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Improving Our Internal Development Process

By Steve Ives, Posted on September 21, 2020 at 11:21 am

Steve Ives

We’re about to release another version of Synergy, and when we do you may notice that we’re not documenting any new features in the release. This is an intentional change, and I wanted to let you know about it ahead of time.

In addition to working on Synergy/DE, our development teams are also working on re-organizing many of our internal systems, tools, and practices. We’re centralizing almost all of our development around Microsoft Azure DevOps; we’re consolidating all version control on Git (currently, depending on the product area and platform, we also use PVCS and Subversion), we’re making extensive use of CICD principles and tools to build automated build and test pipelines for all aspects of the product, and much more.

The only exceptions to this are our open source products, CodeGen and Harmony Core, which will remain in their current locations on GitHub. This will be an on-going process extending well into 2021 and, when complete, will put us in a great position to be able to return our focus entirely to Synergy/DE within a modern, highly efficient and productive development environment.

And as part of this reorganization of our environment, tools and practices, we have also made some decisions about how we’re going to release changes to the Synergy/DE products. For the core Synergy/DE runtime products, we have decided to revert to our earlier practice of only releasing quality improvements in patch releases; new features will be released less frequently, in numbered product releases. There are some other changes coming down the pipeline, but we’re still fleshing out some of the details, we’ll let you know as soon as things are firmed up.

This decision applies to the runtime products only, not to the development tools; you will still see regular releases for the Visual Studio-based development tools (and maybe more) in the near future. And development and releases of CodeGen and Harmony Core will continue as normal.


Migration to New Downloads Site Completed

By Steve Ives, Posted on August 14, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Steve Ives

Back in June, I announced the launch of a new product downloads site, which at the time provided access to all of the Synergy 11 downloads, and that downloads for earlier versions would be migrated over the coming months. I am pleased to announce that process is now complete and that the downloads for products all the way back to Synergy 7.1 are now available from the new site and have been removed from the old resource center.

The old download pages also included downloads for the Synergy V6 products but, because the way the software was distributed was so different back then, we decided not to migrate those old versions to the new site. For now, the version 6 files can still be downloaded from the old resource center, and we will make those files available via some alternate mechanism before that site is eventually decommissioned.


No More SDI “Developer” Builds – Just Releases

By Steve Ives, Posted on June 29, 2020 at 3:12 pm

Steve Ives

I wanted to make you aware of a small change that we have recently made to the way that we refer to “interim” releases of the SDI (Synergy DBL Integration for Visual Studio) product.

A few years ago, it became clear that we needed to be able to release our Visual Studio Integration tools on a more frequent cadence than the main Synergy/DE product. So we started doing interim releases that we referred to as “Developer Builds.” Each developer build was identified both by a version number and a build number.

Initially, these builds were often not subject to the same levels of stringent testing that a build for a full release would be, and we made that clear to customers. But now, thanks to considerable improvements in our automated testing processes, these interim builds are now subject to the same levels of inspection and testing as a build for a full release, and it is no longer necessary to discriminate between developer- and full-builds.

For this reason, we have decided to stop referring to these releases as “Developer Builds,” they are now all just “SDI Releases,” which will continue to occur on a much more frequent cadence than Synergy/DE.



xfBBQ: Full-Stack Web Development with Harmony Core

By Steve Ives, Posted on June 15, 2020 at 9:00 am

Steve Ives

On Thursday, June 18th we will launch a new series of webinars called the xfBBQ Webinars, and I’m guessing this may require some explanation. So here goes:

What is xfBBQ?
xfBBQ is a browser-based application, designed and created by Johnson Luong, Synergex Software Developer, (with minor input from Jeff Greene, Harmony Core Technical Lead, and Synergex Principal Engineer) to help us plan for our regular company BBQs. The ones that we are NOT currently enjoying because of the COVID-19 pandemic! Generally though, we host around six BBQs outside our office at lunchtime during the summer season, but most of you won’t care about that because you’re not invited 😉!

Who is Johnson Luong?
Johnson is a valuable member of our development team who, since joining Synergex in 2014, has worked on many different parts of the Synergy/DE toolset. Recently he has played a major role in the creation of our Windows installations using the WiX Toolset, while at the same time having made significant personal contributions to the development of the entire Harmony Core framework.

What does xfBBQ do?
The app allows customers (employees) to register for access, then informs them when BBQs are scheduled, and allows them to select from, and customize, various menu selections for each BBQ. For example, for a given BBQ, I might use the app to express my preference for a “medium rare cheeseburger with hot peppers and a well-done dog.” I could even opt for two burgers, or two dogs, or both … but in doing so I may risk the wrath of Samantha, our wellness coordinator! Johnson assures me she doesn’t have a special “back door” into the data, but I’m not convinced!

Anyhoo, the app collates the orders, presenting the BBQ officials (all who lavish in Synergex VIP status, and rightly so) with the required lists of requirements and ingredients for each BBQ event. Yada, yada, yada.

