MS Access like development environments for the Web – 3 alternatives

So you would like to construct simple applications that you can at the moment create in MS Access but you want to do it on the web. By that I mean you would like to create a data driven application with somewhat complicated forms that can be accessed by anyone through either IE or Chrome anywhere in the world with a simple login screen at the front to prevent simply anyone accessing the applications collecting the information into a database. What are your options for programs that will assist you in a MS Access like environment rather than going the full IDE deep dive – Visual Studio route?

From my experience the unicorn of access on the web is slowly coming to fruition BUT for the vast majority of people with a budget similar to that for MS Access – lets say £200 a year for unlimited applications there is simply nothing which is quite as easy and powerful as MS Access. Some are pretty close but simply not as stable and require typically several magnitudes greater amount of configuration. WYSIWYG design isn’t quite as WYSIWYG and stability is a few orders lower than the desktop.

What you are probably looking at can typically be described as either RAD tools for the Web, a Low Coding Platform or something called a Code Generator any of those phrases can be useful for Google.

Assuming you don’t have your own servers whatever you do you will need to spend money on a web host.

The minimum this is likely to cost you is in the region of $15 a month. If you don’t want to spend the next 6 months learning about the insides and outsides of frameworks then I would suggest you go to one of the below three providers who all provide complete environments set up and ready to go with their particular generators pre-installed. This is good value it is extremely difficult to beat these guys on cloud hosting costs and unless you are very advanced and have very particular requirements its a waste of time to try. All three of the below providers will allow you to create limitless number of applications albeit you are limited by the space you hire on your web server. Similarly distribution will be limited by the quality of web server you sign up for. In all likelihood if you have few users it is unlikely that the coding front ends of your applications will be a limit to the number you create more likely the size of databases you are attaching them to and the shear time you have available to create applications.

I have a cloud hosted provision with Nubuilder Pro – I pay a monthly amount and I can create as many applications as I can fit within my space ( which is more than I can use even on the lowest version ). There are a number of providers that do this. With nubuilder the software is free. With other providers the software that helps manage the construction of the site is not free. Whatever you go for you will need a webserver. Paying one of the guys below means they set up the environment for you. Which for people starting out is a BIG step forward.

Be warned n-tier web applications do not play as friendly as the desktop you WILL be slower to construct applications than you are on the desktop, getting into it WILL take time and a bit of commitment, you WILL have far less flexibility regards coding, there WILL be less people about to ask questions and there is far far less WYSIWYG design capabilities, error trapping is poor and errors are far more likely to be fatal and the really big warning is that on release of new web frameworks you may not necessarily be able to update without a full site re-design (A fact that comes as a nasty surprise to many CIOs and Project Managers when they realise that they are locked into front end system replacements every 4 or 5 years ) Know how to get data to your local environment out of the back end and accept that the front end is ephemeral and not likely to last in the same way as your desktop applications. (Your database will last but don’t expect to be running it through the same front end ten years from now). Accept that you will now have monthly or annual rental fees for cloud provision.

That said the design of these items is significantly faster than its ever been.

Scriptcase and PHPRunner have free downloads that are good for getting started.

Commit to one and go for it. – I’ve got both PHP and ASP.NET solutions.. Nubuilder only connects to MySQL whereas Scriptcase and ASPRunner.NET connect to pretty much any database. I started with Nubuilder and am using ASPRunner.net as well because importantly it connects to SQL Server and in particular I can host everything in MS Azure. I find Nubuilder Pro really conceptually elegant which despite its rather drab looks is incredibly flexible. I would probably be able to change it’s look if I was prepared to get my own server and install everything on it myself. That is not something I have time to do at present.
Nubuilder hosts its IDE in the browser. ASPRunner.net is more traditional in that you have a program running on a desktop and then you publish your application up to the web server this has the advantage that you get to see the plumbing in the background which makes backup of the site easier but publishing slightly harder.

