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Code Gremlins?

By Richard Morris, Posted on May 17, 2017 at 8:27 am

This year’s DevPartner conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia and was a blast. I guess I say “the best ever”” each year, so I won’t this time – but it was. The whole conference ran flawlessly, although throughout the week I did see a few strange things in the corner of my eye – but you know how it is. You think you are seeing things… But maybe not.

We had lots of new faces in the audience seeing what Synergy has to offer which is always great, and they got to see a few new faces presenting at the DevPartner conference for the first time.

Although Phil could be considered a veteran now – his third conference – he was joined on stage by first-timer Tate, a fellow support engineer. They presented a cool session on BOTS – not those things you sit on, the automated robots that answer whatever questions you have. There are loads of bots around and the duo showed us what it’s all about and how to build you own!

Another new face was Jacklin who presented all the ways to get fully up to speed with Synergy today including all the various media feeds and the cool YouTube channel we have that’s being loaded with great training videos – and of course you can always re-watch all the conference sessions.

At the beginning of March I blogged about “Physio My Way” which is an app to monitor a patients compliance to perform their prescribed upper limb exercises. Ashley presented the full Physio My Way story and received great feedback – if you get the time check out the Synergex YouTube channel in the coming days to see the full video! It’s a complete mobile solution written end to end in Synergy.

And so to my post-conference workshop. The goal was to write, from scratch, a complete application called “On Vinyl”. “On Vinyl” is a vinyl collection management and inquiry system. The system is written entirely in Synergy .Net and uses the Symphony Framework.

We started off by code generating the base data objects – the classes that expose the Synergy Repository structures as classes with full get/set properties for the fields. We also code generated classes to provide complete data management using Symphony Harmony.

Next we built a simple maintenance program to allow us to manage our collection of vinyl albums. To save typing we also implemented the ability to perform a Google search passing in the album barcode and returning/displaying all the album information, including the cover artwork. I’ll blog about just how easy it was to implement Google searching soon.

Next we hosted all the server logic on a remote cloud server behind Symphony Bridge and showed how to manage the data remotely using the Synergy DBMS Manager (available on the download page at www.symphonyframework.net).

Next we moved to the client portion of the project – to build and deploy an app on the Android and iOS platforms to enable us to check if we have a particular vinyl in our collection. We built up the technology stack. First layer was the client data layer – code generated data objects built into a portable class library. Next we created the connection library which used commands to search for vinyl details using the barcode:

If we didn’t have the album in our collection we could call our stored procedure to perform the required Google search:

And if we chose to buy the album we could insert it into our collection directly from the device:

Our final portable library was the common UI code – using Xamarin Forms. This provides the ability to write the UI once and deploy to different target devices such as Android and iOS.

Up to this point, although there were a couple of “what was that…” moment’s things all built and ran just fine.

The final piece of the puzzle was to write the device specific code – and our first target was Android. We created the project, added the required resource (images, etc.) and after a couple of minor typo’s the project built. But something was not quite right and we could not get the program to successful deploy and run.

We’d hit the end of the day so aborted the attempt and regrouped to try to find out what had gone wrong.  Once we have the solution I’ll post the entire project to GitHub and blog about it!

Now I don’t really believe in code gremlins, ghosts or phantoms, but throughout the week there were some strange goings-on, and to be honest I was having flash-backs to conference time 2009! Surely he was not back to try to mess up my workshop again?

And where did Jodah get to……?


CodeGen 5.1.9 Released

By Steve Ives, Posted on May 12, 2017 at 8:45 am

I am pleased to announce that we have just released a new version of CodeGen (5.1.9) that contains some new features that were requested by customers. The changes in this release are as follows:

  • We added two new structure expansion tokens <FILE_ODBC_NAME> and <FILE_RPS_NAME> that expands to the repository ODBC table name or structure name of the first file definition that is assigned to the structure being processed.
  • We made a slight change to the way that the multiple structures command line option (-ms) is processed, allowing it to be used when only one repository structure is specified. This allows for templates that use the <STRUCTURE_LOOP> construct to be used when only one structure is being processed.
  • We also fixed an issue that was causing the <FIELD_SPEC> token to produce incorrect values for auto-sequence and auto-timestamp fields. Previously the value 8 would be inserted, now the correct value i8 is inserted.

This version of CodeGen was built with Synergy/DE 10.3.3c and requires a minimum Synergy runtime version of 10.1.1. You can download the new version directly from the CodeGen Github Repository.


