A group of ‘UK Users’ gathered today at Hirumed Ltd, in Cricklade, Wiltshire, UK for a show and tell self help session around Xojo Application development. Those gathered demonstrated a range of varied applications as well as discussed add-ons and techniques to solve particular problems and I have done a little write up from the day as best as I can recall - I am sure the others will chime in if I have missed something out.
The common theme was that no matter what the application, those gathered had turned to XOJO to achieve an end result. First up was Bill.
Bill for many years worked as a loading officer for the Royal Air Force, (its more sophisticated but he put things in the back of aircraft, a sort of ‘aircraft tetris’). After retirement he was a consultant in the same field. Bill has developed a very sophisticated web application that make extensive use of the web canvas to assist loading officers to decide where to put cargo and passengers on a plane accounting for fuel loads. Once the information has been entered into the system a ‘flight envelope’ is generated which indicates whether or not a plane is safe to take off. Bill is not a programmer by trade, he used XOJO to fulfill a need and self taught himself along the way. What he has managed to create is an extremely comprehensive package that could potentially save airlines large sums of money - as he admits, if he ever manages to finish it!
Regular visitors to XDC and XOJO conferences, Trisha and Richard were next demonstrating new versions of the Artscene and ACMS (Collection Management System). These applications have undergone a transformation in recent months with a view to updating and modernising the user interface experience. As Richard pointed out, collectors of art like the software they use to also ‘look pretty’, and both these systems allow collectors to manage their collections, and galleries to examine and see what stock they are holding. The systems use a backend database system that allows multi lingual interfaces. It was good to see that Richard knew his interface so well that he could navigate it when it was presented in Chinese.
At this point our host Paul having seen the applications presented so far suggested alternative markets. In the case of Bill’s loading system it lent itself to warehouse management and logistics, a larger and less ‘risky’ market than aircraft loading. In the case of ACMS with the addition of some minor field additions in the database the software would become a comprehensive and sophisticated asset management tool. Sometimes fresh eyes on other peoples applications can really bring some new insight and potential which is a real benefit from this sort of ‘meet up’.
Following a buffet lunch kindly provided by our hosts (Paul and Paula) Chris was up with two projects and a different operating system - namely Linux. Chris has been heavily involved for many years in the area of writing scanning equipment interfaces, A0 size scanners, really large pieces of equipment that don’t fit on your desktop. These scanners produce massive amounts of information and a colleague wrote the ‘back end’ libraries and interface methodoly using ‘C’ libraries and similar technologies leaving Chris to concentrate on the user experience and how to best present what can sometimes be some huge amounts of information and manage the jobs. He developed for the end user using XOJO. Next came out a ‘breadboard’ project based around an ARDUINO board connected to the laptop USB port. Chris had developed a XOJO application that sends commands to a ‘SPROG-DCC’, a pulse decoder module for controlling model trains, rail points and accessories. The breadboard simulated two trains, red and blue, and the software written could turn the ‘trains’ on and off as well as control their speed, indicated by the lights on the breadboard. Additional trains and accessories can be added at will and Chris informed us that a similar system could be developed on a Raspberry Pi. This demonstration was a great example of combining XOJO with another hobby and interfacing with external equipment.
I was up next and gave a brief demonstration of some database applications and a couple of utilities. I was a police officer for 30 years, and like Bill, saw a gap in a market and developed software to fill it which drove my interest in databases. Much of my recent work revolves around creating add-ons for an in-house membership system written circa. 2000 in MSACCESS in order to provide modern functionality until we can ‘do away’ with the MSACCESS system.
Addons now provide ‘drag and drop’, text messaging (SMS), additional scanning capabilities as well as a web based interface to the system giving it a new lease of life. Next up was a web based application to capture the time spent by our representatives assisting members. We had tried a number of previous solutions to capture data such as written record sheets and excel spreadsheets before settling on a XOJO web app. This now provides a simple but effective means of capturing this data accurately, and capability to analyse the information captured to understand workloads. Lastly I gave a very brief overview of a work in progress converting a php/mySQL Q&A system (www.fedrep.info) to a XOJO web app, perhaps I may say more about this in some future Xdev article if I ever get around to finding time to finish it.
Last up for the day was Paul, and his daughter Paula, from Hirumed, our hosts for the day. They have been using XOJO in the very specialist field of medicine and the product demonstrated interfaces with medical equipment monitoring blood products, namely platelets. These products only survive for 5 days and then they must be destroyed and the software sends alerts notifying products coming up for expiry in order that appropriate action can be taken. What was stressed is that this is a very specialist field and there is no room for error in a heavily regulated industry and peoples lives can depend on the quality of the blood products. The software creates comprehensive logs of alerts and actions in order that problems and issues can be troubleshot at a later stage with ease. Alerts are sent by text message, voice message and other means to ensure that messages on the expiring products ‘definitely’ get through. Like most of us gathered in the room they had settled on XOJO having come from a background of Visual Basic 6 (some applications they have were still running and working fine as the original VB6 applications). I would urge you to visit their website and take a look at the sort of work that they do in order get an understanding of the diverse area they work in.
During the day numerous useful addons and tools that can assist XOJO development were discussed and I have included the links below for interest.
http://sprog-dcc.co.uk/index.shtml (train pulse controller)
https://firebirdsql.org/ (multi user database)
https://www.advsofteng.com/ (chartdirector documentation)
https://www.pdfill.com/ (pdf form creation/filling)
https://www.helpndoc.com/ (help file creation)
https://www.infocus.com/products/inliteshow4 (the presentation system we used)
https://wkhtmltopdf.org/ (pdf creation from HTML)