Thursday, 24 December 2020

Networking - using the Pricing Program on 2 (or more) computers

Everyone is different. Many framers just need their pricing system on one computer, but others perhaps have a large shop, or a separate workshop, or even more than one premises. All of these scenarios (and I'm sure there are many others) need the pricing and job information system on more than one computer.

It doesn't cost you any more to put Wessex Professional on all your devices (you just need an enabling code for each one from Wessex). But merely installing the program on each device will mean that they will each use their own (internal) database. Ideally we need the group of programs to use the same database, and of course, we can configure Wessex Professional to do just that.

Before we continue I need to point out that this solution is only suitable for a small scale system. Larger systems with many database transactions per second would need the database held on a server which would handle the transaction requests.

So, down to the nitty-gritty. 

  • Having installed the program on our devices we need to put the database file that we want to use ("V3.mdb") somewhere that all the devices can "see". If you have created your own private network it could be in a folder somewhere on that (Look at the Networking section in the "Help" file, press "F1"). 
  • The easiest way, however, is to use a cloud storage location such as "Dropbox" or "OneDrive". Make a folder there and copy your database file into it.
  • In the program go to "Setup" . "Options" and select the "NetWk/BkUp" tab.

  • At the top tick "Use networked database", and  then click the box below that to bring up a dialog to select the location of the database you are going to use.


  • Select the file (click "Open") and the network box should look something like this - 


  • Remember to click "Save".
  • Repeat this for each computer.
Now all the devices will use the same database. (For instance, if the workshop marks a job as "Complete" then the shop can immediately see that.)

The database file contains all the information for Customers, Mouldings and WorkTickets. There is one other file that contains information for prices and labels ("User.xml"), this is not networked and needs to be put on each device individually ("Setup" > "Values" and then click "Export" or "Import").

So, why not be able to network this file as well?
Two reasons
  1. The file is only modified occasionally, unlike the  database file. So it's not too much of a chore to copy it to each device when it's changed.
  2. It could be that you need the device to issue different prices. For instance one device issues trade prices, while another issues retail. Or one branch of the business only deals with simple jobs, while another deals with more complex framing.
NB. One point to remember is that you will need to make sure that the database file is regularly backed up, as the program's automatic backup feature does not work with a networked database.

All in all setting up Wessex Professional to use a network is not too difficult to do, but I suggest you choose a quiet time (a lockdown project?)



Thursday, 10 December 2020

Good to Know

The scenario - You are new to the Wessex Pricing Program. You want to get the best out of it. You need it to work for your business.

There are a number of key blog posts that will help you hit the ground running.

The first is the transcript of a talk about frame pricing made to a Fine Art Trade Guild meeting. 

Picture Frame Pricing Programs: Frame Pricing Talk (stevetheframe.blogspot.com)

The second link is about the general operation of the program.

Picture Frame Pricing Programs: 3 Steps to Heaven (well actually 8) (stevetheframe.blogspot.com)

The next 2 links are about performing a bulk update on the Mouldings records from an Excel file.

Picture Frame Pricing Programs: Updating Mouldings - Do it right! (stevetheframe.blogspot.com)

Picture Frame Pricing Programs: Creating a bulk update file (stevetheframe.blogspot.com)

Updating from a supplier's file is the area I get the most questions about. The above two posts are pretty comprehensive. The only recent point to add is -

If you are adding a supplier's mouldings for the first time then you will need to create one (dummy) record manually (Tools > Manage Database > Mouldings, then Select File > New Record). The supplier will then appear in the dropdown menu for you to select.

This is to stop the problem of a supplier ending up with two different names (ie. Rose&Hollis and R&H) the database will treat these as different suppliers, so giving rise to problems.

Obviously there are lots of other posts and points to make, but you should be doing things the right way if you've looked at those 4 links.



Thursday, 24 September 2020

Why buy Wessex Professional?

 Of course, I think Wessex Professional is the best pricing and job organization program that picture framers can buy, but then I would, wouldn't I?

In case that doesn't convince you here are some hard reasons to use Wessex Professional rather than any other system.

  • User-friendly interface. Because the program has been designed by a professional framer it is an unobtrusive tool to use while talking with the customer and recording a sale. (Your attention needs to be on your client, not a computer).

