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#1 dpgardne  Icon User is offline

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Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:32 PM

We are a group of entrepreneurs at W.P Carey Business school who were awarded $8,000 to start a company.

Our idea is web based . What we need to do is design a website were users can have ability to connect with a volunteer to answer their question. Lets pretend the website was about sports. We have say 100 sections. Basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, golf, horse racing etc.. So A user log on and needs to talk to a volunteer about volleyball. He clicks on the volleyball section, than clicks on a button that says "speak to a live volunteer." There he is taken to a virtual waiting room were he is entertained by news, games etc. while he waits for the next available representative. Finally he is automatically connected and begins to talk to the volunteer via voice chat/video if he has a webcam.

There's a lot of potential problems, were forseening such as what if we have 800 users all online at once and 6oo volunteers. This isn't a problem but it could get really confusing to program. We met a programmer who thinks he can easily develop this technology using microsoft silverlight. Here's what he said.

I would use c#, and silverlight with sql server as the backend for the user information. Basically volunteers would register, and 'attach' themself to one or more topics that they are capable of handling. Queueing the users would get a little tricky only because the volunteers could be associated with multiple topics. Once a chat is complete they would become available, at which point you could determine the wating times for each individual that they are capable of handling. Then you would just take the longest wait. I don't think you could necessarily easily put a 'you are the 4th in queue', but you could track the average wait times and display that.
I would have agreed with most developers that this would be extremely difficult using classig web technologies, but with silverlight everything is forced to be more of a client-server application rather than a page with no real state. If I attempted this with asp.net and a combination of ajax and other tools it would be an undertaking.
I will come up with a small diagram later today on how it would function and get that to you


Is he on the right track???? Anyone out their know how to develop this service. Please help!!!!! You may even be able to make some good money if your talented enough!!!! Respond at <Removed>
-Thanks.

This post has been edited by macosxnerd101: 17 October 2010 - 05:51 PM
Reason for edit:: Email removed per site policies. Please keep all work via the forums.


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Replies To: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 17 October 2010 - 10:59 PM

Well first of all yes you could tell someone pretty easily where they are in the queue. They use a queue data structure. When someone wants to ask a question, they are added to a queue in which volunteers would chug through. First in, first out. People could leave the queue and the others in the queue behind him are moved up. Just like a call center when you talk to technical support. You call, they tell you where in the queue you are or the estimated wait time.

Now how you implement this can be easier in some languages than others, but you could do certainly do it with asp.net and C# or in silverlight... you could really do it in any web language as long as you maintain state with everyone and know when people join and leave. Just like chat rooms you find all over the web.

But what they are telling you is not completely in left field. Also keep in mind that 8k isn't going to get you all that far with developing a top quality application if you are paying regular developer prices. So make sure you keep the scale small and doable within a few month project scope.

Hopefully that is what you were looking in the way of an answer.
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#3 Oler1s  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 18 October 2010 - 07:51 AM

The programmer you met seems to know what he is talking about. I also think Martyr2 does not recognize the issues your programmer has realized.

On queueing: I agree with your developer. Queue position doesn't mean much because you aren't linearly handling clients. Talking about queue position may also be very bad from a customer service perspective. Let's say you have a client who wants to ask about the very obscure sport, Fooball. You have one volunteer who knows quite a bit about this sport, and doesn't help with much else. On a busy day, your client may be 50 in the queue, but he may only have to wait 1 minute before getting help.

What would you say: "You are in queue position 50" or "We think you'll only have to wait a minute"? The queue position can be implemented. It's just not useful. Your developer has it right.

On choice of technology: well, it's either Silverlight or Flash. Martyr2 says you can use any web language as long as you can maintain state. That's a bit like saying you can use any vehicle as a car if it's got four wheels and runs on the ground. Sure, but if you can't use it on regular roads, no one cares about this "car".

For interactive, stateful applications, there are only four ways right now that have meaningful market penetration. Javascript with AJAX development patterns, Java applets, Flash, and Silverlight. That's it.

Throw Java out of the running. You don't exactly see it in widespread usage these days. It has great market penetration, but uh, no one likes it. Flash is everywhere. Everyone who can go to Youtube has it. That's incredible market penetration. Silverlight, not so much. Javascript is pretty good, but far more limited in what you can do.

So it comes down to Flash and Silverlight. Here's the basic issue you need to care about. Silverlight's market penetration isn't as good as Flash. You want people to be able to use your website without a problem. Without worrying about why things are broken. And while Silverlight penetration is very impressive, it's nowhere close to Flash. Silverlight is broken on my computer and I'm not too concerned. Will a regular user care? Will they expend time making Silverlight work to use your website?

Talk to your developer about Silverlight vs. Flash.
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#4 dpgardne  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 18 October 2010 - 12:50 PM

Oler1s thanks for the response. Could you possibly email me. <Removed>
I couldn't find a way to message you through this forum.

