In the future . . . .

Discussions on the future of databases, computing , the meaning of life ........

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Postby John Middleton » Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:25 pm

Yes, Intellisense is far from perfect – but as I said, its use does remind me of DFD.

The repetitive element has got worse in 2008, with a sort of last-used or favourites addition for the available references. So, for example if you have recently used ‘console.writeline’ then ‘writeline’ appears at the top of the alphabetically sorted list of references as-well-as amongst the other W’s. Ugh!

And we are also treated to a transparent view (so you can view through to the code behind)– which only works in Vista!

VS does have a nice series of training videos – by Beth Massi – now if you could get someone with her dulcet, euphonious, sexy American drool to do something similar for Ffenics . . . . . .

File Maker has series of downloadable training PDFs . . . . .

And DE has Simon, of course, . . . . .

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Postby Pete Tabord » Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:19 pm

Hi Simon

I would like to do something, I've given a lot of thought to what approach it should take. I don't want to reveal it until I've got something working in case it doesn't. (work, that is :) )

Hi John

I actually find Intellisense quite useful, my point really is that you have to know its foibles pretty well before its 'safe' to use , so its a bit flawed as an novice tool. For Ff, we need something that is helpful to the novice and not in the way for advanced users - if advanced users also get a benefit from it that's really a bonus.

I haven't started developing under Vista yet - when you've all bought lots of Ff I shall indulge in a new development PC with one of these dual screen debugging setups :)

I think we're going to get Graham to do the training video - he'll have to work on the voice :) :) :)

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Postby John Middleton » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:47 pm

when you've all bought lots of Ff I shall indulge in a new development PC with one of these dual screen debugging setups


But Pete, when we start doing business you won’t need a PC, you’ll be in your own private Shangri-La, with flunkies at your beck and call and just the occasional interruption from the waiter as he tops up the G&T.

But failing that, don’t forget we do build some remarkable machines.

Just waiting on a reply to mails from your other half . . . . . .

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Postby Adrian Jones » Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:55 am

Whilst clearly not a novice tool, I can't really fault intellisense. Snippets, for example!

But before we go too far, before I actually check to see if this is still the case in Ff, there is some interativeness in the DfW DQL editor:

1. Click a table, and you get the corresponding list of cols and rels.
2. Click the rel, and the lists shift to the table behind that rel, plus the corresponding cols.
3. Click a command and hit F1, and you (should) get the help for that command.

There may be others as well...
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Postby Mark Nicholas » Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:07 pm

Graham Smith wrote:To be perfectly honest, what I would really like to see added to Ff is some kind of RAD form creation tool for advanced users. Rather than plunking down fields one at a time on a form, I would like something akin to the SQL table creation tools found in some products.


DOS4.53 had a very useful option (that I cannot find in "higher" versions):

D A T A E A S E - M A I N M E N U
7. System Administration

A D M I N I S T R A T I O N
6. Database Utilities

U T I L I T I E S M E N U
5. Install/Convert an Application

I N S T A L L D A T A B A S E
2. Convert and Install Lotus Files

This facility can still be implemented using MSExcel to create the source document. The first row contains the field names, subsequent rows contain the data and the whole area (Top-left to lower-right) needs to be given a "Name". This document then needs to be saved in 123 format (8 chrs max for the name) and given the extension WK1.

Having installed it into 4.53 you can make adjustments to field sizes or definitions (Required, Prevent, Indexed, add derivations etc...), move it up to the highest version of DE_DOS you have, move it over to Windows with DE6 and finally migrate it to Ffenics.
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Postby Graham Smith » Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:43 pm

I can build a form by hand faster than I could do that :jocolor:
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Postby Pete Tabord » Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:08 pm

You can also do it in Ffenics by creating a form over the Excel table (as foreign. with either ODBC or OLEDB) using (as you mentioned) a named range in Excel, and then 'save as' native.

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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby nic » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:24 pm

When I was first introduced to DQL, the Interactive Mode was really what sold Dease to me.

