Every so often, I scratch a technical itch and because the web is the medium in which I choose to operate, I’ll put my solutions online. My Quiz Generator and Tips and Tricks were definitely of that nature. Most recently I have updated the code for my State of Virginia Per Diem Calculator.
You may have to be a state employee to understand the problem this solves, or you could read the six pages of regulations (pdf) that it manages to encapsulate in one web page.
I love doing this kind of thing. It starts with a tortuous business process that people think they just have to live with, and in a short amount of time, I have been able to produce a simple solution that anyone can use and increases the reliability of the data. I really enjoy this aspect of solving a problem that people didn’t know they had. I regularly get emails from personnel at state agencies thanking me for creating it or anxious because the regulations are changing and they need an update.
When I first created it at the college I was at, the business office person responsible was overjoyed. So was I. Filing travel requests and reimbursement forms prior to creating the tool usually involved multiple trips to the business office and revisions to the forms submitted because the rate was wrong, or it didn’t account for a 75% travel day, or that a lunch was provided, but not a breakfast, etc., etc.. Now a travel request and reimbursement can be accompanied by a print-out (we’re not sophisticated enough to do these things online yet) with a clear explanation of the rate, meals provided and totals.
One of the other dimensions I enjoy is making the interface as elegant and simple as I can. I’m not going to say that I have achieved this, but I do think through each comma, word, sentence and piece of functionality.