Stu’s Greatest Hits (Tools)

I make no excuses for this list. These are the tools that I use every day. They are what I consider to be important for development.

That doesn’t mean I won’t change though, or be persuaded otherwise. I’m always hearing of other tools that sound great. Sometimes it’s a monetary restriction. Other times it’s a busy factor. Hopefully I’ll get to most of them.

Information Tools

Product Tools

Honorable Mention Tools

Information Tools

The Newsgroups ([Back To Listing]

The Newsgroups provide the largest amount of information relating to Clarion (that I know of).

You get answers to questions. You have the questions themselves. The 3rd-Party newsgroup is a most excellent source of specific product 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.

The one true issue I have with the newsgroups is their inability to provide me with accurate and complete searching capabilities. The Google Groups version of comp.lang.clarion goes some of the way, but (as far as i know) it’s not an up-to-date mirror of the actual newsgroup. And that doesn’t account for any of the other individual newsgroups.

Clarion Mag ([Back To Listing]

Clarion Mag really does stomp all over the Newsgroups in a couple of key areas. Much better contextual searching; and it’s got a great Editor (Dave Harms).

Clarion Mag’s range of articles is large. They are written well, edited (as mentioned) well, and the presentation of the site is clean and simple.

Subscription may frighten some people off. Don’t let it. The benefit massively outweighs the paltry fee (less than two hundred big boys). You have a huge contextual well-written repository of information .. that’s peace of mind for problem-solving.

ClarionShop ([Back To Listing]

I know, bad data mapping huh. ClarionShop isn’t really an "Information" site.

ClarionShop is the best place to buy 3rd-Party Templates and Software.

The folks there are friendly and the service is top-notch.

NetTalk Central ([Back To Listing]

This site (it’s forums are the main attraction) has quickly become one of the busiest in the Clarion Community.

For anything NetTalk, particularly the Web Server, head on over. I’d say even to prefer it over the 3rd-Party Newsgroup for help, advice and knowledge. Bruce visits often, and there are more and more wise heads logging in.

Product Tools

File Manager 3 ([Back To Listing]

This is, without a doubt, the greatest 3rd-Party Template in existence for Clarion. And I’d suit it up against the development world at large too.

File Manager 3 is a Template from Capesoft. You buy it 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. Increment the Version. Compile. Nothing Simpler.

Clarion Desktop ([Back To Listing]

I’ve gushed about Clarion Desktop before (here). You cannot put a price on making the 3rd Party product upgrade process easy. But I will. $3 a month. That’s right! Gary charges you 3 big boys a month, and what you get in return will save so much time.

Let’s be clear on the reason for Clarion Desktop making this list.

I don’t have to manually upgrade my 3rd Party products. Clarion Desktop knows when there is a new version and will download and (in most of mine) run the Installer. Clarion Desktop (the Professional edition) keeps my passwords, and for the Capesoft products (and some others) that really takes a painful equation out of the way.

There are some issues. Sometimes a product’s "version" will be stuck until you do a manual upgrade. I believe this is due to a problem with how Clarion Desktop reads the 3rd Party RSS feed. But I could be wrong.

For me, taking away the pain of manual 3rd Party product upgrades justifies Clarion Desktop’s place on this list.

NetTalk ([Back To Listing]

I use NetTalk all the time. These days it’s usually the Web Server in conjunction with Emailing and some other facets. But whether you want to build a standalone Web Server with Browse/Form (and a lot more) Template functionality hitting your DB directly .. or whether you are looking to write and E-Mail client, NetTalk is the Template for you.

Particularly, the Web Server is just awesome. You don’t need to worry about IIS. You don’t need to worry about Apache. All you need (this should be a song) is NetTalk.

PDF-Tools ([Back To Listing]

Reporting to PDF is vital in our world today. Face it, without PDFs you cannot expect to compete.

PDF-Tools is a complete package. You plug in the Template and compile. The more you delve into the options (which work by default just fine), the more you understand the power PDF-Tools gives you.

Setup Builder ([Back To Listing]

Putting together an Installation can be tedious and frustrating. Setup Builder is none of those two, and all of awesome.

Learning the ropes on a new product can be daunting, but take the time with Setup Builder and you will be rewarded in full. Once the fog has lifted (I had a few days of heavy fog, the old brain couldn’t work it out right away) you will be hit with just how much control Setup Builder gives in the creation of Installation (and Upgrade, and more) files.

More than just being a great product, the support that Friedrich brings to the product is first-class. Absolutely.

Dr. Explain ([Back To Listing]

A couple of years back, I saw a post on the newsgroups about a piece of Help Authoring software. The word "free" and "blog" jumped at me with feverish excitement, so I downloaded Dr. Explain, wrote a review, and received my copy.

