Sunday, 16 December 2018

Great Idea

Often clients have ideas for new features or behaviour for the Pricing Program (pc) or the Pricing App. Sometimes I've already tried the idea and found that it is not feasible. Other times it's a good idea but would take a lot of time to implement, or it would be too complex.
But sometimes there is an idea that is a "lightbulb" moment and is quite straightforward to code.

One such was a framer who was taking a screenshot each time he issued a price (very easy to do with Android), but he noticed that the pop-up message with the price was covering the moulding box (see below).


He asked could the pop-up be moved so the Moulding ID could be seen?
The immediate answer was "No", but thinking around the problem I realised that all I needed to do was to add the Moulding ID to the message (as below).


So, App version 2.1.2 was born.
A screenshot is a very simple way of recording a price, and has a title such as -
"Screenshot_2018_12-16-15-08-44"
This gives you the exact date and time the price was issued.
You can see the size, the price and the moulding (you'd still need to note the mount colour, glass type and so on). Perhaps you could get that info. by taking a photo of the work with the samples in place.

Who needs databases?!

Friday, 9 November 2018

version 4.4.6

Wessex Pricing Program version 4.4.6 - so what's new?

Basic and Full versions
Well, the first thing corrects an anomaly where if you changed the default moulding markup only the mouldings added subsequently to the database used that new default. You would have to change the existing records individually if you wanted them to use the new markup. Not user friendly!
In the new version any moulding which has the old default as its markup will be automatically updated to the new default.

Full version
The database has room for 50 characters (inc. spaces) in the mount record (made up of the mount type and the colour(s)). It was possible to get all the way to the point where you saved the invoice only to find an error because in one job you had tried to use more than 50 characters in the mount record.
Now, if you try to use more than 50 characters you are warned when you try to add the job to the invoice.

Full version
The other noteworthy change in this version had me thinking "Why didn't I think of that before?"!
The workticket has two dates - the date the work was received and the date that the job needs to be completed by.
Now, when the work is collected and you edit the workticket to tick the "collected" box, the complete-by date is changed to that day's date, thus giving you a record of when the work was taken by the customer.



You can view collection records by going to "Tools" > "Manage Database" > "WorkTickets" and then click "Find Record". Initially "Find Records by" and "invoice number" is shown. Click the downward pointing arrow and choose "Collection Date". Then you'll be able to pick a date to see the jobs collected on that day.
The program knows when you installed the update, so only worktickets after this date are changed. (ie. worktickets before that date will still read "Collect on" and the original completion date. Only records after that date will have the actual collection date.)

Monday, 27 August 2018

Do it NOW!

All computers will, at some point, fail.
They won't start, they won't recognize the hard drive, they get infected with a virus to name just three scenarios. Often it's simply age - the components start to fail.
Think of your computer like your car, there comes a time when it's not worthwhile trying to keep the car going and it's time to get a new one. Of course you knew this and planned for it, so the change over is reasonably smooth.
It always surprises me how many people do not plan for their computers failing and leave their data at risk.

The Wessex Pricing Program has been around long enough for a number of computers that it is installed on to have failed. So, what happens?
In an ideal world you download the program from the Wessex website onto your new computer, get a new enabling code from Wessex Bournemouth branch, and import the 2 data files that you've backed up from your old system. About 10 minutes including the phone call.

The real problem comes when those 2 data files ("V3.mdb" & "user.xml") have not been backed up.
Is it possible to rescue the situation?
If you can access the old hard drive then you will find the 2 files in C:/ProgramData/WessexPictures/wpp4.
Copy them onto a usb stick and import them into your new set up.
If you can't get into the old hard drive then you are faced with starting all over again with a fresh database and trying to remember all the labels and their associated values you had - not good.

So how do you plan for your computer failing?
Simply by making sure there is a copy of your data somewhere other than on the computer.
One way of doing this is to keep a portable hard drive plugged into your computer and schedule a backup frequently.
Another way is to use cloud storage such as Dropbox, Onedrive or Google Drive.

So far as the Pricing Program is concerned I have tried to make it as simple as possible to create copies (backups) those all important two files, "V3.mdb" which contains the database of your mouldings, customers and worktickets, and "user.xml " which contains your labels and the values that go with them.
Ideally you will set an automatic backup, so everytime the program is shut down the two files are copied to your backup location (I have a usb stick always plugged in).
To set this go to "Setup" > "Options" and choose the "Netwk/BkUp" tab. Tick "Use automatic backup" and then set where you want to backup to.

Alternatively you can manually copy the two files. ("File" > "Export Database", and "Setup" > "Values" and click the "Export" button).

But whichever way you do it - DO IT NOW!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Updates, updates

You may have noticed that the App has had some more updates quickly following on the main update (to version 2.0.0) issued last month.
So what's going on?
The first 2 updates (2.0.1 & 2.0.2) fixed a mistake in the App where, if an Extra Cost was entered in the Sundries list, it wasn't read properly and returned zero. The first update fixed it for most of us, but then I realised that if the currency symbol was placed at the end of the amount (ie 34.56€) the figure still would return zero. This led to the second update which fixed this.
I also took the opportunity to make it easier to see which dimension box you were about to enter data (rebate size). The hint in that box (Cm or Inches) changes colour when it is ready for you to enter the size.
That was all thanks to discussions with users at the Art & Framing Roadshows.

