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Archive for December, 2009

Code Snippet and Include Repository

December 16th, 2009 kaheidt No comments

If you’re any sort of programmer what so ever, regardless of what language you code in, then you have most likely at one time or another run into efficiency antagonist known as “reinventing the wheel”.  I’m talking about that string reformatting function that you’ve just written for the third time which is a little different (and hopefully a little better) than the first two versions because you forgot the first two even existed.  If you DO remember that you already invented the wheel, then you spend a good amount of time trying to figure out where you put that damned wheel.  And if you work in a team environment, any situation where one programmer creates a subroutine and then another programmer many months later remembers the email from the first programmer and then reuses that code, well that’s what we call “a friggin miracle”.

In an effort to fight this never-ending war, I suggested to my manager at work that we implement a centralized documentation system that everyone can update with their own pieces of code.  Then if you need to create a function to perform some task, you can search through the system to see if anyone has done something similar.  For my work place, this system ended up being an open source asp.net WIKI.  It’s not bad, and it’s certaintly better than nothing, but it still leaves the problem of having to search by a keyword and then sift through the results until it looks like there’s something useful, if anything.  This is especially true if you’re trying to search by one of the key words in your programming language.  You’d probably end up with every single entry as a result.

After thinking about possible ideas to make searching for code a little easier, I came up with one that I think could be really useful.  Basically my idea is to come up with a search method that is specifically designed for searching for code.  My initial thought is to allow a person the ability to search using specific input and/or output and overall characteristics and examples, and then have the search results be listed in priority using the percentage likeliness of a match.

For example, let’s suppose I wrote a function that is designed to take a dollar amount and then round it to the nearest multiple of 50.  My entry of this function into my documentation system would have the following characteristics:

Name: Round Amount To Nearest Multiple Of 50
Keywords: Rounding, Amount, Multiples of 50, Number
Input Type: String
Input Length: 20
Input Example: "342.99"
Output Type: String
Output Length: 20
Output Example: "350.00"
Variable Types Used: String, Integer
Search Process: [See Below]
Function: [The actual function code]

Then if I wanted to search for a function that did what the above does, I could search with the following criteria:

Keywords: Amounts, Rounding
Input Type: Integer
Input Length:
Input Example: 320
Output Type: Integer
Output Length:
Output Example: 300
Variable Types used: Integer

When the search with the above criteria is executed, the search program would not only check for similarities of what I actually put for each item versus what’s entered for each function, but it would also perform whatever data manipulation is entered in the “Search Process” part of the function entry on the example input data of the criteria in order to see how closely the results match the example output.  In order to do that, there’d have to be some translation depending on what language the document system is built in versus what language the code is that the repository is for, but believe me, it would be really REALLY nice to be able to provide my data and what I’d like my data to look like, and have the necessary code snippet come up to be copied and pasted.

Maybe there’s already something like this, or even more advanced than this, I have no idea.  But if it doesn’t already exist, well damn it, it very well should.  Google… read this and then do that thing you do to make dreams come true.  Thanks.

Categories: Thoughts Tags:

WordPress Freelance Project

December 16th, 2009 kaheidt No comments

Today I was notified that I had the winning bid for a project to develop a WordPress plugin that turns image thumbnails inside a post into links which open an image gallery of all images in that post. I’m really looking forward this project because 1) I have a good start on the necessary code because I’m doing something similar for the PCVC site revamp, and 2) because I can predict expanding on the end result long after the project is completed to make fanciar variations. I really want to get my first decent 3D flash papervision creation completed and published, and a post image gallery may be the perfect place to start. I indicate as much in my post about creating a custom RSS feed for Flash AS3 to work with (which I just realized is still only a draft… work work work). Good times on the Internet, ladies and gentlemen.

Categories: Wordpress Tags:

California Part 2

December 10th, 2009 kaheidt No comments

Well it’s good to be home. I had a lot of fun at the Encore conference in California, but there’s no place like home. I met a lot of fun people and had some very interesting conversations, several of which were about Google Analytics and how it can be applied to collection campaign strategies. If there’s one thing I know plenty about it’s Google’s…. well it’s Google Anything really. But Google Analytics has become almost an essential part of any website for any number of reasons. Knowing the number of visitors your website is receiving, how those visitors are ending up at your site, and how many are returning visitors is excellent information to have, even if it’s just used to determine if it make sense to pay for another month of hosting or not. But I can see it being a huge benefit for the collections world, and I sincerely applaud the initiative to branch out into the unknown to tap into new resources for the sake of moving the industry forward. I think that I was able to bring some excellent professional knowledge to the table discussion surrounding this topic, and there was some excellent follow up interest from people that were there to listen and learn. Nothing makes me happier than feeling like the information I contribute is valued to any degree.

I really hope that some of the other people that attended follow up with me in the future, regardless of if they are my company’s client or not. As I mentioned to many of the people that I held discussions with, I’m a huge advocate for open source communities. The whole collective thought behind such a community is that if information is guarded close to the chest, then as an industry or community, we move forward at a fraction of the speed that we would if we were to share openly. Some may say that this is a terrible approach as far as business plans go. I’m no expert, but I think in the long run, I’ll still personally benefit the same, if not more, as I would if I kept what I know to myself. My ideas and services are useless unless enough people know about them to know that they would be beneficial to purchase and implement.

You stay classy San Diego.
head shot

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

California

December 6th, 2009 kaheidt No comments

Well, I leave for San Diego, CA in a couple of hours, where I’ll spend the next 2 days telling clients (and potential clients) about emerging technologies and capabilities with the Internet. This should be interesting, considering how it’s a group of collection agencies. I plan on talking a bit about Google’s CDS, and open source solutions. Should be a good time.

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