The latest version of Dr. Explain has kicked it up ten notches to take on the big fellows. Basically, you can write your Help files with wild abandon now, not only having something which outputs like Help & Manual, but pulls in SnagIt-like functionality for good measure.

Seriously, this is what Help Authoring software should be. And is with Dr. Explain.

Notepad++ ([Back To Listing]

A Text Editor is a powerful development tool. You should not get by without one.

Notepad++ trumps the previous place-holder here, Ultraedit, for me. It’s Lightweight. It does what I needed Ultraedit to do. It’s free. And, it’s light. Weight.

The Text Editor is like the proton energy pill. Or something.


"Documents and SettingsApplication DataNotepad++userDefineLang.xml""Program FilesNotepad++pluginsAPIs*.api"

Honorable Mention Tools (One’s I Don’t Use But Probably Should)

Clarion Handy Tools ([Back To Listing]

I didn’t know much about CHT until I started really getting into NetTalk. Now whenever I’m gushing about NetTalk, one of the little men in the back room of my brain is thinking about CHT and humming away to ACDC: "C. H. T. .. It’s Dynamite!"

This is one particular product that I really want to, and will, try out in the near future. If you ask around, on the newsgroups or Skype or elsewhere, CHT will be on the praise list.

What does it give you? From what I can tell .. Everything. And that’s just fine.

Clarion Connection ([Back To Listing]

Tom’s site is fantastic. It’s two lists. One being the recent "Clarion Stuff", the other being ALL the "Clarion Stuff". If you like your information methodical and vertical, hit up Clarion Connection.

I need to visit here more often.

What Is Clarion?

Clarion is a Rapid Application Development (RAD) software development tool, currently owned by Soft Velocity.

Using the Template system, you can quickly generate windows, forms, browses and more, simple and efficiently. Code generation is first class, and embed points mean you can inject your own code into any place you need it. Alternatively, you can hand code procedures and applications as you see fit. Your Dictionary (Database structures) fits seamlessly into the Application and the Templates.

Clarion 6 is the primary version in the field at this time (March 2008).

Clarion 7 is in Beta. There is no official release date at this time (March 2008).

Clarion .Net is in Beta. There is no official release date at this time (March 2008).\r\n

We done sipping the coolaid? Ready to take the Red Pill? Open up the Scary Door?

Let’s cut to the chase. Read on.

Clarion will make you money faster than any other development tool there is.

Clarion will enable you to create software which solves business rules like no other development tool in existence.

But before we get to that, you need to understand the reality of what Clarion 6 is. We are looking at Clarion 6 for the moment, because Clarion 7 is not yet released. I will say here that Clarion 7 and .Net will have a completely new IDE, amongst other things.

Slap In The Face ..

It’s a 16 bit IDE. That’s right. For anyone used to MS Express Editions (or even MSVC++ 6 IDE), or IDE’s like Sharp Develop, you will have a rude slap in the face when firing up Clarion 6 for the first time. There is no code completion. There is not a normal text editor with normal word-like functionality. It’s basic.

.. But Don’t Give Up!

Be prepared. And don’t be discouraged! Working in Clarion will give you great power once you become familiar with it’s interface, and with it’s quirks.

Clarion gives you an unequaled integration between database and development environment. I will illustrate this with a short example.

Business Problem:

Brad Pitt needs a program that will store each of his movies. That’s it. You’ll need a Movie file. One file.

Clarion Solution:

Create a Dictionary in the IDE.

Add the Movie file.

Add the needed fields (like Name, Date Released). – Brad doesn’t care about the other Actors. He only wants the Movies. So no need for any 1:M child files. –

Save Dictionary and create an Application in the IDE.

Attach the dictionary to the Application.

Create a Browse procedure using the Clarion Templates.

Set the Browse to display the needed fields.

Enter an Update procedure name in the appropriate Template section.

Create the Update procedure using the Clarion Templates.

Add the fields to the window that need to be updated.

Press CTRL-r.

Huzzah! You have just created a program for Brad Pitt!

But more importantly, you have solved a Business Problem in about half an hour. Not a complex one, but that doesn’t matter. Solving complex solutions is only a matter of breaking them down into simple ones like Brad’s movie list. The fun comes with making sure all the simple solutions mesh together.

Clarion is a development tool like nothing else on the planet.

Read What Can Clarion Do For Me? to learn more about Clarion.

What Can Clarion Do For Me?

If you haven’t already, read What Is Clarion? for information regarding Clarion.

What Can Clarion Do For You?

Clarion can make you money faster than any other development tool on the planet.

It’s true.

"Flay that man alive!" I hear the baying of the IT crowd. You cannot make statements like that. So absolute. So arrogant.

It’s true.

Now I will explain myself ..

1. Clarion Is The Best There Is At ..

.. It’s unparalleled in the cooperation of database (stored information) and interface (represented and translated information).

