A space to post my thoughts and musings about anything. This includes but is not limited to community, politics, current events, dating, GLBTQ issues, favorite things, and stuff that would make your dead relatives blush. I am not afraid to go there, as some can attest.

April 23, 2008

After 795 Days...

It has taken a lot of work, but after 795 working days, I finally released to the field my parts of the new revision to the Survey of Construction that is used to measure residential home construction in the U.S. On May 1, it will go into production and be used across the country :-D

Since day one of my career this has been my main project. I was to take the listing portion of the survey, which is used to capture a list of building permits issued for residential homes, and update it from the DOS-based Clipper software to the Windows-based Blaise survey software. I was the trailblazer for this project because it meant proving that I could make it work in version 4.7 of Blaise, which had just been released, so I was on the bleeding edge of what we could do. From then on, I worked to prove that yes, a field rep could do a listing of up to a few thousand permits and run a sampling program on them to determine which of the listed permits would be followed up with a questionnaire about the characteristics of the home being constructed. I proved it could be possible, so from then on it was full steam ahead.

Along the way I basically created a bunch of our new screen standards, I got to show off the new features of 4.7 that are now being implemented in other surveys that are used by the Census Bureau, and I even co-wrote a paper on this project, which was presented at an international conference of Blaise users.

This project also gave me a crash course in Visual Basic. Another piece of this project is a database program that is to assist the field reps in making their contacts to follow up on these sampled permits. After most of it was written, the programmer left for another job, and it was handed off to me. I had never worked in Visual Basic, but I was able to adapt and quickly learn what to do. Thankfully because I had experience in college with working with ODBC for database connections, that part of the code was very familiar. This will be knowledge I can use in the future, especially as other projects call for using external programs, and as Blaise moves more towards a .NET core.

I have learned so much from this, and quite frankly, I'm proud of what I have done and that we have made it to this point. I was able to take a very basic prototype in Blaise, prove it worked, then take specifications for the survey revision, and make them work. I couldn't have done it without the help of those on our software testing staff who tested it, some of my co-workers who would sit and we'd bounce ideas on how to make it all happen, and those field reps that we would bring in to hammer away at the software and give us feedback. I thank all of them for the work they have put in as well.

Now to wait until the field reps start using it and be ready for anything that can happen. However, my boss feels confident that there will be no major problems in the field, and I do as well.