I thought at the time, that this was quite revolutionary with the built-in editor prompting me at each step, listing all the valid responses, which prevented me from making syntax or spelling mistakes. I was able to write fairly complex routines in very little time.

I really miss having it, because it was very useful to refer to when I needed to jog my (now-aging) memory.

Thank you for the wonderful job that you have done with Ffenics. Love it! =D>

Kind regards,

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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby lumberjackshaw » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:02 pm

Good Day,

I have yet to find a wizard that I did not want to clean up after myself. I do however, like code evaluation like what MSSQL performs...if you type a keyword that it does not recognize it highlights it. I DO NOT, however, like the code completion...It is forever inserting the wrong thing. #-o :-) While I am not certain that such systems are feasible, financially, that is about the extent of my support for wizards.
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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby Phil Winkler » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:18 pm

Interactive mode is far from being a wizard.

Arun Gupta described DQL as a superset of SQL. When asked why he stated the table first (for Formname...) rather then last like in SQL, he had a puzzled look on his face and said "So you will know the field names to use."

The DQL Interactive mode is quite remarkable and it all happens in memory.
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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby lumberjackshaw » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:05 pm

For the record regarding my last post (It didn't seem as clear as I would have liked the following day...that's what I get for posting in a hurry)....

I have no problems with the concept of interactive mode...if memory serves me it was quite clean and I don't remember it being required.
Wizards that annoy me most are those similar to MS Access form/report wizards. The end product is never what I need and it takes almost as much time to fix the wizard generated documents as would have taken to create it from a blank slate. Fortunately, it's use is not required.
As Phil said,
Interactive mode is far from being a wizard.


Intellisense (as I failed to mention by name) has components I like and components I don't. I like seeing the list of available objects. I like the ability to choose one of those objects but it makes auto-insertions at times that drive me crazy. Like a spell check that keeps changing an intentional spelling because it thinks you are spelling another word :x .

For Ff, we need something that is helpful to the novice and not in the way for advanced users - if advanced users also get a benefit from it that's really a bonus.

If it can be turned off it won't get in the way. :-)

For example...in general, when editing procedures, I do not use the pick lists. If I am familiar with the document I can usually type faster than select via mouse so I disable them displaying the whole screen of code. When I am working with an unfamiliar document I can easily turn them on and see the fields I need. Beginners and slow typers, however, use these features almost exclusively. If you can achieve this level of flexibility with any other systems you incorporate I am certain it will be an excellent tool.

Thanks,
--Josh

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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby Pete Tabord » Sun Jan 08, 2012 12:59 pm

I don't know if the DFD style interactive mode could ever be added to Ffenics. I'm not even sure it is important now.

To my mind, Sapphire killed themselves by presenting DFW in the way that they did.

The fact is that the US company - which in those days meant Arun Gupta - treated the advent of Windows as an opportunity to redesign the DataEase database engine with many of what he regarded as fundamental flaws of DFD corrected. The UK and Scandinavian interests disagreed fundamentally with this approach, and as a compromise an attempt was made to produce 'DataEase for DOS for Windows' which worked exactly the same as the old product. This was shown to our then main accounts and retail distributors - which in those days were 90% of the business - and rejected completely as it did not look or work like a Windows product.

(Edit: It was probably only a mock-up rather than a proper product - I wasn't involved but I did see it. Arun's redesign was released but in a simplified form called Express as the UK and Scandinavian influence blocked the inclusion of Arun's new OO query language. At the time all this went on I was working for the US company on DFD 4.53, but I had a fair amount to do with Arun and learnt a great deal from him.)

After the political infighting was resolved with the UK effectively taking over the US company I was made responsible for overseeing the design and delivery of DFW, and my brief was to 'add DQL to Express'.

Since Express was basically a new product which worked in a fundamentally different way to the then DFD, that approach could only provide at best a certain familiarity, rather than an exact copy. But on the other hand DQL in DFW could do things DQL in DFD never could.

