03 Aug

Parabolas, Rectangles, Triangles & Snakes (Part 9)

Part 9 – Verification

Part of the verification process in development of a spreadsheet or software tool involves what I like to term the process of idiot proofing. Some end users are considered as potential idiots, asking yourself to think like this idiot can be a challenge, as it doesn’t come naturally to some. Luckily as engineers we are good at solving problems, identifying risk and considering all eventualities, and are able to either test for these eventualities or provide suitable error handling to avoid giving back an incorrect, but potentially believable result to the end user.

You’ll essentially need to consider things no sane person would do, and then do these things to ensure your code, calculations, etc, all work as intended. You know that guy who uses a spreadsheet to design outside of any fundamental assumptions it might be based on, or intentionally decides some course of action is conservative when it really isn’t. Think like this guy, what will go wrong will go wrong, and you’re trying to head this eventuality off at the pass so to speak.

Read More
25 Jun

Parabolas, Rectangles, Triangles & Snakes (Part 7)

Part 7 – Documentation & Verification, Better Than More Integration?

At some point in any projects life cycle you should start thinking about the need for documentation and verification. This post and probably the next few will be dedicated to exploring these aspects.

As a structural engineer, if you are designing a building you have to produce some drawings, calculations, specifications, etc to describe what is being built, and someone probably needs to check these deliverables. Often the drawings are the only deliverable, so its all the end user ever sees out of your blood sweat and tears. You’ll be judged on this alone if it contains mistakes, omissions, etc. Small omissions can cost you or the client are lot of time or money to put right if the contractor has made no allowance for the items. As an engineer designing something tangible like a building, you simply cannot get away without producing drawings, someone needs to produce your design after all and they are going to need some instructions.

Read More