Tooting My Horn


I have to “toot my own horn” a little because I’m rather proud of an accomplishment. Although it is a very limited issue, I really think what I have done is neat and so far it has impressed not only me but also those that I created it for. What I did was create a custom Excel project that reads data and outputs it in a specified report but that is just the gloss-over.

There is a local farmer that raises cattle and last year they purchased a software package that tracks their feed rations. The problem though is that the software only provides daily reports on the feedings and what they need are monthly reports to get a better cost analysis of their operation. I was asked if I could look at the software and see if I could come up with a solution.

I started with just the data itself without ever looking at the actual program and was able to create an outline of what needed to be done but then soon after I lost Angela and had to put everything on hold. Several months later when I was better able to handle myself, I contacted the farmer to see if they still needed this program and they noted that they did.

For another month or two I worked on the code and finally got to see the actual program that was creating the data I needed to process. I’ve learned some of the coding process for Visual Basic in Excel and from some of it have learned which forums had people that could help with snippets of code. In September I completed the program and installed it on my client’s computer and it worked good enough to compile the information from their current operation but I knew I had to change it again to provide more functionality.

In December I was asked to add more code to it so it could track more cattle. What the program did was fairly static and had to have code added to handle more groups and this was tedious and never ending so I did some more checking and installed the first major improvements. The program now has dynamic settings to see new groups and create reports without having to change any further code. In fact I actually reduced the code and made it run a little faster as well.

The program itself does this. It reads a directory containing daily feed reports (over 2,500 so far) that consist of a set of XML files and then compiles the reports into a summary of cattle groups with their respective feed quantity totals for each month.

I’m really happy about the little thing and I am working on refining it further with some array settings to make it more and more dynamic and configurable for the client. Once I have this thing mastered, I want to see about selling it to the other people that use this limited software or to the company that makes the software to begin with.

I know, no mention of the core software but that’s just to protect me for now. I’m just happy that I was able to do something so complex with a spreadsheet software package.

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