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My mom owns a small take-and-bake market, and she's been keeping her menu and inventory on an ugly and messy set of whiteboards behind the counter. I've developed a database that lets her check things in and out of the freezer with a barcode scanner, and we have all our menu and inventory data accurate and available on an in-house MySQL server (running Ubuntu Server).

I want to buy a couple of HDTV displays to mount behind the counter instead of the whiteboards, and have a dedicated computer display a nice-looking digital menu with accurate inventory numbers, a big red line through anything that's out of stock, etc. I can have all the data necessary accessible either directly through MySQL or via a simple JSON API-- but short of making a full-screen web browser with very nit-picky CSS, I'm not sure what software to use for the actual display. Anything come to mind, internet?

Ideally, it should be able to show a little slideshow of food photos on the side, or maybe a scrolling list of specials. I know this is possible, McDonalds is doing it in their new McCafe locations.

TIA, Mike

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+1 for being sweet to your mom – n0pe Jul 6 '11 at 15:21
    
why thank you :) family first. (plus this is all going in my portfolio so... win-win) – Mike Turley Jul 11 '11 at 15:30
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'd develop that as a website - something using Javascript/ajax for the visual effects you want. I suggest you use SVG artwork (which, naturally IE doesn't support). If you use SVG decently, your content should look great at any resolution. I don't think it'd have to be particularly complicated.

This approach would leave you free to add/remove display machines at your will. You'd be applying a typical model so you should be able to find lots of helpful resources plus, if you wanted to expose that site to the public, you could with little effort.

Edit: To display this website on your monitors, you can rig up Linux boxes to boot up initially with not graphical managers, then launch a plain X session and finally have them fire up a web browser (like Firefox or Chrome) in fullscreen mode. Naturally, with your server set as the home page. You may also want to code some javascript/ajax brains in to your pages that elegantly refresh page contents and handle server reboots.

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Thanks for your answer. This is the way I was planning to go, I just wondered if there was a better alternative. I actually already have the freezer check-in station running on a dedicated linux box with a little touchscreen, configured to launch a locked-down fullscreen firefox on boot with the check-in page set as home. I'll probably just do the same thing for the menu display, with more focus on appearance. – Mike Turley Jul 11 '11 at 15:32

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