Zoho Creator / Alpha 5 / Outsystems hold your hand even more but as a result are even more proprietary and won’t fit in that budget of £200 per year ( by quite a long way!)

Nubuilder Pro Link

Scriptcase Link

ASP Runner – PHPRunner and ASPRunner.Net Link

Good luck

Posted in All, Code Generators, Continual Professional Development, Database Design, Dev Ops, dot NET framework, General Opinion, Learning, Low Coding Platforms, MS Access, Personal Development, RAD Web Tools | Comments Off on MS Access like development environments for the Web – 3 alternatives

Upload XLS information to a specific table or new table within an SQL Azure Database

I have started experimenting with Microsoft Azure if you haven’t already you can get a free experimentation account here;

Microsoft Azure Trial account with £125 credit

This gets your registered on Microsoft’s cloud and after a free trial period you will be able to continue with a Pay as You go Account which depending on the services that you go for can start at very cheap rates.

In order for this to work you will need the following
1) Microsoft Azure account
2) An SQL Azure Database
3) SQL Server Management Studio downloaded and installed on the machine you will be uploading from, this can be obtained from SSMS download link be warned its over 800mb. Here I use SSMS 2016
4) Know your server name this is generally [Yourname].database.windows.net
5) Login and Password (I use SQL Server Authentication)

Testing things out I have been using the Web Apps Service to run a website and connect to an SQL Azure Database – both on the cheapest options.

What makes the website particularly cheap is that it can be stopped and started and by paying for it by the minute you can really get a powerful demonstration sites up and running and stop them immediately after the demonstration for very little money.

So after having created an Azure SQL database (Microsoft Create Azure Database Tutorial)I wanted to get a decent number of records into it. Which would be the starting position when taking on most work.
Here I use the Lichfield Planning Application information previously referred to in this post QGIS Import. What I did was take the 45,000 records of planning applications from the shape file. I did this by opening up the dbf file of the shape collection in Excel 2003 and then saving it in excel format. This will be used later to import into the database.

Having your excel file ready the next step is to open up SQL Server Management Studio and connect to your Azure Database. The parameters with regard to username and servername will have been setup when you created your Azure database it is important that when you create your Azure database you somehow record these details.

Next highlight the database – in my case this was DB001 and right click to get tasks.

At this point you enter the import wizard windows dialog boxes and having passed the opening welcome screen , a screen that can be turned off for subsequent navigations, you should hit your first screen that allows you to define the format of the file that should be imported.

The next step is about the only one that is slightly confusing – you are given a number of different options for the target – for me SQL Server Native Client 11.0 worked for me.

Now using the previous parameters specific to your database server and your database name complete the next dialog.

The next dialog asks you whether you want to copy all information or want to write a query to filter the information to be imported. For my example I chose the all import item. Here I select the database and then I am able to see the from and too destinations.

If you wish to import into an existing table use the drop down to select tables from the database – if you wish to import into a new table you can type in the name of the new table within the square brackets.

Here I create a new table called T010Test and import and then continue through the import wizard dialogs until on completion of import you should see a similar screen to that below. It is possible to go into the edit mappings if you are copying into a table that already exists. This will give you a preview showing to what extent the mapping will be successful and how the fields map. You may wish to alter the names of columns to match your target table at this point.

Posted in All, Dev Ops, SQL Azure, SQL Server, SSMS | Comments Off on Upload XLS information to a specific table or new table within an SQL Azure Database

Microsoft Azure – moving to the cloud

I must confess I do love MS Access and I have a number of projects that I suspect will always remain as are – these are ones that are highly complex but very personal that I really don’t need to share. Even some projects that because of their sensitivity I would never want to share but despite the difficulty of designing really user friendly user interfaces on the web the ability to distribute your applications to everyone in the world is a very powerful attractor which is quite clearly going to be a game changer.

I have therefore started to experiment with data driven online applications and so far I am impressed.

To get started you will first want to sign up with an Azure account.
Azure Portal Sign In

I can see in the future I will probably be using Access as a desktop platform for writing queries and personal content curation with SQL Azure for projects where I need to communicate with others linked through the apps service in the Azure portal.

