Saturday 24 October 2015

3 Steps to Heaven (well actually 8)

Sometimes I realise that I can get too close to the program and just assume that everyone knows the basics. So, it is probably useful to go through the steps that you'd do day in and day out.

  1. Give the customer a price.
  2. Customer agrees the price.
  3. Add the price, together with description etc, to the invoice.
  4. If the customer has another item - go to 1 (Click "Clear" to get rid of the previous price).
  5. Save the invoice. This is where you enter the customer details, collection date and so on.
  6. Print the Invoice and WorkTicket(s).
  7. When the job is complete "Edit" the WorkTicket and tick "Completed"..
  8. When the job is collected "Edit" the WorkTicket again and tick "Collected".
Notes -
  • "Tools" > "Manage Database" > "WorkTickets" and select "Views" > "Work for Completion". This will show the work you need to do in the order you should be doing it.
  • On any of the WorkTicket lists you can double-click on an individual record to bring up the full details and be able to print (reprint) the invoice/workticket.
  • You can bring up all of a customer's jobs by (in the WorkTicket list) selecting "Find Record" and the "Find Records by -" box initially shows "Invoice Number". Click the downward pointing arrow and select "Name".

Get into the habit of working this way and you'll notice a real difference in the way you're organized with no more customers you've "forgotten" about turning up surprising you!

Monday 7 September 2015

Windows 10 and the Pricing Program

Windows 10 is here and lots of people are installing it (after all, it is free to most users of Windows 7, 8 & 8.1). In general it is a well worthwhile upgrade, certainly far better than 8 & 8.1. Windows 7 users well feel at home pretty much straightaway.

The Wessex Pricing Program runs just as well on Windows 10 as on the previous versions of Windows.

The only potential problem I've seen is the increased security. So, when you download something from the internet and try to open the file there are many warnings along the lines of "Files downloaded from the internet are potentially unsafe." and  "Are you sure you want to continue?". In fact you might even have to explore "Additional options" in the dialogue box to run the file.
As more and more people are downloading the program from the Wessex website I hope that they won't be put off when they first go to install it.
So, for now, the procedure to try out or upgrade the program is
  1. Download the "30 Day Trail" from the Wessex website (you may need to log in with your user name and password).
  2. If you are at all worried, scan the downloaded file with your Anti-Virus program.
  3. Double-click the file to run it.
  4. Select "Additional Options" from the warning Dialog box.
  5. Click "Run Anyway".
Alternatively - order a CD from Wessex.

(NB. If you are upgrading an existing program remember to take copies of your Database and Labels/Values file (v3.mdb & user.xml) before you run the file, just in case!)

Saturday 29 August 2015

It's not working - heeeelp!

Of course I only get to hear about problems with the pricing program (WPP4), and I use the points raised to help improve it.
Very occasionally someone finds a program error and that is easy(ish), because then it's just a question of putting things right.
Most times the problem is something like - "It was working fine 'til yesterday, but now it's giving me an error (xyz) and I can't do (abc)."
The majority of these problems are usually related to the database, most often an unexpected value has been saved and the program doesn't know what to do with it. For instance - it can't read a number that it is expecting (Someone managed to insert 2 decimal points in the same number once!) The same goes for the Labels/Values file (putting an unnecessary current symbol is a good one).
When I can track these down, I write code that checks the value, so that an incorrect one cannot be saved. In fact about 30% of the program code is made up of these error-checking routines. Below is one that checks if the Moulding ID entered is a valid one.

The generic error message of the program has 3 suggestions. (Try to continue, restart the Program, contact Wessex Pictures).
If you are getting one of these errors then -
  • Don't panic
  • Make sure you have backed up the Database and Labels/Values file AND you have put them where they cannot get confused with similar files. (The database file is always called "V3.mdb" whether it contains your data or not)
  • The error is likely to be on the record you were working on when the message appeared, so can you get to that and correct it, or at least see the problem?
  • Do you have an earlier backup of the database you could import to check if the error is still there?
  • If the above doesn't work can you open the Database in Microsoft Access to see the problem and correct it? (Make sure the result is saved as "V3.mdb" not "V3.accdb")
Another solution is to load the program onto a different computer, check that everything works, then import your database. If there are no errors then the problem must lie with the original computer's configuration (ie. not a Wessex Pricing Program fault).

One of the challenges of programming is that the program you write has to work on a system that can be configured in many different ways. Very occasionally I've come across a problem I just couldn't get to the bottom of. A few years ago someone found that the program worked fine, except that it wouldn't print anything, I still don't know why. In the end it was put onto different computer and the problem went away, luckily it was the only time the problem has ever arisen.

What, of course, I haven't said is that computer errors can be immensely frustrating, testing your patience to the limit. So, put that hammer away, have a cup of tea and then tackle the problem!

Saturday 18 July 2015

Windows RT - eh?

I've often boasted that Wessex Professional will run on any variety of Windows (XPsp2 or better). Now someone has checked with me to see if it will run on Windows RT?
After a bit of head scratching and some Googling I found out that (to quote the Microsoft website) -

Windows RT 8.1 is a Windows-based operating system that's optimised for thin and light PCs that have extended battery life and are designed for life on the go. Windows RT 8.1 only runs built-in applications or apps that you download from the Windows Store.

Note that last sentence. It would seem that Microsoft have crippled functionality for battery life.
So, if someone offers you a nice Surface Pro 3 (tablet/laptop) - just say "No thank you"!

Sunday 26 April 2015

Business as usual

After 2 or 3 frustrating days of trying to get the program download link to work correctly on the new Wessex Pictures website, things are now back as they should be (thanks to Martin).
It does focus on the question I'm often asked - "Whereabouts do I download the latest version of the program?"
The answer is to go to the "30 Day Trial" and download that.
When you run the install the program will recognize if you have enabled the program and will simply apply the updated files (but make sure you have made a copy of the database and user files, just-in-case!).
On the other hand if you are trying out the program then you'll be allowed to use it for 30 days from the time you run it. After that the program is disabled, BUT any the database and values/labels files are still there ready to be used when the program is enabled.
So now you know.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Another New Year - More new features

I've been working on some new features in the program (WPP4) for the latest version which is about to be released (4.3.2).
There are two major new features -

The first is the ability to work with a picture size, rather than a rebate size. (But don't worry, you can still go on using the program in exactly the same way if you are happy with the way things were.)

The way it works is like this. If there is no mount then we are using rebate size anyway, so nothing changes. If there is a mount then we can enter the picture size (the size of the mount opening), make a mount selection and then enter a margin. 

(Note that the dimension label has changed from "Rebate Size" to "Picture Size")
This is useful if the customer is unsure about the margin they want.
The program can work out what the actual rebate will be (it assumes even margins all round) and so still tell the amount of moulding needed etc.

The other feature is the ability to print the staff member issuing the invoice on the paperwork.

Very useful if there is a query on a workticket.
The staff names can be entered in "Setup" > "Customise Labels". If there are no names, then the program doesn't show a list. (Note - this is only available on the Full version)

I have also taken the opportunity to improve some of the error messages, as well as getting the program to behave more nicely if it is transferred to a new computer.

So, keep an eye on for the update (4.3.2) which should be posted in the next couple of weeks (13/01/15).