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Big Code

By Richard Morris, Posted on April 13, 2018 at 7:13 am

If you have large (and I mean LARGE) blocks of code in single source files – and by large I mean 20k lines plus – then you may be having compiler issue with “SEGBIG” errors: “Segment too big”. This issue arises because your code segment is just too big for the compiler to handle and is usually the result of many man years of development to a single routine that has just grown over time.

If you encounter SEGBIG issues, as a customer I have recently worked with did, then this quick blog will give you some practical ideas of how to manage the issue and modify the code to allow for future development and expansion, without having to rewrite the world.

First off, it’s not the physical number of lines of code in the source file that’s the issue, it’s the lines of code and data definitions within each routine block: subroutine or function. Developers have encountered the problem for many years and the resolution has previously been to chop out a section of code, make it into a subroutine or function, and somehow pass all the appropriate data to it – usually by large numbers of arguments or common/global data blocks.

The “today” way is not too dissimilar but is a little more refined: turn the code block into a class. The first major advantage is class-based data. This removes the need to create subroutines or functions that accept large numbers of arguments, or to create large common or global data blocks. As an example:

subroutine BigRoutine

endparams

.include ‘AppCommonData.inc’

record localData

localRoutineData      ,a10

endrecord

proc

call doSomeLogic

call doOtherLogic

xreturn

doSomeLogic,

return

doOtherLogic,

return

end

Obviously this code will not give us a SEGBIG issue, but its an example of the structure of the code. The routine has a common data include and private data. In the routine body we make multiple local label calls. When there is too much data and too many lines of code added we will encounter a SEGBIG error.

So to address this, in the same source file, we can create a class with class-level data (the routine level data) and methods for the local call labels. So, for example:

namespace CompanyName

public class BigRoutineClass

private record localData

localRoutineData      ,a10

endrecord

public method Execute, void

endparams

proc

doSomeLogic()

doOtherLogic()

mreturn

endmethod

method doSomeLogic, void

.include ‘AppCommonData.inc’

proc

mreturn

endmethod

method doOtherLogic, void

.include ‘AppCommonData.inc’

proc

mreturn

endmethod

endclass

endnamespace

In this code, the Execute method becomes the entry point. All the existing code that made the label calls is moved into this routine and the calls changed to method invocations;

doSomeLogic()

doOtherLogic()

Then we can change the existing BigRoutine code;

subroutine BigRoutine

endparams

record

routineInstance       ,@CompanyName.BigRoutineClass

endrecord

proc

routineInstance = new BigRoutineClass()

routineInstance.Execute()

xreturn

end

Simple!

Although the code changes I’ve described here sound monumental, if you use Visual Studio to develop your Traditional Synergy code the process is actually quite simple. Once you have created the scaffolding routine and defined the base class with class level data (which really is a case of cutting and pasting the data definition code), there are a few simple regex commands we can use that will basically do the work for us.

To change all the call references to class method invocations you can use:

Find: ([\t ]+)(call )([\w\d]+)

Replace: $1$3()

 

To change the actual labels into class methods, simply use the following regex:

Find: ^([\t ]+)([a-zA-z0-9_]+)[,]

Replace: $1endmethod\n$1method $2, void\n$1proc

 

And to change the return statements to method returns, use:

Find: \breturn

Replace: mreturn

 

These simple steps will allow you to take your large code routines and make manageable classes from them which can be extended as required.

If you have any questions or would like assistance in addressing your SEGBIG issues, please let me know.


A Winning Formula

By Richard Morris, Posted on February 15, 2018 at 3:28 am

For a recent project I’ve worked with a customer who wished to provide their users with an engaging desktop application that would allow management of product formulations.  They had a Synergy UI Toolkit version and also elements of the required application in a third-party system. However, neither met the needs of the users.  After a review and discussions about their requirements we agreed on a Synergy .NET Windows Presentation Foundation based application using Infragistics tooling for the User Experience.

