Web application development (part 4)

Et voila! My first application is complete. Since the last post I extended the edit module so that it would put in blank boxes for hours the store is open but for which there isn’t data already stored. (Actually I just have it put in entry boxes for everything from 8a to 11pm for every day, even though my Xingtian Temple restaurant is only open 10a-10p and Qingcheng restaurant is only open from 10a-10:30p on Saturday & Sunday. I’ll have to add in more smarts later so it will look at what hours the store is actually supposed to be open for.)

I encountered another couple of difficulties here, namely that when you add new inputs you have to also have a hidden form value for the foreign key id for the main table. So in my case since the main table is Daily and the multiple data fields are hourly, I have to have a hidden form value for data[Hourly][index][daily_id].

When it was editing existing fields this wasn’t a problem since it would figure out the missing values based on data[Hourly][index][id]. However when you are adding new stuff it is unable to make the connection and so the data gets stored without the foreign key and doesn’t get associated correctly. You also have to do the correct magic to create a new object when saving new (as opposed to updated) data, but that’s straightforward from the add example I referenced in part 3.

I also completed the add controller and add view with the ability to add the daily and hourly data all on one screen. This was actually quite straightforward once the edit stuff was done. Again, the main hitch is making sure you get the hidden field for the foreign key id in there or it won’t go in the db correctly.

The final piece was to give me a scheduling view. Basically I set up a scheduler controller and view under dailies which would take a store number, number of weeks and ending date of the schedule analysis. The last two are optional and default to 1 week and the date of the latest daily in the db for the store, respectively. It then will make up an average of units sold for each hour on each day (i.e. each of the Tuesday’s 8:00 sales averaged, etc.) and based on that would give a number of hours to schedule each employee.

I can’t describe it in much more detail than that because while this sort of calculation is common in food & beverage operations, the details of the method SUBWAYâ„¢ uses is proprietary. I’m still tweaking the algorithm on how to do the scheduling, but right now it’s roughly based on the Subway method with a few tweaks to make it look better to me. I also need to make the tweak parameters configurable in the database instead of hard coded in the code, but that’ll have to wait a bit.

It looks like I can cut down my morning and afternoon scheduling a bit and actually could use a bit more people at lunchtime than I had thought. But also overall it looks like I should be able to save quite a bit on labor costs with a more efficient schedule while at the same time improving service levels during busy times.

There’s a few other things I need to do. For example, there’s a fair amount of code that I probably should have put in the controller that I put in the view instead. I think I reverted to non-MVC programming practices quite a bit. I think from the MVC philosophy you shouldn’t be doing much more than displaying stuff in the view. Anything where it is calculating stuff should be in the controller. I also need to figure out how to modularize the code better.

But, hey, it works. Woo woo!

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