I have a client who wanted a dealer locator added to a Zen Cart site. They weren’t able to locate a Zen Cart extension that met their requirements, so they asked me to build one from scratch.
Their specifications for the dealer locator were as follows:
The dealer locator must blend in with their current Zen Cart template.
The dealer locator must display dealers within the United States as well as Canada.
Users must be able to find dealers either by zip code or city and state.
Users must be able to quickly map the location of the dealers.
This is one of those times when it’s good to have a programmer building your web site instead of a web designer without a programming background.
The client had quite a few dealers in the United States, though they currently only have one in Canada. It would have been impractical to build a static page listing all of them, so I went with a database-driven form using jQuery and AJAX to make the form function smoothly for users.
Users are able to select a range within which to search by zip code, or they can search for all dealers in a given city and state. The output includes a link to the Google Maps listing for the dealers’ addresses.
You can see the solution I came up with in action on Q-Logic Direct.
There are a lot of shopping carts these days, but when called upon to build a full-functioned ecommerce site, I choose Zen Cart. It may not be the most user-friendly shopping cart solution out there, and the default templates leave a lot to be desired, but in terms of sheer functionality, security, payment methods, and shipping methods, I haven’t found anything better.
This month, I was asked to build an ecommerce site for a manufacturer of parts for classic Mercury Cougar and Ford Mustangs. The client also wanted a one-off site built to facilitate product development with his manufacturing contacts overseas.
I include these sites simply to show a basic Zen Cart site linked to a one-off site. A one-off site is often necessary to extend the functionality of an open-source site when the functions desired by the client can’t economically be included by modifying the open-source software.
TrackItWeb’s Invoice$ is another web-based, database-driven application that I built to meet one of my own needs. (You’re probably starting to see a trend here.) I was using a PC-based application (that shall remain nameless) to generate and mail invoices to my clients. I wanted to lose not only the PC-based application but also the necessity of snail-mailing copies of the invoices to my clients, who by now all have email.
Invoice$ is going to be subscription-based for now, but down the line I may switch it to a donation-based format. Read on to get all the marketing low-down.
The Medication Dictionary was originally a Visual Basic, Windows-based program. It was designed at the request of a physician who wanted a way to make sure the names of medications in his documents were accurately spelled and included both the trade and generic names to reduce the possibility of medication errors. Furthermore, he wanted it to be up-to-date at all times.
The current version of the Medication Dictionary replaces the original Windows-based program with a more-robust, on-line database-driven web site featuring enhanced search functions. Best of all, there is no need to install software or download medication list updates!
The on-line version of the Medication Dictionary works with most popular browsers at a variety of resolutions and with many hand-held Internet-capable devices.
I‘m an avid reader, but I’m not one of those people who likes to read a book more than once. I really don’t like bringing a book home, sitting down to read, and recognizing after a few pages that I’ve read it before. The more books I read, the harder it has become to remember the exact name and author when I think of one in conversation with a friend and want to recommend it.
About the time I first thought of writing the code for Have I Read That?, I was also in the position of not having much in the way of a portfolio; the majority of one-off programs and web sites I had built up until then were restricted to companies or individuals who weren’t in a position to let my potential clients check out their fancy web sites. So I set up Have I Read That? both to satisfy my own need to keep track of what I’ve read, and as a sample for potential clients. As a free web-based program, it is subject to the limitations of the other password-protected sites and programs I’ve built thus far.