Shorts Report Designer Release 1.5.4

pens128We released version 1.5.4 of the Report Designer today.  One of the bigger changes is it ships with a web example of how to take a report definition and display it for a web app.  This affects a significant amount of methods and properties throughout the project to make them work on desktop and web but seems to work well.

BKeeney Shorts (with report designer) is 100% Xojo code (DynaPDF Starter kit required to export to PDF) and comes with a drop in Report Designer and Report Viewer component for both desktop and web apps.

For purchasing information please visit http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/bkeeney-shorts/

Version 1.5.4 change list:

  • Major code changes to allow most classes to work in web apps too.
    • Simply copy BKS_Shorts_ReportDesigner folder into your existing web project.
    • Delete PAF_PrintKit.DesignCanvas (desktop ScrollCanvas subclass)
    • Create a new PAF_PrintKit.DesignCanvas that is a WebCanvas subclass
  • Changing text values in the Properties List is now Case Sensitive
  • Added Portugese Localization
  • Added a commented out example of how to connect to MySQL without using the winDBConnection Window.
    • See winRPTViewer.Display
  • Fixed an issue that would cause the SQL statement to not be saved properly in the JSON string
  • Added a Default Style if none is in the local dictionary
  • How reports are saved so they can be viewed without first having to be in the designer
    • WARNING! YOU WILL NEED TO RESAVE ALL OF YOUR REPORTS
  • Cleaned up some localizations and made some more strings dynamic.
  • Made the Report Designer the default pushbutton in Demo Window
  • New Report opens a new Report Designer Window instead of copying the current connection. (this affected menu handlers in odd ways one wouldn’t expect)
  • Created a Web Example

Shorts Report Designer 1.5.3

We released version 1.5.3 of BKS Shorts today.  A number of bug fixes, changes, and additions were added.  The change list below.

I will be the showing off Shorts at the next Xojo webinar on February 2nd at at 1:00 PM (GMT-5:00) Eastern Time (US and Canada).   Signup at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/7a19681a9a0c3f5f7c24e00bf0acd2b8

One of the new items is the ability to show a Row Number on any band using the new SC_GetCount XojoScript.  Add this to any Band Script to modify a TextItem.

We added a couple of new examples based on user feedback.  The first is using the SC_GetCount Band Script to set row numbers.  The second, is an example of how to print directly to a printer without having to go through the viewer.

Change List:

  • Added SC_GetCount in the Band XojoScript editor. This lets you get how many times this band has been shown.  Example of use is to have line numbers on your report without having to do it in SQL.
  • Updated German localization
  • Rearranged UI on ccPAF_Filter (Filter Data) to make it a bit more obvious
  • As a Text Item or Field Item are put on a report it will automatically use the “Default Style”
  • Fixed an issue where the Default Style wasn’t getting passed to the generated report.
  • The Styles Editor now allows you to delete multiple Styles at a time.
  • Added a new example of how to print directly to printer without having to use the viewer.
  • Reconfigured Demo window to break between Report Designer stuff and older code-only stuff.
  • Added SC_GetCount Demo
  • Fixed some items in the HTML Renderer
  • In PAF_PrintKit.PrintText.constructor if there is no DefaultStyle we create one.
  • ReportPF will now extract Styles from the report definition file.

BKS Shorts with the Report Designer is $300 and you get the full source code.  More information can be found at http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/bkeeney-shorts/

 

BKS Shorts Report Designer

picAppIcon256BKeeney Software is pleased to announce version 1.5 of BKeeney Shorts, our reporting classes for Xojo.  This free update for Short Professional users is a major update to the tool and includes a set of classes that allow developers to embed a report designer into their Xojo applications.

Since its release in 2013 BKeeney Shorts has been used by Xojo programmers around the world to create complex reports using nothing but Xojo code.  The number one request from users was to have an external reporting tool that let them create reports quickly and easily without the need to code the entire report.  With the Report Designer we’ve removed the need to code all but the most complex of reports:  most reports can be created in minutes instead of hours.

