UK Wiltshire Meetup - December 5th 2019

Yesterday was a cold and foggy December day but it did not put us off travelling to another gathering of Cotswolds Coding Group. One or two regulars couldn’t make it due to personal commitments and we wish them all the best. We may have to look for a bigger venue next time as when people drop out, we have no problem filling the gaps which is a great position to be in.
In attendance on this occasion were;

Paul Sharp
Tom Catchesides
Chris Carter
Joost Rongen
Antony Newson
Jon Moody
Jim Brock
Steve Colthorpe
Paul Budd
Paula Roberts

Joost Rongen a regular on the forums had made the trip across to see a business associate and combined the trip with a visit to our group and presentation of a session entitled XOJO Versus Javascript. Joost demonstrated a proof of concept mapping system which used javascript callbacks to retrieve mapping information from ‘MapBox’. Overlaid on the maps were clickable text based images that were generated on the fly and embedded into the web page using Base64 to encode them. Not only was this quick but it avoids having image files on your web server, and each could be generated with unique labels. It would be great if Joost could build some sort of demonstration for further distribution (hint there Joost). Once clicked these images updated a canvas with associated information from a database. This was a proof of concept for a friend who runs a flower business that wanted to calculate routing information between deliveries and combine this with management information. What we saw was very impressive and as no Javascript expert myself it seemed very simple to get great performance. The only stumbling was to now take the web app described above and use it on Windows desktop using the XOJO HTML Viewer control – BUT, how can the events in a Windows HTML viewer sent back to XOJO? The only ‘fudge around’ seems to be to use the title changed event of the HTML viewer. Joost would welcome any better ideas.

Offline Email Server
Paul Sharp, our host gave a presentation of a free Mail Server that he uses to test XOJO messaging applications. The server which will run on a Windows Desktop is both POP and SMTP, as well as IMAP and because of the comprehensive logging system within it a developer is able to quickly see and understand what is being sent and received in XOJO developed software. Paul uses the CURL based addons from MBS for working with email and the standalone server eases development issues without having to create lots of test accounts in live email systems. The product is called ‘hMailserver’ and can be quickly found with a google search. The program is so comprehensive it seems you could quite easily run the whole of your email needs. As well as the server also used is a portable version of ‘opera mail portable, from which needs no installation, is quick to set up and provides the missing piece for testing incoming and outgoing emails.

Reptime Web Administration
I filled in at the last minute with a session that followed on from my XDC presentation in Miami – which was quite handy as I only had a day to prepare as I covered for one of regulars, Bill. I have to say that the title of his session ‘Frustration’ looked far more interesting than mine but nevertheless.
There is a XOJO video of my session available from XOJO for an overview of the application, and I have also mentioned previously at an earlier one of these meetings so I won’t go back over it. Following a ‘cyber attack’ and ransomware demand the company that uses my software massively restricted desktop application installation and moved the member database to a Virtual Machine making ODBC links from XOJO redundant. As a result, the desktop half of the application needed to be redone in web which brought advantages, not least of all-around easier management of the system as regards updates – instead of multiple sites, just one web app and all users had the new system. I suppose there was some frustration to pinch Bill’s title and that was around having to take the desktop application and redraw the whole screens in web. I so wish for a way of copying web screens to desktop and vice versa even if code could not be copied similar controls and layout could be. Anyway, despite what was a little niggle the re-write only took a week and it was up and running before the company sorted out the aftermath of the Cyber Attack which I think still goes to highlight the versatility of XOJO’s cross-platform nature and the fact it can re-use code (albeit by copy and paste’ from one target to another.

Serial Communication and Multithreading
After Lunch we were joined by Steve Colthorpe, a new visitor to the meetings who has been working with Joost on some serial control projects based around Arduino processors whom he met after reaching out to the forums. Joost has subclassed the serial control to communicate with multiple ARDUINO devices. Frustration with multiple devices within a single main thread and speed issues sent Joost in a slightly different and he has written a console application that would manage multiple instances of a serial communication application. This has been tested up to 32 executables that run fine, but on testing connected devices without this approach two devices would cause message loss. Paul Sharp has started using ‘Wixel’ devices to wirelessly communicate to hardware, providing wireless serial comms which may be something to future consider.

Media in web apps and text to speech
Paul Sharp was looking for a method to ‘speak text’ In a web application (which has already been extracted from a pdf using dynapdf). There was some hope after ‘system.speak()’ was spotted lurking in the XOJO help file which stated it supported all targets, but a quick test project shows it does not appear to support web – so if anyone has any suggestions please reach out.

Throughout the day much discussion was had that I cannot cover here and we were updated on the recent London meeting attended by Dana and Alyssa at Kings Cross as well as many hints, tips and suggestions that are the real benefit from these meetings. Thanks to our kind hosts Paul and Paula once again for kind hospitality and lunch.