I didn’t know you could do that!

By Richard Morris, Posted on March 23, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Working with the many customers we have is a great opportunity to advance the software we write. Some time ago I blogged about Symphony Bridge – a server based utility that allows you to expose Synergy data and logic through Symphony Harmony using an SQL-like syntax. In essence you can write queries on the client like “select * from part” and the bridge server will return a collection of part objects that are based on a structure you have created in your repository. You can then bind these to grids or input controls on you windows or mobile applications or display them in web pages. In fact you can use the data in any Synergy .Net or non-Synergy application.

Another aspect of Symphony Harmony/Symphony Bridge is the ability to call a remote procedure using the syntax “exec @MyNameSpace.MyClass.MyMethod”. You can pass in arguments and again a data object or a collection of data objects are returned.

During a recent visit with one of our customers who is currently utilizing symphony Harmony and Symphony Bridge to provide third-party access to their systems to allow enquiries on orders, etc. I was asked about “providing the ability to return a standard object that contains the call status AND the response data”. Simple, no problem: Create an RPS structure that defines your response details – call status, error codes, and error message for example. Code generate the required data object and then customize it by exposing a collection of <DataObjectBase> (the base class of all data objects!) As I said – simple.

But the customer was not overly impressed – and they had an idea! Oh dear me thinks – these are seasoned C# developers and I’m not convinced I’ll be able to implement their ideas in Synergy .Net! But how wrong I was…. and without any changes to the Symphony Framework. The basic requirement is to have a “response” class that they can extend with any serializable “type” – be that a single instance or a collection of “type” – without any restrictions.

The starting point was the same – create the required response structure in the repository and code-generate the “response” class. This is the resulting class definition;

public partial class Server_response_Data extends Symphony.Conductor.Model.DataObjectBase

The code generation process creates all the required properties and the logic to serialize the data into JSON or BSON.

The next step was to create a second class with the same name as the response class but this time it will accept a generic – generics are quite cool and allow you to defer the specification of a type until that type is instantiated. So our generic response class definition looks like this;

public class Server_response_Data<T(new)> extends Server_response_Data

By extending the base code-generated class we get all the required Symphony capabilities. The “T” denotes the generic “type”. The (new) ensures that any type you provide must have a parameter-less constructor which ensures that this class can creates an instance of it. We can expose the property so it’s serializable;

{JsonProperty}
public property Result, T
       method get
       endmethod
       method set
       endmethod
endproperty

And in the constructor we can ensure there is an instance (to prevent null object exceptions);

public method Server_response_Data
       endparams
proc
       Result = new T()
endmethod

And that is about it. You can then write your server methods to create an instance of your response class, populate the generic “response.Result” with the required “type” and set the response properties accordingly. For example;

data response = new Server_response_Data<Part_Data>()

Will create a response class with the “Result” as a type of Part_Data data object. If you need to return a collection of Part_Data objects;

data response = new Server_response_Data<List<Part_Data>>()

It’s really as easy as that. On the client you simply make the remote EXEC call through Symphony Harmony;

result = DataExecute.RunDataExecute(connector,
       &      "exec @MyNameSpace.MyClass.MyMethod",
       &      new Server_response_Data<List<Part_Data>>()).Result

You can also await the call on a separate thread.

Big shout-out to Gareth for the idea and his persistence to make me get it working!

I’ll be using these techniques in my DevPartner 2017 post conference workshop as we build a mobile app from start to finish using Symphony Harmony/Symphony Bridge to access remote data and logic.


CodeGen 5.1.7 Released

By Steve Ives, Posted on February 7, 2017 at 10:25 am

We are pleased to announce that Professional Services has just released CodeGen 5.1.7. The main feature of the release is the addition of experimental support for generating code for the MySQL and PostgreSQL relational databases. Developers can use a new command line option -database to specify their database of choice. This causes the SQL-compatible data types that are injected by the field loop expansion token <FIELD_SQLTYPE> to be customized based on the chosen database. The default database continues to be Microsoft SQL Server.

Before we consider support for these new databases to be final we would appreciate any feedback from developers working with MySQL or PostgreSQL to confirm whether we have chosen appropriate data type mappings. Additional information can be found in the CodeGen documentation.

