel. A bunch of measures can be taken to alter (improve) their characteristics. Blokkendoos presents a list of measures which the user can apply on a river to see the effect they will have in a graph and on a map.


They asked Nelen & Schuurmans to 'port' this traditional desktop app to the web.

Porting, in this case, involves a lot more than you'd think:

  • Transition from desktop to client-server architecture.
  • An HTML interface, with IE7 compatibility as a must-have.
  • Keeping 'state' in a stateless environment (HTTP).
  • Data untangling.

At the same time, the map had to be added to the mix (it wasn't built into the original VB app)

Technologies used

  • Django / Lizard as the base of the app
  • Backbone.js to structure the clientside coffeescript
  • Coffeescript to produce more readable code
  • OpenLayers, jQuery, Flot (for the graph)
  • FxCanvas for making Flot perform reasonably (instead of excanvas)
  • X-Accel for serving factsheets


Issues for the Blockbox specifically are gathered at Github: