August 30, 2008 Access Control at last

So finally there is access control added, I've been looking at access control libraries for over a year trying to find one that I like and is easy to add. In the end I took a few hours and wrote one. It's very simple and might be a pain with large number of groups. But it's good enough for now and I can finally block out some functions that shouldn't be available in the online demo.

Since the access control setup is one thing I took away from the demo, here's how it works. You have an access rule that can be Allow or Deny, it can be connected to an individual or to a group. Groups are a hierarchy where every group but one can have a parent group. When the access control rules are loaded it starts with the top group and works itself downward to the group the person belongs to. Last of all individual access is checked, but please note that individual access is only there for when groups really does not work.

What the above means is that you can give a base set of access to everyone in the top group, and then add more when you get into more detailed groups. You can also remove access on lower level groups if needed. I think it's flexible enough without being too hard to configure.

I also added Connected and Notes, both work the same way as the Audit trail function. They can all be added to any form where it makes sense to have it. For now they've been added to employees and customers, since that's what we have available right now.

Connected will show a menu of related records and how many records there are there. This is convenient to explore the data entered where there isn't a simple path from one place in the system to another. You can start at a customer and follow connected data to where ever it will take you.

Notes is simply notes and comments. You can add as many notes and comments to existing notes as you want on every record. Simple and powerful.

Access control was the last thing that absolutely had to be added. But still, now remains some testing and it's ready for a beta. The thing is, I can't decide if I should add something more or beef up what already there. Customer and activities need some work in particular, but there's no part that wouldn't benefit from some care.

Olof Tjerngren

August 24, 2008 HG repo online

There's now a hg repository linked from the download page, so the source is available in alpha quality from the repository only for now, when it's beta quality the time has come for a tar ball to be added.

I've started a new repository since there were some files in the history of the older one that shouldn't be there. It's possible I deleted to much, but so far it looks good.

The new template engine is also the default now, everything I've found has been converted to use the new one. The old is still in the source, so if used anywhere it will still work. It will be removed later on.

Olof Tjerngren

August 17 2008 Templates and Documents

I say documents, but it's really only a simple media library for now.

For this update of the demo an initial document handling view is added, as well as the setup script that now actually works even though it's still a bit primitive. Documents only handle images and movies for now, they're more fun to play around with and I have more sample documents to test with. :)

Also added is the new template engine, it remove a fair amount of cruft from the older one, and is less confusing when you're trying to make advanced templates.

All in all it might be ready for some wider distribution now.

Olof Tjerngren

June 29 2008 Updated demo

So after many months of minor tweaking, the demo is now updated with calendar and a fair amount of other minor fixes.

It's been so long I don't really want to go through it and see what's new, but audit trails of updates, working calendar a few more lookup tables have been added for sure.

Olof Tjerngren

April 13 2008 In Progress

There is no demo update this weekend, I started working on a simple calendar, but got sidetracked by some bugs I found and the fact that I didn't like to get a record saved text when records are added or updated.

I've on my second attempt to get something useful when you're done saving a file, I think it may work, but it's also possible I have to change method and do it a different way. Currently I'm trying to use the information already available to make it so you don't have to enter where you want to end up after saving, but it looks like that's not possible in all cases and that a hint is needed for some places.

I did get some work done with the calendar. On my own machine there's now a monthly calendar available, but it's still not possible to add activities to it. You should be able to add activities via the calendar or directly for a customer or an employee. In other words, still some ways to go there.

I'll see what can be done for next weeks update.

Olof Tjerngren

April 6 2008 Translations

Translation administration is now available. This is only used for tests that should be used in public, either as emails, documents or included in public web pages that are exported.

You pick what column in a table should be translated, and what languages you want to translate to. All texts are then copied over and it's possible to translate. In templates it's possible to use a construct to indicate that you want a translated version instead of what's originally in the table.

It's basically to keep track of included data - the actual template text will still have to be translated separately, having this separate allows more people to be involved in the translation.

Note that the application itself is only available in one language - that will be a separate translation effort. This only concerns data stored in the database.

There's also a bug fix.

Olof Tjerngren

March 24 2008 Administration

This extra long weekend brings closure to the email handling, email template editing, email translations, built in database structure discovery, improved employee handling, a few customer updates, search and configuration.

Email can now be sent (not really in the demo though - sorry - blocked it.) It's possible to create different templates for different usages and in addition it's possible to have translated copies of the templates, including dynamic data inserted. Translations still have to be done manually however.

The database structure discovery mode requires graphviz to be installed, pick the table you want to check and you'll get a nice graphwiz display of related tables.

The biggest customer update is that the role view is now the default - this gives a better overview as a starting point and then you can go into details if needed.

Search is finally available, as well as logout, now all the links in the tool area does something.

Previously only lookup tables could be configured. The same layout used for individual settings is now used to set a few system wide settings.

Olof Tjerngren

March 16 2008 Emails

This weekend saw the birth of the email sending form. It's modeled after desktop email software to be easy to use. It's also not quite there yet, so it's not yet available on the demo site.

Whats there is the editing form, access to templates that will be fetched and filled in with data of the record viewed.

Not yet available is fetching email addresses related to the record edited. Usually you want to send emails either to the customer you're viewing or to someone else in your organization, those should be on the shortlist to be picked. If you enter a new email address it should also be added to the customer as a contact after the email is sent.

The user interface can also use a little love and care. It's close to how desktop emails work, but it's still a bit off when you enter email addresses. It's very easy to end up with a long list of empty rows. Not really a problem, but it should be slicker.

Olof Tjerngren

March 9 2008 Customers

The software is now borderline almost useful. The previous edition had a default company editing - good enough for most records, but a central concept like customers require more. It's now possible to connect customers with roles and to add contact persons.

When editing customer there is "Roles" in the menu were it's possible to see the structure and add more information. It's also possible to navigate up and down there.

On the main editing screen it's possible to edit/add/delete addresses and team information. There is still information missing here, and it's also pretty much locked down - changes are difficult to make and maintain. A future update will move it to a structure where modifications are simpler.

There's also a summary available, it's used on the Roles list to get a preview of the customer before it's edited. The preview is ready for production in that it's easy to add more information to.

There are still some bugs and mis-features, maybe Roles should be the default page you enter instead of the editing screen. It has enough information to be useful and it's simple to move to the right record if you need more or want to edit.

"Add new child below this" should be tidied up as well, currently to add a customer company with one contact person (the minimum required) should be one screen, currently it's a few click and different screens. Not optimal for the easy access goal. Some layout directives in the wizards and forms would be nice to have as well to better handle multiple input forms, a long list of data can be confusing, especially when more is added to the form.

Olof Tjerngren