Goldenseal Pro- Popups & Technical Debt (Sep 29)

Software developers have to worry about something called technical debt. It’s all the mediocre code and bad designs that happen because someone is too tired, or too rushed, or too inexperienced to do it right. The result is code that is buggy, or hard to maintain. Large projects will always have some technical debt. It’s just a matter of how much.

Construction contractors face their own versions of technical debt. It accrues when equipment isn’t maintained properly, or when stuff is not built quite to spec. Technical debt isn’t a problem right this minute, but it probably will bite you on the a** someday.

In construction, the cure for technical debt is regular equipment maintenance, plus quality control inspections to catch small problems before they snowball into disasters. In the software world, the cure is about the same: testing, training, code reviews. Because software is easy to revise, another debt-reduction tool is refactoring: rewriting old code so it makes more sense. We have been doing a lot of that since we started on Goldenseal Pro.

Tables are a fairly complicated part of Goldenseal, so they have plenty of potential debt. This week we rewrote the way they store data, so it is simpler. There is much less code now to do the same thing.

The clairvoyant fields that show lists of items are another complexity. We already rewrote the ones in data entry layouts (and renamed them to smart fields). Now we are working on the smart fields in tables. They look a little different, and have many complications. For example, the Cost Item column in an estimate breakdown needs to adjust what it shows, depending on three different columns to its left (Cost Area, Category and Subcategory). 

Goldenseal currently uses popup buttons to enter data from lists that don’t ever change. For example, any transaction involved in job costing has a Job Class popup to allocate to overhead or projects. Popup buttons require a mouse click, which can be annoying when doing data entry. For everything else you can type and hit the tab key to move on, but popups require you to use the mouse. Not great for two-handed typists.

In tables, we already use smart fields instead of popups, so it would not be hard to do the same thing for all popup buttons.  We are also working on that now.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director

Author: Dennis Kolva

Programming Director for Turtle Creek Software. Design & planning of accounting and estimating software.