Monday, September 3, 2012

SwitchList: Suggesting Cargos

When I first started doing model railroad operations, the worst part (after fixing all the rare derailments and mechanical problems) was writing up the car cards. I had to write down a couple hundred possible cargos and routes to name all the possible things that boxcars could be carrying on my railroad. Canned fruit from Del Monte to the East Coast. Cattle being unloaded at Alma. Crates going to the packing house in Campbell. It was tedious and annoying work, and when I realized I didn't have the amount of traffic right, I had to go and write more cards. After all that, I created SwitchList so I wouldn't have to write all those cards.

SwitchList cuts the effort, but while I don't have to make twenty cards for all twenty cars of dried fruit leaving from Plant 51, I still have to decide what shipments might be received or sent from each industry. It's possible to learn what each industry might ship, either from books or from the OPSIG industry database, but that's stuff the computer ought to know how to do well, right?

Time to make that computer work a bit harder.

SwitchList-1.1.1 now contains a "Suggest Cargos" feature where you can name an industry, and it'll suggest some potential cargos that can be shipped from or received by the industry. SwitchList will guess at your industry based on its name, let you adjust its guess, then suggest several cargos that would be appropriate from that industry.

For now, the feature's simplistic; not all kinds of industries are listed, and some that are listed only have a few suggestions. But I think this could be helpful; I'd love feedback on whether you find this to be a useful feature, and I'd appreciate suggested cargos to include.

Check out the latest version of SwitchList over at the main SwitchList site, try it out, and if you like the Suggest Cargos feature, make some suggestions of your own about potential industries and cargos that SwitchList ought to know about!

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