ailon's DevBlog: Development related stuff in my life

Automatic Unit Converter

5/21/2010 2:54:45 PM

What & Why?

On my recent trip to USA one of the biggest challenges was a constant need to evaluate all the US units and figuring what they mean to me. Miles, feet, inches, gallons, ounces, Fahrenheit… Come on, guys, it’s about time to switch to normal measurement system! ;)

Nevertheless I’ve liked it there and would definitely want to go again. So, Microsoft Lithuania contest to make an Internet Explorer 8 accelerator with trip to MIX11 as a grand prize couldn’t come handier.

When first paragraph met the second one in my head, I knew immediately what to make for this contest.

Please welcome my Automatic Unit Converter IE8 accelerator and complimentary site. You just select some text on some site, click the blue accelerator button, hover over “Convert to Metric” and get all the known units in your selection converted to metric.

Automatic Unit Converter for IE8

Why not just use Google, Bing, etc.?

  1. Not everything work automagically with Google and Bing. 60 ft 5 inch works, but 60'5" doesn’t. Often you have to tell Google what your target is. Building an engine to figure that out is one short step away from just converting the values. So I just made that step myself.
  2. Multiple values in arbitrary text. When you are looking at a text containing multiple values (like in the screenshot above) you don’t want to select and convert them one by one.

What about other systems and directions?

I would probably improve US-to-Metric over time and add Imperial-to-Metric. As for converting these back from metric I’m not personally interested in it. That said I’ve created a conversion module in away to allow expansion and I’m ready to make it open source. So, if someone is up for the task, let me know and I’ll post the project online and implement selection and specific accelerators for different scenarios into the site.

Vote for me!

My accelerator is listed on the contest page as “Matų konvertavimas”. Click on “Patinka” if you like the accelerator.

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