Posted in All, Dev Ops, SQL Azure | Comments Off on Microsoft Azure – moving to the cloud

Microsoft shows MS Access some Love

Although MS Access had been upgraded with each new version of Office. The desktop side of the product had appeared to have lacked development and sometimes suffered from some strange marketing decisions. In particular its omission in 2014 from some of the Office 365 subscriptions.

On Friday the 4th of November Microsoft announced that it would be included in the Office 365 Business and Business Premium subscriptions.

MS Access Office 365 announcement

Not only that but it would appear that Microsoft seem to be actively embracing a more visible development strategy for the product. To be fair for many years they have had regular summits at headquarters with super users to allow them to give feedback on product.

They now have a suggestion box that gives some indication of how they are collecting information on what developments they should be working on and are working on in the future
MS Access Suggestion Box

Posted in All, MS Access | Comments Off on Microsoft shows MS Access some Love

QGIS – Import shape file into PostGIS Table

The following uses
QGIS 2.14.2 Essen and
PostGres 9.5

A number of local authorities have released information through the UK’s data government site. The following example uses a shape file obtained from Lichfield District Council – At 2nd of October 2016 this was available for download from the following link

Lichfield Planning Applications

Open up QGIS and add Lichfield’s planning application shape file
qgisessen2142

Now scan along the top menu and go to Database

Select the sub menu DB Manager and then DB Manager

dbmanager

The following windows dialog should appear

dbmanagerdialog

Expand the area on the left named PostGIS – any PostGIS instances that you have created should be visisble here. Note you will have to have the PostGIS server running. Then highlight the actual instance that would like to import information into.

In this case I use the instance LocalPostGres

dbmanagerdialog

Choose the third icon from the left.
dbmanagerimportlayerfile

It should be noted that the window on the right may or may not show the correct connection to the database on the right.

importdialog

Name the table you wish to create and then hit OK – additional parameters are available.
There will be a delay before a confirmation of successful import happens – try to not issue commands during this time – once confirmation has been received go back into the PostGIS option and add the layer.

Posted in All, Geographical Information Systems, GIS, PostGIS, Postgres, QGIS General | Comments Off on QGIS – Import shape file into PostGIS Table

Manipulating MS Word Documents from MS Access 2003

The following code generates separate word documents for each parent record in a table called T001ParentRecords and places the children records relating to the parent record in a word document. It then goes on to format that word document before saving and closing and then moving to the next document and starting the process again.

As such it takes the code relating to looping through recordsets and also the code relating to generating word documents and combines the two. This could be very good for automatically generating whole host of different things.

It uses the WEND statement rather than the Do Until Loop as I was told it was better practice.

Function AutoGenerateParentChildWordDocuments()

'Make sure the name of the recordset is unambigous
'Good practice to reference the actual library
'Please ensure that you go to Tools - Refererences and select Microsoft Word 11 0 Object Library

Dim rs As DAO.Recordset
Dim db As DAO.Database

Dim rschild As DAO.Recordset

Dim wrdApp As Word.Application
Dim wrdDoc As Word.Document

Set db = CurrentDb
'Place your SQL for parent records to be created
Set rs = db.OpenRecordset("SELECT * FROM T001ParentRecords")

If Not (rs.EOF And rs.BOF) Then
'There are no records if EOF and BOF are both true you are at the end and at the beginning

rs.MoveLast
rs.MoveFirst
While (Not rs.EOF)
Set wrdApp = CreateObject("Word.Application")

'Create the new document
Set wrdDoc = wrdApp.Documents.Add
'The following line can be altered to open the document on the screen
wrdApp.Visible = False
'Next setup the margins of the document
wrdDoc.PageSetup.LeftMargin = CentimetersToPoints(1.27)
wrdDoc.PageSetup.RightMargin = CentimetersToPoints(1.27)
wrdDoc.PageSetup.TopMargin = CentimetersToPoints(1.27)
wrdDoc.PageSetup.BottomMargin = CentimetersToPoints(1.27)

