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Reference Mate Beta Release

I have finally gotten there, and my program is at the beta release stage. I have 25 testers lined up, and hopefully will get some more over the coming weeks.

However, if anyone is interested (alot of people on this board have given me some valuable input into the program) the program is downloadable from:
http://calebsoftware.com/RefMate1_01b.exe
It is about 5.5Mb and runs with Word2000 or above.

If you have any comments I would love to hear them (just finished setting up a board for the beta testers (http://calebsoftware.com/forums/index.php) which you are welcome to whack thoughts on...

The opinion of some more experienced people is valuable.

I have already hit a huge issue, I have been talking to one member of this board about it, but neither of us could supply a serious answer.
Apparently comcat.dll v3.5 is an unsafe file and when shipping VB Runtime the earlier version should be shipped?!?
So instead of just shipping the earlier version of comcat.dll and the update versions of the other VB runtime files, I have shipped all the earlier versions.

However on installation the installation program prompts whether to keep the new files, or overwrite with the older ones. Sure I can set the program to do this automatically (ie if older then don't overwrite), but I am not sure if this is the correct thing to do.
And if so, do I need to ship the VB runtime at all? I heard someone ask whether XP ships with the VB runtime, but forgot where I saw the question. This would make for a smaller setup.exe if I didn't need to ship the runtime files.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Congrats on getting this far.  Here is the discussion

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=125561&ixReplies=9

Billy Boy
Friday, March 26, 2004

Thanks, I thought it might have been on JoS that I saw it!!

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

I am not sure how old that discussion is (ie is it dead yet), so I will ask here.

Since my program runs with Word2000 or above, would it be possible to find out if any of the VB runtimes ship with Word2000 (I am guessing that they do?), and if so this would mean I wouldn't need to ship the runtimes, since it is a requirement to have word2000 or above???

Is there a simple way to find out if the VB runtime ships with Word/Office2000, and which versions?

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Great looking web site, BTW!  The page and the box look very sharp and professional.  Did you design them yourself?

Robert Jacobson
Friday, March 26, 2004

It is an excellent website,

No I have zero design skills, I mean zero. I would stare at a page for a week and still have no idea where to start.

The guy who did it is 'Damon' (http://www.actionplant.com), I think he does incredible designs. The page is not finished yet, but he is doing a 5 page site (plus a press release kit) and hosting for sixmonths for:
Logo: $25
Site: $325
Host: $120

Total: $470US

Which I thought was very reasonable, plus he has let me off from paying until I get the program selling a bit. I recommend him when people asks because I think he has some neat talent and he doesn't overcharge.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

plus he puts up with me nagging him...

Can you post these screenshots to your site and give me links so I can show people on JoS.
Can you upload this program by tonight so I can get the beta testers downloading it.
Can you make me a forum so the beta testers can all talk to each other...by tonight...
Can you make this icon better in the next five hours so I can use it in a demo....

Cool guy.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Did he do the logo and box design too?  (I'm guessing that it's a virtual box at this point.)  Tell him that if and when my program goes public, he's got another customer.  <g>

Robert Jacobson
Friday, March 26, 2004

he certainly did, and I will.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Am I the only one who sees....ummm.....a problem with this site?

Using Mozilla 1.4

BTW, looks great in IE :-)

Motown (AU)
Friday, March 26, 2004

What sort of problem, assuming you are talking about www.calebsoftware.com or the forums?

(keeping in mind that the main site is not actually up and running yet, it is just a jpg picture of the real thing)

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

www.calebsoftware.com - renders as source text with a boatload of "?"s in there (unicode problem?).

I know nothing of HTML BTW. 

Motown (AU)
Friday, March 26, 2004

It could be that currently there is not actually a site there, instead it is just a jpg file.

Perhaps your browser doesn't render jpg files correctly? (hmm sounds strange). I will mention it to the webpage designer.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Your pages shows as:

ÿþ<?h?t?m?l?>? ? ?<?h?e?a?d?>? ? ?<?t?i?t?l?e?>?C?A?L?E?B?s?o?f?t?w?a?r?e?<?/?t?i?t?l?e?>?
? ? ?<?/?h?e?a?d?> etc etc

Motown (AU)
Friday, March 26, 2004

Strange, see below is the entire contents of the html source code, maybe it is a redirection issue (anyway, I will let him know)

<html>
<head>
<title>CALEBsoftware</title>
</head>
<body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">
<center>
<img src="site001b.jpg" border="0" />
</center>
</body>
</html>

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Same here.  I just see garbage when visiting the main site with Firefox 0.8, but IE6+ works fine.

lumberjack
Friday, March 26, 2004

This comes under the category of "bleeding obvious".