The last (for a while, I hope) update (2.0.3) makes it easier to update the Mouldings.csv file.
The problem was that if a new "Mouldings.csv" file was copied to the Download folder (or any other folder) and there was an earlier version(s) of the file already there, then the new file would be labelled "Mouldings(1).csv", or "Mouldings(2).csv" and so on.
As the App was programmed to only look for "Mouldings.csv" it was quite easy to use an old file by mistake to update the App. The answer was to delete the old file(s) first, then download the newest file. (A bit of a faff).
So, what's changed?
Now, when the App looks for the update file it will show you all the csv files in that folder.
Also, the title of the file can now be whatever you like ("wessex_arq.csv" for instance).


Simply select (tap) the file you want to use, and then tap "OK".
This should make updating the moulding data much easier.

An extra piece of info - In the latest versions of Android (version 5 onwards) the SD card is not shown when looking through folders (a "security" feature, thanks Android). So make sure you always copy (download) the file into the "Download" folder.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Major Upgrade for the Pricing App

A major new upgrade to The Framers Pricing App has been released.

The internal file structure has been completely rewritten which means that -

  • You can now have as many items in the Mount, Glass and Sundries lists as you like (previously only 5 items)
  • Each item can now have its own fixed cost (labour cost or cutting charge), rather than one cost to cover all items.
  • You can choose as many Sundry items to add to the overall cost as needed (previously only 1)
This makes the App far more versatile.





I've also brought the App upto date to comply with the new Google Play security requirements (coming into force later this year) and to work with the latest Android versions.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Can we fix it? - Yes, we can!

Just recently updates to the Windows and Android operating systems have caused "issues" with the Wessex Pricing Program and The Framers Pricing App. These have now been resolved, so now (and you guessed it) it's the turn of Apple.
Around Christmas there was a big update to the Mac operating system and also an update to Crossover for Mac. Together (and I'm not sure which one is to blame) it meant that if you were running the Wessex Pricing Program on your Mac using Crossover - it would no longer start (with an error message helpfully saying "Unknown error"!).
My solution is fairly drastic - delete the program and re-install it (it works, honest!).
"Ah!"I hear you say "If I can't start the program how can I make a copy of those 2 important data files (V3.mdb, & User.xml) which configure the program to my business?"
Fear not, the next paragraph will show you how to get to these, and so preserve your data.

Open Crossover and highlight the "Wessex Pr..." bottle (on the left hand side). Then click the little cog at the bottom left of the Crossover screen. This will bring up some options. Select "Open C: Drive" (see first screenshot).


Now you will see a screen with some folders (this is Crossover's emulation of Windows).

Open "ProgramData", then "Wessex Pictures", then "wpp4". Now the screen will show files including "V3.mdb", & "User.xml". Copy these and your data is safe!
(NB. Be sure to open the ProgramData folder NOT the Program Files folder.)

Now we can delete the program and re-install it.
Select "Wessex P.." again, and Right-click it (alien to Mac I know, but I could do it with the touchpad). This time click "Delete Wessex Pricing 4.x" and confirm.
The next job is to download the latest version of the program from Wessex Pictures to your Downloads folder.
When you've done that (back in Crossover) click "Install a Windows Application" and Type "Wessex Pricing 4.x" in the box, and click "Continue". Crossover will then install the necessary extra files. There will be various Licence agreements to accept. Finally the Wessex Pricing Program will be installed and you're good to go.
At the first run of the program you'll need to re-insert the Enabling code (get it from Wessex 01590 681681).
Now you can import the database ("File> Import Database") and the values ("Setup > Values" & click "Import).
All done, phew!

(NB. You can avoid the problem of finding your data files by using the automatic backup option ("Setup > Options" & select the "NtWk/BkUp" tab) which will make a copy of the two files each time the program is shut down).

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Where did that file go? (Get to grips with the Android file system)

As you know The Framers Pricing App can use a .csv file of moulding information to price up jobs. When you first install the App there is a file that contains all the Wessex and Frinton mouldings, fine if you are in the UK, not very useful if you are in a different country.
The App provides a means for you to install a new file, and so use the mouldings which are relevant to you as well as keeping the prices upto date. (Tap "Settings", then "Misc. Values" and then "Import Mouldings file".)
Of course you have to have constructed the file in the first place (see blog posts Nov. '16 & May '15). This post is primarily about finding that file to import.

The first problem is to get the new Mouldings.csv file onto your device, and there are a number of ways of doing it.

  • You could go to a supplier's website and download it from there (assuming they have a compatible file).
  • You could send yourself an email with the file attached, and then download the attachment.
  • You could copy it onto your device via a usb or bluetooth link with your pc.
  • You could copy it from you PC onto an microSD card and then move the card to your device.
  • You could construct the file directly on your device.

I'm sure there are other ways as well.

Once the file is on your device the next problem is to find it and for those of us who are used to the Windows file system the Android system seems quite alien.
If you used either of the first two methods then the file will be in "Download" and this is where tapping "Import Moulding file" will take you.



Tap Mouldings.csv to select it, and you're done.
But suppose the file is somewhere different? How do we get to it?
Tap the 2 small dots (above Adobe Reader in the above screenshot) and you will go up a level in the Android file structure (see below).


You can now select "documents" for instance.

If the file is on a microSD card you'll need to move up another level. So, scroll to the top of the list and tap the 2 small dots and you should see a list similar to the one below.


"external_sd" is the one we want. Select that, and the files on that microSD card will be listed.

NB. Get the file onto your device, disconnect any usb or bluetooth connections, then import the file into the App. Frustration will result otherwise!

Important!
If you have downloaded over time a number of update files to the same location without deleting the first one, then they will be labelled "Mouldings.csv", "Mouldings(1).csv" and so on. The App only looks for a file named "Mouldings.csv" and it will ignore all others. So you can be in a position of importing an out of date file. Delete the old file(s) before you import the new one.