The basic requirements of the application where to allow the creation and maintenance of formulations.  A formulation contains the components required to make a finished product.  For this customer the final product is an aerosol. 

Let’s take a look

The basic interface is built using the Infragistics control to handle navigation (Ribbon menu control), listing and selection of data (powerful DataGrid), hierarchical representation of the formulation components (TreeView) and management of finished product details (Property Grid);

Of course, using the Infragistics DockManager allows the user to drag and reposition all the available windows to their liking.

There are powerful searching facilities, or QBE (Query By Example) controls.  These allow the user to provide snippets of information and the application will query the Synergy DBMS database using Symphony Harmony and the Synergex.SynergyDE.Select class;

The top line of the QBE controls allow the user to enter the data in the columns they wish to search for and so only select the data they require and not have to filter through a list of thousands of formulations.

Because the application is written in Synergy, the existing printing capabilities from the original UI Toolkit application have been retained without change;

The whole application is written in Synergy .NET and utilises the Symphony Framework for controlling the data access and presentation.  If you would like more details, or would like to know how you can build modern applications with Synergy .NET please drop me an email.


What a Cracking Idea

By Richard Morris, Posted on February 9, 2018 at 5:52 am

The Synergex Resource Center Community site has a number of great features including the Answers and Ideas portals. Ideas is the place to post your ideas for improving Synergy and related products. You can vote for ideas and provide comment and feedback to help the whole community be more successful. The Synergex community site had an idea posted recently:

You can read the full idea at the Synergex Resource Center.

Synergy DBMS Manager

The Synergy DBMS Manager allows you to query and manage data in your Synergy data files using Symphony Data Objects.

Code generating Symphony Data Objects for your files is a simple process.  Ensure you have your Synergy Repository configured. You need to define the structure and associated file definition for each file you wish to be able to manage using the utility.  There are full instructions at the Symphony Framework page which walk you through the few simple steps to building your data object assembly in Synergy .Net.  Not sure how to build Synergy .NET assemblies – then send me your repository and I’ll do it for you!

To query data you simply issue the required select command and define the response data object;

Simple, and you can scroll through the results.  The idea posted was to be able to then export the selected data to Microsoft Excel so that further review and analysis can be performed.

A new toolbar button has been added and the GemBox Spread assembly used to easily create the Excel document.  Now you can export all the selected rows to an Excel document:

If you’d like more details, please visit the Symphony Framework page or contact me directly.

 

 

 


Protecting Data

By Richard Morris, Posted on February 7, 2018 at 5:06 am

Whenever I work with customers code there is almost always a need to “run” their applications.  That means I need data.  To ensure that Synergex protects our customers data and that we conform to the various data security requirements of todays world there is usually a need to cleanse the data before I get access to it.  This cleansing process is like redacting words or phrases in a document – to prevent the consumer (in this case me) from seeing the real data.

With Synergy today there are basically two ways to do this;  write a program to clear or set the data fields within the records in the file to a specific value or configure Synergy xfODBC and use a database management tool.  If you don’t want to write code, or license and configure xfODBC you can use the Synergy DBMS Manager.

The Synergy DBMS Manager is a simple utility that can be used to redact data in your Synergy DBMS files.  Your can download and install the Synergy DBMS Manager utility by visiting the downloads page.  The utility uses Symphony Data Objects to describe the data in your files – these are easy to code generate.

Code generating Symphony Data Objects for your files is a simple process.  Ensure you have your Synergy Repository configured. You need to define the structure and associated file definition for each file you wish to be able to manage using the utility.  There are full instructions which walk you through the few simple steps to building your data object assembly in Synergy .Net.  Not sure how to build Synergy .Net assemblies – then send me your repository and I’ll do it for you!

Synergy DBMS Manager

Once you have the data object library built, you simple run the utility:

You’ll need to locate the “Data object assembly” that you have just built, and following that select the “Table mapping method”.  Enter the password and you’ll be in the utility and ready to manage your Synergy DBMS data.