 


CodeGen 5.1.4 Released

By Steve Ives, Posted on July 29, 2016 at 10:42 am

We are pleased to announce that we have just released CodeGen V5.1.4. The main change in this version is an alteration to the way that CodeGen maps Synergy time fields, i.e. TM4 (HHMM) and TM6 (HHMMSS) fields, to corresponding SQL data types via the <FIELD_SQLTYPE> field loop expansion token. Previously these fields would be mapped to DECIMAL(4) and DECIMAL(6) fields, resulting in time fields being exposed as simple integer values in an underlying database. With this change it is now possible to correctly export time data to relational databases.

We also made a small change to the CodeGen installation so that the changes that it makes to the system PATH environment variable occur immediately after the installation completes, meaning that it is no longer necessary to reboot the system after installing CodeGen on a system for the first time.

This version of CodeGen is built with Synergy/DE 10.3.3a and requires a minimum Synergy runtime version of 10.1.1.


Replicating Data to SQL Server – Made Easy

By Steve Ives, Posted on July 28, 2016 at 5:29 pm

For some time now we have published various examples of how to replicate ISAM data to a relational database such as SQL Server in near to real time. Until now however, all of these examples have required that the ISAM files that were to be replicated needed be modified by the addition of a new “replication key” field and the addition of a corresponding key in the file. Generally this new field and key would be populated with a timestamp value that was unique to each record in the file. While this technique guarantees that every ISAM file can be replicated, it also made it hard work to do so because the record layout and key configuration of each ISAM file needed to be changed.

However, almost all ISAM files already have at least one unique key, and when that is the case one of those existing those keys could be used to achieve replication without requiring changes to the original record layouts or files. When this technique is combined with the capabilities of I/O hooks it is now possible to achieve data replication with only minimal effort, often with no changes to the ISAM files being replicated, and with only minimal modification of the original application code.

I am pleased to announce that I have just published a new example of doing exactly that. You can find the example code on GitHub at https://github.com/SteveIves/SqlReplicationIoHooks. Of course if you are interested in implementing data replication to a relational database but need some assistance in doing so, then we’re here to help; just contact your Synergex account manager for further information.


Symphony takes a REST

By Richard Morris, Posted on July 6, 2016 at 3:08 am

The Symphony Harmony namespace allows access to data and logic through an SQL like syntax. For example you can select records from a file using a query such as “SELECT ID, DESCRIPTION FROM PART WHERE QUANTITY > 12 ORDER BY QUANTITY”. All matching records are returned from the query in the form of Symphony Data Objects. The data can be local or accessed via Synergy xfServer. The Symphony Bridge utility allows you to expose your query-able database via a standard Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) web service. So far so good.

Steve Ives and I recently had the opportunity to spend a week working together in the UK to “bang” heads together. Steve has always been an exponent of providing RESTful services to access logic and data which can be consumed by just about anything. So we set about using CodeGen to build a standard Restful service that will utilize the Symphony Framework to enable dynamic access to data and ultimately logic.

We soon had the basic service up and running. Out first implementation handled the standard GET verb – and returned all the records in the file. No filtering, no selection, just all the records retuned as a JSON collection. This is the standard API;

rest_1

Now remember that Symphony Harmony allows you to filter the data you are requesting, so we next implemented the ability to provide the “where” clause to the query. So for example;

rest_2

And using ARC (Advanced Rest Client which is a Google Chrome plug-in) we can test and query the service;

rest_3

And we get back just the selected customer details – all those customers where CUSTST has value of CA.

As well as being able to filter the data we can also limit the results returned by Harmony to just the fields we need; this has the benefit of reducing the data being brought across the wire. But how can our REST server build the required data objects to just include the fields we select? By doing runtime code generation! Within our code generated data objects we added the ability to dynamically build the response data object to only include those fields requested by the client. The calling syntax, as provided by the API, is;

rest_4

And again using ARC to test our server we can issue a command like;

rest_5

This is requesting all records from CUSMAS where the CUSNM2 field contains the word “LAWN” and limiting the response data object to just three fields. The response JSON looks like;

rest_6

Two perfectly formed data object that are limited by the fields in the selection list. If your Symphony Harmony connection to your data is via xfServer then only those selected fields will have been loaded from the file, again improving performance.

We also added the ability to limit the amount of data retuned by adding a “maxrows” option;

rest_7

We have already added the ability to the Symphony Harmony namespace to perform inserts, updates and deletes using standard SQL syntax and we’ll be adding these capabilities to the appropriate rest verbs POST, PUT and DELETE. Watch this blog feed for more information.


