Webelements - a suggestion

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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Adrian Jones » Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:47 am

andyclinton59 wrote:Web is the future ( actually it is the current!) so if WebElements isn't it how should one go about web enabling a Ffenics app?

Is there anything else/better in the pipeline?

It is not much news/info on the website so would Ffenics use this occasion to enlighten us on what we can expect?

When the new website was launched we were hopeful, but the info is very much the same as the old one so then it is really just a fresh coat of paint.

In this day and age, no news can only be interpreted as no/bad news.

Keep us in the loop!


Hear, hear.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby andyclinton59 » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:49 am

Adrian Jones wrote:
Hear, hear.


I know it has been a bank holiday but this is serious. Information is a must, and with all the things happening over at "the competition" it is more crucial than ever.

We invest time and money in this product so at least we should be kept in the loop. I have to admit that I am starting to get a little edgy over the lack of news/info.

Surely, nothing can be more important than keeping the users happy?

Anyone in the know that want to contribute?
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Graham Smith » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:59 pm

andyclinton59 wrote:Anyone in the know that want to contribute?

I don't know any more than you do but put yourself in the CEO seat for a while.

WebElements ((or whatever it was called in DFW days) was created to provide a certain level of service based on what was deemed to be doable at the time. Problem is, that technology steamrolled right past it in a very short while and there were very few people who were interested in that anyway. As a result, the money spent on it's development was probably never recouped.

Now, a small number of people are asking that it be brought up to date and improved on, but the overall market is still small. The cost of doing this would probably never get paid for.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Pete Tabord » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:52 am

There is also the issue of in what way to improve it. Are we targeting FF customers now or new customers? How do we recoup the cost of development?

It also ties into the fundamental problem that most apps currently in FF were originally in DFD and then often DFW as well - are these apps really fit for purpose themselves when viewed as potential Web or cloud apps? Is a workflow designed (or accumulated!) over 20-odd years actually appropriate to working on the Web?

These questions are being actively considered. In addition, WE is being used for specific apps that it suits and improved to help those apps, but as Graham points out there is a limit to the number of those apps. Currently it is being done on a project basis - things that prove useful may or may not end up in a general purpose release of WE.

The forum is not a Database Software sponsored news service, it is primarily a place to seek help on specifics or to talk among yourselves for you, the users. Further, it only represents a subset of users, mainly those with a long-term DataEase background. Non-ex-DataEase users do not find it very easy to join in, at least, that is the feedback we have had. And in any case it cannot represent what is arguably the most vital group of all, those who don't use Ffenics at all.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby andyclinton59 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:32 pm

Pete Tabord wrote:The forum is not a Database Software sponsored news service,


The problem is that there isn't a Database Software Sponsored News Service...

I don't think this discussion is much about WebElements anymore but more about the direction of the product. With very little news and foggy answers one starts to wonder. A lot of high hopes was pegged on Ffenics after a disappointing run of flawed DFW versions but the great new revelation has so far eluded us.

Below is a list of the official news on your site:

22. July Frustrated with Dynamics CRM? Use Ffenics!
16. July Another DataEase system migrated!
21. March New Version of Migration Tool!
5. December 2012 FrAPPs - Free Framework Applications

The three first ones is not to be found in the news section where the latest one is from 5. December 2012.

I think I speak for a majority of the people on the forum at least when I state that this is not the kind of news we are talking about.

A majority of your users have been let down by Sapphire/DataEase and are afraid of being let down again. Lack of news/updates/fixes is very familiar to the majority of us....

There has been whispers of a Ffenics 2.0 and it would be very comforting and inspiring if it was shared with us what this entails. Is it a brand new product or is it another increment on the well know platform. Will it support an open structure or be closed, will it allow us to go on the web...

When it comes to web functionality, from my own needs and from what I could glean out of Gills request, we don't ask about putting a Ffenics app on the web but be able to build a web front-end or portal on our Ffenics data.

I don't think anyone here is out to criticize, the wish is genuine and the only thing we ask is that you share your plans with your users.

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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Gil Fleming » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:50 pm

Pete Tabord wrote: And in any case it cannot represent what is arguably the most vital group of all, those who don't use Ffenics at all.


Pete, that really doesn't make sense. You think that the millions of people who don't use ffenics are more important than those who do? If that's the way you think, then I'm a worried man. The only people who will ever come to the forum are users. If you want to create a communication channel to everyone else, you need to get ffenics into the public consciousness. I've never seen fffenics reviewed in a 'database head-to-head' in computer magazines. People won't randomly browse the web looking for ffenics. Google 'database software' and you don't find ffenics.

Every time someone identifies a flaw or weakness in the ffenics offering, you go defensive. Every one of those instances should be treated like gold dust. It's an opportunity to improve.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Pete Tabord » Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:52 pm

You know, the very fact you can have conversations like this with me suggests we are not at all defensive.

When we have something to announce, we'll announce it. Or would you prefer some marketing horse-feathers instead? Tried that route before. Didn't work then, wouldn't work now.

The bulk of our business these days is project-based. This drives product development in specific ways. I have bounced some of those ideas up here but the reaction is almost always 'can't imagine what good that will do' - even though some other customer is paying for the functionality as part of a project so it is obviously some use to someone. So I'll decide, at some point, what goes in to general release and what doesn't.

About the only concrete thing I will announce is that in future FF and WE will be sold as entirely separate products, since the 'free copy' is clearly not wanted and confusing, and also it means that up until now WE always ended up taking second place in a release as far fewer people use it, broadly for the reasons Graham expressed. In future it will go on its own way, at least as far as productisation is concerned.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Pete Tabord » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:34 pm

A majority of your users have been let down by Sapphire/DataEase and are afraid of being let down again. Lack of news/updates/fixes is very familiar to the majority of us....