With wrdDoc

.Styles(wdStyleHeading1).Font.Name = "Algerian"
.Styles(wdStyleHeading1).Font.Size = 14
.Styles(wdStyleHeading1).Font.Bold = True
.Styles(wdStyleHeading1).Font.Color = wdColorBlack

.Styles(wdStyleHeading3).Font.Name = "Courier"
.Styles(wdStyleHeading3).Font.Size = 12
.Styles(wdStyleHeading3).Font.Bold = False
.Styles(wdStyleHeading3).Font.Color = wdColorBlack
.Styles(wdStyleHeading3).NoSpaceBetweenParagraphsOfSameStyle = True
.Styles(wdStyleHeading3).ParagraphFormat.Alignment = wdAlignParagraphJustify

.Styles(wdStyleHeading2).Font.Name = "Arial"
.Styles(wdStyleHeading2).Font.Size = 12
.Styles(wdStyleHeading2).Font.Bold = True
.Styles(wdStyleHeading2).Font.Color = wdColorRed
.Styles(wdStyleHeading2).NoSpaceBetweenParagraphsOfSameStyle = True
.Styles(wdStyleHeading2).ParagraphFormat.Alignment = wdAlignParagraphJustify

.Styles(wdStyleNormal).Font.Name = "Arial"
.Styles(wdStyleNormal).Font.Size = 10
.Styles(wdStyleNormal).Font.Color = wdColorBlue

'Better to set style before insert
.Paragraphs(.Paragraphs.Count).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading1)
.Content.InsertAfter ("Sitename:" & rs!Sitename)
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

.Paragraphs(.Paragraphs.Count).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading3)
.Content.InsertAfter ("Town:" & rs!Town)
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

.Paragraphs(.Paragraphs.Count).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading3)
.Content.InsertAfter ("Postcode:" & rs!Postcode)
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

Set rschild = db.OpenRecordset("SELECT * FROM T002ChildRecords WHERE FKID = " & rs!PKID)

If Not (rschild.EOF And rschild.BOF) Then
'There are no records if EOF and BOF are both true you are at the end and at the beginning

rschild.MoveLast
rschild.MoveFirst

While (Not rschild.EOF)

'Again better to set style before insert
.Paragraphs(.Paragraphs.Count).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading1)
.Content.InsertAfter ("Consulting Body:" & rschild!Body)

.Content.InsertParagraphAfter
.Paragraphs(.Paragraphs.Count).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading2)
.Content.InsertAfter ("Consultation response : " & rschild!Comment)
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

.Content.InsertParagraphAfter
.Paragraphs(.Paragraphs.Count).Style = .Styles(wdStyleNormal)
.Content.InsertAfter ("Consultation Date: " & rschild!DateUpdated)
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

rschild.MoveNext
Wend
Else
End If

rschild.Close

.SaveAs ("c:\temp\Auto-Generated-WordDoc-" & rs!Town & rs!PKID & ".doc")
.Close ' close the document

End With ' With wrdDoc
Set wrdDoc = Nothing

wrdApp.Quit ' close the Word application
Set wrdApp = Nothing

rs.Edit
rs.Update
rs.MoveNext

Wend

rs.Close
Else
MsgBox "No Records Available for updating exit sub"
Exit Function
End If

MsgBox "Looped through the records and updated the value number field"

Set rschild = Nothing
Set rs = Nothing
Set db = Nothing

End Function

Download an example database HERE

Boilerplate code demonstrating simple Recordset manipulation

Posted in All, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on Manipulating MS Word Documents from MS Access 2003

Notepad ++ / AstroGrep / Autohotkey – 3 Useful Tools

Three useful tools for speeding up or automating tasks

Notepad ++
Text editor that has formating for programming – I often use it for editing XML documents and writing VB scripts.
Notepad ++ link