CodeGen 5.1.3 Released

By Steve Ives, Posted on June 30, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Tomorrow morning I’m heading back home to California having spent the last two weeks in the United Kingdom. The second week was totally chill time; I spent time with family and caught up with some old friends. But the first week was all about work; I spent a few days working with Richard Morris (it’s been WAY too long since that happened) and I can tell you that we worked on some pretty cool stuff. I’m not going to tell you what that is right now, but It’s something that many of you may be able to leverage in the not too distant future, and you’ll be able to read all about it in the coming weeks. For now I wanted to let you know that we found that we needed to add some new features to CodeGen to achieve what we were trying to do, so I am happy to announce that CodeGen 5.1.3 is now available for download.



CodeGen 5.1.2 Released

By Steve Ives, Posted on January 28, 2016 at 9:55 am

We have just released a CodeGen update that includes a fix for a problem that was discovered recently related to the processing of enumerated fields. If your repository includes enumerated fields and you use the field selection loop token <SELECTION_VALUE> (or the Symphony Framework custom token <SYMPHONY_SELECTION_VALUE>) then we recommend that you update to the new version and re-generate your code. As a reminder CodeGen recently moved to GitHub, you can find the new release at https://github.com/Synergex/CodeGen/releases.


CodeGen Has a New Home

By Steve Ives, Posted on December 9, 2015 at 1:45 pm

Today we are announcing that we have moved the open source CodeGen project from it’s former home on CodePlex to a new home on GitHub. We made the decision to do this for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that GitHub has effectively become the de-facto standard place for hosting open source projects. Even Microsoft, who built and operate the CodePlex site using their own Team Foundation Server source control technologies seem to have lost interest in it; in the last 18 months or so they have moved pretty much all of their own considerable number of open source projects to GitHub also! GIT also has several very nice features over and above what TFS has to offer, and also has the benefit of being very considerably faster to use. Related to the move is a new version (CodeGen 5.1.1), but the only changes in the new version are related from the move from CodePlex to GitHub; there is no new functionality in the new release over the 5.1.0 version that was released a few days ago.

If you don’t already have one we encourage you to create a GitHub account and once logged in to “watch” CodeGen. If you wish to receive notifications about new CodeGen releases you can also subscribe to the CodeGen Releases Atom feed. CodeGen is still distributed under the terms of the New BSD License. For the time being we plan to leave the CodePlex environment intact, but no new changes will be checked in there and no new releases will be published there.

Here are a few useful GitHub URLs related to our new home:

Project home https://github.com/Synergex/CodeGen
Wiki (information) https://github.com/Synergex/CodeGen/wiki
Download latest version https://github.com/Synergex/CodeGen/releases/latest
Issue tracking https://github.com/Synergex/CodeGen/issues
Releases Atom feed https://github.com/Synergex/CodeGen/releases.atom

CodeGen 5.1 Released

By Steve Ives, Posted on December 4, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Just a quick note to announce that we have today released CodeGen 5.1. This release has but one new feature, but it does allow me to solve a challenging problem that I faced while working on a customer project recently. I have dubbed this new feature conditional processing blocks. Essentially it is the ability to conditionally include (or exclude) parts of a template file based on the presence or absence of identifiers that can be declared on the command line. It allows you to achieve the same kind of results that you would when using .DEFINE, .IFDEF and .IFNDEF in DBL source code, but within template files. For example a developer could include code like this in a template file:

    open(channel=0,u:i,”<FILE_NAME>”)
    <IF DEFINED_ATTACH_IO_HOOKS>
    new <StructureName>Hooks(channel)
    </IF>

The developer would then have the ability to choose whether to include or exclude the code that assigns the I/O hooks object to the channel that was opened at the time that they generate the code. By default the I/O hooks code would not be included; if it was needed the developer would define the ATTACH_IO_HOOKS identifier as they generate the code. They would do this by using a new –define command line option:

    codegen –s EMPLOYEE –t FILE_IO_CLASS –r –define ATTACH_IO_HOOKS

This may seem like a very simple change, and it is, but my mind is now racing thinking about all of the new possibilities it opens up.


CodeGen 5.0.5 Released

By Steve Ives, Posted on August 28, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Just a quick note to let all of you CodeGen users out there that a new version (CodeGen 5.0.5) has just been released. You can get more information about the changes and download the release from https://codegen.codeplex.com/releases.

If you would like to receive email or RSS notifications when new CodeGen versions are released then there are links on the above mentioned page to allow you to set that up, and we encourage you to do so.