You can perform simple queries to locate and review the data in a file;

Now you can easily redact the data in the file – remember you are affecting the ACTUAL data in the file, so make sure this is a copy of the data file and NOT your LIVE data, there is no rollback functionality!

Simply issue an update command;

Notice the result count () at the bottom of the screen.  Because we didn’t specify a where clause then all records in the file were affected by the requested update.  Now you can perform a simple query and see the results;

This data is now cleaned.  If you need to send data to Synergex Support to assist then to resolve an issue you have, this is a great way to redact and protect that data before sending it.

If you’d like more details, please visit the Symphony Framework page or contact me directly.


“D” is for Developer

By Richard Morris, Posted on September 20, 2017 at 6:55 am

Development of your traditional Synergy code in Microsoft’s Visual Studio was introduced at the DevPartner conference back in 2016. Using an integrated development environment (IDE) like Visual Studio not only promotes better code development practices and team development but shows prospective new hires that your tooling is the latest and greatest.

The next release of Synergy—10.3.3d—includes all the capabilities now required to fully develop and build your traditional Synergy–based applications in Visual Studio. During a recent engagement I worked with a team of developers to migrate their existing Synergy Workbench development to Visual Studio with great results. Although there are a few steps to complete, the results of developing in Visual Studio more than outweigh the effort taken to get there. And if you think developing in Synergy Workbench is great and productive, just wait until you are using Visual Studio—there will be no turning back! Here are the high-level steps you can take to get your traditional Synergy development to Visual Studio.

First place to start is the Synergy Repository. We all have (or should have) one. Synergy now provides a Repository project that will allow you to build your repository files from one or multiple schema files. If you have multiple schema files you can use the new pre-build capability to run your existing command scripts to create the single, ordered schema file or load the repository your way—simple. So why have the Repository project? Because you can load all your individual schema files into it, and if any change, your repository will be rebuilt automatically.

Next create your library projects. These are either executable (recommended) or object libraries. Ensure you reference the Repository project using “Add Reference…”. You no longer define the Repository environment variables “RPSMFIL” and “RPSTFIL”. This step ensures that if your Repository project is rebuilt, any projects referencing it will be as well. Next add the source files for the routines that make up your library, and build. You may have a few build issues to resolve—the 10.3.3d compiler is a little stricter, and unresolved references will need to be resolved. Any environment variables required to build your software should be set in the project common properties page or if they are library specific in the project environment page.

Finally, your main line programs. Create the required project with single or multiple main line programs. The multiple main line project allows you to have all the programs in one place, and you can easily specify the program to run.

Now you can build and run your traditional Synergy code from Visual studio—and even better, you can debug through the code using the powerful Visual Studio debugger.

Using UI Toolkit? Keep a look out for a future blog post showing how to easily incorporate window script file builds into your development process.

Building for UNIX? Not a problem. A future post will show the simple steps to target the UNIX platform from within Visual Studio.

We are here to help! Synergex can help with every aspect of getting your traditional Synergy development environment inside Visual Studio. Just ask your account manager or contact me directly.


How “easy” can easy be – Google it!

By Richard Morris, Posted on May 24, 2017 at 4:45 am

The post conference workshop developed from the ground up a vinyl record collection catalogue system that allowed the management of your favourite records. The workshop stepped through the various aspects of the system including a desktop WPF maintenance program and remote management of your cloud based catalogue using the Synergy DBMS manager.

Having all your vinyl discs catalogued is great – but when I’m in the record shop browsing through all the latest available titles I often wonder – have I got this one? I’ve got a lot of vinyl’s and many more CD’s so remembering all the one’s I have can be difficult, and there is nothing worse than buying a duplicate.

So our OnVinyl app we built at the conference allows us to scan the barcode of the album in the store and check it against our catalogue – if we have it then the details are displayed and we don’t go and buy it again.

Getting all the album information into our catalogue would have been a long and rather boring job – especially having to trawl the web looking for the artwork to associate with each album we have. We need an easier solution – and so to Google we turn.