There has been whispers of a Ffenics 2.0 and it would be very comforting and inspiring if it was shared with us what this entails. Is it a brand new product or is it another increment on the well know platform. Will it support an open structure or be closed, will it allow us to go on the web...


Let down how, exactly? Has DFD ever stopped working? Has DFW never improved? Is there an upgrade path, yea, for DFD 2.11 (Infomaster/Datamaster in the UK) all the way to FF? Or to the current DataEase offering for that matter? Yes, I do believe there is.

In fact, that is part of the problem. Everything we do is still inhibited by the past, even though I tried to make it clear to you all that FF was trying to lay some aspects of that past to rest.

How many of you have actually really listened to Adrian's information on how to do things the DFW/FF way? I still all the time see people tying themselves in knots trying to do things that have been obsolete since DFD 4.0, let alone DFW. (??/??/?? for goodness sake!)

How many of you ever really consider planning for clean up or proper updating of your apps (as opposed to ad-hoc extensions) ? Boy, I've seen some absolute horrors when I've been doing conversions. What are you thinking of? I've had apps where more than half the documents are obsolete or non-working, still sitting there.

On the other hand, I've had the pleasure of converting some properly written and maintained apps - large ones - from DFW to FF and they come across in a few hours, painlessly. And work.

When there is a concrete feature list for 2.0 I will share it. There is a code base that has had considerable work done on it, but it is premature to say what will be in or out. Before I will even consider it there has to be a more organised approach to QA, which is the main reason inhibiting me from doing ad-hoc bug fixes at the moment. Ffenics in its early days had a three man dedicated QA team, there is currently no-one full time on the job, and beta testing alone is insufficient.

In fact, if you all want to help move FF along, consider a way in which we can put a proper testing structure into being - and I don't mean just running through your existing apps, but some sort of plan whereby _all_ the parts of the product actually get exercised. We can always consider some sort of quid-pro-quo in the way of extra discount or free support or such.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Gil Fleming » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:43 pm

Pete Tabord wrote:
Ffenics in its early days had a three man dedicated QA team, there is currently no-one full time on the job, and beta testing alone is insufficient.


Pete, is there actually a beta testing program? I've not been aware of any such thing. I do think that trying to decide the feature list of upcoming ffenics releases in Splendid Isolation is a mistake.

Personally, I think that, most of the time, ffenics does a fantastic job. It would be useful to fix some of its known and agreed defects before introducing 'new' features.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Pete Tabord » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:54 pm

There are a lot of fixes already in the 2.0 code base. Almost all the new features are driven by user requests, so in the main they haven't come out of nowhere. Whether they are in or out is more to do with my judgement on reliability/stability, and this is where some planned approach to testing might be a great help.

There was a beta testing programme in place, although 1.62 didn't go through it as it contained an emergency bug fix. The beta programme frankly didn't work too well, probably due to insufficient commitment (or maybe insufficient patience!) on my part. It tended to get stuck in certain people's hobby horses. There are one or two things in our product (as there are in any product) that are clearly not quite right, but equally attempts to fix them have either not worked or increased complexity and/or confusion to an unacceptable degree, and now probably are better off being lived with than changed since they work OK far more than 99% of the time.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Adrian Jones » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:40 am

In fact, if you all want to help move FF along, consider a way in which we can put a proper testing structure into being - and I don't mean just running through your existing apps, but some sort of plan whereby _all_ the parts of the product actually get exercised. We can always consider some sort of quid-pro-quo in the way of extra discount or free support or such.


This is getting way off the original topic, and maybe should be a fresh thread?

But a proper testing and development could include:

1. A comprehensive, up-to-date, on-line SPR system to incorporate current state of historic problems and testing of new features. (suggestion: check out http://www.fogcreek.com/fogbugz/)
2. Proper documentation of things to be tested, and to include a set of things to test.
3. A common test app.
4. Perhaps actually test-driven coding (seems quite popular elsewhere in the industry...).
5. you don't have enough capacity for developing either Ff or WE, it seems. So have you considered throwing that development open to a 'closed' open group, at least to provide some code review.
6. As I tried to introduce, a timetable for testing, and an iterative development cycle so it's not 'pleast test everything now' but more like 'try these changes; we'll get on with other things, and look at your comments in due course'.
7. A proper, published spec for each change so the beta group can discuss the changes and be involved from an early stage.

I'd also say it's worth checking out some of the things that make up extreme programming. I used to find pair programming in DE at OCME with Naeem or Arul very useful, and I am now in the habit of keeping a developer diary, which I think could help in getting out test documents, etc.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby webplusplus » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:55 am

Adrian Jones wrote:4. Perhaps actually test-driven coding (seems quite popular elsewhere in the industry...).


It may require an enormous amount of effort if you are dealing with C++ code or GUI.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby webplusplus » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:16 am

Gil Fleming wrote:However, setting up Webelements is an absolute nightmare. Checking the forum just confirms that it is tricky, extremely sensitive to the platform used for deployment and, above all, very very poorly documented.


Consider using IIS Express. It's much easier to support two versions of IISE than 8+ versions of IIS.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby Gil Fleming » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:43 am

webplusplus - do you have a name? This is a forum, not a chat room.
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Re: Webelements - a suggestion

Postby webplusplus » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:40 pm

Gil Fleming wrote:webplusplus - do you have a name?


Yes, I do, but, unfortunately, casting it cannot cure the issues with Ff WE (at least, yet :-)).

Gil Fleming wrote:This is a forum, not a chat room.


Quite right. So don't you think it may be better to discuss Ffenics WebElements in Ffenics WebElements subforum?
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