  • Gives you complete control of your prices. The way Wessex Professional works out a price (the algorithm) is transparent and easy to understand. I believe that it is important for framers to take responsibility and set their own prices, which will reflect the business in their area.
  • Can use any suppliers' mouldings. You can create database records for mouldings from any supplier - not solely Wessex Pictures (in fact you don't have to have any Wessex records at all - but don't tell Wessex that!)
  • Easy set up. I won't deny that you will need to spend some time setting up the program to give the prices you want. But the process is simple and you can start off with some suggested values which can then be adjusted. Be suspicious of any system that claims to work out of the box. 
  • Cost. £295 + vat - you own the program, it will very quickly save you money over those systems that are rented or leased.
  • On as many computers as you like. Wessex Professional can be networked for use with more than one computer. At no extra cost.
  • Free Updates and Support. Updates to the program (once or twice a year) are free. These often include features suggested by other framers. Help and support is also free. If you cannot find the answer in the program's Help files then a call to Wessex will get the problem sorted out.
  • The Data stays on your system. The program does not need an internet connection, your data files are on your computer system (which you control).
  • Proven System. The pedigree of Wessex Professional goes back to 2004, when we released The Wessex Pricing Program (WPP1). It was a simple price calculator, the precursor of the current sophisticated program.  
You don't even have to take my word for it - download the free 30 day trial and see for yourself.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

What I did in lockdown

Part of my lockdown was coding the latest ideas for Wessex Professional. A couple of months testing after we reopened and the result is a new version of the program (ver. 4.4.9). 

So what's new?

  • When an invoice is saved you can now see how many items are scheduled for collection on that date (and so you can change the date if necessary).

  • The Location function has been improved. You can enter a location straightaway and also search the workticket list by Location ("Tools" > "Manage Database" > "Views" > "List by Item"). This is very handy if you send work off-site. It could also be used track work given to individual members of staff. In fact I nearly relabelled it "Anything-Else-You-Want"! (You have upto 20 characters to play with). In effect it is a user-defined searchable parameter added to the job record.
                                          

        
  • Because I been a framer for some time I know that there is always something new, or something that only occurs once in a blue moon, so the Wessex Pricing Programs have always had an option to include an "Extra Cost". Now you can directly label that Extra Cost (upto 15 characters). So the reason for the cost is clearer, both for you and the customer.


As always - before you install the new version take a copy of your database (V3.mdb) and labels/values file (User.xml) just in case!
Enjoy.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

"Nothing will come of nothing!"

I always wanted to use a Shakespeare quote for a title (it's from King Lear, but I'm sure you knew that)!
It is quite relevant to a couple of  problems people have had recently.
I had two App users contact me with the same symptom - the moulding element of the price was coming out at zero. You can test this by just putting in the dimensions and a moulding code, then hitting Total Price.
At first I was quite perplexed, but chatting on it seemed they had wanted to know the cost of the frame without any markup  (basically, how much would the materials cost?).
So, quite understandably, they had entered "0"  as the moulding markup.
There is the explanation straightaway - the App (and the Desktop program) multiply the wholesale moulding cost by the markup to get the frame cost (and then, if the figure is greater than zero, add on a cutting & joining charge). Of course any number multiplied by 0 is 0.
So, if you want to see the bare moulding cost you will need to put 1 as the moulding markup.

Monday, 11 November 2019

An Early Update

Normally I update Wessex Professional once a year, the last update was posted in the spring (2019). But I have another update for the autumn (4.4.8).

It all came about when one of my largest users asked me if the program could be made to show the progress of a job through the workshop, and also to produce an Excel list of jobs to be done. My first thought was to produce a modified version especially for them, but thinking about it I realised that these features could be a useful for all users.

So, lets go through the new features.

  • If you use the "Staff" option then the staff member is now saved to the database, instead of just being printed on the initial invoice and work ticket.
  • Likewise the Deposit amount paid is now saved. If you take deposits the program remembers so you don't have to!
  • Location, location location! On the Work Ticket record you can record the location of the item. Not only its final place waiting for the customer to collect, but whereabouts it is before and during the framing process. So no more wondering "I put that safe somewhere, didn't I?"

  • An Excel report showing the work to be done in the order it needs doing, including the customer's name & phone, can be created. Go to "Tools" > "Manage Database" > "WorkTickets" and Click on "File". Select "Excel Report" and a file titled "Job Sheets (+ the date) " will be saved to your Desktop.
  • Finally - in go to "Setup" > "Options", then the "Database" tab and select "Database Utilities", you will see at the bottom at box titled "Execute SQL". This allows an SQL statement to modify the database. If you don't know what SQL (Structured Query Language) is - ignore it. If you do use it always make sure you have taken a backup of the database beforehand. The reason it's there is to give the facility to make bulk changes to the database where it would otherwise need to be imported into Access.
I've been using this version in my framing shop for a few months now and I'm quietly pleased with it. I hope you will be too.