AstroGREP
Son of GREP – useful Text searcher particularly useful for identifying parameters within web files within applications. When you need to customize a web page
Astro Grep link

AutoHotKey
Automation of tasks program that allows creation of executables that can navigate browsers really very powerful
AutoHotKey link

Posted in All, Personal Development, Problem Solving, Useful Links | Comments Off on Notepad ++ / AstroGrep / Autohotkey – 3 Useful Tools

Links to VBA Functions

Allen Browne Functions Index

Technet list of functions

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on Links to VBA Functions

What’s the difference between Sub Routines and Functions

I was curious Sub Routines and Functions appear to perform almost the same thing what is the difference and what are their relative advantages?

Functions return a value that is stored whereas subs don’t. The main difference is not only the return value, it seems that subs are faster than functions (at least in .net) because the MSIL code of subs is much shorter when no value is returned. so overall subs are faster when no value is returned.

MSIL stands for Microsoft Intermediate Language – which is the a programming language that has been standardized later as the Common Intermediate Language

Functions vs Sub Routines

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on What’s the difference between Sub Routines and Functions

Typical While Loop VBA


Function TypicalWhileLoop()
'This performs the same as next loop but uses the while loop

Dim LCounter As Integer
LCounter = 1

While LCounter < 10 MsgBox (LCounter) LCounter = LCounter + 1 Wend End Function

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on Typical While Loop VBA

Typical For Next Loop

Function TypicalForNextExample()
'This performs the same as the while loop but uses for next

Dim i As Integer

For i = 1 To 9
MsgBox (i)
Next i

End Function

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on Typical For Next Loop

Typical DAO.Recordset VBA for looping through and altering

Function TypicalDAOrecordset()

'Make sure the name of the recordset is unambiguous
'Good practice to reference the actual library

Dim rs As DAO.Recordset
Dim db As DAO.Database
Set db = CurrentDb
Set rs = db.OpenRecordset("SELECT * FROM T001Main where T001Main.ValueNumber = 0")

'the data source can be a Table Name a query name or an sql string
'it would be possible to change the SQL to set to another set of records
'Check to see if there are any records in the set

If Not (rs.EOF And rs.BOF) Then
'there are no records if End of File and beginning of file are both true

rs.MoveFirst

Do Until rs.EOF = True
rs.Edit
rs!ValueNumber = 300
rs.Update
rs.MoveNext
Loop
Else
MsgBox "No Records available for updating exit sub"
Exit Function
End If
MsgBox "Looped through the records and updated ValueNumber field"

rs.Close
Set rs = Nothing
Set db = Nothing

'libraries for DAO can be found on AllenBrowne site
'remember to break an infinite loop press ctrl + break

End Function

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on Typical DAO.Recordset VBA for looping through and altering

VBS – Pieces of code

Shutdown computer
Option Explicit
Dim oShell
Set oShell = Wscript.CreateObject("Wscript.Shell")
oShell.Run "SHUTDOWN -T 60 -S" 'wait 60 seconds before shutting down

Trigger speech
Option Explicit
Dim speechobject
set speechobject=createobject("sapi.spvoice")
speechobject.speak "Your system is setup and ready for your day"

Delay for Seconds (10)
Option Explicit
Dim dteWait
dteWait = DateAdd("s", 10, Now())
Do Until (Now() > dteWait)
Loop

Sleep Function for Delay – Count in Milliseconds (5 mins below)
WScript.Sleep 5*60*1000

Posted in All, Configuration, VBS Scripts | Comments Off on VBS – Pieces of code

Using VBA to write Word Document

Writing to Microsoft Word

Firstly a warning – this creates doc documents that can be opened in Word 2010 but are strictly speaking 03 iterations hence the doc suffix

First need to load in the library for Microsoft Word (this is 2003 version)

ObjectLibrary

Then you are free to open and manipulate the items in Microsoft word..


