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Cooking computer program

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

First, my name is Chris and I am a computer programmer. I am working on a program that would facilitate storing/retrieving recipes and with some of the cooking. It is probably going to be most beneficial to those in the enthusiast-intermediate level as you master chefs probably have everything memorized anyway.

My vision is fairly simple. Make, store, search, and print recipes. There will also be a tool that helps with unit conversions.

What I need help with is what the program should look like. Not being a very good cook myself I can't say that what would be good for me would be good for everyone else (in fact, the way my mind works I can almost guarantee that it wouldn't). You don't have to know anything about computers; all that we'll do is email some pictures back and forth of what the program will look like (what fields go where kind of thing).

If you have any questions, I'm all ears. Thank you very much.
post #2 of 9
There are already a number of tools out there for this that are quite successful.

Mastercook and Now You're Cooking.

They've been successful. I think you'd find more of a niche in Iphone and Android apps for this thing as those are right there with the cook when they're shopping and cooking.

Of course the free hack for this is to make a cooking folder at google mail. Mail yourself recipes. Use googles mail search to pull up hits on various ingredients, names, cuisines or techniques with some tagging or naming conventions. Google also does unit conversions through their search field.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
The main drive behind this is that I can learn a lot from the process of putting all this together and I do plan on having iPhone support as well.

Even though there are options available that's not a good reason I shouldn't try to implement my own.

I'm not looking to make any money on this and I wouldn't be too hurt if no one ever used it, but I would still like to do it all the same.

post #4 of 9
I understand. Take a look at Mastercook and Now You're Cooking. You'll get lots of interface input.

My biggest beef with them is that inputting recipes is a hassle. You have to type and tab all over. Or to import from a file, there is a fair amount of required formatting for it all to work right.

A more intuitive input interface is the thing that needs the most help. Maybe a format painter like in Word where the recipe is displayed, you paint in heading info, ingredient lists and instructions. Then the computer does the rest. Doesn't help with input from a text or Word file of the family's recipes though. That needs some AI applied so it just works.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #5 of 9
You're computer program is going to do some of the cooking?

Not sure I'd want to be around that thing when its working with a cleaver.
post #6 of 9
Chris -

sounds simple, bits of the app are not.

some things to think about:

fractions - one and one-half cups: is that 1.5 cups, 1-1/2, 1-chr$(171) - not everyone using the same character set. one-half and one-quarter are reasonably std characters available.
what about three-eights?
trust me, there are folks who do not "know" that 1.25 is the "same" as 1-1/4
and there are folk who interpret 1-1/4 to mean 2.75 cups (eleven fourths; they didn't know what to make of the hypen.....)

scaling: when doubling a recipe, not everything is recommended as x 2. leavening and seasonings as examples.

weight vs volume: the cups thing is a north american habit. most solids get weighed elsewhere in the world. to do that conversion you need a density table - which must be user maintainable with add/delete/change. and "stuff" is not == "stuff" - the whole gammut of flours have differing densities and rice - in all hundreds of types - is not "one density" - and rice, by many names for same 'variety,' is the most common foodstuff of the world.

and the ever popular: pinch, dash, little bit, to taste

importing random structure recipes is indeed a challenging AI task. there are versions of Mastercook which do not seamless talk to each other, and they _have_ a "format" - recipes you find posted here and elsewhere have no predefined format, of any kind.

I did a shopping list program. type a couple keys of the item you get a drop down list of selections - including first key <space> second key search logic, the more you type the smaller the list. not found=option to add to database. select, add a comment. on screen by alpha, but prints hard copy sorted by aisle number. works by keyboard or mouse; essential imho. the MS select and confirm all action only my mouse is just not convenient/user friendly.
post #7 of 9
imagine the work trying to reformat the Joy of Cooking with its narrative style of recipe where the ingredients are just in the flow of the whole process. No e-version in Mastecook for you!
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #8 of 9
... narrative style

I have multiple hundred "cards" from my g-grandmother and grandmother that are written "instruction style":

"put 1-1/2 cups of flour in a big bowl, add 3 eggs, 1 cup of milk, dash of salt, spoon of baking powder........"

not an easy thing to "format"
post #9 of 9
You should do a touch screen, much easier than trying to type with dirty hands.
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