The job of a developer isn’t always restrained to the day to day minutia of maintaining a code base and taking part in stand-ups. There are times when a company may require some developers to build internal apps to increase productivity. Other times, an insightful developer may crank out an internal app to streamline clunky workflow.
Below, we’ve listed five productivity-boosting internal apps that savvy developers cooked up for their co-workers. The responses were sourced from Hacker News.
At a company of 10,000, it’s important to know the 100 people you’ll be working closest to. I built a “memory” game as a webapp which matched the faces of 4 people on your team to a single name and a list of self-assigned skills. You click on a photo to match a name to a face, and once you guess right a new set loads. You can randomly click through your whole team and learn a lot about them in just 15 minutes or so.
The whole thing was built with read-only SQL scripts, Flask, and some JQuery.
I wrote a shim layer for all our packer/vagrant OS workflows to operate against an unreliable vsphere ecosystem. It exposes a suite of posix sh functions for sysadmins/developers to easily operate against this very unreliable environment. It adds automatic logging, retrying, and adjustable verbosity because of the numerous ways this environment randomly fails.
People can just . source the file in from a shared location and often find that their scripts just start to work better. It’s not perfect, nothing’s perfect. It’s not even that clever. But when builds and deploys start to work twice as good, even with the remaining failures, well, that’s something. None of the 65000 employees using it will ever know, but it feels good to know we were dropping 2/3 orders and now we’re dropping 1/3.
In my previous organization, we dealt with a legacy enterprise software product which had accumulated a massive bug history over multiple years and sub-products. All being tracked by an in-house bug tracking product.
Lots of issues we used to see being reported were either already fixed or had been config issues. In order to (somewhat) quickly find existing fixes/comments for issues that we get reported, I built a search tool (webapp) which scraped the bugs and comments in those bugs in order to find any relevant information around your query and listed them in order of matching probability.
Was a pretty cool learning experience to build that out. I had deployed it on a personal remote VM that devs were granted, have no idea if people are still using it.
At my last job we had to do builds constantly and put it on hardware, which was annoying because builds took 15 minutes and putting it on the hardware took another 10. Couldn’t solve the latter because it wasn’t in our domain, but the first half I managed to “multithread” a build using a really hacky batch script compliation method, with a make file calling the compiler in a new command window for each file that needed to be compiled, with some checks for “needs to be compiled” or “wasn’t changed”.
An extra script at the end of the process made sure that all the compiler instances finished before continuing with the next step. All of that work got it down to 2 minutes, or in small change cases, about 30 seconds. And another part of that was integrating some configuration data with existing files, which was simple as writing up a bunch of excel macros to do the copy/pasting and file output.
It was hooked up to a shared folder on the network so the other team could just do their part, and then my part was entirely automated. In fact, the team testing things could do everything by themselves without any input from me at that point and only needed me to answer certain questions.
Yes, it’s really hacky and the whole thing is entirely silly and could have been solved by using more proper tools (i.e. not a defunct make software without wildcard support for input files or Excel for configuration), but I was VERY pleased when I got it working.
Bar Code Generator
At my current job, I saw a lab technician work manually with Excel sheets entering sample IDs and then using a website where he’d copy/paste the sample ID into to get a bar code, and then print it out to stick on the box.
I wrote a Python script that uses openpyxl module to read His Excel docs, and report lab module to generate bar codes in a PDF document with appropriate spacers so that he can simply print it out, and stick them in boxes.
He is happy and so am I that I could save his time. It only took me 20 mins to write this script.