Private Sub Command_Click()
On Error GoTo Err_Command_Click

Dim wrdApp As Word.Application
Dim wrdDoc As Word.Document

Set wrdApp = CreateObject("Word.Application")
Set wrdDoc = wrdApp.Documents.Add ' create a new document
wrdApp.Visible = True
‘this line can be altered to not open the document on the screen

With wrdDoc

With .Styles(wdStyleHeading1).Font
.Name = "Arial"
.Size = 16
.Bold = True
.Color = wdColorBlack
End With
With .Styles(wdStyleHeading2).Font
.Name = "Arial"
.Size = 12
.Bold = True
.Color = wdColorBlack
End With
With .Styles(wdStyleNormal).Font
.Name = "Arial"
.Size = 10
.Color = wdColorBlack
End With

.Content.ParagraphFormat.LineSpacingRule = wdLineSpaceExactly
.Content.ParagraphFormat.LineSpacing = 10

.Range(0).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading1)
.Content.InsertAfter "ThIS SHOULD BE HEADING1"
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

.Range(.Characters.Count - 1).Style = .Styles(wdStyleHeading2)
.Content.InsertAfter "THIS SHOULD BE HEADING2"
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

.Range(.Characters.Count - 1).Style = .Styles(wdStyleNormal)
.Content.InsertAfter "THIS SHOULD BE NORMAL"
.Content.InsertParagraphAfter

.SaveAs ("C:\CreatedWordDoc.doc")
.Close ' close the document
End With ' With wrdDoc

wrdApp.Quit ' close the Word application
Set wrdDoc = Nothing
Set wrdApp = Nothing

Exit_Command_Click:
Exit Sub

Err_Command_Click:
MsgBox Err.Description
Resume Exit_Command5_Click

An article on libraries specifically related to MS Access is available here
allenbrowne.com

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on Using VBA to write Word Document

Using VBA and Databases to create HTML

Here’s some code I used to generate HTML for a web configuration file. It takes a database (the current open one) then looks to a query called QueryTargetInformation and places the fields – PlaceName / EastingMn / NorthingMn / EastingMx / NorthingMx in a HTML Structure and creates a file called CodeGeneratedHTML.txt place it on the C drive.

I put around 1,000 repeated links in HTML configuration file using this.

This was for a web mapping application – the eastings and northings were obtained from Ordnance Survey Open Source shape files from Ordnance Survey and then QGIS to get the eastings and northings of a variety of locations. These were transferred into the relevant columns of a database and this code triggered from the onclick event of a form command.


Private Sub Command_Click()
On Error GoTo Err_Command_Click

Dim rst As DAO.Recordset
Set rst = CurrentDb.OpenRecordset("QueryTargetInformation")
Dim fs, TextFile
Set fs = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set TextFile = fs.CreateTextFile("c:\CodeGeneratedHTML.txt", True)
Do Until rst.EOF = True
TextFile.WriteLine ("")
TextFile.WriteLine (" ")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!EastingMn & "")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!NorthingMn & "")
TextFile.WriteLine ("
")
TextFile.WriteLine (" ")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!EastingMx & "")
TextFile.WriteLine (" " & rst!NorthingMx & "")
TextFile.WriteLine ("
")
TextFile.WriteLine ("
")
rst.MoveNext
Loop
TextFile.Close

MsgBox "Created CodeGeneratedHTML File in C drive"

Exit_Command_Click:
Exit Sub

Err_Command_Click:
MsgBox Err.Description
Resume Exit_Command_Click

End Sub

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access | Comments Off on Using VBA and Databases to create HTML

The Economics of Immortality (part 2) and a real reason for moving platform.

The announcement in December 2014 that Microsoft was releasing a version of Visual Studio Community to virtually everyone for free and then again a further announcement in February 2016 of Microsoft’s purchase of Xamarin and subsequent release with VS community edition suggests to me that my theory that cost of development tools should steadily reduce to next to nothing is on the button. Still it comes as a surprise that it seems to be happening so quickly. This can only be a good thing especially when considering that increasingly, any application can be developed locally and sold globally or at least published internationally.

