Aussie DevCon 2007 .. Intro

Leading up to this year’s (2007) Aussie DevCon I was a mess of stress (the Talk) and excitement (the Everything).

Since a youngster, or before, I’ve loved companionship, friendship, fellowship .. As an older teenager I discovered Youth Camps .. and forget about it. Going through Uni, my life revolved around the next Camp, the next people event .. along with Girls, who provided the other half of panic and stress too.


Suffice to say that my mind was on big things this year.

We had three days of Capesoft Training. As readers of this blog (and DevDawn) know, I’m an unabashed fan of their work. But more than that, well no .. more importantly, they are genuine individuals. You can talk to them one-on-one, as a group. You can share a laugh, talk about rugby (these might be the same thing). You can discuss religion or go for a swim with them (Bruce, stop me! I’m waffling! Heh heh).

Then there was the two days of actual Conference. For the weeks previous, I had been concentrating on my talk (ask the guys I work with, or my better half). It was a huge dot in the calendar. Not because I was nervous about talking .. anyone who knows me for more than five minutes can see it’s plain I like talking. In front of people, or even by myself. Makes no difference, there’s always an audience :). I was nervous because of the _import_ of what was happening. I was nervous because I wanted to do very well. I was nervous because of who was there .. you, the community, Capesoft, Bob Z, Russ, my workmates.

It sounds very egocentric, and it is .. but the main focus of my mind leading up to the conference wasn’t the content of Bob’s speeches (Clarion 7). It was that I would deliver a talk that would fire the hearts and minds of those who listened.

Thankfully, Tony had put the talk in the middle of Saturday, so there was a day and a half to concentrate more on the other, more important, things. The talks, the people, the food. Oh baby, we had some good grub.

Okay, the intro is done. I will post Part 1 tomorrow, and Part 2 the day after. Splitting the five days into two, or possibly three segments.

Then, I’ll have six or seven posts that make up my talk. Also, a .DOC and .PDF will be put up. So possibly ten days straight days of content from PMyC (like the new shortening .. i’m thinking about doing a KFC .. ha ha .. and thanks to Bill for that)! Whooot.


Don’t read this if you’re wanting an un-biased viewing for yourself of Spiderman 3.

The greatest single mistake in the latest Spiderman movie, in my opinion, was the complete absense of Spidey-Sense. This is what makes Spidey have that edge over just your ordinary super-enhanced awesome heroic figure.

There were a bunch of other issues with the movie, don’t get me wrong. Two too-many villians. Obvious studio influences over Raimi’s vision. And let’s not forget the crazy mixed up Peter+Venom dance. Comic Book Camp should stay with that old Batman TV Series.

Seriously, this just suspended all my disbelief. For the first moment, I thought somehow it was going to turn a little dark .. but no, Peter just kept on waltzing along. And then, as if the whole direction got confused, the girls started _not_ liking him. But why? He was acting just the same. That charasmatic camp. Am I meant to take that somehow the symbiote was inherently making Peter Parker evil to the senses. That for the first few bravado jigs he was sexy, then suddenly he just turned evil. And everyone else had cat-senses. Wait! No .. everyone else had spidey-sense. Yeah.

Let’s not forget the just ordinary way of exiting James Franco from the movie. He, in my opinion, had some of the best material throughout the movies, even the 2nd one. He was the bitter and scarred son of Gobby. What better revenge story than that of misunderstandings? But throughout the course of this movie, he was bad, good, bad, in-between, good .. dying in the arms of MJ.

Please, someone have the kahonas to keep a really good actor/character on the road to misunderstanding. Don’t let Harry find out the truth. Let it be close .. then fall away, and he continue down that road. Let him and Pete fight it out, sans-lycra uniforms. Let the love for MJ be driven to the front, unrequited on both sides, to some extent. Let the ghosts of the past fly high above them, drawing all together as MJ herself gets in the middle. Or, since they have completely screwed with canon, bring in the lovely Gwen Stacy, and have her be the exit vehicle. I dunno, something with some grunt.

