Dave Powers

I create things with words and/or code.

Ship It!

As of recently, I’ve been busy finishing up a couple projects that have since been shared with the world my family and limited Internet following. More on those in a moment.

First, I wanted to share a quote that I like, which is an old saying at Apple attributed to Steve Jobs:

Real artists ship.

I appreciate it for its brevity in serving as a reminder to always ensure that your projects come to fruition. There is often very little value, either financially or educationally, in an unfinished project; you need to hit various roadblocks along the way to actually learn. In my experience with these projects, there was a lot of educational value from going through the development process from start to finish. There are so many factors that don’t become apparent until you have at least a working prototype, especially if you lack experience. A lot of assumptions were made about how users would act and what they would expect.

Actually finishing and delivering a project gives one a sense of completion. I love that the development process is ongoing, as I can easily update a project to add a new feature or experiment with a new technology. Getting a project deployed was one of the moments where I felt like a “real” web developer. Having web apps actually be available online seemed to legitimize this identity.

Estimation Station

The first project was an idea I that I had a few weeks prior, and decided would make for a good one-day project during the Ship It! Saturday event at Launch Academy. The idea was to come with a project idea, and developing and shipping it that day.

During the holidays, my family has organized a “guessing jar” game to pass time before eating. Everyone would bring a jar filled with a certain item, and others would have to enter a guess of how many items are in that jar. I was tasked with calculating the winners, and with upwards of 20 jars and players, it got tedious. The work was much better suited to a computer than a human.

I wanted the entering of guesses to be quick, so I only required the organizer of the game to register, and they can then create multiple groups. This would allow the app to be used by elementary school teachers, as well. After all jars and players have been registered, guesses can be entered for each player/jar combination. The winner of each jar can be displayed with the click of a button.

The application is called Estimation Station. I plan to improve the display of winners and add some statistics using a JavaScript framework next, and also customize the interface more.

This project took me a little more than just a day to complete, but I’m glad I took the time to finish it. I learned about using scopes in Rails as a way to ensure that there could be no duplicate guesses entered for a given player/jar pair.

Next, I’ll provide an update on my other project, Spotcheck, which was my breakable toy at Launch Academy.