Special commissions

Specially commissioned software is very much uncharted territory here at the Activity Workshop, but maybe it could happen. Let's throw some (more) ideas around.

All of the software in the software section is free, that means nobody asks for it, nobody pays for it, and nobody gets to demand certain features by certain deadlines. People of course can request or suggest features, and many have done so for GpsPrune, but what if somebody wants a special, niche piece of software to be created?

I'm not looking for a full-time job, but I could imagine some short-term paid projects being possible, if they're interesting. Perhaps you like GpsPrune or Murmeli, perhaps you'd like something similar made specifically for your purposes, and perhaps you'd be willing to pay for it.

You could probably go to some freelancing platform and hire somebody by the hour to do what you need, and that could indeed be the best solution for your needs. On the other hand, I can offer reliability, accuracy, originality and full support and maintenance for everything created. So mine wouldn't be the cheapest or fastest solution you could get, but it would be one you could rely on. And you'd get the care and attention to detail, and the dedication to make a quality product.


As I mentioned, this is uncharted territory but I could imagine examples in areas like:

prototype screenshot

One recent suggestion was an application to compare gps tracks recorded by race competitors and judge the tracks to be either valid (close enough to the reference track) or invalid (went off-course or cut off a corner). For the valid tracks it would then evaluate certain parameters from the competitor's submitted file, such as lap times, average speeds, maximum speeds and so on. A screenshot of the very basic prototype to enable discussions is shown to the right.

In the end the project wasn't carried forward, but we had some interesting discussions about how it would work and sketched out some ideas. This is an example of the kind of thing I think could work, as the problem is interesting, the deliverables are visual and the way forward relatively well-defined. It would have been a cross-platform java application, as GpsPrune is, but obviously with a completely different workflow and goal. I think the reporting aspects, presumably using some kind of customizable report template, would have been an interesting aspect of it, too.

Java is one good way to make a cross-platform project (as used by GpsPrune, obviously), other alternatives could include Python (as used by Murmeli) or purely web-based with html and browser-based Javascript (as used by Battleships and Sudokus). Or maybe server-side PHP or server-side python (as used by the Translatinator). As far as spoken languages go, I'm open to discussions & documentation in English and a few varieties of German, and of course very open to supporting translators in extending any creations to multiple other languages (as seen for example in GpsPrune).

Indications that the project wouldn't be a good fit could include: tight delivery deadlines and high time pressure, reliance on OS-specific tools such as .Net or Photoshop, requiring specific languages such as Go, Rust or Matlab, or requiring specialist knowledge about complex areas like Machine Learning or Video encoding. Or requiring hardware beyond regular PCs, Raspberry Pis and Arduinos.


It doesn't have to be just the software itself. Perhaps you've already seen the GpsPrune user guide and have liked the way the PDF and EPUB versions are written and presented. And updated and maintained. Maybe you can think of other writing projects that could benefit from a similar approach to documentation, explanation and structure.

What next?

So, you have an interesting project, of well-defined scope, with realistic deadlines and you're willing to spend some money to make it happen. Most important is to establish as clearly as possible what the requirements are, and I can help with this stage too — just prepare what you know already and we can draw up a more detailed description together.

From there, I'd like to identify some key deliverables and describe what they are, and try to identify a price point for at least the first few of these. By delivering (and billing) small increments and keeping the process transparent, we can build up trust and understanding in both directions. And then if you do decide to take the rest of the project to a freelancer then nothing is lost, you have the products which have already been delivered (which may include code, descriptions, documentation, sketches, prototypes or other artefacts) and none of the work was wasted. Or we can continue together on the next of the deliverables.

We can work with telephone, email, video calls, screen-sharing, and I can provide results via the secure webserver. First point of contact would be by email, so if you think any of that makes sense for you, please get in touch.

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