05 May 2008

Announcing ShipFu!

Have you ever needed to quickly compare UPS and USPS shipping rates, and just wanted a simple web page/app to do it? If so, check out my new ShipFu app. It's incredibly simple. No gratuitous web decoration, no hidden motivation behind it to promote some other product or shipping service, etc., just a simple calculator. Enter your package origin and destination, and dimensions and weight, and voila, you'll be presented with all the rates available for that from the two services.

I built ShipFu to address a need of my own, and the fact that I just didn't seem to like any other solutions out there - seemed to be too many hidden agendas or ungainly UI's, etc. Also, I built this as a bit of an experiment with a few technology aspects. It's a Rails app, and is running on the new-ish Thin server, etc. I plan to have a blog post that goes into a lot more depth on some of the fun things that occurred as part of building this super simple app.

Also, please, by all means, send me feedback (use the feedback link shown near the bottom of the site) if you'd like to see some feature or enhancement or what not. Or, just use it to help you quickly gauge shipping rates.


Drew McManus said...

Hey Cool! I like it.

Jason said...

Chris, this is a great tool. However, the UPS charges may not be correct in some situations. For example, UPS charges more for a residential shipment than for a commercial shipment. In addition, there are many accessorial charges that can be added to a shipment. If they are not captured at the time someone gets a rate, their charges may be a lot higher than what is shown on your calculator. But that may be overkill, depending on how accurate you want your calculator. I can give you more information about these charges if you are interested. In any case, it is a cool and very simple tool to use!!!

Chris said...

Jason, thanks for the comments. I've been debating about how I present this kind of info to the user. I do a fair bit of shipping, so am unfortunately all too aware of all the crazy tweaks UPS in particular has (the whole residential vs. commercial thing sucks, and if you live in a rural area, they really nail you for that, etc.). I've currently stayed away from all the add-ons like insurance and so on, but will be looking at at least some of those options in the future.

One of the aspects for me was to have it very simple, and this was done somewhat as an experiment. I am using a library behind the scenes to do some of the work, and it is rather minimal in what it provides. I've been planning to go add a bunch of things to it, but have to balance that work with actual paying work :)

But, one of those other things, is, on the USPS side, providing the "average time estimates" for various shipping rates, since it's far less clear for USPS as compared to UPS' rates which are named for how long they take and are thus much more informative. They do differ in that UPS has more of a guarantee on their times than USPS, but still.

Regardless, feedback is what I'm after, and one reason I went so simple to start - I wanted to see what features were actually most important to people, and work on those, instead of trying to guess what people might want, and possibly spending time on features nobody cared about. So, thanks again for the comments, and let me know if you have others...