We all know how good Google is at searching for basically anything you can think of really, but did you know you can use this powerful searching capability from within your Synergy programs? Google provide a search API that allows you to simply and very easily perform any search you require. This is the facility we added into our OnVinyl Album Maintenance program – enter (or scan if you have a barcode scanner to hand) the barcode on the album and pass this through to the Google search API. Our implementation retrieved the album name, artist, cost and artwork so we are able to populate all the fields in the maintenance form – without any typing!

The Google search API provides a REST API that you can call directly from within your Synergy program. For full details visit https://developers.google.com/custom-search/json-api/v1/using_rest. To use the API you need a Google account. The first step is to create an “API key” which allows you access to various Google API’s and identifies you to those API’s. Visit the Google API Manager console to create an API Key. Once you have an API key then you can set up a custom “search engine” that allow you to customize how your searching is performed. You can limit the results to certain web sites for example. This is all configured using the Google control panel (https://cse.google.com/all). To begin you create a new “search engine” and name it. Once created it will be assigned a unique search engine ID – you’ll need this!

In your Synergy code define some constants;

The API is a REST implementation that has a defined URI;

And then make the required REST call to retrieve the search results;

And that’s the call to your custom search engine complete. The response from Google will be in the form of a JSON string which you need to parse and out and extract the individual elements you require. The code for that is available in the OnVinyl project.

And the results in your application;

Easy really is easy with Synergy and Google searching!

On a side note – I’ve been wondering where Jodah had got to, and then this appeared in my inbox;

I’m sure I recognise those eyes…. Have you seen or got a picture of Jodah’s identifying name tag?

 

 

 


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……?


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.


Let’s get Physical – at DevPartner 2017!

By Richard Morris, Posted on March 8, 2017 at 8:38 am

The DevPartner 2017 conference is rapidly approaching and so I thought I’d follow on from Steve’s recent blog about the conference and what a content packed agenda we have this year. As usual we have the hugely successful customer demonstrations – always great to see how developer are making the most from Synergy today. There are guest speakers taking about testing your software – and I thought if it compiled it was tested, so I’ll be glued to that one. We also have a student Physiotherapist guest speaker – not your usual topic for a Synergy software conference I must agree!

Way back in 1981 a certain blond bombshell by the name of Olivia Newton-John hit our screens in tight pink leggings telling us all to “get physical”. For many around my age she was the pin-up of our times. I’m sure I can recite all the lyrics today! Although we won’t be seeing Miss Newton-John at the conference (sorry) we will be “getting physical”!

As part of an undergraduate degree I’ve developed an interactive mobile app:

Exercise compliance is one of the most important parts in patient rehabilitation, and yet it is given minimal consideration. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) detail that the first step in rehabilitating a patient back to their pre-injury function lies with their Physiotherapist’s ability to educate and motivate their patient through a clear and concise home exercise program. Patients can regularly expect to receive a printed sheet of generic exercises laden with hand-written amendments which look to tailor the exercises to the patient’s needs. Given that more than 70% of adults in the U.K. own a smartphone, there has never been a better time to take the technological leap and focus of connecting with and engaging patients much more remotely. That’s where Physio My Way comes in.”

And so Physio My Way was born. Written entirely in Synergy .Net it’s a true mobile application that is designed to educate patients to perform the correct exercises and monitor their compliance with the exercise schedules defines by their therapist. In-app options include the ability to review the various assigned exercises and stream videos that show just how they should be performed. Guidance is provided through spoken instructions and monitoring patient compliance is recorded using the devices accelerometer.

Movement patterns and screen activity can provide a clear and detailed account of every single repetition that a patient completes. Their Physiotherapist will have secure access to all of their patients’ data through their own personal log in. Specifically, this means that all exercise progressions or regressions will now be based on objective outcome markers, rather than a patient’s subjective recollection of their exercise completion. This gives superior reliability of patient feedback and is based on key Physiotherapy findings such as severity, intensity and frequency of pain and rate of perceived exertion at every interval.”