Gems Report Designer

Included in the BKS Shorts demo project is a fully functioning Report Designer.  Developers can copy and paste the Xojo code into their own project and integrate the Designer in just a few minutes.

Reports are saved in a simple JSON string that allows the developer to have reports defined outside of their project.  The Demo project saves a report file but a Xojo programmer can easily save them as strings for use in their own document or database.

Reports Bands can run XojoScript code to do complex runtime actions such as change text, styles, concatenate text, show images and much more.  This allows end-user changes in a report without the developer coding it up front and having to recompile the executable.

Gems Report Rendered

BKeeney Shorts Professional costs $300 and comes with full, 100% unencrypted source code.  To export to PDF (without a watermark) a separate purchase of the MonkeyBread DynaPDF Starter plugin is required.  This is a free update to existing Shorts Professional users and a $75 update to existing Shorts Standard Users.

BKeeney Shorts requires Xojo 2014 R3 or better.

Homepage:  http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/bkeeney-shorts/

Video of Report Designer in Action:  http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/bkeeney-shorts/shorts-designer-in-action/

Video of Integrating the Report Designer:  http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/bkeeney-shorts/integrating-shorts-report-designer/

For questions regarding BKS Shorts, please contact Bob Keeney at support@bkeeney.com

Licensing Systems for Xojo Applications

For years we’ve been using eSellerate for purchasing and licensing and registration of our apps.  We’ve recommended it to clients too and, for the most part, it’s worked quietly, steadily, and hassle-free for many years.  Their plugin is still using the old Real Studio format and they’ve said in several emails that they will not support Xojo going forward.  With Xojo moving to 64 bit in the R3 release it’s time for us to look at alternatives.

We liked eSellerate for a number of reasons.  For one, it was pretty simple.  Once you learned the intricacies of their web portal it was easy to add products.  Their sample app sucked but we figured out a better sample and offered it as an example for others on our website.  After years of using them I could set a new product up in as little as five minutes.  Then, they handled all of the various sales taxes and VAT for the states and countries that need it.

After the purchase, eSellerate would send an email to the user with purchase details.  This included license code, download instructions, and any other messages that we wanted to give them.  And all of this without any intervention on our part.  It just worked.

eSellerate also has an in-application purchase which we found to be pretty useful.  Users could purchase the application without ever having to leave the application.  For some people this was a nice feature but I’m not sure how necessary this is any more.  Lot’s of people purchase things over the internet with no qualms.

When it came to the registration part of things they had a number of nice features.  I could control how many machines could be activated with a single license.  This led to some instances where users didn’t deactivate a license on an old machine and couldn’t activate it on a new one.  However, a 30 second trip to the eSellerate web portal usually solved this.

On very rare occasions we’d get a user that couldn’t activate an app because of security restrictions on their network.  To solve this eSellerate had a manual activation process that would bypass all of that.  It was kind of tedious but then that’s why it’s called a ‘manual’ activation.

Bundling products together was pretty simple and even setting up payments to a third party was easy.  It was flexible and I know it was used in a number of bundle offerings over the years because of its simplicity.

So now we are on the hunt for the next purchasing/licensing/registration system.  We could write our own but I really don’t want to do that for a lot of reasons I won’t go into here.  Ideally, we’d find an existing system that integrates into our website that takes a variety of payment types and also handles sales taxes.  The last thing I want is to get hounded by a government entity – I just want that to happen automatically.

I’d also like to keep the per machine registration with restrictions on how many activations a single license can do.  It must work on Mac OS X, Windows, and the most popular Linux distributions.  Not that we have a lot of Linux applications but we have some and I don’t want two different systems if I can help it.

The in-application purchase and registration was nice but that’s not necessary any more.  I think most people are comfortable now buying over the internet.  However, offline activation is still something that is a requirement.  There’s no telling where customers are and what security restrictions are in place.

I guess the other part of the equation is that I, nor or customers, need something them an arm and a leg.  I’ve see a few licensing schemes that want $300 per product per month.  While they seem really nice, that’s above and beyond what we want and need.

