woensdag 19 maart 2008

Another interesting small SQL engine

Whilst VistaDB is a nephew of SQL Server thanks to T-SQL syntax compatibility, so has Oracle a little nephew (SQL Persistent Stored Modules compatible syntax) called Advantage DB server version 9. You can grab a (trial) copy at http://devzone.advantagedatabase.com/dz/content.aspx?key=20&Release=12 but you might have to register before you can download anything. When I have time, I'll give this engine a nice try. I try the local server, since it doesn't expire. I still dislike software time-bombs..

zaterdag 15 maart 2008

Interesting move concerning Mono on Linux

MonoDevelop an open-sourced IDE for creating software using Mono has gone gold. Sounds interesting! It is more stable than before, but there are some caveats:

1. The documentation is far from complete!
2. To be able to create applications graphically is darn nice, but the GTK# implementation of Windows.Form namespace requires an awkward approach: I can't simply drop components on my form, but I have to create a layout before doing anything and I'm still waiting for a normal Visual Studio compatible layout manager.
3. Monodevelop and GTK are partly written in unmanaged C++. There are layouts present but I don't like all of them, since I can't control HOW I want to place the controls on my form.
I want to control the size and the position of the components, so I don't need those silly layout-managers. If I don't use such a layout, the component gets the size of the complete form and that's very undesired. Monodevelop calls this a feature, but I call it a design-flaw.

So be warned and be patient about testing Mono. It's going better with it, but I'm not very content yet.

The reason that I also blog about MonoDevelop is the fact that I'd like to run my desktop applications anywhere and it shouldn't matter whether the OS is Windows, Linux, MacOS or Solaris! Platform neutrality is my heart's wish!

donderdag 13 maart 2008

I'm faced with one problem

I'm faced with one problem, since I cannot find a way to upload small project zip files to this blog. I've to find a way to solve this problem. There are some requirements to be met to be able to use them:

1. Excel 2007 must be installed including .NET programmability
2. Visual Studio 2008 Professional or higher must be installed
3. A copy of VistaDB must be present. I prefer the Express Edition, but the normal edition is also perfect! Avoid using the trial version, because of its time-bomb function after 30 days.

I'm against time-bomb function in trial or evaluation software for several reasons:

1. The can be circumvented by clever power-programmers
2. There are better ways to distinguish between a licensed version or an evaluation copy

Are there examples? Yes there are:

a. Microsoft deploys non-expiring Express Editions of Visual Studio. There are limitations (add-ins inpossible), but evaluators can evaluate the product as their hearts' content and enjoy programming.
b. CodeGear/Borland deploys non-expiring Explorer Editions of the Turbo series of Delphi, C++ Builder. There are even more limitations compared with MS's Visual Studio Express, but the user can enjoy using the package!
c. Other vendors display 'nag-screens' with the statement that deploying is prohibited or they make a water-mark into the resulting executables or libraries. As long as the evaluator doesn't deploy anything, he or she is legally using the product for evaluating purposes.
d. Some deploy special Community or Free Editions with some limitations or none at all, but using the software under this license is forbidden for commercial usage.
e. A light-version of a piece of software only runs while the IDE is active or a nag-screen gets displayed.

By using these ways of deployment and (evaluation)licensing I think that counterfeiting will diminish. Time-bombing looks like the cause of counterfeiting and cracking.

maandag 10 maart 2008

I'll do an invoice project

Because some of my work is proprietary of my work, I cannot share you my thoughts about it. I however want to show you a similar project unrelated to my work's project: an invoicing system.

The front-end will be written in Excel 2007 and instead of the old-baken VBA, I'll link the template to a VS2008 project in order to gain speed. The underlying database won't be Jet/Access, but VistaDB Express, since it's both very tiny and very extended. At first the front-end will be simple and when time allows there will be an automatic page-transportation system. This is needed if an invoice is involved with a HUGE shopping-list and not everything could be printed on one A4 page of paper.

vrijdag 7 maart 2008

The reason for my setup hurdle

I was faced with a hurdle upon setup. I've received a read-error from DVD and I didn't like that. At first I could escape by cancel, but then the setup gets abandoned and that's not the desired action. I re-inserted the DVD into the same drive and I retried. From now I didn't get a single read-error anymore. Today I looked again at the DVD and I saw a good surface, but I detected some small dust particles. I cleaned the disc with air and a very soft cloth. Because my base OS is Linux I issued the following command as root in order to pinpoint the culprit. At the console I entered:

dd if=/dev/hdX of=~/tom.iso

where X means the number of the physical drive at the ATA port.

hd1 is the first
hd2 is the second
and so on

Neither of my three DVD drives gave a single criticism about the integrity of the disc and the hardware. Upon my setup hurdle I did get a kick on my butt (Dutch: oorvijg, billenkoek) by Linux saying that there were some read-errors. The culprit is just that stupid piece of dust. I also find on my Windows image's logs the same criticism about the disc. If it wasn't the piece of dust, I'd been faced a delay and a failed installation. (Dutch: gesjeesd voor mijn examen) Now I'm very happy and I will continue this blog

The first template project

I've an existing template. Sorry, but I can't share it to you, since it contains proprietary code, but I can tell you a global howto. The spreadsheet in question contains two macro's:

1. Upon startup it must set the data to that of tomorrow
2. Using Excel's menu an action needs to be inserted which has to do a number of things:
a. save the spreadsheet
b. mail it to the main office
c. protect it against writing at all
d. prepare a new spreadsheet for the next day
e. maintain a satellite spreadsheet containing ticket-numbers

There are two serious drawbacks against the current situation:

1. Sometimes you want set a date by yourself
2. Creating a menu entry for a macro is very tricky and may lead to subtle and hard to debug errors

The .NET way is very nice to do:

1. I now can put the two command-buttons into the spreadsheet, so I don't need the menu anymore.
2. I now can get rid of old-fashioned VBA and program in the .NEaT way.
3. The spreadsheet remains small, since the code resides now in a small .DLL file

I have to analyze the project's non-vb files in order to get information how the process goes. So I also have to test the system outside VS2008. But .NEaT has an XCOPY option, so deploying must be a sweet piece of a cake.

donderdag 6 maart 2008

Just peeking around

The action 'hxMergeAll' during installing MSDN libraries did last for more than a half on an hour, whilst installing all the files (and that's not a small one!) only lasts a mere 10 minutes!

Now I'm peeking around and installing some extra stuff like

1. VistaDB Express Edition (small but powerful database engine)
2. Visual Studio SDK (for creating extensions)
3. I like to install the trial of Chrome again and I've encountered a new version!

I've already done an interesting experiment:

I've created a small new project in the shape on an Excel 2007 template. This template won't be enabled for VBA, since I'd like to be freed from old-fashioned COM artifacts. After building the project I've received a small DLL instead of the VBA code.

Phase 2 completion

I've now just installed phase 2 of VS2008, the MSDN portion.

The files install only took a mere 10 (!) minutes, but the action HxMergeAll is a bitch of a wait for some half on an hour or longer! At this point Microsoft has failed in this portion of its installation program. The rest of the installation software has significantly enhanced regarding to performance and quality. I don't know the exact meaning of this itchy action.

First stage of install completed

I've just received my copy of Visual Studio 2008 Professional and before I installed it I've taken some preparations:

1. Temporarily disabled internel
2. Temporarily disabled antivirus

The install of Part I (Visual Studio except its help files) took only 45 minutes!