Our guest student Physiotherapist , Ashley, will be presenting an interesting session on his design and the theory behind the Physio My Way app and the results from his studies – did it improve people’s compliance with their prescribed exercise plan? And I’ll be dissecting the technologies used to develop and deploy data in the cloud and the app to Google Play Store and the Apple App Store:

At the post conference workshop on 12th May I’ll be building, from the ground up, a cross-device mobile application through lecture and demonstration. The session will target both Android and iPhone devices. Using the latest Synergy tools, Xamarin forms and Visual Studio.  We will initially build and deploy a simple cloud based server. From here we will build a client connection module to communicate to our server and also implement the required code to manage Synergy device licensing. Next we will layer on the UI – XAML based cross device compliant forms. We’ll include some cool Xamarin components and finally build and deploy to both iPhone and Android. It’s a not-to-be-missed day if you are interested in expanding your Synergy applications capabilities onto the mobile device platforms.

Make sure to sign up and bring your exercise gear as we “get physical” at DevPartner 2017!


Wheel, Scroll, Oops.

By Richard Morris, Posted on October 14, 2016 at 6:45 am

If you answer “yes” to the following questions, then please read on: Do you have a Synergy UI Toolkit application? Do you use standard (not ActiveX) list processing with a load method? Do you run your software on Microsoft Windows 10?

Windows 10 offers a new feature that allows you to mouse over a list and use the mouse wheel to scroll the list, without the list actually getting focus. It’s a great feature, but if you have a standard list displayed in your UI Toolkit application which uses a load method – then that mouse-over scroll operation will attempt to “process” the list and cause the list load method to execute. Does not sound too bad – but if you have method data being passed through from the l_select() or l_input() routines then this data will not be passed to your load method, because you are not actually in l_select() or l_input(). Also, because the list has not gained focus you have potentially not been through your “my list is gaining focus so set up the load parameters” logic, which again means when your load method executes it’s in an unknown state.

When your load method executes in this “unknown” state and you try to access method data or your uninitialized load data then a segmentation fault may occur. The user uses the Wheel, the list attempts to Scroll and Oops your application crashes.

Thankfully, the Synergex team have found the issue and resolved it – and the fix will be in the upcoming 10.3.3b patch. If you are experiencing this issue today and need a resolution now, you can contact support who can provide you with a hotfix.


Examining and modifying Synergy data

By Richard Morris, Posted on September 5, 2016 at 11:41 pm

The Symphony Framework provides the ability to expose Synergy data as “Data Objects”. A “Data Object” or DO for short, is a class that exposes the fields of your repository structure as properties that can be accessed using Get and Set methods. These DO’s also provide access to the “raw” synergy record data through a property called SynergyRecord. The SynergyRecord property is the basic way to put record data into or get record data out of your DO. There are a lot of additional properties associated with DO’s, like its validity based on repository and custom validation rules, but those are for another blog. By exposing the individual field elements as Get/Set properties this allows us to bind to them from code (Synergy or C#/VB.Net) and in the WPF world the UI layer in XAML.

The Symphony Harmony framework allows you to select data from a Synergy DBMS file using standard SQL style syntax. Under the hood it uses the powerful SynergyDE.Select capabilities to access data in a file after parsing the SQL like query string. The data is returned as a collection of DO’s.  A simple example could be;

Select * from group

Where “group” is the name of a structure/file relationship in your repository. The Symphony Harmony returns all the located records in the form of DO’s. This means we can bind to the individual properties exposed by the DO.

Harmony can accept more complicated requests, for example;

SELECT Id ,Description ,Quantity ,Cost_price FROM part WHERE cost_price BETWEEN 10 AND 20

Is a valid query that will return only the DO’s that match the where clause.

