What’s Doing? (News from the Clarion Block)

This post was written, as the title suggests, at the end of March. At that time the site’s creation was still underway. Please forgive the blurring of timespans :).

This site isn’t going to be a news aggregator. ClarionMag and TomRuby do a pretty sweet job of that already.

What we are going to do here is offer opinions. On the news. And on other stuff.

"What’s Doing" posts will take a look at noise on the newsgroups, at product releases, at community happenings.

But again, this is opinions (on the news).

Clarion Desktop


Okay, I’m a fan. Unabashed.

If you’ve been following the newsgroups, then you’ll see Gary has been working pretty flat out to get ClarionDesktop functioning on Vista (while adding a nice list of new functionality).

One Hazah! to Gary for his work. If you don’t already have ClarionDesktop (as a Developer), then you should. Not just because you are supporting Gary. This product is going to be one of the leaderboards for the influx of (potential) developers when Clarion 7 is released and pimped.

It’s a hub, an information presenter. And people want to know. I want to know that NetTalk has been updated. And I’d much prefer it happened magically (the transfer of that information to my brainpan).



The big kahuna of templates. This sucker is well publicised, and well supported.

Capesoft definately know how to support. They are polite and helpful BUT (and this is something hard to find) they will push you to think about what you’re asking. Most of the time now, I don’t just fire of the question to Bruce as soon as it appears. Otherwise I’m liable to feel like a fool because I didn’t see the template option, or regerenate .. or .. READ THE MANUAL.

If you visit the 3rdParty newsgroups, especially of late, NetTalk dominates the conversation. This is a good indicator of two things. It’s popularity, and it’s complexity. There might be other _things_ you can think of, but this is my opinion.

The popularity is just candy. The complexity, well I don’t think I’ve ever seen a NetTalk question go unanswered. Bruce (he’s the one working on it at the moment to the best of my knowle(d)ge) responds quickly and with clarity.

Bruce Barrington


I’ve often wondered about the mysterious creator of Clarion. My colleagues know a great deal about the beginnings, and I’ve forgotten most of what they told me.

This week on the newsgroups Nick posted this question,

What ever happened to Bruce Barrington (creator of Clarion) and the TopSpeed group? 

Here’s what I gleaned, in an unspecific order:

– Owned/Ran a Hotel in the Florida Keys

– Sold the Hotel (http://www.hawkscay.com/)

– Russ begins to pun, others join in

– Tony gives us the lowdown on mouth exit grammar (US="barf", OZ="chuck up", Yorshire="Wommit")

– Jan gives us a possible location, Tibet. 

Bruce would be an interesting man to meet. As said, I don’t know much of the history, only that some of it wasn’t pretty.

ClarionMag has an article written a long time ago. It was interesting that all that time ago (1997) there was excitement that TopSpeed had hired a new marketing company. I’d like to find out what happened there.

5 Different Things I’m Doing Right Now

Well, although the frequency of posts at Dev Dawn has been down, I’m still powering along with different projects.

(1) With the latest version of NetTalk out, am (slowly) getting back to Rasp. It’s wierd, because the two months it took to build a fledging website + products (beta) was so intense, (2) I’ve now started taking time to think about the future, the direction of this work. Rasp is still a goer. The others, not so sure.

Also, will at some stage do a rewrite of the web experience with ATS. Maybe just cut back to a Rasp site, and a single page for ATS. Not sure yet.

(3, 4, 5) Am working on some new projects. They are mostly content-driven (blogs), but there’s one in particular that’s quite .. off-beat. I’ll tell you about it later.

(6, BONUS!) Google Reader gets a lot of playtime now. I spend at least the first half-hour of night-work reading. Commenting too, although that’s part of the strategy for one of the above projects.

The third project is directly involving Clarion, so most of you should hear about it shortly. I’ll post here once it’s live.

All in all, it’s still a great time to be a developer. More than ever.

Oh, (7, another bonus thing), I’m gearing up more time as the Aussie DevCon draws closer for my talk (not sure if "talk" is the right word there). Have got most of the structure down, some fleshing out has been done. Once April hits, I’ll probably go at least 50% of my time on it, then come May, well, most other projects will have to take the backburner i think.


Time Keeps On Slipping

Thought I’d just give a brief rundown on what I’ve been doing the last week or so, apart from scribing down news of Clarion 7.

Projman has a new version on the way, soooon. There’s been a couple of cosmetic changes, at least one important functionality change, and the Documentation has begun! It’s a cool little bit of funcitonality in and of itself. Not finished yet, lots of ideas for improvements, but my goal is to get the User Guide scratched together and put the version up for use.

The other major project I’ve been working on is my Freight System (don’t mind the site, it’s also undergoing a lot of upgrading). I’m creating an upgrade system that will be transferable across all my projects, and it’s really quite exciting. Most of the work is done by NetTalk, what a wonderful tool!

In essence, it’s nothing new, developers have been doing this for long time long. The TAFRES Server connects to the FTP Server, and runs some logic to determine what new version installations are on the FTP Server for both the TAFRES Server and the TAFRES Client. These are then downloaded. If there is a TAFRES Server upgrade, all Clients are informed, and closed down, and then the Server is shutdown and a silent installation is run. If there is a Client upgrade (if a Server too, the Server runs first), the Clients are told to shutdown and restart (not sure if this will be automatic or manual). On restarting, the silent installation is run.

The last part of this is still not finished. I’m in the middle of it.

It’s an exciting time. Especially the update/upgrade (not sure which term to use yet) functionality. Once that’s down, then sending out updates will be so much easier than trying to explain to a client where to go to download, and then what to do with running an installation, on each client!

‘Nuff said for now,

Who Framed Who?

Frames quite possibly might be making a comeback. At least, in the Development side of things.

I remember, way back when, one of the few things to stay in my memory from uni was that frames were neccessarily evil. Not in and of themselves, but because of the way they were used throughout the web. Almost noone used them effectively. Because of sloppy code, they were given to ugliness, in form and function.

This is changing. For me at least, it’s because of Capesoft and their stellar product, NetTalk (mainly the WebServices part).

In it, Bruce explained a very simple method, which makes a lot of sense. It’s possible a lecturer said it way back when :) I was at uni, but probably not.

If you want a desktop application, that is mainly private use .. then frames are okay. They are bad because you lose out with the address bar .. and search engines struggle with their content.

This is cool. I imagine you could amalgamate .. have the public face of the site non-frames, and the private a mix of both.

Actually, for simple applications, no-frames doesn’t do too badly.

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)