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#1 Manbearpig101  Icon User is offline

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Interpreting a problem

Posted 20 November 2011 - 07:36 PM

Well I have a program due in a couple weeks that I've been writing the past day, and I've hit a little snag. The snag is that I can't really understand what I'm being asked to do, and I was wondering if somebody here could help.

Basically, here's the program that's supposed to be made: http://www.fbla-pbl....programming.pdf

I've gone all the way through it all the way up to the report part. If anybody could give me some clear insight, or a professional opinion on what they are actually saying. :S

Thanks so much!

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Replies To: Interpreting a problem

#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interpreting a problem

Posted 21 November 2011 - 08:15 AM

I am really, really glad you posted this. Thank you!

I've been wondering where all these questions about a lending library have been coming from. I just assumed it was a chapter in a course textbook that was being widely used.

There are several questions on this topic in the C# and VB forums if you wanted to browse through and read them.

Quote

The snag is that I can't really understand what I'm being asked to do

That's more than a 'little snag'. If you can't understand the instructions you're fraked. Being the frank Klingon that I am let me ask you this:
If you can't even understand the instructions are you sure you should even being trying to compete? Or even being in this career field? I know that is harsh but it is an honest question. These instructions are among the clearest I have ever received for project. Further they are for a program that does something we all understand: A lending library. You already understand what a library is, what it does, that it must track books and other media and who has borrowed those items and when. So often as software engineers we are asked to write programs for industries we know nothing about, with datasets that are gibberish to us, and goals that mean something only to the person putting out the bid. I know nothing about bio-chemistry but might still be asked to write a program relating to it. This 'challenge' is about something you should be very familiar with.

To answer your question: You are being asked to write a program for a library to track who has borrowed what. And you've been told exactly how they want it done. That's wonderful. In my normal programming job I'm lucky if I get some scribbles on piece of paper saying what it should do - but RARELY saying exactly how they want it done. Normally that part of the design is left up to me to decide. So I have to anticipate all the things I haven't been told and future expansion needs.

The rules are telling you what to track about the PATRONS, what to track about the TYPES of media the library has, what to track about the ITEMS_OUT. The rules have even emphasized what they expect you to call the classes and files by putting those things in all caps.

Competition rules said:

2012 National Topic
Your school has a lending library with resources to assist students with preparing for student organization competitive events and career related projects. You have been contacted to create an application that keeps track of the items in the lending library. Types of items in the library include, but are not limited to, books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs.
For this program you will create four comma separated data files as described below. You must save your data files as text (*.txt) files. You will need to choose appropriate data types to store and manipulate your data while running the program.

DATA FILES
You must be able to differentiate between different types of items. To help with this, you will create a data file called TYPES that contains one record for each type of item in the lending library. This data file should contain two fields as follows:
unique code for the type of item (abbreviation)
description of type

It is necessary to keep track of all the items you have in the lending library; therefore, you will need to create a data file called LIBRARY that contains one record for each item in the lending library. This data file should contain five fields as follows:
unique number for each item in the lending library (can be an auto
number)
type of item (must match a code from the TYPES data file)
title of the item
author/singer/publisher (author(s) or singer(s) where available otherwise publisher in the case of magazines, movies, etc.)
published date (month/year)

In order to determine who is borrowing items from the lending library, you will create another data file called PATRONS. The PATRONS data file will keep track of all people who can potentially borrow items from the lending library and will contain one record for each person.
This data file should contain nine fields as follows:
unique number for each patron (can be an auto number or a user name type entry)
first name, last name, e-mail address, phone number, street address, city, state, and zip code


Finally, you must keep track of the items that have been borrowed from the lending library. You will create a data file that tracks these items called ITEMS_OUT with a record for each item borrowed containing four fields as follows.
item number (populated from the LIBRARY data file)
patron number (populated from the PATRONS data file)
date checked out
date due (two weeks after check out date)


So other than "I don't get it" - can you be a little more specific about your confusion over these instructions? I ask because I can't think of a way to re-phrase them that could be any more clear and explicit than

Quote

you will need to create a data file called LIBRARY that contains one record for each item in the lending library. This data file should contain five fields as follows:
unique number for each item in the lending library (can be an auto
number)
type of item (must match a code from the TYPES data file)
title of the item
author/singer/publisher (author(s) or singer(s) where available otherwise publisher in the case of magazines, movies, etc.)
published date (month/year)

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#3 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interpreting a problem

Posted 21 November 2011 - 10:01 AM

View PostManbearpig101, on 20 November 2011 - 10:36 PM, said:

I've gone all the way through it all the way up to the report part.


If you've gotten here, then it should be pretty obvious. Your program should have an internal representation of all the data involved. Basically, just printing it out doesn't sound like much of an issue.

"all lending library items sorted by title and type" So, just print em out. The other one asks for a separate sheet. This would just involve adding line feeds to the bottom of a text dump. Or, if the program you're using has some pretty reporting facility, use that.

For a quick and dirty, I usually dump reports in HTML and fire them off to something that prints HTML, if that helps.
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#4 Manbearpig101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interpreting a problem

Posted 21 November 2011 - 05:21 PM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 21 November 2011 - 08:15 AM, said:

I am really, really glad you posted this. Thank you!

I've been wondering where all these questions about a lending library have been coming from. I just assumed it was a chapter in a course textbook that was being widely used.

There are several questions on this topic in the C# and VB forums if you wanted to browse through and read them.

