Today’s Challenge: Build a better system during the training meeting

Had a mandatory training meeting today on our time tracking software. Since we already had to figure out the 33 step process a few weeks ago so we could get paid…  today we had an impromptu hackathon.

This software is so bad that surely I can build something better during the training meeting for said software.  -Me

Now, how to beat my coworker Mikkel who is wicked good? We both have to vaguely pay attention to the webinar so that’s an equal handicap. Aha, don’t acknowledge that I’m serious until about 15 minutes in. Especially since my computer is creakily working toward four years of service so a few tasks that should take 20 seconds instead drag on for several minutes. It’s about five minutes into the hour when I start, in theory that leaves 55 minutes to build something cool.

Ok, grails create-app timetrack.
Create a user domain class to sub in for a real authentication plugin.

Now the biggest problem with the real time-tracking software is that you have to enter hours for each day.  This is dumb when the only useful purpose it serves is to track vacation time and try to avoid everyone being on vacation at once during a big release.

Don’t want an hours worked for the day object, let’s do the opposite and create-domain-class TimeOff.  Next create some controllers, set scaffold=true and voila we’ve the world’s simplest app for entering time off.

One of those commands takes much longer than it should and after firing up Intellij as well I’m at the 15 minute mark.  Mikkel realizes I’m serious and starts cranking out a rails app. 

No problem, time for a secret weapon: Dojo.

I know Dojo has some great calendar widgets and a calendar sounds like a good interface for something concerned with days and time. Start looking through docs; not that calendar; this looks right; nope wasn’t that either.  Ok, finally got the right code, still getting a weird error though…

And the webinar is over, done after 40 minutes.

What?  I’ve only been coding for 35 mins and Mikkel for 20.  Well, time to show our results.  Mikkel’s lets you enter hours worked one day after another.  With about 15 steps to fill out a two week pay period it’s a more than 100% improvement over the same part of the real app.  And mine?  Giant javascript error, typical dojo.  Damn.


Couldn’t let it end there though.  Put another 15 minutes in to wire up json output in Grails and get the javascript error fixed and…  Bam, a decent prototype for the interface.

timetrack

For comparison, here’s the real app.  Now I just need to turn my prototype into a real app…

Submit Time Sheet Express Page

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Today’s Challenge: Build a better system during the training meeting

  1. Pingback: How to strangle productivity | Tempus Volat

  2. mikkel255

    So I made a simple replacement for entering hours worked that doesn’t suck as much as paychex (basically rails 3 create-app with bootstrap).

    Meanwhile, Gabe saw past the immediate problem with paychex. A little background – we use paychex to track hours taken as PTO for the year – yet we do this by entering 40 hour work weeks. It doesn’t matter that most at our company don’t even remember what a 40 hour work week looks like – very busy as of late, we still must enter 40 hours.

    So while I’m busy setting up a way to make our lives slightly better, Gabe is addressing the true need, while providing a good looking UI for it.

    Very cool.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s