This post has been edited by macosxnerd101: 19 October 2010 - 08:41 AM
Reason for edit:: Removed email per site policies.

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#5 Munawwar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 18 October 2010 - 01:47 PM

Just a small point to remember...whatever you do, never make a website which is 100% flash, since search engines cannot crawl the contents within the Flash file. Only use flash for the necessary portions - such as the chat/video/webcam - and embed it into the site.
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#6 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 21 October 2010 - 10:11 PM

I just want to make a rebuttal to Oler1s remark because it is pretty pathetic to call me out on something I do for a living and say it is wrong or that in some round about way I have no idea what I am talking about. I build such systems every day for successful tech companies.

First of all I want to say that I fully recognize the issues the programmer was saying. They said they couldn't easily determine place in the queue and suggested time instead and display that. I am saying it is very easy to display position within such a queue, even running multiple queues for different topics. Personally I would show both. If I see I am 50th but my expected wait time is 5 minutes, I would say things are pretty fast. Anyways estimated time is just that, estimated and really it is as arbitrary as saying you are "4th in the queue". Ever called into technical support and say that your estimated time before talking to a rep is 5 minutes and 20 minutes later you are still waiting?

Secondly, any programming language on the web that can maintain state can maintain a queue of users. You are not just limited to flash, javascript/ajax, Java applets or silverlight. You can maintain queues in ASP.NET, PHP, Coldfusion etc. In fact your ajax calls have to be calling something on the server. Now am I saying that these are preferred over something like Flash or silverlight? No. I just stated they could and are done all the time. The original expert even acknowledges this fact by saying it would be an undertaking... (but that is just because they don't know really how to do it. The expert is essentially giving a recommendation based on their own comfort level which is fine. I can't fault them for that.)

Third... "Throw Java out of the running. You don't exactly see it in widespread usage these days. It has great market penetration, but uh, no one likes it." WTF? Have you even looked around the web? *sigh*

If you are going to call me out Oler1s, know what the fuck you are talking about. I mean please... I write systems like this all the time and no where did I say that their expert was giving outright bad advice. Put in your two cents but leave the crap comments at the door. It is really bad taste.

Good luck with the project dpgardne. Hope you got things settled out with the programmer. :)
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#7 dpgardne  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 21 October 2010 - 10:29 PM

Thanks for the support Martyr2! You sound like a smart dude. I know your a busy guy but if you'd like to help out it would mean a lot. We emailed this ex-professor who used to write software for the space shuttle program and he thinks this is some multi-million dollar project. He admitted to not knowing to much about this kind of web development but still thought it would be in the millions. I pray he's wrong and most the programmers I've talked to think it will be actually cheap. Sure maybe hosting will be like 2k a year but not in the millions. Look at that little kid who designed chatroulette.com He probably had around 200 bucks in his bank account.

I'm sure it won't be cheap but not in the millions!! If you or anyone could help out we would greatly appreciate it!!! We'd even be willing to pay you a couple thousand dollars. Some of you guys on this forums seem to be the geniuses were looking for.

I probably shouldn't publish this but
My email is

<*removed*>

In addition to how much????? Did we decide on what is the optimal way?? flash, silverlight, php, java. Sounds like you guys think Flash. I never even new you could design something in flash!!!!!! I thought that was for making flash movies and had little code involved in it! Anyways please email me!

This post has been edited by Martyr2: 22 October 2010 - 07:59 AM
Reason for edit:: Please don't put your email address in your post.

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#8 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:33 AM

Good lord dude, I get that yer new but...see that little green reputation bar under Martyr's avatar and all the fruit salad on the left hand side of the screen? Now, look directly under that. See those three icons? One on the left looks like a friendly little dude. One on the right looks like a book. Well concentrate real hard between those two on the one that looks like an envelope. Clicking (that thing you do with the mouse button when your mouse pointer is hovering over that icon) on that picture will take you to a place that will let you...you ready for this?...it'll let you send a user like Martyr a "private message". Oh, I know, I couldn't hardly believe it either.

That's how you private message a person here on DIC. It's also why someone will come along and edit your post to remove your email...you know...like they've already done twice in this thread.
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#9 dpgardne  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 22 October 2010 - 08:26 AM

haha wow the power of technology. Guess I have to be a little more observant.
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#10 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 22 October 2010 - 08:28 AM

Ya. Don't mind me. Yer new and I'm a smartass. :)
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#11 Munawwar  Icon User is offline

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Re: Please Help! $8,000 web dev. question

Posted 22 October 2010 - 01:31 PM

View PostMartyr2, on 22 October 2010 - 08:11 AM, said:

Third... "Throw Java out of the running. You don't exactly see it in widespread usage these days. It has great market penetration, but uh, no one likes it." WTF? Have you even looked around the web? *sigh*

Java has widespread use in a *lot* of applications but, hey, I thought, Java applets are used no more.In fact (if I have read correctly) it cannot be used with the new HTML 5 standards - read the HTML5 tags reference at w3schools.
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