Similar I suppose to when we used to get ANSI versions of COBOL, there has always been a reluctance among DFD users to learn the new facilities while being very upset at the loss of any old ones. (I used to be in exactly that camp with COBOL - the words 'why on earth did they change that' were a frequent refrain).

But Sapphire chose to a) call the product DataEase for Windows b) market it as if it was a 'one-key-stroke' upgrade to DFD and c) release it in a virtually untested condition (the reasons for which, even at this distance, I will not go in to).

In fact, despite all the fuss made at the time, the best way to get forward was indeed the migration tool in the early versions from DFD 4.53. Unfortunatly Sapphire had made minimal attempts to train their staff in the new product or in Windows itself, so there was no-one qualified to help with the inevitable problems that occurred in what was unavoidably a complex - albeit mostly automated - process.

Some of the suggestions made at the time were complete nonsense and further discredited the process, to the extent that Sapphire started down the ultimately abortive 'interoperability' route. (Which ends up with an app twice as complex but still dependant on DFD).

When what should have been done was to revise the marketing, train the staff properly, and fix the darn bugs. Instead the DFW team and myself were laid off and nothing much positive happened for several years.

The reason I am sounding off about all this now is that I recently met an old colleague from my early days in the US, and realised that it is something like 18 years ago that all this happened. 18 years. In computer terms, that's back before the age of the dinosaur to something like the trilobite. In the interim, a lot of dithering and stupidity has happened, some of it my own fault, but about 6 years ago I decided the best thing to do was forget the past, including many mistakes made in the various releases of DFW, and get back to basics without paying any regard to history.

That is what Ffenics attempts to do. It does not attempt to be either DFD or DFW, but hopefully a sutable rapid development environment for the relatively non-technical person in a business or other 'organisation'. The feedback I have had from Access users and others who have never seen DataEase (usually because they are young enough to never have seen DOS either) has been something like 95% positive.

It of course is related to DataEase because it uses the same basic database engine (although heavily updated to account for Windows changes in the meantime). There is a very easy route into Ff from DFW, and several alternative and more difficult routes from DFD. But these require a) the determination to bite the bullet and make the move and b) accepting that Ffenics is a different product that needs to be learned.

Therefore when looking at changes we come from the point of view of 'what will make this a better product more appealing to today's typical user' rather than 'what did DataEase do'.

So, to come to the DQL editor more specifically, what I would like to do is not add 'DFD Interactive', but to add features like highlighting the different parts of the language in appropriate colours, and to integrate the cross referencing already available through the 'more information' reports into the editor.

As to helping the new user, I'm not sure they need all that much help. When I took on new hires for support and QA posts in Wales they were mostly school leavers and all from a non-technical background. Not one of them had any problem picking up the basics of DQL. And it wasn't because I sat with them teaching them, either. I didn't have time.
Last edited by Pete Tabord on Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Minor clarifications and spelling errors
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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby Fred Kingston » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:26 pm

Best thread of the decade..
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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby Phil Winkler » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:38 pm

An excellent posting, indeed.

I recently migrated a 4.53 app for a longtime user/client. Remembering what Trina had postulated was possible I first migrated it to DFW 5.5 which was a piece of cake and brought in all the DQLs and the Menus, too. Really quite impressive how DFW rendered the menus and forms even keeping the ugly yellow and black screens!

I then opened the app with 6.52 and again everything is there. I copied and pasted all the menus into a single form just to keep everything together.

Finally, I used the ff migration tool to move it all to ff. There are a few anomalies, but basically the entire app and DQLs are now in Ff. The client came up for two days of Ff training on her app and she totally loves the new interface and what is now possible.

This app has 125 users, too. All via terminal services since they are scattered around the world.
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Re: In the future . . . .

Postby lumberjackshaw » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:52 pm

Pete,

highlighting the different parts of the language in appropriate colours


Excellent Idea!
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