Bob Calms The Storm

Bob Z has posted on the Softvelocity Blog re the Clarion UKCUG meeting.

It’s a clarification post, addressing misinformation that occured on Dev Dawn (and consquently ClarionMag.

This will be a good thing for the community I believe.

Bob is blogging, talking to the community. One of the most common complaints I read on the newsgroups is SV’s lack of communication.

Dev Dawn was reporting straight away, and despite me not being there, going through Mark, it turned out okay.

I responded to each and every clarification that was shown to me. I’m not at all worried about changing what I’ve already written if it’s wrong, it would be silly to be so arrogant as to take that stance. But I’d do it again in an instant (with some more wisdom intact of course, perhaps a micro-second slower :)), because we’re the community. We pass info around.

Noone can be responsible for how someone else reacts to the information but that individual themselves, the only thing to do is to make sure the information is accurate.

So thanks to Bob for blogging. Clarifying. Communicating.

Oh Where Are Thou Clarion?

There’s quite a kerfuffle on the clarion newsgroups (news.softvelocity.com) at the moment. It all began with a question regarding the strength of Clarion in Australia, as the poster is looking to possibly move here. They were (I think) trying to guage just what work prospects exist for a Clarion Developer.

The responses are an interesting read. I guess that’s the way of newsgroups, you get all quarters weighing in with their words.

Now, I put my three cents in, so I won’t reiterate it .. well .. i probably will.

I’m not prepared to take on board the opinions of people who are jaded by their own experiences. Now, that’s not invalidating their experiences, just that it’s not for me to admit that there is nothing at all for Clarion Developers in Australia. That kind of really grinds my gears.

And I’m not even gonna grind on about it, cause there’s nothing there worth it.

Here’s what I think.

All it’s gonna take to raise interest in Clarion is this ::

  • Someone starts a blog/website that talks about / shows products done in Clarion – Check many times over
  • Said blog/website gets Slashdotted, and BAM, immediately you have millions of potential clients – Not Yet, but I have dreams :)
  • Building on this interest, and generating other interest (seeking out magazines for articles, interviews, building an awesome, professional web presence, possibly shaking hands with members of parliment, you start to raise external-from-the-web interest
  • Time Magazine interviews you because you’re making such waves that even they can’t mistake the juggernaut that is the New Clarion Movement

Okay. I got a little carried away there.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a Clarion-Only website. There’s plenty of awesome tools we should be adding/updating in out kit .. but Clarion is one of the best and brightest of them. Screw all the problems that are there, i’m looking at it from a purely means-end point of view. If in a few hours I can get a Project Management application built that has it’s own Web Server .. no naysaying is going to change that awesome ability of Clarion to get that done.

End Rant I think. I’ve gotten lost a little.

Over the next year, Dev Dawn is going to be focussing on building a web presence for Clarion, and other development tools. Finding the best means of development. Biased, no doubt .. but the results will stand up for themselves.

Perhaps it’s all the rain, or that fact that i’m turning 30 in a month (I know, newb-age still), but it seems I’m getting more overtly-opinionated.

Cheers and ‘Nuff Said for the moment,

Clarion Templates :: NetTalk

Capesoft’s NetTalk is .. awesome.

I bought NetTalk a couple of months ago, in January, and so was a little bummed about missing out on the NetTalk4 cutoff. Not too worried though, I forked out for the upgrade this morning, and dived in. Edit: I had a brain freeze. The cutoff was 2005, so my big bad. It’s that thing where you skim-read to acquire the "gist" of what is being said. Bad habit. Heh heh.

In about 2 hours, I’d come up with a simple Task Management system.

This product blew me away. The ease at which you can get something up and running is second-to-none. Imagine developing in PHP but having the power of an ISAM database behind you. Well, if you know Clarion, then it’s even easier than that.

It’s almost as though Capesoft have created their own Framework, like Ruby on Rails, or any of the others coming out today. Of course, substitute Clarion for Ruby to make it work, but hey .. that’s fine by me :).

For me, it was a black box shot to pieces. My brain doesn’t innately understand new stuff. I’ve been dabbling in creating web software for a while, but mostly on other platforms of different generations (PHP, WordPress, …). The whole serving thing hadn’t really coalesced in my brain.

Thanks to NetTalk, it now comes a step closer. As long as I have some kind of port-forwarding enabled, and some static IPs, I can have any application I want running on the web. Served to anyone who visits.

