Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cheaper code signing

I just wanted to bump a post on Tim Haughton's Agile Micro ISV blog about lower cost code signing certificates.

This was high on my to-do list and Tim's information was great since it's answered a number of questions for me.

MFC Ribbon Control

I've finished looking over the MFC Feature Pack for Visual C++ 2008 and decided that I'm going to ditch the traditional menu and toolbar combination and instead implement the new MFC Ribbon Control which is appearing on more and more Microsoft applications.

The two main drivers here are the desire to make the application look as up to date as possible when it arrives and also that I actually like the ribbon control - although I'm not a particular fan of the function groupings in Office.

The conversion of my already-in-build application to use the ribbon control was easy enough and a decent walk through is available on MSDN.  The example takes you through converting the existing MFC Scribble application.

Microsoft are keen to protect their investment with the Office user interface and require that you agree to a licensing agreement to use the components in your application.  It doesn't look too bad, certainly nothing jumped out of the agreement, but you do need to adhere to some design and implementation constraints.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another small job

I mentioned the other day that I was looking at OpenProj as a simple project management tool.  So far it's been fine and the only little thing is the general performance.

The Gantt chart updating isn't too quick so I've just taken to doing things via the Task Usage view which seems quicker to add/update.

Since it's doing it's job just fine at the moment I'm not going to spend any time pondering the performance.

So I've moved on to translating the Mockup layouts into the eventual user interface.

I want to give the app a more up to date appearance so I've been looking at various control sets.

Today it's a Microsoft freebie for Visual Studio - the MFC Feature Pack for Visual C++ 2008.  Some interesting looking components in there.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gripe for today

I've used Paint Shop Pro for years and it's always been a great tool for whatever I needed it to do.  I'm currently using the  Photo X2 version on Windows.

But why does it feel the need to continually jump to the front of the window Z-Order, over other applications, when it starts up - even after I send it to the back.

Minor usability gripe but it's a pain!

Job for today

I've been meaning to have a look around for a simple project management application which would be very simple to use and let me add tasks as I identified them and to track progress.

I have MS Project but it looks over complicated for what I want and a quick Google seems to throw up a lot of comments from frustrated users.

So I've downloaded and installed a copy of OpenProj to see how that goes.

So far, so good.  I've managed to enter a number of details I had lying around in various places and at least all of the tasks I'm aware of at the moment are documented in one place.

Dog paused work

I had to take a break from development for a few days due to the arrival in the house of our new dog.

He's a brilliant 5yr old Labrador Retriever who we picked up at a Scottish SPCA rescue centre.

So here's Hank:

Hanks Buddy1

Hank's job at the Micro ISV is to make sure I take breaks from the PC for regular walks.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Database Day

So far it's been quite a productive day today.  I did the design work on the databases I need and came up with a good looking first cut design.

Since I'm using SQLite I was looking for something to help with the design work and came across an ADO.NET provider called System.Data.SQLite which I hadn't seen before.  It's a useful tool since it comes with design time support for Visual Studio 2008.

So far it's been great to use.

I dusted off my old SQLite C++ library that I'd developed for another use a few years back and updated it for SQLite 3.  Using that library will save me a lot of time getting the database handling completed.

The old library has been rebuilt and, after some changes and tweaks, it's accessing the databases and tables generated by the designer in System.Data.SQLite.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lost Enthusiasm

Quite some time has passed since my last update but the reason is simple - I lost enthusiasm for my product! 

I haven't lost my Micro-ISV bug and the desire to get that first product out is as strong as ever - I just wasn't enjoying the time spent on PexPrint.

So, what to do?

  • I parked it. 
  • I went back to my list of product ideas.
  • I did more market research on different ideas.
  • I re-read Bob Walsh's book.
  • I re-read Eric Sink's book.
  • I played around with various bits of training.
  • I played a little golf.

In the end the decision was easy. 

From the Micro-ISV perspective there is no point in developing and releasing a product which you don't enjoy working on 100%.  If, after release, it became successful and you didn't enjoy the continued development how would that affect support and customer service?

So I parked development on PexPrint - better to do it now than continue playing around with it and making the same decision in 6 months. 

But the Mojo is back. 

This time I've picked a product which has a basis in one of my favourite hobbies.  It's something I want to use and has some interesting opportunities in terms of customer base and market size. 

I also have a large, eager pool of people wanting to contribute ideas and help out with testing. 

Right now I'm having a blast working out the user interface using Balsamiq Mockups and getting re-acquainted with SQLite and the joys of database design.

Happy  days again!