Sunday 7 June 2009

Sneak preview

"So, what are you working on now?" is a question I've often been asked at the Spring Fair.
The answer is a completely rewritten Wessex Premier. The basic idea being 2 programs in 1 - a basic frame pricing version which uses just the mouldings part of the database, but no worktickets or customers list. This could be upgraded to the full version when the user needs to - using the same database that has been built up. In this way one could get use to using the program just to give prices, and because it works in exactly the same way as the full version it will be much more straightforward to upgrade - you wouldn't even need another disk.

Another aspect I'm working on is improving the handling of database records, particularly worktickets, in the full version. At the moment in WPP3 the lists of work to be done, low moulding stock etc. are separate from the records themselves (ie. you have to close down the list having made a note of the record, then go to the record itself. Not very efficient.) Now you will be able to look at the list, double-click on the line of interest and the individual record will come up. Also, visually, the workticket list is easier to read being in name order with the Overdue, For completion and Completed jobs in different colours.

The third big change is adding mountboards to the database. The idea behind this is to record the mountboard colour in the database and then print a spot of that colour on the workticket. This way mistakes can be minimised (for instance Aqadia 8643 in quite a different colour to 8043).
To make everything even more foolproof when the list of mount colours comes up each line is the colour of the mountboard. It was an interesting piece of programming as the lettering (normally black) has to change depending on the lightness/darkness of each colour.

Now I'm at the stage of "tweaking" the program, for instance - if when you click on a workticket, do you want all the other worktickets on that same invoice to appear, or does that just complicate the process? Is putting the mount colours on the workticket actually an advantage? Only by using the program for real do these thing emerge.

There is a technical price to be paid however. Whereas the current Wessex Premier (WPP3) uses VB2003 with the .Net Framework 1.1 (a quick install). This new program is written in VB2008 and uses the .Net Framework 2.0 ( a much longer install), which is needed because the program has to shut down and restart (when switching between versions) and also for the new menu controls.
Another reason for going with the new program is better integration with Windows Vista & Windows 7 (here at the end of October). While at the moment most people use XP, as computers get changed and upgraded those using XP will get less and less (in fact Microsoft plan to stop supporting XP completely in 2014).

Will the new program see the light of day? We'll have to see!

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