To show the capabilities of the Symphony Data Object and Symphony Harmony I’ve put together a simple “Synergy DBMS Manager” program that allows you to interrogate and manage data in a Synergy ISAM data file. You can select data using SQL like syntax and display the results to the screen. You can also update, insert and delete records again using SQL like syntax. To show the query above using the Synergy DBMS Manager;

SDBMS1

The fields within the query can be typed in longhand or selected from the field list (retrieved dynamically from the DO). When the query is executed, the results grid is dynamically built to include only those fields selected.

As mentioned you can also modify the data in the file using an UPDATE command and you can insert new records using an INSERT command. To complete the capabilities you can also delete records using the DELETE command, but make sure you use a where clause or the whole file will be cleared.

The Synergy DBMS Manager application can be downloaded from SymphonyFramework.Net. You can also access full documentation on the same page or here. You will need a minimum of Synergy 10.3.1 runtime environment to run the Synergy DBMS Manager program. You will also need to create and build a library of Synergy Data Objects that represent your repository structure. This library is totally code-generated and full instructions are included in the documentation.

If you would like to take a look at the Synergy DBMS Manager but don’t have the time to build your library of data objects upload your repository files (zipped please) at: SymphonyFramework.Net and we’ll build it for you!

Why not take a quick look at the documentation to see how easy it is to use the Synergy DBMS Manager?

 


Symphony Framework Update 3.2.6 – File Management Capabilities

By Richard Morris, Posted on July 22, 2016 at 6:24 am

As I wrote about in my last blog the Symphony Harmony namespace provides the ability to execute select queries and stored procedure style method execution using SQL style syntax. The queries and procedures can be executed in-process or via the Symphony Bridge on a remote server via industry standard HTTP/HTTPS/TCP protocols as well as via a Service Bus Relay protocol. In the 3.2.6 release we have added the ability to fully manage the data in the SDBMS files via SQL this style syntax.

Accessing or selecting data through the Symphony Harmony namespace is simple. First you need to define your “connection” to the database. To do this you create an instance of the DBConnector class. For example;

data connector = new DBConnector(“SymLocal:user/password!SimpleHarmonyTestLibrary.TableMapper.MapTableToFile”)

The connection string defines how you want to access the data: SymLocal indicates that it’s in-process and specifying SymRemote indicates it’s via Symphony Bridge. If you are using Symphony Bridge you must include the “server” you wish to connect to – I’ll include an example shortly. The username and password allow you to provide authentication but that’s for another blog. The “SimpleHarmonyTestLibrary.TableMapper.MapTableToFile” is the named method that Symphony Harmony uses to translate the table name to a physical SDBMS filename, and it’s something you can code generate.

Here is an example of a remote access connection;

data connector = new DBConnector(“SymRemote:user/password@localhost:8081!SimpleHarmonyTestLibrary.TableMapper.MapTableToFile”)

Notice the server name and the port the Symphony Bridge server is listening on. Other than the connection string the usage of Symphony Harmony is identical regardless if it’s local or remote data access. Although here we are talking about local and remote data access – we are referring to where the code to perform the query is being executed, either locally in-process or via Symphony Bridge. We are not referring to the physical location of the SDBMS data files which may be local or remote and accessed via xfServer. Both local (in-process) and remote connections via Symphony Bridge can access data locally or via xfServer.

To select records from a file you use the SQL style SELECT syntax and call the DataSelect.RunDataSelect method. You need to instance the Symphony Data Object that will define the response data structure. For example;

data partItem = new Part_Data()

foreach partItem in DataSelect.RunDataSelect(connector, “SELECT * FROM part”, partItem).Result

begin

                Console.WriteLine(“Created ID = ” + partItem.Id + “, ” + partItem.Description + ” Qty = ” + %string(partItem.Quantity) + ” Cost = ” + %string(partItem.Cost_price))

end

Note here that the case of the command is not important however the case of string values within a where clause is. You can limit the fields returned, filter the data and order the results as you require. All of these are valid;

DataSelect.RunDataSelect(connector, “SELECT id, description, quantity FROM part WHERE quantity > 10”, partItem).Result