Software Development is all about solving problems. Most of the time we call them Business Problems. We (the software developer) solve Business Problems.

How do we solve Business Problems?

We represent and translate information. Information. That’s it.

Why Clarion is better than anything else is simple. It’s unparalleled in the cooperation of database (stored information) and interface (represented and translated information).

Let’s simplify that.

DATABASE (Information)


INTERFACE (Representation and Translation of Information)

Despite it’s own IDE, despite a few strange flaws, Clarion is the best there is at this. It’s so easy to wield the power of fully functional database access and manipulation within template generated or hand coded interfaces.

2. Clarion Has An Amazing 3rd Party Community

Let’s face it, there are a number of 3rd Party Template products that without which, I could not bring such fervor to the table.

How important is the 3rd Party Community?

.. You ship your product and live "file upgrade" free

You have a product like File Manager 3. Without it, you have to write your own file upgrade functionality. Any database change requires your own code. With FM3, you never have to worry. A single increment of a number setting. That’s all. All the database changes are taken care of. You ship your product and live "file upgrade" free.

.. No IIS. No Apache. Just your self-contained Web Server exe.

You have a product such as NetTalk (particularly, but not limited to, it’s WebServer) which allows unprecedented access to all kinds of network communications. You can ship an entire web server, complete with browse/form paradigm web functionality, interacting directly with your database, in a single install. No IIS. No Apache. Just your self-contained Web Server exe.

These are just two examples of many. Read Must Have Clarion Development Tools for a few more, or check out Clarion Shop for a huge range.

3. One Developer Is All You Need

.. If you are a C, C++, .Net or Javascript programmer, PHP, ASP or Cobol guru .. I will out produce you given the same business problem, in a shorter amount of time.

With Clarion, less is more. You do not need 10 .Net programmers, 20 Web Scripting Gurus. I can guarantee a better product in far shorter time than the other big languages. Give me a week and I’ll give you back a Desktop and Web single System which contains PDF printing (in both Desktop and Web), Graphing (in both Desktop and Web), and numerous other beneficial pieces of functionality.

There’s a challenge there. If you are a C, C++, .Net or Javascript programmer, PHP, ASP or Cobol guru .. I will out produce you given the same business problem, in a shorter amount of time.

This is not to boast. This is to convince you that for solving business problems, for the wielding of databases (Information) and interfaces (Representation and Translation of Information) Clarion is the best there is.

For more information, please read Stu’s Greatest Hits (Tools)

Topspeed File Size Limit

Jorge opened up the discussion with the following post:

2 Gb is a bit small for today standards…\r\nAny chance or plan to improve the file format to increse this limit?

There are a number of differing answers, although most people were in agree-ence that 2GB is getting crazy big anyway. A move to SQL is more appropriate at that stage.

Some of the answers were:

1. SV increased the number of records to 4GB-ish (?) but didn’t increase the table addressable size.

2. The 2GB limit is based on the use of a Signed Long for it’s internal system index.

3. The way the TPS driver handles record locking would mean a change in file format to increase past 2GB. This would mean it would only work on NTFS file systems.

I would think that, as said above, if you are getting to the stage where your files are that big .. take 6 months to change over to SQL (a far more stable arena for large amounts of data). That, or sell your system and start again with something new.

Version Control Systems

Arnor started a very useful post on the newsgroups regarding Version Control software.

The following are the systems that came up in the discussion (apologies if I missed any). Some of these aren’t full systems, but helpers in the process:

Seems like there’s a few out there. Apparently Serena is quite expensive, and VSS generates contention as to it’s usefulness :).

ClarionMag has some fantastic articles on the subject. Here’s a good search list. There’s a couple of Tortoise articles in particular, Dave Harms, and Mark Geisinger.

Also, here’s the Topical Index for Source Control at ClarionMag.

Tortoise SVN is good. I use it, although not properly. My main use is for incremental backups, at which it rules. I can "Commit" and know that my changes have been backed up right away. No fuss. I can also "Revert" to any of the previous points. That is an awesome ability, and very easy to navigate through.

It takes a little setting up, and I’ve still got to put my head around the actual Version Control part. Those articles will help.

Selling Domain Names

Jesus Moreno has posted on the newsgroups about his selling of some domains (most/all of which have "clarion" in their name).

This has prompted some very aggressive conversation. It’s one of those topics that sounds pretty harmless until you actually talk about it.

On one hand we have the very real choice that is Jesus’ alone. He owns the domains, he can do whatever he wants with them.

On the other hand, there is the moral question that people have raised, implying that people buy up domains with the sole reason of selling them later.

Thankfully most every reply gives the proper response .. which is: It doesn’t matter!

1. You can’t raise moral questions.

2. They are owned. Owned.

3. An Owner can do what they want with what they own.

4. This is a pretty useless thing to argue about. The topic _should_ have been harmless.