Designing an entire website from scratch was a daunting task, so I've decided instead to purchase and customize the Metronic HTML5 template. It already offered everything I needed - datatables, forms, charts, timeline, calendar, etc - and generating a dynamic platform was easy. So with it, I've created this web portal, providing access for all software editors to a wide array of features - here are some of the highlights:
- used the API of over 10 global ecommerce platforms - including Avangate, Digital River (RegNow/MyCommerce, Shareit!/Element5, eSellerate, oneNetworkDirect), Commission Junction, Cleverbridge, BlueSnap and many more - to provide editors with the ability to find affiliate IDs, browse vendor products and view / manage discounts
- send / receive apps that should have been (re)tested with different priority levels (before being added/updated on Softpedia). The date and time of the last sent / received app along with the total number of apps in each category were updated in realtime on all pages and an email was automatically sent each time a top priority app was submitted
- schedule a leave of absence for a few hours or an entire day (this action had several effects, for example: during that time, urgent apps could not be sent for testing through Links Admin to the editor)
- manage and view stats / charts regarding all the software developers they were monitoring
- view detailed information about company / testing / monitoring practices and future events that concerned them (including their evaluation)
- inform superiors of any work/non-work related events that might influence their work for a short/long period of time
- a notification system able to deliver various types of messages to individual / all / groups of editors
[admin feature]view events reported by editors - grouped both by day and editor
[admin feature]edit the information and access rights to Links Admin's areas for each editor
[admin feature]use an integrated calendar to view and schedule work-related tasks / events for each editor
[admin feature]view payment reports from all ecommerce platforms that provided access to this type of information through their API
If, back in the day, you've ever entered one of Softpedia's giveaways by writing a comment and received an email from me informing you about the prize you've won, it was all done using this nifty utility.
The application featured 3 modules:
- the article manager
- the comment manager
- the email sender
The article manager - which is the least immpresive of the three, so it's not even shown here - displayed all the articles using a certain tag and allowed me to load their comments. That way, it was easy for me to monitor and access articles submitted under the 'giveaway' tag, for example.
The comment manager helped me filter out article comments and choose the winners. The list of winners could be saved into memory or to a local file and imported into the email sender. Definite winners were marked as 'approved', while others were filled under 'unsure', to later decide whether they should receive a prize or not. Moreover, both categories received a corresponding color code, to highlight them in the list.
The email sender made it possible to message hundreds of contest winners without breaking a sweat, whilst making sure everything was customized. Hey, it's the entire experience that makes you feel special, not just the prize, am I right? Therefore, custom fields could be easily added - for customization purposes, of course - and an attachment could also be included - since most of those giveaways implied attaching a license file. Last, but not least, since there was no point in writing the same, entire email over and over again, email templates could be saved, loaded and deleted.
For quite a long period of time, if you applied for a job as a Software Editor at Softpedia Iasi, you would have received a test evaluating your experience with software, Microsoft Windows and the English language.
Some answers required human analysis and their level of dificulty varied. Therefore, the app could easily gather and email me each test in HTML format for a final evaluation; wherever possible, each response being marked in green - if correct - or red - if wrong.
The app was using a tabbed interface to cover each area:
Generaltab focused on generic topics, like identifying the principle behind a cross-platform app and which file extension could help editors immediately spot one
Softwaretab helped me understand how much experience the applicant had with popular programs
Securitytab tested the applicant's knowledge regarding malware and anti-malware software
Windowstab made it easy to find out how deep was the applicant's understanding / interest in the way Microsoft Windows works
Practictab offered a practical test, ranging from simple file operations to creating a registry entry
- in the
ROtabs, applicants were faced with the challenge of translating phrases from English to Romanian and viceversa
- in the
Preferencestab, applicants could enter their favorite apps for various categories (browsers, players, email/ftp clients, etc)
Offtopictab, as the name implies, covered some light-hearted topics, like favorite book / music / book - they were not relevant to the evaluation, but they helped us know our new employees better before they even started working
Automatic Link Checker
Back in my early days, I was looking for various ways to monitor developers and their apps, so one of the most obvious choices was to take a look at download link timestamps.
As experienced users surely know, the vast majority of download links also include - in their headers - the date and time when they were last modified. As is the case with local files too, changing a file will also change that timestamp.
Therefore, it did not take long for me to start working on an app that would help monitor the 'last modified' timestamps of all important download links - for popular or cool apps, that is - wherever possible, of course. As some developers always included the version in the program's download link - ensuring the same download link was never used twice - monitoring those timestamps was never a viable choice.
With that concept in mind, Automatic Link Checker was created and, as the name suggests, it automatically checked (at specified time intervals) all download link timestamps. If one changed since the last check, the link - along with all its corresponding information - was placed in a separate list.
When right-clicking a program in any list, one was able to easily open or copy to the clipboard download links or memos (which could be used for internal links). Obviously, any link could be edited or deleted. Furthermore, a log was kept for each check that returned at least one update.
Sadly, I was not very happy with the performance of Automatic Link Checker on Windows. Data corruption was looming over the program's database, especially after adding a large number of apps. So, although I initially intended to just change one of its algorithms, it finally met its end as I developed a brand-new web version, which used the same concept, but did not face the same problems.
The last website redesign brought a series of new screenshot-related rules, which - for most editors - were pretty hard to follow. This app came to the rescue by helping editors focus on the important tasks, not the size of every single window they must capture.
This window resizer relies exclusively on hotkeys, which editors could easily enable, disable and customize: pressing a specific key combination on their keyboard would immediately perform a corresponding action.
The latest version offered five actions:
- if possible, change the window width to the website's preferred screenshot size - so that captured windows look nice when displayed in fullscreen mode
- save the current window's width and height - to store the active window's size
- resize the current window to the previously saved width and height - to ensure all screenshots are captured in the same size (otherwise, they all just look unprofessional)
- mark/unmark app for automatic resize - once a program was marked, all windows generated by that process were automatically resized to the standard / saved size
- toggle always on top for the current window - to make sure nothing "stands in their way" when capturing an app
As any respectable programmer surely knows, it's vital to write reusable code, so I really enjoyed creating the window resizer because it helped the entire Windows team and I was able to reuse most of the code and finish the app using just a few lines. I'm aware that's not very relevant, but I've always had an appreciation for tiny programs that help a lot of people.
Software Editor's Helper
Following my latest app, it would only be fitting to present here, at the end, the oldest app I could find. To be perfectly honest, prior to this version, there were only a few minor attempts, which I do not consider actual programs, so this was my first significant attempt - back in 2007, if my memory serves me right - at helping my fellow editors with tasks that were easy to automate.
This piece of software covered a lot of areas and situations most editors were facing on a daily basis:
- formatting (adding / removing lines or special characters) an entire text (whether it included a changelog, description, features or requirements)
- copied to the clipboard useful text (a generic text that could be pasted inside a field when testing an editor, for example / the message developers should receive when their software was rejected or suspicious / the message users should receive when responding to their reports, etc.)
- opened in the default browser various useful links (gain instant access to translation services, Google / Wikipedia searches, virus scanning engines and other security-related resources, etc.)
- it automatically filled out specific fields in the editor's backend using text found in the clipboard