Cutting List Printer

The engineering department of a large company had to print half a dozen documents for each one of the 100’s of parts to be manufactured each day.

These could include any of the following:

These were a combination of CAD files, spreadsheets and PDF documents. Most required information to be added (quantity, order number…) either to cells or as PDF overlay stamps. Some parts were composed of nested parts.

The rules covering what to print and where to find the files differed depending on the type of part.

Due to changes in the business, and the difficulty in capturing all the exceptions, we were finding out new rules every few weeks/months and having to update the application. There was no way the client could have specified everything up front.

Designing a solution

Manually testing every permutation after each change wasn’t feasible, yet we still had to guarantee that any changes to behaviour applied to all the right scenarios without affecting others, which can easily happen with this level of complexity.

We achieved this through automated tests that allowed us to check every bit of behaviour without running the full process (think of the paper waste!)

Designing an architecture that caters for fluctuating similiarities and differences over such a range of scenarios, and allows granular testing, requires the kind of advanced programming techniques that most developers only become comfortable with after 3-4 years of experience.

Effect on the business

Asside from the huge amount of admin time saved, automating the whole process also delivered added benefits:

Take home points

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