Mind you, Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard) is pretty cool. I’ve only seen her previously in the Village, which was underratedly cool. Although again, I thought her direction was a little confused. Was she playing the tramp, the genius, the actual love-interest. These things can be played all in one character, but you have to give time to the character, which in this movie, can never be done. Unless you made it the central story.

Speaking of MJ .. man alive. I didn’t mind her in the first two, but in this one. I’m not sure what it was, but by the end of the movie, the only decent main left standing (or not really alive) was Topher Grace. He was pretty cool as Brock. In fact, the added "face peel back" was awesome. Thomas Hayden Church doesn’t count as a Main, because he had about 3 lines. He’s pretty cool, but there wasn’t much to work with here.

As with number 1, Bruce Campbell got some of the best lines. This guy is gold. I’m now determined to rent out the Evil Dead movies shortly. Which Sam Raimi directed. Which is pretty well known.

I guess in the end, it smacked to me of too many cooks spoiling the broth. There was too much, and not very well developed. Each of the threads are awesome stories in their own right .. but I guess it depends on the story-teller. And if there are ten of them, each with different agendas, then bam goes the singular vision.

Again, to me, the greatest travesty, one that could have made other things a little more bearable, was the lack of spidey-sense. I want the danger warning!

Bling Bling, Essential Mods for Clarion

There are a number of essential Tools (I know, I called them Mods, but the gamer in me is strong) for Clarion.

Must Haves.

The Keys to the wonderful Kingdom of Kla .. I’ll stop that now.

As with other "Must Read" posts, this will grow and mould as time goes on. So if you believe there is a tool not here, please don’t hesitate to contact me and we’ll go through a series of barbaric rituals and competitions to see if your suggestion cuts the mustard.

Or, I guess you could start a blog yourself, and put your own list up :).

Initially, these are strictly tools that you should not go without. The Bear Essentials.


1. The Newgroups (


I’ve spoken (previously) about my respect for those that give of them time in the Newsgroups.

The Newsgroups are possibly the greatest tool there is at this time. They provide the largest compository (that I know) of information relating to Clarion.

You get answers to questions. The Third-Party newsgroup is a most excellent source of specific template questions.

You get information regarding the Clarion Community across the world. What is happening in various countries. The meetings, gatherings, beer swilling.

You get people at their best, and at their worst. Probably one of the most frustrating things about the newsgroups is inherent in their nature. They are one-way. Imagine if you had to talk through a generic robot for conversation. You couldn’t control the tone, the color, the face, the waving of the arms. You must deliver your messages slowly, and while this would give time to frame and think about your replies, in reality, more often it seems to make people more aggressive.

Of course, I’m more inclined to saying stupid stuff while in front of people. So take that last paragraph with a flavoured grain of salt.

The one true blight I see with the newsgroups is their inability to provide me with accurate results to my searching. Perhaps someone can knock up a webapp that sucks down the newsgroups and spits them out Tag-Cloud style. Something like that anyway would greatly enhance the ability to search.

The Google Groups version of comp.lang.clarion would have been that answer .. but alas, for some strange reason I know nothing about, it’s not a true mirror of the SV newsgroups.

Blurg. Enough. Newsgroups are number one on the list because of what they provide. They are the centre of the community. Knowledge, relationships, support and marketing. It all happens there, and there it happens the most.


2. File Manager (


This is, without a doubt, the greatest third-party template in existance for Clarion. And I’d suit it up against most anything else out there.

File Manager 3 (FM3), and the previous (2) version, although I’ve never used it, is a Template from Capesoft. You buy it (from the next "Tool"), and you install it.

What it does is give you the freedom to change your File Structures with wild abandon, and not have to worry about writing your own conversion functionality.

Plug it in. Set a few vars if you’re like me. And leave it. Nothing simpler.