This is the power I needed. Not the actual implementation, but that it broke open my mind to the possibilities. No longer do I have to think, "I could make this program, but how could I get it onto the net?" ..

Kudos again to Capesoft. They’ve come up with something very special in NetTalk.

Although it’s the Web Server functionality I’ve caught the hype about, there’s so much more.

I bought it to put in some basic email functionality into a logistics app of mine. Worked like a dream.

NetTalk is well worth it’s price. In fact, I would say, it’s worth far outweighs the price. Truly, the world of software development (Desktop & Web) is at the feet of the Clarion Developer. You just have to believe. Or something like that, heh heh.

NetTalk is to an Application’s Web Functionality, what Professor Kirke’s Wardrobe is to Narnia. (Bruce, that took me some time, trying to up my last big-quote-for-capesoft .. ha ha)

Mixing My Meta-Tools

My next project, which is going full-steam tonight, is mixing together c++ and clarion. In the last week I’ve returned to some game code I wrote over a year ago, before getting my current job. I searched for a simple library to begin, and then dabbled a tiny bit.

Now I’m back, and it’s a blast. My understanding of what software development is has increased maybe 13.5-fold … and it’s got me very excited.

Anyway, the game itself is basic … the important test for this project is what lies behind the game. The data. The C++ application is going to call procs/funcns from a clarion dll, where the database is declared, specifically designed for the game.

There will be a host of things that come out of this, and most of them I don’t know about yet.

But anyway, tally-ho, wotnot, I’m off to code.

Sibisy, The Simple Billing System

Foreword

Sibisy is a Simple Billing System.

It’s projected functionality was to allow you to enter Creditors, Bills, Bill Payments, and report off the Bills and Payments.

Extra functionality looked at exporting data to XML (amongst other reasons, for the inclusion into other Account packages), and the ability to Email straight from the program.

Download

Sibisy 0.1.0

Purpose

In developing Sibisy I wanted to do a number of things.

  1. Shed light on Clarion, and just how good it is
  2. Experience a very short Development cycle
  3. Hopefully, get some feedback from the public at large
  4. Add a few more notches in the brain towards becoming a better Developer

The subject matter wasn’t all that important, although for a while now I’ve been thinking about doing a simple billing system for family and friends. A way to track your bills. Of course, the main problem is that we want someone else to do the work, and that someone else is usually an Accountant with MYOB or Quickbooks. But maybe not. Hopefully not.

Versions

0.1.0

Wednesday, 25th January, 2006

  • c60dosx.dll added to the install exe – Thanks Lil!

Friday, 20th January, 2006

  • Download :: Sibisy 0.1.0
    • Initial Project was a test to see what could be done with Clarion in 2 hours. The rules were:
      • Only thoughts beforehand, no writing down of ideas
      • No Code, that is, no handcoding in the project
      • Fully installable executable by the end of the 2 hours

      I initially broke up the 2 hours as follows (in minutes):

      • Phase 001, 1-15 … planning, writing, no use of Clarion
      • Phase 002, 16-105 … creation of Sibisy, first the dictionary, then the app, with any dictionary changes as needed
      • Phase 003, 106-120 … creation of installation exe, testing of this install

      It actually was a blessing doing this. Even though by the end of Phase 002 I was panicking. I spent way too much time on unimportant things, although was able to realise this at certain stages and sharpen up. Although would drift back into that ill-disciplined mindset.

    What a blast. This was a great idea, and is definately the way to become a better developer.

    Here’s my notes from the 2 hours.

    Phase 001

    • Started by fleshing out the file structures on paper. First thing is that I spent too much time doing the individual fields, actually writing their names down. I’m not convinced this is necessarily bad, but when on a time-limit it should definately be avoided. Doing the actual design of the database should take priority. File names and keys, and how they relate together.

      Noted here that I would like to export bills to XML using the excellent IQXML. I have it in my clarion template registry, but haven’t used it yet.

      Also noted the inclusion of Error Logging. At this stage, I hadn’t realised that this can’t really be done without handcode. Not with any precision.

    • Ten or so minutes in and I came to the first awakening. I wouldn’t be able to have child files. PeopleCreditors and BillEntries were gonna have to go by the wayside. Wasn’t enough time for BillEntries, and PeopleCreditors requires (the way I do it) a bit of handcoding.Also by the wayside went the Options file (for printer defaults, etc etc). Owner Details made it in.