Why did we do this?
Because having developed an awesome (our words, but we’re confident) web-services framework called Harmony Core, customers were asking for real-world examples of how it might be used. And … we had a real-world problem to solve, namely that we really needed to control the amount of burger patties and sausages that we were purchasing from Costco!

Why xf?
Just for fun! Johnson believes that he has now defined the actual meaning of “xf”, but trust me, he has no clue! Until it’s been ratified by Marketing it means nothing, and that process could take years!

But seriously, this webinar series presents to you an end-to-end view of how a modern browser-based application is developed. You will see how the Harmony Core back-end is built, but you have seen that in previous webinars. What is much more important here is the focus on the development of the front-end application that interacts with the Harmony Core service.

This will be a series of four webinars, as follows:

Thursday June 18 @ 9 am PDT
Creating a Harmony Core solution and hooking it up to a new React app.
Register for part one here.

Thursday June 25 @ 9 am PDT
POSTing data in React, and an introduction to Redux.
Register for part two here.

Wednesday July 1@ 9 am PDT
Captchas, batch processing, and other CRUD.
Register for part three here.

Wednesday July 8@ 9 am PDT
User authentication, styling with Bootstrap, and making a React production build.
Register for part four here.

xfBBQ is a browser-based app. It is a single page application, developed using React and Redux, and using appropriate sprinkles of HTML and JavaScript along the way.

We are completely excited that over the last few months we have built up a marvelous following for our Harmony Core webinars, but I’ll be honest, there won’t be much DBL code to see here! Regardless, I encourage all of you to join us for this webinar series, and to stick with it to the end.

If you’re a DBL dev you may not learn much about your own part of the puzzle that is building a modern distributed application. But I promise you, by the end of the process you will have learned a lot about what it takes to pull together all the other pieces of that puzzle. Building a modern, distributed application requires skills in many different areas, and this webinar series touches on many of them.

It is most important that we get your non-Synergy developers to participate in these webinars. Your web devs will be right at home here, but if you don’t have web devs then invite your Windows devs, your iOS and Android devs, and your MacOS devs.

Web services are accessed via HTTP, and pretty much every development language can do that! The perfect target audience for these webinars is anyone that is involved in developing your next-generation apps. It’s not about any one part of the process, it’s about the entire process, end-to-end, and that will require devs with many different skill sets get together, and to work together to create success!


Announcing a New Product Downloads Site

By Steve Ives, Posted on June 9, 2020 at 6:49 pm

Steve Ives

We are introducing a new download experience for all version 11 products. As we continue to migrate functionality from the Original Resource Center to the New Resource Center, product downloads are the latest functionality to move across. To access downloads for version 11 products, first, go to the Products page, and, if not already logged in, then do so.

New Products Page

 

As you can see, the products page now includes a new Downloads option, which, takes you to a new, improved, and simplified download experience. We have tried to make the experience as simple as possible for most people, with all of the most frequently downloaded products being available with a single click.

New Main Downloads Page

The most popular downloads for the latest released version are available via a single-click on one of the prominent blue buttons. But if you need downloads for ancillary products, such as xfNetLink .NET, or different platforms, or older v11 versions of the products, then the text links under “Downloads for all Supported Platforms” take you to pages where everything is available. For example, here’s the downloads page for the IBM AIX platform:

New Platform Downloads Page

The downloads for the latest version of products for the platform are once again directly downloadable via a single click.

Also, notice the “Select Version” drop-down control, which allows you to pick from earlier versions of the product for the selected platform. Currently, we have moved the downloads for all of the version 11 products, so that includes the following versions:

  • 11.1.1
  • 11.1.1a
  • 11.1.1b
  • 11.1.1c
  • 11.1.1d

This represents a significant change from the previous download site. Previously, for any given release, say 11.1, you would only be able to download the latest patch version of any product. When we published a patch for a product, we removed all earlier versions of that release. From now on, when we publish any download for a product, that download remains available for use at any time in the future.

The only exception to this rule is in the improbable scenario that we discover a severe flaw in an installer or in the product, which requires us to replace a download with a subsequent version and remove the previous version to guarantee that nobody else downloads it.

The downloads for all of the previous product versions are still available in the Original Resource Center. We do plan to move those downloads across to the new site, version by version, starting with version 10 and working back from there. We hope to migrate the version 10 downloads across somewhere in the June time-frame, but we have not committed to a specific date yet.

By the way, if you scroll down a little on the platform download pages, you can access various important information and notes, and view a release log showing the timeline of the current and previous releases.

If you attempt to access the new downloads site and find that you can’t see it, the most likely reason is that individual users must be granted downloads access within the resource center. This was also the case in the original resource center, and we believe that we have migrated the permissions to the new site. But if you think you should be able to see downloads and can’t, try contacting your resource center admin (each company has one or more nominated admins), or contact the Synergex Customer Services team for assistance.

We hope that you like the new downloads experience, and we look forward to receiving your feedback.

 


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