I tried to think of an example involving Cars sold without Steering Wheels, but then realised, we release new versions of our software at a far reduced cost to already existing customers. I wonder if Ford would go for that business model? You own a Territory, no probs, get the Territory 2 at a discount of 60%. Ha ha. Nice.


3. ClarionShop (


This was a harder decision to make. Can you really count ClarionShop as a tool?

I (obviously) went with Yes, but not without hesitation.

While putting this list together, I had to think about truly, what is essential to a Developer getting better and what they do.

While it’s not exactly clearcut, ClarionShop fits the bill better than most of the other _things_ I could think of. Even if you’re just going to subsist on File Manager 3, you have to buy the template. And Clarionshop is the largest and best shopping centre for Clarion Templates.

The folks at ClarionShop are professional and helpful. Support is most always speedy, and more than willing to help with problems that crop up due to digital distribution (say the loss of passwords, etc).


.. The Promise Of More

Technically there’s only one "Mod" in the list. The post definately has future development/enhancement written all over it :).

This is really bare-bones. There are many more tools (templates and otherwise), that take Clarion from this earth, and park it squarely in place of the sun. And you didn’t even have to build the spaceship, or the air-ventilation.

Clarion’s Architecture For The Modern Chef

Pretend we’re talking about food. Cooks, broth, steak and cake.

Clarion’s simplicity is one of it’s greatest strengths. You can break down it’s architecture very simply. I guess the other side is that simple minds need it broken down (ha ha), but anyway.

The following image first appeared in the About page.


There is far more to Clarion than this. But sometimes you need to see a simple picture to imagine your path better.






They can all (and much more) be gained from renewing a simple global understanding. And for those new here, visiting, or coming back to Clarion after a long absense, maybe this will help. I’m using Clarion most every day, and it’s as important now as it was when I began to be clear about these things.

Respect and Honour For The Horde!

Okay, so the title is some wierd amalgum of Tauren cheers in World of Warcraft. Heh.


I realised that my post on Monday (see here) could have been taken in a manner which I did not intend at all.

I was raised to respect my elders and those around me. Elders, Peers, Siblings :).

I have great respect for all the work that has been done over the lifetime of Clarion, given to helping people on the forums, putting websites together full of information, email support. It’s a great community wherein the majority of people are only too happy to help.

So please don’t think that I hold a grudge against "The Community Man" or that I wish to have massive change happen. I’m not a young gun, full of his own self-importance. Well, at least, most of the time :). I hope i’m not.

It’s a wonderful privilege to be part of the Clarion Community. Sometimes I do get cross or frustrated with certain aspects of the Community. But this doesn’t take away from how much work people have and are putting into it within the conduits we have (newsgroups, websites, emails ..).

So I guess this is a shoutout to the Community. A respectful shoutout to everyone who’s helped further the community in whatever way.


Simple Practices to Enhance Your Daily Development

As time passes, our brains develop routines for what we do. Development is no exception. My brain has half a hundred (or maybe more) little routines that it’s been trained to enact when certain requirements are fulfilled.

There are generic practices that hold across most disciplines. These are especially easy to see when working with computers. How the keyboard and mouse interact. What tools are best to use for a particular job. Processes already in place in the system to allow greater efficiency.

In my (relatively short) time as a Clarion Dev, I’ve managed to accumulate a number of wonderful practices that without which, I would be a lot slower. Not that I’m quick, but I’m quicker with these in place.

My plan is for this post to grow via input from around the world, as well as my own as I come across them. Here be the (dragon) information.

Keep in mind too, that this post is tailored for folk who are new to the Clarion world.


[ctrl] Y    Remove Line

A very nifty trick (thanks Brett and Devan), this removes the line of code the cursor is situated on. Nice!


F10    Extended Text Dialog 

As of Clarion 6.1 (ish, ?) you can press F10 in an entry field within the templates to get an Extended Text Dialog window pop up, allowing you to "see" much more of what you are typing.

