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"Murphy was an optimist!"

What kind programs do you write? July 27, 2007 8:08 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : ColdFusion, Daily Life, Programming, Technology
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I often get asked, "Now, what do you do?" and when I try to explain it I get these blank stares and gapping mouths to which I pause then say, "I make web pages." Their eyes light, heads nod, and they declare, "OOooh!" Quickly followed by a subject change.

What do I really do? Right now I am writing an application that allows service providers to advertise their services. So someone seeking a service goes to the website and enters what they are looking for and the matching providers pop up. Sounds simple enough right? Well, if I do my job correctly it will appear amazingly simple to the end user. The behind the scenes programming complexity is awe inspiring. As a minor example, the administrator has to take requests from service providers to be apart of the website. Then the administrator has to create the service provider profile which implies an administrative website that only the staff can access (roles based security). A profile! That’s simple right? Just a database table with all the descriptions of the provider and services offered right? Not really. In actuality it is a very complex system of related lookup tables. Since I cannot predict all the variants of services and pieces of services that may be offered, the system was built to allow the administrator to dynamically add and remove qualities from the service profile. Certainly a detailed specification could have made that simpler but would have resulted in a limited application where as this one can grow to meet the future needs of the client (I know..the simpler approach would have produced more billable hours in the future..blah blah).

Of course, the service provider has to have their own website to be able to manage the details of their service without having to labor the administrator. However, the client does not want the service provider to be able to make certain changes to the profile without approval. So I have had to create a change request table in the database to accept pending changes from the service providers to be accepted or rejected by the administrator. Now there’s a level of complexity that echoes changes throughout the site!

I love my work!

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