A few names that have come up recently are LimeLM, Paddle, FastSpring, and I suppose even the venerable Kagi is in play.  FastSpring is more of an eCommerce front end so what are you using for application licensing?

What I’d like, Dear Readers, is for you to share your experiences, both positive and negative for any of the services listed.  Have any missed any that should be on the list?

BKS Shorts Webinar

JpicAppIcon256oin me from 1 to 2 PM (ET) on Tuesday, March 31 as I do a webinar with Paul Lefebvre of Xojo.  In this webinar I’m going to talk about BKeeney Shorts, our reporting classes for Xojo.

Many Xojo developers are familiar with banded-style reporting tools.  They are generally easy to understand and use and are great for simple reports.  However, if you’ve struggled with complex reports that don’t easily fit in the banded reporting tool paradigm then BKS Shorts is worth looking at.

BKS Shorts is 100% native Xojo code and its strength is that you have 100% control over all of your report objects.  Its drawback is that you have to code everything!  BKS Shorts has multiple rendering options including to the Graphics object (Canvas and printer), to HTML, and to PDF  (using the MBS DynaPDF plugin).  BKS Shorts works on desktop, web and console apps on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

In this webinar I’ll go through an example or two explaining the code and answering any questions that come up.  To register for the webinar, please go to https://www.zoom.us/webinar/register/9a94b333833729fbcde7dc3c8da9331e

 

See you online!

 

BKS Spell Checker 1.0.2

picBKS_SpellCheckerWe released a new version of our Mac/Windows spell checker plugin today.  Version 1.0.2 works better with foreign language Hunspell dictionaries that are in different encodings.

The Spell Checker plugin has two different spell checking modes.  In the first mode it  works with the native spelling dictionaries on each platform.  On all versions of Mac OS X (that Xojo supports) and Windows 8 and above it uses the built-in spell checker dictionaries.  If you can’t, or don’t want to, use the native dictionaries you can use the Hunspell dictionaries.  There are hundreds of Hunspell dictionaries available for use in a variety of languages and speciality industries.

There is no Linux version at this point due to lack of interest.

More information, including downloadable demo, pricing, and usage is available at http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/bks-spell-checker-plugin-for-xojo/

Xojo Trainer Feb 2015 Update

We released an update to Xojo Trainer today.  We’ve added over 8 additional hours of Xojo Training video to our package.  This brings the total up to over 60 hours!  Here’s the complete list of new video topics:

iOS

  • iOS Walkthrough
  • 1.0 iOS App Object
  • 2.0 iOS App Icon and Launch Images
  • 3.0 iOSScreens and iOSViews
  • 4.0 iOSTextField and iOSTextArea
  • 5.0 iOSButton and iOSMessageDialog
  • 6.0 iOSCanvas
  • 7.0 iOSHTMLViewer
  • 8.0 iOSImageViewer
  • 9.0 iOS Primitive objects
  • 10.0 iOSLabel
  • 11.0 iOSSlider
  • 12.0 iOSSwitch
  • 13.0 Xojo.Core.Tiemr
  • 14.0 iOSSegmentedControl
  • 15.0 iOSTable
  • 16.0 Xojo.Net.TCPSocket

New Framework

  • 1.0 Xojo.Core.Date
  • 2.0 Xojo.Core.Dictionary

Web Edition

  • PictureShare project

These are the same videos that we’ve been streaming to thousands of Xojo developers for years at http://xojo.bkeeney.com/XojoTraining/.  Now you can view these videos and get the source code that comes with them offline at any time on your Mac or Windows computer.

We recently hit a milestone on our online Xojo Training – we’ve now streamed over 9,000 hours of video to users all over the world.  All of this via a Xojo web app!

For more information on Xojo Trainer, please visit http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/xojo-trainer/

Shorts 1.1

picAppIcon256We released a new version of BKeeney Shorts today.  Version 1.1 is a recommended update for all registered users and is a free update.