In my opinion it is looking more and more likely that the best reason for moving legacy systems to new platforms will in the future not be cost savings but rather revenue possibilities of resulting systems. In a word Software as a Service. But why will anyone one want to create their own Services rather than paying to be a customer of others? Two reasons – number one – at present the field is wide open and in many fields there is a complete lack of rich software out there applicable to individuals problem, secondly the caution with which some individuals will relinquish their information and knowledge of their tools – in that respect revenue generation might just be a nice optional bonus. I do think that different categories of software will progress at different rates and maybe in that respect we can look to Accounting software to see the future for other categories. Everyone is interested in money and the shear ubiquity of the requirement for accounting support has focused resources heavily on tools resulting in a healthy market of options for customers for online software. There are still sticking points in the form of cost especially when being charged on a per seat basis but it is no longer really practical for any individual organisation to develop their own accounting software especially when you can choose both on quality and price in the wider national markets. But outside of accounting the choice of products seem to be somewhat scarce.

So it seems its early days for Software as a Service but certainly maybe the question should be not what legacy systems need replacing but…

What tool do you have at your work which you think with a redesign could be used by others by publishing to the web?

Posted in All, Dev Ops, General Opinion | Comments Off on The Economics of Immortality (part 2) and a real reason for moving platform.

Using Task Scheduler and Visual Basic Scripts to automate pretty much anything Win 7

This is hardly ground breaking but windows Task Scheduler can be used to run VBS scripts on a variety of events to automate repetitive and boring tasks. Backups for example or refreshing caches on web browsers before users come in.

Hit Window button

Type “Task Scheduler”

Press return you should get the following screen.

Schedule1

Make sure Task Schedule Library is selected in the tree on the left then within Actions sub window on the right click Create

Schedule2

Give the Task a name in the area above marked with a red arrow and then go to the actions Tab where you can use the New… button to navigate to the vbs file you wish to run.

Schedule3

Next use the browse button OR if you know the path and file name simply type in the path to your visual basic script you would like to run. Here I have put in an imaginary backup script. Next go to the Trigger tab and again hit the New… tab

The Begin Task selection list gives a good indication of when you want to trigger whatever tasks.

Schedule4

If we continue with the theme and run a vbs script to do a backup at 11:48 everyday

Schedule5

Posted in All, Backup, Configuration, Dev Ops, VBS Scripts | Comments Off on Using Task Scheduler and Visual Basic Scripts to automate pretty much anything Win 7

Early and Late Binding

f12

Good article on Early and Late Binding

MSDN Early and Late binding

Coding can appear very complicated sometimes but to simplify the difference in terms of implementation this line is very clear;

The only difference between early binding and late binding (in terms of the code you write) is in the variable declaration.

Or it could be an excuse to post a really nice picture of some bindings.

Posted in All, MS Access, VBA Code MS Access, VBA Code MS Excel | Comments Off on Early and Late Binding

nuBuilderPro – Import csv into a table of your application MySQL database (Its very easy)

I don’t know about you but for me its pretty rare to start an application without any information. At the very least there may be lookup tables or you have information collected in a spreadsheet. Thus when I came to nuBuilderPro one of the first things I researched was how to get information into a table. nuBuilderPro uses a vanilla version of mySQL in the background so this is what we will be working with. We will be attempting to import a csv file. You will need a clean organised csv file.

First create the tables that you require information to go into. Ensure that you have exactly the same table structure as the csv file that you wish to import. Therefore either adjust the table or the csv appropriately. Failure to have the same structure will halt the import.