DataSelect.RunDataSelect(connector, “SELECT description, id FROM part WHERE description like ‘BRAKE’”, partItem).Result

DataSelect.RunDataSelect(connector, “SELECT cost_price, id, description FROM part WHERE cost_price < 1.99 ORDER BY cost_price “, partItem).Result

The order of the fields list is not important. You also don’t have to hard-wire the filter values as you can pass positional arguments. For example;

Data qtyValue   ,int         ,10

DataSelect.RunDataSelect(connector, “SELECT id, quantity, description FROM part WHERE quantity > :1”, partItem, qtyValue).Result

data descValue ,string   ,”BRAKE”

DataSelect.RunDataSelect(connector, “SELECT id, description FROM part WHERE description like :1″, partItem, descValue).Result

Data qtyValue   ,int                         ,10

Data costValue  ,decimal               ,1.99

DataSelect.RunDataSelect(connector, “SELECT id, description, cost_price FROM part WHERE cost_price < :1 AND quantity > :2 ORDER BY cost_price “, partItem, costValue, qtyValue).Result

All of the above will return a collection of data objects of type Part_Data().

As I mentioned above you can now maintain the data in your SDBMS files through Symphony Harmony. We have added the ability to insert data into an SDBMS file using Symphony Harmony. The DataInsert.RunDataInsert() method accepts an INSERT command and a data object and stores the passed-in data object data to the appropriate file. For example;

data partItem = new Part_Data()

partItem.Id = “ID1”

partItem.Description = “this is the description for part 1”

partItem.Technical_info = “lots of additional information for part 1”

partItem.Quantity = 5

partItem.Cost_price = 12.34

DataInsert.RunDataInsert(connector, “INSERT INTO part”, partItem).Wait()

The data in the partItem data object is extracted, placed into a Synergy record and stored into the SDBMS file. Any errors, like duplicate key, will be thrown on the client.

We have also added the ability to update the data in an SDBMS file using Symphony Harmony. The DataUpdate.RunDataUpdate() method accepts an UPDATE command, which should include a WHERE clause, and a data object, and updates the file with the passed data object data. You can optionally pass a list of fields that restrict the data to be updated. So for example if you application wants to simply update a field for a given record;

data numUpdated          ,long

partItem.Cost_price = 999.99

numUpdated = DataUpdate.RunDataUpdate(connector, “UPDATE part SET cost_price where QUANTITY = 13”, partItem).Result

Will update ALL records that have a quantity value of 13 with the updated cost_price value of 999.99. The resulting numUpdated field will contain the number of records that were updated in the file.

The field list is optional, but it’s recommended! If you don’t specify the field list then the whole record is updated, so you must ensure that the data object contains all the required information otherwise you may get exceptions if key values that are defined none-modifiable are changed. You may also inadvertently overwrite changes made by other processes.

And to provide the fully SDBMS data management capabilities we have added the ability to delete data from an SDBMS file using Symphony Harmony. The DataDelete.RunDataDelete() method accepts a DELETE command, which should include a WHERE clause, and a data object and deletes the matching records from the file.

data numDeleted            ,long

numDeleted = DataDelete.RunDataDelete(connector, “DELETE FROM part WHERE id = :1”, partItem, “ID1”).Result

Removes the required records from the file. There is no need to first select or lock them. The numDeleted field will contain the number of records that were deleted from the file. The where clause is optional so the following is valid;

numDeleted = DataDelete.RunDataDelete(connector, “DELETE FROM part”, partItem).Result

And will result in clearing the entire file – you have been warned!!

All this capability is now available in version 3.2.6 of the Symphony Framework, Symphony Harmony and Symphony Harmony Unplugged packages on Nuget.


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.


Drilling for Data

By Richard Morris, Posted on April 20, 2016 at 5:44 am

One cool aspect of a Synergy UI Toolkit program has been list processing. When we introduced the concept of a list load method to populate the list as items were required was a huge step towards decoupling the program logic from the user interface. Because of this separation of concerns it’s actually very easy using the Symphony Framework to load a modern WPF data grid using an existing UI Toolkit list load method.

