Back to Earth

October 3, 2006

I had one of those moments today where you find out you did something really stupid and it causes other people problems. I’ve had a few little projects flip-flopping in importance at work. A couple of report families, some software maintenance tasks, and a big project. Last week we finally deployed all of my reports, I’ve been working on these off-and-on since May. My reports were not very complex but having to start and stop working on them so often left me unorganized for my deployment. Along with these reports I had to setup several new tables, stored procedures, functions, and a trigger in our production database. I have a decent amount of experience with tables, a little with stored procedures, even less with user-defined functions and none with triggers.

Today I found out that my trigger was keeping our sales and marketing department from making some necessary changes to some of the products we sell. Oops! One of their guys contacted our IS Help-desk who forwarded the bug on to our senior-most developer. I doubt it took him long to track down but it turned out that I had been trying to access a non-existent temp. table in my trigger. I remember thinking I was surprised that my trigger parsed because I was unsure about my use of that temp. table, but I forgot about it soon after. Once he fixed my trigger sales and marketing were able to finish their work and move on.

So now that I’ve seen what I did wrong and the havoc it caused I feel nice and stupid now. Of course this feeling will fade soon, well, as long as those coworkers of mine that read this blog don’t tease me about it, but it still sucks.

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CSS and Web Design

September 14, 2006

For starters I am a programmer and not a designer. However, as a programmer in a company that doesn’t employ a designer for internal projects I end up being a designer too. Because of these two facts I end up doing things I’m not trained for nor am I even good at.

At work I’ve been creating an ASP.NET application that will be accessed through a current production app built in Delphi. This is all fine and dandy but I’ve never developed a web application. Well that’s a lie, I’ve done an extremely basic Wiki type page for personal use, but that is it. So I’ve created my business objects (classes) and I have them attached to my ASPX pages. My data is showing up great, my buttons work, my links work, but my CSS is fighting me tooth and nail. I’ve worked with CSS a lot and I have a basic understanding of it, but I waste so much time just trying to get tables, divs, spans, etc formatted correctly. I would love to find an application that would help alleviate some of this frustration, so if you know of one please let me know!

Granted I am complaining here but CSS is really a great technology and I wouldn’t give it up unless there was something better. Conceptually CSS isn’t even difficult but when you start dealing with n-degree nested elements things get tricky!

My only suggestion is use a good and specific naming convention through your entire website. This includes pages, style-sheets, scripts, etc., this will help you keep everything straight. If necessary refactor early and often, this will save time later when you have hundreds of lines of HTML and style settings.

To finish I conquered all of my formatting problems today, but now I have to deal with usability on some complex database user interface elements, in a limited resolution (1024×768). Granted that’s pretty big but my useful space is much smaller since the browser control is buried in a pane on another application.