Monday, March 19, 2007

dbQwkSite v5.0 is out!

Life at ThedevShop is hectic as the team is busy releasing dbQwikSite version 5.0. Version 5 is now available. Top of the list of technical enhancements is Windows Vista Support and code generation. In what’s new category look for, HTML editor integration, a cool new Web Form Import Wizard, our new “Universal” Database Table Editor, and Project Reporting.

Ok, I know you want all the juicy stuff, but indulge me for a moment while I position TheDevShop’s direction for this release. If I had to say what I wanted for this release in one word it would be “unification”, or at least a good start at it. What I mean by Unification is blurring the lines between all the tasks of involved in web development. I wanted our development team to give you, our users, a tool that is not just “another” code generator, but much more. It should be a tool to build and maintain your database web sites, dbQwikSite should be a tool that unifies common tasks. Version 5 is a step in that direction. It is the only non-enterprise “code generator” that I know which allows you to change just about anything, just about whenever you want, without the whole thing flying apart at the seams. We have worked extra hard on this release with the idea that development is not a linear process, and that we cannot be the best tool for all tasks, but we can be the best place to “pull it all together”.

OK so much with the grandiose vision! Let’s get down to the juicy stuff! I can’t talk about everything in details here, but here are the best “bits”.

Windows Vista: dbQwikSite now runs on Windows Vista. We have tested Business and Enterprise editions. We have had some strange security issues, but then again who has not with Vista? You may need to launch as Administrator on the first execution other than that it all seems to work. You can now generate just as easily as you do ASP and PHP. You can even use your old projects and generate ASPx with no modifications. This release is “Beta”, we have tested all core functions, but a few things are lacking, however we did not want to hold the whole thing back over the remaining issues that should be address shortly. Some other have not been fully tested, shopping gateways, require additional testing, they “should” work, but we won’t know until we test them out fully. Anyone with any troubles, please let us know and we will fix these as quickly as possible.

Web Form Import: This is one of favorites: point dbQwikSite to any web form (PC file or URL) and it analyses the form, creates table based on the form fields and creates a set of dbQwikSite pages. Mind you, the new pages don’t look anything like your original form (maybe in v5.1), but this is cool way to build back-ends to web forms. It is also a way to let web masters design database applications in a way that they understand, using web forms. Sometimes starting from designing a table is not as intuitive as designing a form which is more a visual representation of the data. By the way, experience has shown me that end users understand a form much more readily than a table definition.

Universal Database Table Editor: Now you can change your database tables as you work in dbQwikSite. This is part of my grand vision, in case you actually read the second paragraph. It seems perfectly natural, you’re working building a “web app” and you need a new column or you discover the table identifier needs tweaking. The “Universal” Table editor lets you do just that. You got to ask “Why doesn’t every tool work this way?” The answer is because “it isn’t easy”. If changing a table structure in any database is not hard enough, try making sure your pages that use these tables don’t all go sideways. Hats off to our developers, who managed to make changing database tables as simple as changing HTML tables. dbQwikSite continually analyses your database changes and flags items that have been invalidated because of database changes.

HTML Editor Integration: You can now use your own HTML editor anywhere that you can use our integrated HTML editor. Let’s face it; dbQwikSite would be hard pressed to come up with an internal HTML editor that can compare to Dreamweaver, FrontPage or CoffeCup. Besides, who wants to learn yet another HTML editor if you are comfortable with the one you have. Now you can configure dbQwikSite to either use its built-in editor or launch your editor to edit HTML pages or HTML fragments. Keeping with my grand vision, dbQwikSite goes the extra mile, we don’t just start your HTML editor, we constantly monitor edited files, between sessions just in case you happened to edit a file from your HTML editor “stand-alone” or out-of-sequence. dbQwikSite will flag any page that is out of sync and even guide you through a reconciliation process deciding which changes to keep and which to discard.

Project Reports: “Who needs them?” was the question the developer asked. “Our users do!” is what support replied. What are project reports? They are pretty close to what they sound like. These are reports that give you consolidated information to help you manage and troubleshoot your projects. If you have ever hunted through program dialogs to discover a stay setting, you’ll know what I am talking about. Run a report, and you can survey a wealth of information in one format. We have supply about 5 canned reports. The cools part about reports is not only the fact that you can see information buried in the “guts” of dbQwikSite, but you can actually create your own reports. If you’re an XML techie, you may rise to the challenge. dbQwikSite now stores a copy of your project in XML. You can create report definitions in xsl. Add a little XML report description file to the mix, and “voila” dbQwikSite integrated reports. There as section in help on this topic for you brave soles that want to try creating reports. If you do make something useful, or just “cute” be sure to share, send a copy to us to distribute.

Those are the big enhancements. There are a number of smaller things what we would have loved to have out 3 versions ago, these include:

  • A missing image graphic, when record images are not found.
  • Check Boxes, yes finally, dbQwikSite can do a check box.
  • Smarter Auto page items: now we don’t add a whole set of page items when you redefine your dataset.
  • File upload on the Add page.
  • Enhanced Consistency checking. Warning you if something in your project may not generate correct code.
  • MySQL script for the sample project databases.
  • Login page default page targets can now be defined.

That’s about it for this release. We hope it will make developing and maintaining your database web sites a much more enjoyable task. And don’t worry, we are already planning version 5.1 and v6, we have a long future ahead of us. Thank you to all our paid users for your support. To all our PE users, I hope that we by offering more that we can earn your business as a paid user. For those of you who are users yet, what are your waiting for? You’re missing some pretty cool stuff, and besides PE is free!