Great for Filters and other places where you sometimes type quite a long line of code!


[ctrl] R    Compile

Possibly the most used in my arsenal of speedy cyborg brain enhancements. Buttons are old-school, Twin keystrokes are the new web 2.0!


[ctrl] S    Save

This one I learned from MS Office. It’s been beaten into my subconscious routine. Always pressed, after most actions, unless I specifically don’t want to save.


[alt] M->E    Comment All

This one is great. Highlight 1 or more lines of code (SHIFT and arrow keys), then press this key sequence and it’s all Commented Out. OUT. Nice.

[alt] E -> M, ESC, [enter] on yes for the "are you sure", [ctrl] S (just for consistency, even though the compiler saves before .. compiling), [ctrl] R.



– Embeds are a single-click away. Why go through multiple clicks/windows?


Aussie DevCon 2007 .. Part 2 (Friday Content)

I’ve decided to split posts about the Conference in half .. but not chronologically, or by content.

The split will go thusly. The Content, and then The People.

"The People" will look at .. well more than just the people. I’ll talk about my observations of the Aussie Community, issues that were addressed, what people were talking about, etc etc.


Sometime Friday afternoon the Conference began proper. Bob Z was sighted. Tony gave a welcome speech. People arrived. Clipboards were opened. Three rooms were opened up into one big one. And everyone ate those little white mints. Man, they were hard to bite down on.

Our first session with Bob and Clarion 7 was all about the IDE. And you know what, if i recall correctly, we got through the entire couple of hours without a single question as to release date.

It was certainly bubbling about in the thinning mind-o-sphere, but quite amazingly, noone brought it up. Well, not till Saturday. Ha ha.

Anyway, what I’m going to do now is give you my notes. As they will be the best indicator of an individual point of view. I’ll just say, I don’t think I’m a good journalist. While i can certainly be obnoxious, I tend to wander off into various levels of reality, getting distracted by possibilities and dream-like sequences.

So here goes. My notes on Clarion 7 – The New IDE.

There will no doubt be quite a number of discrepencies in this report .. If you find them, please comment/email and I’ll update .. in RED no less :).


I’d also like to apologise for the dodgy, dodgy Editing. I’d forgotten how frustrating it is to take something from Word to HTML .. well, it is probably easy .. except I was trying to put this Live Writer in between, and then ended up spending heaps of time finding a wysiwyg editor (landed on Nvu) because I needed something that’s a lot better than Live Writer .. and Live Writer has a stupid limit on how large the page can be .. and .. AND .. Bruce! Quick .. Waffling again! ARRRGGGGG!!!!

Clarion 7


I’ve just noticed in IE that the apostrophes are all wierd .. I’ll update as soon as possible, clean it up.

– Pads

  • they have a pin
  • you can move them anywhere you want .. which is true of all the windows
  • you have the opportunity to decide how you best work with the IDE
  • everyone will find their own preference

the clarion header in the main window seems pretty huge

– Project

  • an App, in essence is a Project
  • now the Project is the big object .. the App now takes a second seat .. rather, the Project is now more visible than it has been.


– Solution,

  • this particular one was created by Bob Foreman
  • Solutions encompass more than Projects .. ahhh, the Solution is actually above the project, outside .. the project is a child of the Solution
  • There are a bunch of cool options for the Solution


– Project Options

  • output type, link mode, Target Name, Output Path

– start with debugger (F5)
– start without debugger (Ctrl F5)
Bob then pressed the right green button, and the build began and finished, and the Visual Styles Demo app started.