The HTML on that page contains undefined characters (for the default encoding) and is not valid HTML. I would have thought all professional programmers would be aware of basic character encoding issues.

This is basic comp sci 101 stuff. Sorry if I come across as being a bit hard-nosed, but honestly, anybody posting here should be a bit better than that.

burninator
Friday, March 26, 2004

The problem is that the HTML page is encoded in Unicode (including a BOM header; that's the two strange characters in the beginning), but the web server claims it's encoded using ISO-8859-1.  Apparently Firefox takes the server's word over the actual page, and hence the problem.

Here's what the server says:
  Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1

Solution #1: have the server stop reporting the CharSet.  This will force the browser to look at the page content.

Solution #2: change the HTML page to fit the reported CharSet: open it and re-save as ANSI.

Oren
Friday, March 26, 2004

On another note: why does the download take 5.5 MB?  It seems like an awfully big download.

Oren
Friday, March 26, 2004

It displays fine for me IE6/WinXP Pro, but it is just a (very nice) graphic file.

It looks like you should be able to click, e.g. where it says "Screenshots", etc. I assume that you will update the site at some point, to make it interactive.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, March 26, 2004

>This is basic comp sci 101 stuff. Sorry if I come across as being a bit hard-nosed, but honestly, anybody posting here should be a bit better than that.

I am assuming this is a swipe at me?? Well I know very little about web server stuff and will admit it. I am a recent grad, focused on programming and scorned anything else. I am slowly getting a taste for it, but still don't like it. This forum isn't that elite that you would shun me for having a go. So I don't know my unicode/html/server stuff (and yes I have read Joels unicode article once!). But I am having a go.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

>It looks like you should be able to click, e.g. where it says "Screenshots", etc. I assume that you will update the site at some point, to make it interactive.

Yes, the site is jus a mockup at the moment. It will be ready in time for the real release.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

>On another note: why does the download take 5.5 MB?  It seems like an awfully big download.

It does seem big. I have written two DLLs which total 300Kb. I then used the VB6 package and deployment wizard to figure out which DLLs etc needed to go with it, and wrote the script in Inno Setup.

I am not confident that I haven't included items that I don't need. This is one of the reasons I am posting this. This project is about me learning, and hopefully making money.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Aussie Chick -- yes, I was having a go at you. Despite that, I do admire you for having a go; that's in itself is an all-too rare trait. I'm just baffled how you did a comp sci degree and never learned about character encoding.

Anyway, to help clear things up, this is how the HTML should look (below). Note the Content-Type header which tells the browser that the page is encoded in UTF-8, rather then the default iso-8859-1. 

<!DOCTYPE html
  PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN"
  "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8"/>
<title>CALEBsoftware</title>
</head>
<body style="text-align: center;">
<img style="border: 0 px;" src="site001b.jpg" alt="CALEBsoftware logo"/>
</body>
</html>

burninator
Friday, March 26, 2004

For the record we did do an entire course on HTML. But it really was just HTML, but the most we ever got about the header part was to be told what the standard header should be, and a brief speel about the W3C standards.

I could explain about how little I know about some things, and about how hard I am trying to learn what I can. I asked someone a question that other day and after answering he mentioned 'googling'. My response was that googling is great but it can take 2 hours to find the answer to a question that some a little more senior knows off the top of their head. Times this by hundreds of hours, and as much as I love working alone, I always appreciate having people I can pester with questions, I can achieve so much more.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

I don't remember anything on character encoding from my CS degree.  Oh yea I remember now.  It was EBCIDIC vs ASCII.  Did ASCII win out?  I can't recall ; )

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Friday, March 26, 2004

Hi, Damon here from actionplant....

The site IS just a mockup, but the unicode issue is a new one.  We didn't previously have this problem but just prior to a LAN party last weekend our Apache went down and we had to reinstall.  The extremely basic html was created ONLY to rended the jpg mockup for the future site, which because of the fresh Apache install doesn't render properly in Firefox and some other Mozilla variants.

This is not a finished page by any means.  When the actual code is done it SHOULD render xhtml1.0 strict, though we'll go transitional if we're having any problems.

Thanks though for noticing the issue.

Damon G. Williams
Friday, March 26, 2004

I "blame" this Damon bloke for the problems with encoding, not Aussie Chick.