All Selective

By Richard Morris, Posted on May 29, 2015 at 8:39 am

During DevPartner 2015 a number of people ran through the Utilizing the Repository tutorial which sets out to demonstrate how the meta-data stored in the repository describing your Synergy database can be utilized when building a modern Windows Presentation Foundation desktop application using Synergy and the Symphony Framework.

Using your repository, CodeGen and the associated Symphony Framework templates you can build, from the ground up, a complete WPF application, and this is exactly what you do during the tutorial.

Using the Model-View-View Model pattern you code-generate the model elements as repository based data objects that extend the base Symphony Framework DataObjectBase – this provides field level properties with validation and data bindings. Then we code generate the view – the UI element the user interacts with. The view comprises of windows containing the individual edit controls which in turn use code generated styles. These styles define the visual attributes and data bindings of each field in the repository.

Great – you would think. But I’ve been asked about a default behaviour of a WPF application a number of times and again at the conference, and that is the fact that edit controls, specifically text boxes, don’t auto-select all content when they receive focus. I also find it frustrating but thus far have been unable to think of a solution. “It’s a deal breaker” according to Gayle – who’d just completed the tutorial. Well considering Gayle is a rather fine chap I guess it’s time for me to look at the problem again. I spoke with Jeff @ Synergex who pointed me to a blog by Oliver Lohmann which addresses just this problem.

The solution is to register a behaviour against the TextBox control and handle the GotFocus event – and in the event handler force the selection of the data in the TextBox control. Simple!

And simple it was – and it usually is when you are looking for that “complex” answer. I’ve not done much with behaviours so far, but I think that is about to change! The Symphony Framework has been updated (did that on the plane home) and I’ll be releasing that to GuGet very shortly. The Symphony Framework “style” template will be updated – it’s now released as part of CodeGen – to reflect the new capabilities and normal “behaviour” will be resumed.


DevPartner 2015 – WOW!

By Richard Morris, Posted on May 15, 2015 at 6:37 pm

That was the week that was the DevPartner 2015 conference in Philadelphia. Ok, so I’m biased but I really have to say this was one of the best conference weeks I’ve had the pleasure to be part of for many years. There were some really great sessions: The HBS customer demonstration rocked! They came to a conference a couple of years ago, did a tutorial on xfServerPlus and with this new found knowledge (and some PSG guidance) created a cool web bolt-on to their existing Synergy app.

We saw some fresh new faces from Synergex: Marty blasted through the Workbench and visual Studio development environments we provide and showed some really great tools and techniques. Phil gave us a 101 introduction to many of the “must know” features and capabilities of Synergy SDBMS – and of course was able to address mine and Jeff’s performance issues – you had to be there:). Roger demonstrated his wizardry to enlighten everyone as to the issues you need to consider when transferring your data within local and wide area networks – I was the bad router!

Bill Mooney set the whole tone of the conference with a great opening presentation showing just how committed Synergex are to empowering our customers with the best software development capabilities available.

My first day’s session followed and gave me the opportunity to demonstrate how you actually can bring all our great tools together to create true single-source, cross-platform applications which run on platforms as diverse as OpenVMS, UNIX and Microsoft Windows and onto a Sony watch running Google Wear!

Steve Ives went 3D holographic with videos from his recent trip to the Microsoft Build conference that showed just how amazing the Microsoft platform is becoming – and we aim to continue to be a first class player in that arena.

So many of our products are reaching a level of maturity that blows the competition away. Gary Hoffman from TechAnalysts presented a session showing how to use CodeGen and Symphony in the real world and showed just what you can achieve today in Synergy.

Jeff Greene (Senior .NET engineer @ Synergex) and I presented a rather informal (read written the night before) presentation showing the performance and analysis tools in Visual Studio 2015 that you can use to identify problem area and memory leaks in your application. Within minutes Brad from Automated System forwarded me an email he’d just sent to his team:

“At the Synergex conference just this morning, they just showed fantastic new diagnostics tools in Visual Studio 2015.  I just put the Team on the trail of potential memory issues with these new tools in a Virtual PC environment so we don’t alter our current developer stations. This could both reduce the memory footprint and improve performance.” – You can’t beat such instant feedback!

The tutorial time gives attendees the opportunity to play with the latest tools on a pre-configured virtual machine – plug in and code! And we continued the hands-on theme with Friday’s post conference workshop – where we built the DevPartner 2015 App from the ground up!

nexus_working

Thanks to everyone for coming and making the conference such a great success. It’s our 30th conference next year so keep your eyes and ears open for dates and details – it will be a conference not to miss!


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