Adding new features is (not) hard

The software being built to approve your healthcare plans is unable to handle variations in billing premiums based on a person’s age, if that person is a smoker.

Earlier this week a request came in from a potential Handbid client; the ability to charge tax on a per item basis. The catch was, the tax could be based off either the fair market value of that item or the winning bid amount.

Handbid, up to this point, only had the ability to charge tax during checkout on the sum of the bidder’s receipt. This limitation is, without a doubt, my doing. See, we have a little bit different of a culture around here. It’s one that allows me (an engineer) to push back on features I don’t think our software needs.  The ability to tax on a per item basis sounds like just another one of those things I argued we could do without. Now, to be fair, Handbid has lasted 2+ years without the ability to charge tax on a per item basis… so while was wrong, I was a little bit right =) I guess, to be honest, eventually, I’m always wrong, but that’s the fun part about having a product in the hands of eager customers; the learning.

Anyway… I had a challenge in front of me, to say the least. I mean, the company charged with building the piece of software that stands between new health insurance applicants and their “care” is delayed a year in giving insurers the ability to charge variable rates depending on what I would argue is totally arbitrary parameters.

Well, today I set out in an attempt to implement the per item, variable tax feature into Handbid (which, keep in mind, is running 1+ year out of date versions of IronFrame, our app framework).

So, how long did it take?

It took about 55 minutes.

15 minutes to implement.

20 minutes of waiting for our production server to auto-update before I realized we turned it off to keep someone (me) from having a boo boo.

15 minutes to run 4 full auction lifecycle tests, from open, to check in, to bid, to countdown, close and ultimately receipt generation. We tested using the web, an iPhone and an iPad.

5 minutes to add it to the receipt (so the bidder could see the tax being charged for each item).

We even got to show off the system to visitors in the office while doing our testing =)

Oh, wanna hear something else cool?

It took less than 10 lines of code.

Wait, what?

Bonus: I built it so the taxable amount is entirely customizable and selectable by the auction manager. That means, with little effort, we can allow the tax to be calculated against pretty much anything we want, be it an actual field (total, highestBidAmount) or calculated (average bid amount). While I have no idea why we would need this extra customizability, our system gives it to us for free.

We are currently looking for talented, passionate engineers. Also, we write our stuff in PHP, MongoDB, NodeJS, and Dojo. When we build something on one layer, it is very easy to get it to work across all.

If you are interested, contact us.


P.S. Please, no “hackers,” we are looking for engineers who grasp (or can learn) advanced engineering concepts.

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