LabManager

LabManager is a software solution, which was developed before TRIAD, for a small computer shop where I worked a long time ago.

Why

My career began as a insignificant computer technician for an insignificant shop in my city. They sold Macs and technical support, in exchange for debts.

Their strategy for keeping track of the repair jobs was to print blank forms, fill by hand and attach them to the computers; occasionally they used just a post-it.

One can easily imagine the level of chaos this method implied, but as long as it didn’t regard me, it was fine. But after less than one year I started doing repairs seriously, much more than the other technician, and the support process started involving me completely. Handling those computers was a total mess, and I couldn’t keep track of expirations, stuck jobs, or ordered parts. Occasionally some post-it fell off, and the computer magically became completely anonymous. Of course it was always my fault when things went wrong, as it was impossible to precisely track older jobs or do researches.

It was at this point that I decided to take the FileMaker solution they used to print the forms and start using it to keep the actual active jobs inside it (mainly for archival purposes, which turned out very useful). The program quickly evolved into something more and more usable, as I slowly learned how databases work, and in another year I was using it to handle all the service jobs in the laboratory. Of course the other people in the shop didn’t care about it, and continued creating new jobs with the printed forms, so I had the extra overhead of transcribing them inside LabManager before working on the hardware.

I worked on small parts in dead moments, during lunch times or at night, it was nice to see how easy it was to do all this stuff with so few code.

Year after year it received many redesign operations, one day it had another list, the other a printing layout, and a complete internationalization system.

The graphic became sleekier and more elegant, the list more useful, the detail better organised. When I decided to fire myself from the job after like five years, they continued to use it until the shop eventually failed after one more year. A new shop with a new management was created a few months later, and the staff was partially taken from the old one, they also contacted me for designing and building the service area. LabManager was then again redesigned and improved for the reborn shop, with a dashboard and a working online status for the client.

Eventually some big investor decided to purchase the company, and when they saw the laboratory dashboard in a half-assembled screen with dangling parts attached to the wall… well they asked who created the software. TRIAD was born. But that’s another story.

How

FileMaker. It’s a standard FM solution which can run from a server or directly on the client. The layout is compatible with Mac, PC, iPad and iPhone.

It supports centralised printing, a simple state management, expirations, parts, an internal inventory and much more. More details can be found on the official website .

Is it dead?

Nope, actually it’s still on sale and supported. New features will be added on request of the existing clients. Contact me through the form on the website for more info.