ECU Assignment Stapler

A working copy of the stapler can be found here.

Why does this thing exist?

When you submit assignments, you should submit them in PDF, not Word format.

There are a few reasons why, but the main two are as follows:

  1. You can be more sure that your tutor or lecturer will see the same thing you submitted
    Word documents can display differently depending on the version or device used.
    This is far less of an issue with PDF.
  2. You can’t accidentally munge your keyboard and change the final document.
    Probably not normally a consideration, but after 9 hours staring at papers on the significance of First Name Consonant Frequency in Childhood Misbehaviour*, you can easily make silly mistakes and be completely unaware that you just moved a crucial paragraph and are now submitting the antithesis of your intended argument.
(*Not a paper, but totally should be)

Well I just wrote my assignment in Word, so now what?

No worries, I write all mine in Word too – you just need to submit a PDF copy.

So print one. Don’t “save as PDF”, because Word is awful at doing that. Print to PDF.

I use CutePDF, but you can use any other decent PDF printer. It’s as it sounds – you get a new “printer” installed on your PC, but when you print to it, it’ll ask you to save a PDF file instead. Brilliant.

Hint: Download and install CutePDF using Ninite. And then use Ninite forever more, because it’s wonderful and helps you avoid junkware.

Okay, so you should submit in PDF, what’s the need for this thing you made?

I’m glad you asked.

Most, if not all, assignments submitted at ECU via TurnItIn require the ECU cover page to be attached.

These pages are in Word. They’re also (at least the TurnItIn flavoured ones) not very good. When you paste them into your precious assignment, they mess up the formatting. They’re a pain to enter text into. The forms themselves are actually embedded background images of a screenshot of a Word document complete with grammar hint underlines, seared into the document forever more.

In short, they’re a pain to work with.

So the first job the Stapler does is to create a cover page for you in PDF. It looks just like the one you can download from ECU (but slightly better) and it’s in PDF format.

Hang on, now I have two PDFs. I want to submit one assignment file!

Yes. That’s the other thing the Stapler does – you can upload your assignment files (as many as you have – I keep my references document separate from my assignment document for no good reason) and it’ll merge (“staple”) them all together, with the cover sheet on top.

How do I know you’re not reading my stuff/selling it to someone else?

I promise I’m not. But no, you can’t know for sure.

The source code is freely available, and I’ve taken measures to ensure nobody other than you can access your uploaded/merged files. The uploaded files only exist briefly in a directory that is not readable to the outside world and the stapled file is only available to you, on the PC you used, for the session in which you are connected. Additionally, all the files uploaded and generated are deleted as soon as they are used – so remember to print or save the final document, because once you hit “back” or close the browser, it’ll be gone from the site forever.

I have a problem with this thing you made!

Yep, the interface leaves a bit to be desired – that’s not my forte and I built this in a rush – and there’s almost not input validation to speak of. Feel free to send me feedback using the details to the right. I might do something about this thing I made.

Welp, that about sums it up, hopefully this’ll be of use to someone else.

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