Version 1.1 has a number of improvements:

• Text blocks now have an AutoHeightAdjust property that lets them auto wrap their text and change the text height accordingly

• New demo report that demonstrates the automatic height adjustment in a row (i.e. GroupItem) of data of varying text

• The desktop version now has an RTF Block and uses the Formatted Text Control to convert into Shorts reports and HTML

• The Demo project for Web and Desktop comes with viewers you can use in your own projects

• Multiple demo reports with the various ways to create a report via code

More information on pricing, features, documentation, demo project, and more available at http://www.bkeeney.com/allproducts/bkeeney-shorts/

The State of the Xojo 3rd Party Developer Market [u]

BKeeney Software offers a variety of Xojo developer tools for sale. BKeeney Shorts is a reporting tool unlike anything else in the Xojo kingdom and allows you complete control over your reports. That is its strength and also its weakness since you have to fully code your report. We also offer a Calendar class for use in desktop applications, a cross platform Spell Checker plugin, and ARGen that creates the classes that ActiveRecord uses to make database coding easier and quicker in Xojo.

Over the years we were approached by developers that were leaving the Xojo market and wanted a home for their product. When True North Software decided to exit the Xojo market we purchased the rights to Formatted Text Control, RB Code Reports and a number of other Xojo related tools. When Pandaware left we picked up Simple Help Editor and Styled HTML Field. Many people were asking for PDF classes and had fond memories of Fireye Software’s PDF classes so we tracked down Asher and acquired those too.

We purchased these products from their respective owners either because we already owned the products or had a use for them. In some cases we simply updated the source code and in some cases we started a complete rewrite to suit our needs. This means that in addition to the original thousands of man-hours the original developers used to create them we’ve invested significant time and effort ourselves to work on them.

BKeeney Software can’t exist on the sales of these developer products. Developer product sales are lucky if they top 20% of our annual income. Most years it’s less than that. Our second highest income earner is our Xojo Training material but, by far, our best income source is our consulting services. With multiple Xojo developers that makes sense. Not only can we throw all of our developers on a project we can (and usually do) all work on separate projects. When one of us is idle (which thankfully isn’t very often) we find time to work on our applications and developer products (and me on training material).

I was on the receiving end of a grievance on the forums this week where I was accused of not delivering updates that I promised on one of the products. If I did nothing but work on our products I’d be out of business in short order and that product would just go away and who knows if anyone would pick them up.

This got me thinking. Am I unique in this position? So I queried some other Xojo developers to find out what the state of the Xojo 3rd party market is like and if they would share their thoughts. I received more information back than I expected.

Almost all of the developers I contacted said that product sales were a minor portion of their income with most stating it was less than 20% of their income. Jérémie Leroy has a full-time job and the Xojo business is just a happy sideline. Sam Rowlands said there was no way the sales of his developer products comes close to paying for itself. And,one of the more well known figures in the Xojo community, Christian Schmitz said, “Even with the scale I have with MBS myself. Consulting keeps the company running.”

From these statements, it’s pretty obvious that the 3rd party market, while not exactly stagnant, isn’t thriving either. Everyone I talked to has other sources of income besides their developer tool/utility sales. Part of this is probably because the Xojo market is small. Another reason might be the hobbyists that Xojo attracts and they simply don’t have the means to purchase tools. Another possibility is that Xojo has ‘good enough’ tools built-in and newcomers don’t need the more advanced commercial, add-ons.

One of the interesting comments I received from several developers was that it was those that purchased the cheapest version of their products (some offer encrypted and non-encrypted versions) created the most work for them. I’ve seen this myself with our encrypted source code that it seems to generate more support tickets than the full-source versions. Based on this feedback I am seriously considering removing the encrypted versions from our store and simply selling the full-source versions. It’s interesting that our one product that doesn’t have encryption (Formatted Text Control) doesn’t generate that much support help despite it being one of the largest and most complicated products we sell.