Quote

The snag is that I can't really understand what I'm being asked to do

That's more than a 'little snag'. If you can't understand the instructions you're fraked. Being the frank Klingon that I am let me ask you this:
If you can't even understand the instructions are you sure you should even being trying to compete? Or even being in this career field? I know that is harsh but it is an honest question. These instructions are among the clearest I have ever received for project. Further they are for a program that does something we all understand: A lending library. You already understand what a library is, what it does, that it must track books and other media and who has borrowed those items and when. So often as software engineers we are asked to write programs for industries we know nothing about, with datasets that are gibberish to us, and goals that mean something only to the person putting out the bid. I know nothing about bio-chemistry but might still be asked to write a program relating to it. This 'challenge' is about something you should be very familiar with.

To answer your question: You are being asked to write a program for a library to track who has borrowed what. And you've been told exactly how they want it done. That's wonderful. In my normal programming job I'm lucky if I get some scribbles on piece of paper saying what it should do - but RARELY saying exactly how they want it done. Normally that part of the design is left up to me to decide. So I have to anticipate all the things I haven't been told and future expansion needs.

The rules are telling you what to track about the PATRONS, what to track about the TYPES of media the library has, what to track about the ITEMS_OUT. The rules have even emphasized what they expect you to call the classes and files by putting those things in all caps.

Competition rules said:

2012 National Topic
Your school has a lending library with resources to assist students with preparing for student organization competitive events and career related projects. You have been contacted to create an application that keeps track of the items in the lending library. Types of items in the library include, but are not limited to, books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs.
For this program you will create four comma separated data files as described below. You must save your data files as text (*.txt) files. You will need to choose appropriate data types to store and manipulate your data while running the program.

DATA FILES
You must be able to differentiate between different types of items. To help with this, you will create a data file called TYPES that contains one record for each type of item in the lending library. This data file should contain two fields as follows:
• unique code for the type of item (abbreviation)
• description of type

It is necessary to keep track of all the items you have in the lending library; therefore, you will need to create a data file called LIBRARY that contains one record for each item in the lending library. This data file should contain five fields as follows:
• unique number for each item in the lending library (can be an auto
number)
• type of item (must match a code from the TYPES data file)
• title of the item
• author/singer/publisher (author(s) or singer(s) where available otherwise publisher in the case of magazines, movies, etc.)
• published date (month/year)

In order to determine who is borrowing items from the lending library, you will create another data file called PATRONS. The PATRONS data file will keep track of all people who can potentially borrow items from the lending library and will contain one record for each person.
This data file should contain nine fields as follows:
• unique number for each patron (can be an auto number or a user name type entry)
• first name, last name, e-mail address, phone number, street address, city, state, and zip code


Finally, you must keep track of the items that have been borrowed from the lending library. You will create a data file that tracks these items called ITEMS_OUT with a record for each item borrowed containing four fields as follows.
• item number (populated from the LIBRARY data file)
• patron number (populated from the PATRONS data file)
• date checked out
• date due (two weeks after check out date)


So other than "I don't get it" - can you be a little more specific about your confusion over these instructions? I ask because I can't think of a way to re-phrase them that could be any more clear and explicit than

Quote

you will need to create a data file called LIBRARY that contains one record for each item in the lending library. This data file should contain five fields as follows:
• unique number for each item in the lending library (can be an auto
number)
• type of item (must match a code from the TYPES data file)
• title of the item
• author/singer/publisher (author(s) or singer(s) where available otherwise publisher in the case of magazines, movies, etc.)
• published date (month/year)


I'm not sure, but I think you misunderstood. I have written the program all the way up to the part where I have to print reports. All I was asking if someone could clarify what they were actually asking (literally) for the printing report. I have all the data represented internally already, sorting is not a problem. I was just skeptical about what they were asking because it seemed a bit vague to me.

I'm trying to do exactly what they want as to receiving input, and giving output, because they want that to be followed to their specification, they just leave the means of doing it in the competitors hands.

Sorry you misunderstood, but thanks for a high quality response. :)


View Postbaavgai, on 21 November 2011 - 10:01 AM, said:

View PostManbearpig101, on 20 November 2011 - 10:36 PM, said:

I've gone all the way through it all the way up to the report part.


If you've gotten here, then it should be pretty obvious. Your program should have an internal representation of all the data involved. Basically, just printing it out doesn't sound like much of an issue.

"all lending library items sorted by title and type" So, just print em out. The other one asks for a separate sheet. This would just involve adding line feeds to the bottom of a text dump. Or, if the program you're using has some pretty reporting facility, use that.

For a quick and dirty, I usually dump reports in HTML and fire them off to something that prints HTML, if that helps.


This was more of the answer I was looking for. Thanks for input on the situation, but I've got it all handled.

Time to write some code. :)

This post has been edited by Manbearpig101: 21 November 2011 - 08:21 PM

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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interpreting a problem

Posted 21 November 2011 - 09:11 PM

My mistake.

Quote

I've gone all the way through it all the way up to the report part.

I interpreted "gone through" as "read through" meaning you were lost before even getting to the part about printing. Like when someone says 'I was going through the newspaper.'
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#6 Manbearpig101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Interpreting a problem

Posted 22 November 2011 - 07:23 PM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 21 November 2011 - 09:11 PM, said:

My mistake.

Quote

I've gone all the way through it all the way up to the report part.

I interpreted "gone through" as "read through" meaning you were lost before even getting to the part about printing. Like when someone says 'I was going through the newspaper.'


Yea no problem, I really do appreciate the lengthy response though.
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