Next navigate to the administration panel using your particular variation of the below url. Note that it is important to have the / at the end of the url otherwise you will be taken to the more specific database administration page where you design forms. Don’t worry if this happens you can still get to the php administration page by hitting the databases button. In fact this is an alternative way of getting to the screens that I show here.

https://youracount.nubuilder.net/nuadmin/

Use your username and password to get into the nuadmin index panel

Once you have entered your username and password appropriately you should be at the following address

https://youraccount.nubuilder.net/nuadmin/index.php

nuBuilderPro-nuAdminScreen

Now select the small spanner sign in the top right – this takes you to the php admin section for your whole VPS there are other ways of going into this web page but we will go this way for now.
You should be taken to a section which looks as follows

nuBuilderPro-phpMyAdmin

All databases within your VPS should be listed on the left. Each new application will have a database created for it. Each database holds all the required tables that hold your database and are listed on the left hand side. Click on the database in question and then hit structure. You are interested not just in the database but also the particular table. There is a notification grey line at the top of the page which shows you what database and what table you are in.

Importing a csv is a straightforward process of hitting the import button at the top selecting the csv file and hitting the go button. If the csv file contains column names you may wish to alter the row at which import starts.

nubuilderPro-csvimport

Once import has been completed it will indicate how many lines were imported and how long it took. If there are problems you will obtain a message indicating so. I tried to create a simple Russian / English dictionary and it was really very straightforward. It is important that the csv has the right number of columns as per your designed table.

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nuBuilderPro – a database driven Web Framework for simple Form Design

I have been seeking a way of designing simple web forms for a reasonable cost for some time. I was continually coming across either very professional products with really quite large annual charges (alpha anywhere) or alternatively products that charge a per seat cost for users (zoho creator). Fine I don’t mind paying for software I really don’t but what about a project that only brings in $2000 dollars a year how can I justify Alpha Anywhere’s costs for that or how can I give access to individuals who will need an application very rarely but for whom there is real value in knowing this information. I have long believed that software costs should be coming down in cost rather than ever increasing and getting users interested in your applications is often impossibly hard at the best of times when there is no cost let alone when you tell them that they need to shell out for a subscription. What happens to the user who only needs something once in a blue moon or a user not from within your department within a section where you have no control of the budget? I’ve recently had a lot of success with open source software and as a result I have been scouring the internet for options for some years. Recently I found a project called nuBuilderPro from an Australian based development house called nuSoftware. nuBuilderPro is version 3 of what I think is their own framework. It looked good and what’s more although based on the LAMP stack which is something I’ve had very little dealings with they offered a fully hosted VPS service where I could experiment and get my bearings. They completely host the development environment for a very very reasonable price. Given that I didn’t know whether it was going to be useful to me yet this seemed an ideal opportunity to experiment. It has only been a short time since sign up but I can already see that it will prove useful. I have signed up for the most basic of server accounts and at 17th of January created 3 very basic applications. All in about 3 hours of work. Thats what I like to see proper RAD development.

The website is here.

www.nubuilder.net

And the options for hosting are here

www.nubuilder.net/hosting.php

Importantly you can start small get to know the product and work up – additional users do NOT cost you extra money, login security comes built in and you are free to design as many applications as you can fit within your VPS. Given that when I first signed up I didn’t have any users or applications and didn’t know how to design applications, this seemed completely ideal.

So far it looks like I’m going to use it for small but important applications that need very quick development that are very distributed. That’s not to say it couldn’t be used for much larger applications but I need to run before I can walk. Given the underlying database engine and stack it is likely that it will be able to handle much bigger projects than I am likely to throw at it. Although Open Source all but the top of the stack has been in solid development for many years I guess the question mark is over the control management framework for the database integration and form building UIs which is somewhat new and untested. I would very likely have gone with something like Lightswitch but Microsoft have been giving a distinct lack of commitment to any one RAD web tool recently. Certainly it is true that very few individuals seem to know about it and the forum is somewhat quiet compared with some open source projects. Importantly though I haven’t come across any other open source projects with the price model that they have and importantly I can easily get any information in and out so I don’t believe I am taking any risk. I hope to be investigating it further over the coming months. From what I have seen so far I am very impressed and did I say it had a unique price model anyway watch this space!

Posted in All, Continual Professional Development, Database Design, Dev Ops, nuBuilderPro | Comments Off on nuBuilderPro – a database driven Web Framework for simple Form Design