– Options

  • Build and Run Options (under General)
    • Output details
      • Quiet, Minimal, Normal, Detailed, Diagnostic
  • Clarion -> Application Options
    • Hasn’t changed much
  • Clarion .Net
  • Clarion for Windows
    • Enable project parsing .. relates to code completion, Clarion 7 has code completion in the system. When you open any app or soln project, it is parsed immediately, completely. Used to build the code completion db. And the Class Viewer, somewhere in here.
    • If you’re not gonna use the info, then you can turn it off
    • Someone had an app, 750 modules .. I have to wait .. this takes that away.   
  • Versions
    • Compile with any version (build, not just major) that you would want to compile with.
    • You can have individual builds
    • Let’s you take one IDE and let’s you use it with any version of Clarion .. we have known about this for a while.
  • Window Forms Designer
  • WINDOW Structure .. missed the last couple

-    Different Designers .. Clarion 7, .NET, ASP .NET .. going to go through all of them.

  • The "design" of these Designers is consistent across all versions .. which is a good obvious need

-    Opens up the "School" example app

  • "parsing" building parsing tables for Code Completion and the Class Viewer 

At this stage, Clarion 7 broke. However .. (Bob’s issues with laptops). This can’t have made him happy. So yeah.

I asked if Bob wanted to run the demo on my laptop .. which allowed him to go into his issues with slides .. etc etc.

-    Okay, the school example app

  • Worked the second time.
  • Showing us the class viewer
    • The icons, Bob mentioned some of their lameness I think
    • Works a lot like the c++ IDEs, which is natural, because it’s built offa SharpDevelop
    • MDI Tabs, Different Styles on Sheet combinations
    • Collapsing the definitions .. every piece of code
  • Which again, is like the better IDEs around.
    • Summary of what is within the collapsed code
    • Bookmarks are saved between sessions ..
    • Navigate Forward, Navigate Back ..
  • So every place in the code you visit is saved in a buffer

-    Now we’re looking at a WinForm version of the school app

  • Straight MDI .. not much to it (Bob’s words)

-    Another WinForm app with a twist

  • It has the tabs coming across like a new tab in Firefox ..
  • It’s using the same docking library that the IDE uses
  • It’s an open source library .. Weifen-lou??

-    Taking a look at some of the Designers

  • Comparing designing for Win32, WinForms, ASP.NET, Compact Forms
  • The Properties window (dockable etc etc) replaces the current Properties window in C6. A far far better interface .. oh man
  • I wonder if this whole IDE will scare people .. being too much like MS and other stuff .. OR too much NOT like the preceding Clarion IDEs

-    Powerful searching (and replacing)

  • Eg. Multi-DLL Solutions .. you can search across the whole family of apps/projects
  • Bob does a "Find All" .. which brings up the Search Results
    • Double-clicked on a search result, and the window popped up.  
    • Every key is stored in a text file, so you can change it if you want 
    • Ambient Properties
      • That you select more than one control .. change a property, and they all change .. like the F12 (similar in practice, but more powerful .. Bob’s words 

-    The IDE is looking slick .. and the window designer .. nice.

  • Goes into Options .. WINDOW Structure Designer
  • General -> Smart Tags, Auto open Smart Tags, Suppress Transparency, UseVisualStyles by default, Select Toolbox .. missed the rest
  • Grid Options -> Snap Lines
  • Makes it very easy to visually align a control
  • Better than the snap-grid .. arguably 

-    Back into the WinForm app

  • There isn’t a keystroke to activate the Designer
    • It’s a tab at the bottom of the window (this isn’t in Clarion 7, only in .NET)
    • In .NET can have one class .. I don’t really understand what Bob said here, as to why it’s only in .NET .. should have listened better.
    • Can do Regular Expressions in the Search and Replace 

-    Bob goes into a couple of different design contexts .. forms, reports ..

-    Opens up an ASP.NET app, and then the Designer ..

  • Showing again the consistency between the Designers
  • uses IE to show the app
  • code is all Clarion code, for the ASP

-    Compact Forms

  • Can’t run (test) directly, but through the Device Emulator.
    • nice, looks like Eclipse/NetBeans stuff
  • This doesn’t look TPS files .. uses an XML dataset ..
    • But all Clarion code that’s driving it.

