Upgraded Car Repair History Survey
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
I originally created the Car Repair History Survey to serve as a supplement to the main survey, the Car Reliability Survey, for people who wanted to report on cars not yet in the main survey or to report on repairs that occurred before they joined.
The original Car Repair History Survey was minimalist–to a fault. There was no easy, intuitive way to edit or delete entries. Only one entry could be made for a month. And it wasn’t possible to enter many different details.
Even so, many members have been using the Car Repair History Survey to maintain a record of their car repairs. For this purpose, it could do a much better job. So I have totally rewritten the code to improve usability and include many additional functions.
Highlights of the revised survey:
1. Edit and delete separate entries, or entire repair trips. (This will not affect your Car Reliability Survey responses, which are in separate tables.)
2. Configurable level of detail, even by car — provide your settings before getting started using the button at the top of the form. Settings can be changed at any time, in any direction. They do not affect the data already input, only what is displayed and which items are on the form.
3. Optionally report on routine maintenance, preventative maintenance, wear items, and even cleaning expenses and mods. While only repairs and (perhaps) preventative maintenance are displayed in the public repair histories, you can now track nearly every car-related expense in your personal car cost report.
4. Option to itemize costs by repair and even by the amounts for parts and labor. The system will calculate the totals if you opt for this level of detail. You can also provide the amount paid by warranty, if you’d like. In all cases, leaving a field empty will not cause a problem–it’s entirely a matter of what information you want to record.
5. Easy way to import Car Reliability Survey entries–if you’re part of that survey, first submit any new repairs through it. You’ll be able to add additional detail when importing them.
6. Specify the system repaired, so we can better organize the information in the public repair histories.
This is just the first phase. In coming months I’ll:
1. Change the public repair histories to draw from the new tables. In the meantime, new entries won’t appear in the public histories.
2. Clean up the design. The report’s format already changes based on your settings, but more could be done to optimize the low-detail format to make it more concise, like the old report.
3. Provide summary statistics of costs by time period and by miles.
4. Perform a similar upgrade on the Gas Mileage Survey.
5. Integrate the Car Repair History and Gas Mileage Surveys to provide a complete online car maintenance and cost record.
Further out, I hope to make it possible to import data from spreadsheets and input information through mobile devices.
Any suggestions? Post a comment.