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Thursday
May152014

Trackr is a go!

My desire to write here seems to come in fits and starts.  I have stuff I want to talk about, just never seem to find time to write about it.  But this is a special occasion.  I've been working on a webapp to track hard-drive based backups of our servers at work.  It's very simple, but almost all of the technology was unfamiliar to me when I started.  The database was familiar, but using C# as the base language was new, the Webmatrix IDE I wrote it in was new, using the Bootstrap frame so it wouldn't look like crap was new, and adding a bit of Javascript was new and the most intimidating of the lot.

Implementing the code on the work server was an exercise in frustration, but I managed to get it working.  It's strange, there is an undeniable thrill when I get something working.  I experienced this when writing the code, and being delighted when something actually worked, and I got it the first time I got it working for real on the work server.

I know I've mentioned elsewhere the mentor relationship I have with my brother-in-law Adam.  I was talking with him about deploying the code and getting it working.  He told me I needed to get it in the hands of users so they can break it and I could fix it, that the first pass never stands up to actual users.  I was immediately a little bummed because I couldn't really see anyone using it.  This was a frustrating task I had to do by hand that I was hoping to automate.  So I figure it's no big deal, I learned a lot and I'll just pick a new project that others will use.  Turns out I was a little naive about my assumptions.

For one, I didn't anticipate myself as a user being a source of problems, but I found at least 4 little problems or typos that completely eluded me in the development and testing phase.  Small issues, easily fixed.  I just found it amusing, how it seemed rock solid while making it and I found problems in a matter of minutes when I actually used it.

The second thing I didn't anticipate was that my boss would end up using this.  The way it used to work is he would check on the backup appliance, then tell me what was on a backup and when it was made, and I would document it and switch the hard drive.  It never occured to me, but he could easily document it himself now.  So within about an hour of showing him the app and how it works, he starts requesting features!  Most of it was pretty simple, but one request threw me for a loop.  I think I can implement it, but I need to give it some thought before diving in.

When this happened, I shot off an email to Adam explaining that I've created a monster, and that he was right about it not standing up to real users.  He replied with "Congratulations you are now a junior programmer. Save the date and start tracking it. You will need it." So for any potential employers out there who may end up reading this, I have created a thing, deployed it, and on the following date had it beaten on and started working on unforeseen features and problems:

May 13, 2014

I made it nice and big so it would be easy to find.  I'll write some follow-ups once I have a chance to fix and implement some of the issues my boss raised.  I've also started on a new project to further my education.  I'm running into database issues with this one, but that is a story for another time

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