-    Clarion to CSharp

  • Since it’s a full fledged .NET language, you can operate with any other .NET language.   
  • Showed us a CSharp form, Bob :: "not that impressive, hard to do impmressive stuff in CSharp"

-    CSharp to Clarion

  • You can pop the CSharp data right into the Clarion code, and it’s seamless.

-    The UI is not completely done .. some things won’t fill in etc etc.

-    Can open lots of files at once .. DCTs, most other code files .. but the Solution (and App by extension) works differently, and can only be opened one at a time .. piped through a different section, or something I can’t remember exactly.

-    QuickView is distinct from Editing

  • Opening a number of fields at once, tabbed, opened top and bottom
    • In other words, all the docking capabilities are the dictionary too
    • Pretty much, get any kind of view of the dictionary that you want.
  • There is going to be extensive drag’n’drop capabilities
  • Sorting of fields etc, alphabetically .. etc etc
  • Switched away from IDs to GUIDs in the Dictionary 

-    Warren Marshall then asked

  • "possible to comment?? Out different parts of the dictionary in the IDE, and in the dictionary itself??"
  • Bob’s Answer:
    • Categories, you can Categorise the dictionary
    • So have a Category look like a dictionary to the AppGen

-    Russ then passed on a question

  • Possible to be able to have multiple dictionaries associated to one App
  • Bobs Answer::
    • No, initially, Yes with a virtualized dictionary

-    Q. something about the External Name .. possibly easily viewing the External Name, yeah, how to see it easy

  • A. search capabilities across all the attributes
    • Would be reasonable to declare the External Name was complete, detect it, and report an error. 

-    some more questions .. I was phased out a bit

-    Bob now takes us into the Invoice dictionary

  • List of all tables in dictionary was blank
  • Second list is tables actually on the diagram
  • Then the third window was the Diagram itself
    • Which is a visual representation of the tables
      • Which is techinally just another view of the Dictionary, strictly ..
  • "View as Diagram" will be an option
  • Such a big difference in the Interface .. it’s gonna rock
  • Tooltips on each of the Keys, and the Fields (all of it configured, tooltips, additional information)
  • Tables are scrollable .. not with a scrollbar, but with the arrow buttons in the header
  • Same dialog that you’d see in another view
  • Print Preview, Print, Print to PDF .. and although not in there at the moment, Print to Image
  • Annotations will persist
  • Being able to just see the Titles of the Tables, and their relationships.
  • Only available in the Enterprise edition .. just the Diagram Tool. 

-    Wrapping up the first session

  • Looking at the XPP
  • Applications Pad
    • Generate All, Generate, Edit
    • Lists as many apps as you have in your Solution
    • The XPP is a separate entity to the Project created above it.
    • E.g. Generating the XPP redoes the tree above .. the Project tree.
  • Now we’re seeing the App Gen.
    • Not going too deep, because it’s had some changes .. Bob stresses the complicated nature of everything. 

-    Determining Page Breaks in the Reports

  • I began the question, but really had no idea .. Warren took it over
    • A. it still is happening.
    • But, Clarion 7 is a superset of Clarion 6.
    • Fixes for Clarion 6 immediately go into Clarion 7.
    • Vica Versa.
    • Reports have not been revisited in Clarion 7.
    • So no. 

-    Some more questions .. kind of fading away.

-    one was .. Q. How many file drivers for the Compact?

  • A. Talked about how the XML was a dataset .. not a file driver.
  • A. You can use anything natively available on the compact framework .. at this point in time you can’t use any of the drivers most of us are familiar with in Clarion.
  • CESQL, XML .. anything else.
  • Geoff Bomford (even though your comment is just below Geoff, I’ll still update the post, heh heh) writes ..
    • I’m pretty sure that Bob said the TPS driver was being developed for use on compact devices, where it would be perfect because of the compact size of the database.