Thanks SpaceX! Client-side JavaScript for the Win!

In May, SpaceX successfully launched a manned mission to the International Space Station on a Crew Dragon Spacecraft. For the Crew Dragon User Interface, SpaceX engineers used JavaScript and Chromium based software. SpaceX’s choice of JavaScript for the user interface surprised many people because JavaScript is seen as a language used to program websites that are commonly unresponsive. The same techniques SpaceX used for user interface design can be currently employed to process and display information on computers with internet access.

Within the Army, personnel use common programs (MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) to interact with structured data. These programs do not provide specific ways to transform that data and it is often left to the personnel to structure the data and present it in a meaningful way. How can we provide ways of interacting with structured data that makes processing and displaying that data faster and less error prone?

The Chrome web browser is available on most computers. A developer may host a JavaScript program on the internet, browse to it and process data locally on a computer without sending any information off of the computer. JavaScript provides a way to process and display information structured for a particular purpose such as property items or calendar information.

I propose a method of using an internet accessible website to deliver JavaScript code to a workstation and then execute the code client-side to process or display information in a useful way. The Chrome web browser provides an interface that is able to handle formatted data and provide a user the ability to transform that data. I will present one way that this technique can be used to extract information from GCSS-Army generated hand receipts to create a CSV file as a property tracker. Another prototype application of this capability is a calendar that stores information in a JSON format for ease of dissemination and aggregation.

The program used to extract information from GCSS-Army generated hand receipts significantly reduces time spent on generating documents used to track the location of the property. The ability to run client-side JavaScript code on a computer provides the rapid ability to process and present information in useful ways. The Army can benefit greatly from capitalizing on this ability to deliver processing logic and combine that logic with data on an endpoint to securely process information to provide greater situational understanding.

Steve Willson is a hobbyist that is interested in consumer electronics and taking things apart. He graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Electrical Engineering and commissioned into the Army as an Infantry Officer. He served for four years in the Infantry and then transitioned to the Army Cyber Branch. He currently serves at Fort Gordon within the Cyber Protection Brigade as an Analytic Support Officer. Steve is interested in using technology to streamline routine processes.