It’s programming time – Fit It – Mach II

Winter may not have arrived yet technically, but you wouldn’t know that from the chill greeting me in the mornings these days. I think I’ll be investing in a small heater for the workshop soon, it will just be too cold to enjoy being out there soon. I leave my old phone out there for filming, the cold made the battery explode a couple of weeks back!

Fortunately I have an indoors project to work on too, so when it gets too chilly I can retreat inside the house and work on something. That something, is the new phase of my panel layout program, Fit It.

I’ve decided to bite the bullet and make the new version be a web based app, the kind of program that you run in your browser instead of having to install 3rd party drivers and the like.

Benefits of moving to Web based browser (As I see it):

  • Consistency. I can develop it for Chrome and then test it across windows / linux / iOS myself. I found relying on testers last time around great for the help, but a little frustrating seeing as we were often in different time zones. I can emulate and access most different setups out there, so I should be able to replicate any bugs nice and easily.
  • Portability and ‘use on the go’. Many times I’ve worked out the best sheetgoods to buy when I’m at home, then gone to the shop and found that they are out of that particular sheet size. Then I’ve wanted to rejig my layout to work with the sheets that are available, but the app is at home. If it was online I’d be able to easily pull it up on my phone and generate a new layout.
  • Save and share designs and layouts. Seeing as it would be online, I would save and store all layouts for users. So you as a user wouldn’t worry about where you saved a layout that you worked on, I would store it and back it up for you. If it became popular, there could be a ‘sharepoint’ where users could share designs they’ve come up with or layouts that may be useful for other woodworkers.

Also one thing that I could never get working how I wanted was the main view of the program. It was a static size, one size fits all. And seeing as I could only test it on my small 4:3 ration screen, anyone with a larger screen would be missing out on using all that extra space. It still works fine as it is, but feels limited to me. Improving the main display is something I really want to do, but my efforts in Java have not been all that successful.

Also my programming has improved in a major way since writing it. I’ve learnt a lot more about a lot of different technologies and I think I can make a much better go of this now.

Looking at the old code, when I head in to find bugs or make an improvement I generally find myself lost for a few hours until I figure out how it all works again. It is unnecessarily complicated and I would like to make things more efficient.

At launch (I’ve no idea when this will be though) the new version will have every feature from the original version plus more, but hopefully with a much improved user interface and better logic in the sorting algorithm. I’m quite proud of the way the sort algorithm works now, but there are certainly ways to improve it.

So there we go, that’s my plan for the winter. I don’t know how long it will take to complete, but I imagine I’ll have a better idea once I start working on it and get past the first few big hurdles.

I’d love to hear any requests or thoughts you guys may have, plus it is a lot easier to integrate a new feature at the beginning of the process rather than adding it later on.

Are there any super new features or ideas you have with Fit It which you think I would be mad to leave out?

 

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