The Backlog

It’s finally time for my return to regular posting. Over the last year, the rest of my life caught up with me and conspired to keep me away from any and all free time in which to work on this blog. Just since my last post, I have graduated, gotten engaged, moved twice, and started a new full-time job! It’s been a pretty busy 6 months. On the bright side, thanks to the long hiatus, I have a lot of material to cover over the next few blog posts. Last semester I completed 4 long-term projects in a variety of languages and platforms, and already at work I’m learning spark, chef, scala, postgres and more. There will certainly be no shortage of topics. Additionally, before choosing my current job, I ran the gauntlet of interviews with several companies, meeting lots of cool people in the industry. In particular I want to give a shout-out to the Microsoft team in Charlotte, NC. You guys were the first readers I ever met in person, and I hope to make it interesting for you in the coming months!Without further adieu…

The Meal Manager

I have discussed this software previously, but this semester, some SERIOUS work got done. At Georgia Tech, you are required to complete your degree with a “capstone” project: a semester-long project simulating a real company development cycle. My team chose to develop the meal manager in to a working app, and after a semester’s worth of frustration, hard work, and learning experiences, the payoff was tremendous.

Actually details the contents of my kitchen right now...

This is what you see when you first open the app

viola. It might not look like much, but there is a lo going on here. First, if you compare to the original screenshots, you’ll see my baby got a face-lift. We decided to model the UI after the Windows 8 “metro” patterns, using matte colors and lots of squares. The UI is also now completely configurable through settings, allowing for different color schemes and “look-and-feel”. Additionally, you may notice that a lot of the grid-like structure from the initial app has been replaced by the more modern stack panel look. Behind the UI, the changes are much larger.

This is making me hungry...

More Squares and a lot of recipes.

This screen is where you browse recipes. This picture only shows a few, but our database now contains 48,438 unique recipes! One of the benefits of working as a team was the ability to work on multiple high-priority long-term tasks simultaneously. One of the teammates graciously volunteered to be our data scientist, and set about scraping recipe sites for recipes. Additionally visible on this page are the search and filter controls. The “have” vs “all” radio buttons are especially helpful here. They control a filter on all displayed recipes, determining whether or not to display recipes which meet the criteria, but require ingredients not currently in your pantry. Someone wanting a meal to make right now would use the “have” button, search for some tags or ingredients they like, and choose a recipe. On the other hand, someone planning meals for the week could look at the “all” view of the same search to find recipes they can plan for.

Speaking of planning…

Built this calendar control by hand. APPRECIATE IT!!!!

Double the views for double the fun!

This is the planner view. When you want to make a recipe in the future, you can plan it from here or the recipe view, and it will appear on the calendar. The calendar also has two view modes for different use cases. Some people want to see the whole month at a time, other just need to know the upcoming week. As such, pressing the “Change view” button will swap between a full month view, and an agenda style view of the upcoming 7 days. The information on the calendar is preserved across views, so don’t worry about choosing a favorite yet. It’s OK to love them equally, I know I do.

I don't have a witty comment here. Forgive me

Shopping made easy

This is the end result of your valiant planning effort. The Shopping list view lets you select a date range, and it will create a list of every ingredient required to make the meals planned in that time, excluding those already in the pantry. Currently it is a binary system, only concerned with having/not having rather than quantities, but there are systems in the works to correct that.

So what’s left?

We worked hard on this.

There were really a TON of branches...

Look at all those branches converging

It took some time to mesh as a psuedo-company, but once we got rolling, the biggest limitation was the time we had together. Given another semester, this code could probably be production-ready. However, we managed to make a fair bit of progress. I have dubbed this build a “minimally viable product” and ready for beta-testing. There are several bugs, a few features we wanted but didn’t get to, and I’m sure some which we haven’t even thought of. In the next couple weeks I will be migrating the software from using a shared development Database to a local database included in the installer. After that, the Beta test begins. We have a few people who have volunteered, but if you would like to join the beta and help us out, comment below and I will notify you when the build is ready.

It’s a new year, and one in which I hope to write here a lot more, so please stay tuned. Most importantly though, and as always, raise a glass and code on.


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