      Owner Details is mainly there for the reports, so when you print something out your name, etc etc, can appear on the report. In hindsight this was a pretty big mistake. For one thing, this is a Billing system, don’t really need to send anything out. But also it’s not really a core part of the functionality. And I spent a LOT of time on this. Good to know for next time.

    • Then started thinking through the actual windows of the program. By this time, Time is running short. Need some Browses, a few update windows, and the reports.

    Phase 002

    • Just some simple field names. Head needed clearing at this point, and I didn’t really do that … just kept motoring along.

      Also, this is where I realised the problem with the Error Logging and needing handcode.

    • BAM! Before I knew it, the time was up. I started to get a little panicky, and went a few minutes overtime just getting things like icons in. Again, not core. But helped with the end look, which was okay.

    Phase 003

    • Not much to say here except that it went pretty smoothly. I use Tarma Installer (free version). It’s very simple and easy. Does the job, quick to open, probably not as powerful as others, but that’s not what I needed for this.

      Used Depenency Walker to check for the needed Clarion dlls, and put them into the application’s directory.

      Install went fine, but I did it on this, my development laptop. Not sure how it will go on a clean machine.

    Further NotesThere are a lot more things I wanted to get into this, but with the restriction of No Code made impossible to achieve. However, this allowed me to actually get the product done. Looking back, if I had allowed code, I would have wasted more time on the inconsequential, rather than the core.

    So as it stands I learnt a GREAT deal from doing this. I would recommend any and all developers to regularly give this a go. 2 hours is a seriously short amount of time, and you’ll come out the other side more buffed up than when you went in. Brain-Buffed … heh heh. Ahh, the "humor" is returning.

Engine

Clarion, by Softvelocity was my tool of choice for the development of this project.

The only third-party template that I used was File Manager 3.

Bring It On

Okay. I’m doing it. Tonight. The start of something special. Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly, … whatever. It’s gonna start tonight. I’m being active instead of reactive. I’m pushing ahead where my mind doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

2 hours. Only thought beforehand. Fully installable executable.

  • Project :: Simple Billing System
  • Time :: 2 Hours
  • Choice Of Poison/Development Tool :: Clarion, by Softvelocity
  • Environment :: Dining room table, Wifey watching tv in the background, airconditioner at 20%, no earphones (usually on when working).
  • Rules ::
    • No Handcode, only use the templates, and any 3rd-Party templates installed at the time
    • Fully Installable, using Installer of choice, with all dll’s required
  • Initial Thoughts on Breakdown (in minutes)::
    • (1-15), Writing down thoughts, breaking up project on paper, no use of Clarion, although maybe some websurfing
    • (16-105), Fire it up, go for broke putting the project together, starting with the Dictionary (file structures), then the app
    • (106-120), Installation creation, testing on networked computer

I’m going to write in my notebook during the 2 hours, and then scribe it to the blog afterward. The times might be a little out, I’ll be going by my laptop time.

Okay, Nuff said.

Trouble, Toil & Marbles

Am having trouble connecting to the site at work, which is probably a good thing for anti-distraction measures, but it also means less opportunity to blog the instant i get an idea, which means that idea usually gets lost in the great unknown void of memory.

I’ve decided to embark on a project. It’s purposes are many-fold. It’s going to (hopefully):

  1. Increase the public awareness of just how good Clarion is
  2. Allow the experience of a Development cycle in a short time
  3. Get other people debugging the project
  4. Other …

I’m planning to create a piece of software from go to woe in a short time period, probably 2 hours. The limits will be:

  • I cannot write down any thoughts until the time begins
  • It has to be a full solution, including Installable executable file
  • Obviously, it’s a Desktop development, for Windows only

I was also weighing up whether, to show just how cool the basics of Clarion are, to not use any embedded code. Any coding to speak of, Clarion being a 4GL, Rapid Application Development suite. Not sure about this still. While the template generated stuff is good, and you can get something up and running in the shortest amount of time possible, a few embeds greatly, GREATLY, enhance the functionality of the program.

As it stands, I probably will go with a No-Code ruling.

The next step of the Project is to decide what I’m going to put together. There are quite a few possibilities, but I’m thinking of a simple Contact Management System. But that’s after only a little thought, so quite possibly it will change.

So, more on this later.

Enjoy the weekend everyone, and may your sideburns (or lack of) grow large and wiry.