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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Side Projects

A few years ago I created a site that lets users donate their SAS expertise by creating online documentation. Users could put in their own example code, explain potential pitfalls, share tips, etc. I coded it all by hand in Perl with MySQL, JavaScript and HTML. I even included some nifty AJAX for logging in, etc. And it had a trendy name too: iDoc. As in "I document" verb, or "Internet Documentation" noun. After a lot of programming and evenings with O'Reilly books, I felt that it was ready to be released to the world. I tentatively exposed the URL and wrote an introductory email to SAS-L. The response was....

virtual silence.

Ho Hum. Crickets chirping. Nothing. Well, there was one person who railed against my decision to not be cross-browser compatible. Specifically, the site worked well with IE, not so well with others. As all of you who have developed anything more complex than the most generic HTML page knows, cross-browser compatibility is a nightmare. To describe it as a pain in the ass is a disservice to donkeys. I digress...

Anyways, the _site_ was a failure. But the _project_ was a success in that it taught me a bunch of stuff that I was able to incorporate into my day-to-day programming. And the things I learned have dovetailed into other side projects.

Fast forward to today. Today I am starting another side project. It will be written in Ruby on Rails. I bought a Rails book two months ago and have written only one little site so far. But I like it. It's clean, it's fast to develop with and it's easy to learn. I don't even know Ruby. I'll be learning that along the way too. I'll try to share what I learn as I go. I'll tag the posts with something like "Side Project" to differentiate them from the normal SAS postings.

The side project I am starting today is a SAS specific job site. I know there are others out there and some good ones too, but I think there might be enough room for one more. And even if the site fails, the time will be well spent learning a new language and platform.

If you could, pop over to the comments and let me know if hearing about a side project written in Ruby on Rails is the least bit interesting to you. As much
as I like the idea of sharing what I learn, I don't want to fill a SAS programming blog with a bunch of posts about a topic nobody cares about. Thanks! -s

1 comment:

  1. I don't see a link for the new site.

    Microsoft allows programmers to add comments into the formal documentation. It is great and a good example for what SAS should do.

    - Alan