Saturday, 27 July 2013
Saturday, 30 March 2013
If you have ever watched the show South Park then you will have probably read the disclaimer that is flashed at the start. Here is my software license tribute:
Remember that software development can often be much like an episode of South Park; constant swearing, youthful naivety and surprise endings.
Friday, 22 March 2013
One tool required a DSL for interacting with phones, it would read a list of phone numbers and a file containing commands and run them over each of the numbers. For example it would make a call to the phone and configure it using DTMF* tones. I had no idea at that time how a compiler could be properly implemented so the resulting code was a complete mess and the DSL was looked like assembly for telephones. Despite the hideous code, the program saved a lot of time. To do this manually would have taken days instead of a couple of hours and be impossibly error prone. One key missing feature was error handling, which is problematic in telecommunications. Inevitably one of the calls would go wrong and the program would crash, the operator would then have to delete the completed phones numbers from the list and run the program again. No problems!
Another project provided a UI for editing INI file configuration. The program was great, except that VB does not allow more than 256 controls on a single form. My 'ingenious' solution was to put each INI section in a tab pane which also had its own window. When the user clicked a new tab, it hid the current window and showed a new window for that tab.
VB6 also comes with it's own TCP control which you must drag onto the UI to instantiate. The problem is that it had almost the same API as a serial connection control, meaning it only dealt with 1 to 1 connections. This meant it was impossible to write a TCP server. That is, until I worked out that an array of TCP controls waiting for connections worked pretty much like a TCP server. This is OK except that an array has a finite capacity, I was again limited by the number of controls so the server could only ever handle a certain number of connections.
I remember the year, the work and the company fondly and hope that some of my work is still in use. Looking back, I don't know why I used VB6 for everything. It's just so easy to get started and then keep typing, I was young and naive, that's all I can say...
* DTMF tones are those strange sounds you hear when you press a number on a phone key pad. Pieces of hardware such as phones and switches can interpret a sequence of tones as commands.
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
- Task complexity, how complex it the task and how confident is the assignee with that technology.
- Quickly documenting what a task consists of and breaking it into smaller tasks
- Having a history of past estimates and how they worked out.
There are many many more factors which affect estimation but these are the things that I want to implement first.
So, what does it do? At the moment it has some characteristics of an ERP application. You are able to add some projects, tasks and people to implement them. Tasks can be estimated and the sum of estimates are calculated for a project.
Complexity is taken into account which I think is a huge factor in any task. Tasks can be assigned "skill requirements" such as Java, SQL or anything you think you need and then can be rated out of ten. People can assign skills to themselves and rate themselves. If a task has skill requirements greater than those possessed by the assigned person then the estimate for a task is increased. I plan to improve this calculation by allowing the estimate to be increased by a percentage set in the project, instead of by a fixed number. Other factors affecting the time that a task can take will also be added.
Tasks can also be "templated", this means that the information entered for this task can be recreated. This is great for reoccurring tasks like builds, deployments or coding tasks that are very similar. It will allow these tasks to look similar and have a consistent base for estimation but be flexible and allow changes as needed. I plan to improve this to capture best practices such as including sub-tasks for testing or bug fixing that are percentages of the task estimate or perhaps even complexity.
EstiMate uses JavaFX for the frontend GUI and neo4j for data storage. It allows the user to keep a local database, to use a shared neo4j server or a neo4j database hosted on the Heroku platform. It is pure java and shouldn't need any set-up once I create an installer. At the moment, you can download the code from bitbucket and run it from your favourite IDE or command line (there might be a Maven hack there right now so be warned!).
It is licensed under GPLv3. I have blogged about some of the code I have written for this project so assume any code in this blog is free for you to use in any way you see fit without recourse to Me if it doesn't work of course!
If you have an idea or opinion or would like to contribute that would be great, feel free to comment here or tweet me @andy_till.
Monday, 24 December 2012
Here is another handy JavaFX utility to allow you to drag the bottom edge of a JavaFX Region to resize it. Layout containers inherit from Region although controls do not even though they both have a minHeight property so Controls cannot be resized using this class :(