All of the developers I contacted felt that the future of Xojo is bright and holds promise. iOS development in Xojo might become as big as desktop and web which means new customers for their products. The new framework causes concern for many in the Xojo community but the developers I talked to were ecstatic that Xojo was listening to our concerns and making incremental changes to the new framework based on that feedback.

The 3rd party Xojo development tool market is tough business to make a living at. The fact that half our products came from developers leaving the community says something. That some of the most well known and respected voices in the community can’t make a living selling Xojo developer tools and have other sources of income is also telling.

So what can Xojo do to help us out? Growing the user base is the biggest thing they can do and it seems that having the iOS version is a step in growing the platform. One area of concern, though, is that many Windows users are unhappy with Xojo right now. They feel, rightly or wrongly is besides the point, that the focus has been so Apple and iOS oriented the past couple of years that they feel unwelcome. Some focus on making the Windows experience better would be reassuring to them.

I also think that Xojo could do more to promote the 3rd party products. Perhaps the Xojo Developer Evangelist could pick a product to review each month. Xojo Developer Magazine does reviews like this but it doesn’t receive the eyeballs that the official Xojo site gets. Personally I’d offer a discount for the people that purchase via the review. The market isn’t THAT big and it would be a good way to show off some products and generate sales for developers that are starving for income. More income means more of time for product development and everyone wins when that happens.

I feel the future is good. More Xojo users means more product sales (hopefully). This, in turn, means we can spend more time on those products and pump out updates on a regular basis. Until then, us 3rd party Xojo developers will continue with our labors of love and put updates out when we can.

What do you think of the 3rd party market? What could Xojo do to improve it?

[Update:  ]

After looking at our 2014 numbers our total developer products and training sales was LESS THAN 10% of our total income.  In 2013 the amount was more but amounted to less than 5% of our annual income (consulting was VERY good that year).  In other words, if we relied on our developer products and training to make a living we would quickly go out of business.

Seriously, why do I even bother with developer sales?  Just using them and updating them for ourselves would be cheaper in the long run.

iOS Development on Xojo

Xojo 2014 Release 3 was a big one for Xojo.  R3 allows the average person to create iOS applications in Xojo, in a RAD language, in an easy to use IDE.  I think most people will find developing iOS apps easy in Xojo.

The iOS applications that Xojo creates uses native controls.  This is huge because when iOS 9 comes around and Apple changes the native controls (because you know they will) Xojo iOS applications will most likely just work.  Some other iOS development environments use images for their controls which means they will have to update their tool set to work with the updated look.

For a first release, Xojo for iOS is pretty solid but it is definitely lacking in some areas.  Some of the controls are not fleshed out completely.  An example is the table.  What it does, it does well, but it is lacking in options that many developers will want.  Views aren’t scrollable yet and there are no UI pickers yet.  There is a Date and Time picker example that was done via declares but it’s not built-in to the control palette yet.

Another area that I’m sure the community will rally around is converting the iOS frameworks over to Xojo.  There is a similar project on the Mac OS side called MacOSLib and I’m sure some of the same developers will be active on both (they share some similar libraries after all).

Currently Xojo allows you to debug your application while it’s running in the iOS Simulator.  It would be awesome if Xojo could get it working so that we could debug while it’s running on the device.  Given the provisioning profile and the ability to manually add apps to the iOS device this might be possible but, to be honest, I don’t know what the sandboxing rules would be for that.  I also don’t know if that means Xojo developers in Window or Linux could deploy directly to the device or not (don’t hold your breath on this one, by the way, but one can always wish).

I am impressed with iOS in the first release.  Xojo has managed to take something that’s complex and made it easier.  If you already have some Xojo experience the transition will be a piece of cake (although there are framework differences between iOS and Desktop/Console/Web).  I think anyone with iOS development aspirations should take a look at Xojo.

We’ve been busy doing training videos!  We currently have over 4 1/2 hours (and growing) of iOS specific training videos available to subscribers over at http://xojo.bkeeney.com/XojoTraining/.  Come check it out!

[Update] I forgot to mention that the first couple of iOS apps developed with Xojo mad it through the approval process on Thursday.  Excellent news!