Our starting point has to be the UI, and that’s being rewritten in XAML. XAML allows data binding between class properties and the column elements of a data grid. We exposes our Synergy data by use of a Symphony Data Object. These data object classes represent your repository based data structures. The fields within your structures are exposed as the properties that the data grid will data-bind to.

Once we have the data grid defined we need to define the hooks between the collection of data we are going to expose to the data grid and the host programs list load method. First we call a generic method that will allow us to signal the required list loading requirements back to the host program. This snippet is going to call a generic method that will then raise the event back to the host:

d1

We are passing the load method name and then various parameters that define the actual data we are going to load and any additional list load method data. Now we can raise the load method request to the host DBL program:

d2

In the host DBL program we need to handle the event so we register an event handler:

d3

The following code snippet dispatches the load request to the existing UI Toolkit load method. There are two formats to the request depending if the list has associated list method data:

d4

So now we need to change the load method. If you have coded your list load method according to the standards laid out in the UI Toolkit manual there should only be a single line of code to change:

d5

The DoingTK test is a flag we have set to indicate if the program is running with the traditional UI Toolkit or our new WPF UI.

We shall be drilling down into the ability to handle list loading during the DevPartner 2016 pre-conference workshop as we all migrate an existing UI Toolkit program to a modern WPF user interface.


STOP! Validation Alert

By Richard Morris, Posted on April 12, 2016 at 12:00 pm

It’s the tried and trusted way to get the users attention. At the slighting hint of an issue with their data entry you put up a big dialog box complete with warning icons and meaningful information.

c1

We’ve all done it, and many programs we write today may still do it. Writing code using the Synergy UI Toolkit its common practice to write a change method to perform field level validation. When the user has changed the data and left the field – either by tabbing to the next or clicking the “save my soul” button – the change method executes and validates the entry. It is here were we stop the user in their tracks. How dare they give us invalid data – don’t they know what they should have entered? It’s an ever so regimented approach. The user must acknowledge their mistake by politely pressing the “OK” button before we allow them to continue. Users are usually not OK with this interruption to their daily schedule so there must be a nicer way to say “hey there, this data is not quite as I need it, fancy taking a look before we try to commit it to the database and get firm with you and tell you how bad you are doing at data entry?”

When migrating to a new Windows Presentation Foundation UI we can do things a little different and guide the user through the process of entering the correct data we need to complete a form or window. We will still use the same change method validation logic however as there is no reason to change what we know works.

When using the Symphony Framework you create Symphony Data Objects – these classes represent your repository based data structures. The fields within your structures are exposed as properties that the UI will data-bind to. These data objects are a little bit cleverer that just a collection of properties. Based on the attributes in the repository it knows what fields have change methods associated with them. Because of this the data object can raise an event that we can listen for – an event that says “this field needs validation by means of this named change method”. Here is a snippet of code registering the event handler:

c2

The event handler simply raises the required “change method” event back to the host DBL program;

c3

Back in the DBL program we can now listen for the change method events. Here is the event handler being registered:

c4

Remember, we are now back in the host DBL code so we can now dispatch to the actual change methods registered against the field. This is a code snippet and not the complete event handler code:

c5

We are calling into the original change method and passing through the required structure data and method data. Inside the change method we will have code that validate the entry and then, as this snippet shows, we can perform the error reporting:

c6

If the code is running as a UI Toolkit program the normal message box dialog is used to display the message. However, when running with the new WPF UI the code provides the required error information against the field. No message boxes are displayed. To the user they will see:

c7

The edit control background is coloured to indicate an issue with the data and the tooltip gives full details of the problem. When the user has entered valid data, the field reverts back to the standard renditions:

c8

We shall be exploring the ability to handle field change method processing during the DevPartner 2016 pre-conference workshop as we all migrate an existing UI Toolkit program to a modern WPF user interface.

 


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