She mentioned earlier that the design/hosting was done by Actionplant and I would submit that part of that job should be to ensure that any pages produced (however trivial) are actually viewable.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, March 26, 2004

The page is saved in UTF-16 encoding (what Microsoft calls "Unicode"). UTF-16 codes (most) characters on two bytes.
If you have Windows NT/2000/XP, just open the page with Notepad : in the "Save as" box you should notice the checkbox "Save as Unicode". Uncheck it if you want a plain, one-byte-per-character file.

GP
Friday, March 26, 2004

> This is basic comp sci 101 stuff. Sorry if I come across as being a bit hard-nosed, but honestly, anybody posting here should be a bit better than that.

Twat.

Gwyn
Friday, March 26, 2004

Maybe some tools from Collake (now Bitsum) could help you. There's a tool that will bundle DLL's into an .exe and another that will compact EXE's, so you can have a smaller download.

http://www.collakesoftware.com/

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, March 26, 2004

I think your marketspeak on the sample box is a bit weak. I mean, "on the planet" is so 20th Century - we've got dune buggies on Mars, for goodness' sake!

You definitely want "The most powerful and intuitive bibliography tool in the solar system" and I'd put some thought into "in the galaxy" (Note that by not specifying *which* solar system or galaxy you get some extra fluff without being completely inaccurate)

[grinning, ducking, running]
Philo

Philo
Friday, March 26, 2004

We should make preparations for a JoS Ship-it award party.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 26, 2004

Gwyn: Oh, well done! Thank you for your valuable intellectual contribution. We are all deeply indebted to you for your clever rapier-like wit, and informative discourse. 

Now shut the hell up.

Burninator
Friday, March 26, 2004

Philo, it's not the most powerful tool on the planet???

*grin*

I haven't even had time to sit back and actualy decide on some more appropriate wording yet, but have been meaning to for several months.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

Any chance of ignoring the fact that the webpage doesn't work (it is really only up for my viewing pleasure at the moment), does anyone know anything about VB Runtime Files. They are causing grief in my setup progam, and from what I can choosing not to install them during the installation program, and choosing to press the ignore button on any errors that crop up during the installation program, the program seems to run find (I haven't fully tested this).

Does anyone know how to find out which versions of Word ship with the VB Runtime files?

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

I package the vb runtime in my installs and have had no problem - I got the lastest vb runtime from:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;290887

I just unpacked the files and put all of them in my install you must install the whole set - of course don't overwrite newer versions.

If you want to now what file shipped with what go here:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=/servicedesks/fileversion/dllinfo.asp&SD=MSDN&FR=0

Type in Msvbvm60.dll and look at all the entries.

Cheers...

DJ
Friday, March 26, 2004

Not off hand, but it should not be too hard to take a virgin install of the OS with a virgin install of word and figure it out.  Use VMWare or VirtualPC.

Find the runtime dlls in system32 and get the version numbers.  Do it before and after the Word install and you'll know if Word installs the vb runtime.

O Canader
Friday, March 26, 2004

Dump VB and rewrite it in Java.  No more DLL problems. 


Friday, March 26, 2004

Question: are you installing the VB DLL's (or, really, any files) in the application directory or in the Windows directory?  Try to install everything in the application directory; this will probably solve all the installation problems.

Oren
Friday, March 26, 2004

> Dump VB and rewrite it in Java.  No more DLL problems. 

No. Just a 40 MB install.


Friday, March 26, 2004

>This is basic comp sci 101 stuff. Sorry if I come across
>as being a bit hard-nosed, but honestly, anybody
>posting here should be a bit better than that.

<sarcasm>
Yeah, because everyone remembers everthing they learnt in school.  Haven't forgotten a thing myself, especially all that stuff that's not in my general field of expertise.  My mind's a steel trap that never lets anything escape. 
On top of that I was born with 10 years of experience in any field that I care to touch.  None of that lame learning from my mistakes for me.  I was born 31337.
</sarcasm>

<rant>
Why do I see this all the time from IT people on the net?  There's always someone who feels the need to add, in essence,  "you  pathetic loser" where most can be content with leaving it at "you've made a mistake here" along with a "this may help".

And we wonder why so many of those we deal with view us as narcissistic prima-donnas ie wankers.
</rant>

I concur with Gwyn - you're an utter twat.

Motown (AU)
Friday, March 26, 2004

DJ, that's not actually the most recent VB runtime, according to http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;823746 Windows Server 2003 comes with a post SP5 version.

Aaron F Stanton
Friday, March 26, 2004

>Not off hand, but it should not be too hard to take a virgin install of the OS with a virgin install of word and figure it out.  Use VMWare or VirtualPC.

Good (but painful for me) thinking. I will do this.

Aussie Chick
Friday, March 26, 2004

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