These are projects posted by the students of Dr. Gove Allen at Brigham Young University. These students have taken one semester-long course on VBA and generally have had no prior programming experience

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Local Eats

If one has ever moved to a new and unfamiliar city, he/she has run into at least one major problem: not knowing what good restaurants there are to eat out at.  This is especially a problem in Provo, Utah where it seems, at first glance, that there is nothing but your main staple chains such as McDonald's,  Red Robin, Subway, Taco Bell, etc., that are located almost everywhere in the world.  Little does the newcomer know that there are many small, local, mom and pop restaurants, as well as local joint favorites that survive only by word-of-mouth, scattered across the city.  And, if they do know, they may not know a quick way to find out about them other than by years of experience.  Therefore, unless one has spent considerable time looking, or has a local friend with a familiar knowledge of the area, they may never stumble across these small gems.

My task was to ease the pain of foodies, restaurant lovers, and people in search of a good restaurant for date night.  The program I wrote takes what would be hours of searching, comparing, and asking around for the best places to eat, and simply loads a list of literally hundreds of restaurants in a city ranked in order from best to least best in a matter of minutes.  Best of all, once the user has told the program the city desired and given all the required information, the program works on its own and does not need any further input or assistance from the user.

The program is simple.  The user clicks on the button “Find Restaurants”, and then inputs the required information into the user-forms that appear.  The program then fetches the list of the desired number of restaurants given.  The list includes the restaurant’s name, address, neighborhood, price range, category, and rank position in the city according to  Once this data has been stored, the program starts the heavy work: gathering the restaurant ratings from Urbanspoon, Yelp, and Google.  The program uses mathematical weighted averages to sort the list and place it in a neatly formatted table that can be easily filtered and manipulated by the user for his/her convenience in finding the “perfect” local restaurant to eat at.  Plus, there is no need to stand and wait around for the results.  The user can go make a ham sandwich and relax while the program works; it will send them a text message when it is complete.

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