Posts categorized “AIR/Flex/Flash”.

CaseDetective 2.0.d56 Released

CaseDetective128.pngIf you downloaded CaseDetective 2.0.d53 when I announced it the other day, please updated to v2.0.d56 at your earliest convenience.

There’s a few important updates.

1) Fixed a problem with logging on when there is only one user set up in FogBugz.

2) There was a potential problem with running CaseDetective in Windows with AIR 1.5.0.

3) Fixed a problem with auto-updating under Mac OS X.

The third fix is particularly tricky, if you’re running Mac OS X it would be best to update to version 2.0.d56 by visiting the hidden (for now) downloads page and using the Install Now/Upgrade Now button.

Getting FogBugz data into Excel / CaseDetective 2.0 Sneak Peek

Having seen an increase in tweets and support requests to the FogBugz guys about getting data from FogBugz into Excel, I wasn’t surprised to see Fog Creek finally write a blog post explaining how to use the FogBugz API from within Excel to get a basic spreadsheet.

It’s not the nicest of mechanisms for getting data into Excel from FogBugz, but it works.

Over the last few months I’ve had quite a few inquiries about using CaseDetective with FogBugz On Demand.

At first my standard response was basically “sorry, CaseDetective 2.0 will do this but I can’t tell you when that’ll be available”. But it’s really frustrating, knowing that you’re in mid-development with something that’s waaaaay too basic and not at all ready for release, but already has the exact functionality most people are looking for, namely CSV export.

One day I caved, I let on to someone that there’s a development release out there on that there interweb that I use for testing, it was a bit old, but would do what they desperately needed.

It worked for that person, they got the job done, they were happy, and I got a nice warm fuzzy feeling out of helping someone in a bit of a bind.

Then I mentioned it to the next person, and then the next, and the next … you get the picture. Each person was asked to keep it a secret, and must join the CaseDetective Beta Test Team in order to continue using it.

I’ve had some great feedback, much of which is now in my FogBugz database waiting for me to actually get the time to implement, but some critical bugs have been squashed, and I think it’s now reasonably stable, if very very very slow and missing many features.

I’ve decided that seeing as so many people are simply looking for CSV output, and might be interested in using something a bit lot more user friendly than the raw API XML data into Excel method, I’m going to make the development version of CaseDetective 2.0 semi-public, anyone who reads this can give it a bash.

And what’s more, I’m not just going to make CaseDetective On Demand available, I’m also going to make CaseDetective 2.0 Desktop available too.

Try CaseDetective On Demand

Install CaseDetective 2.0 Desktop

Please send any feedback, big, small, nasty or nice to

CaseDetective Logon.png
CaseDetective Cases.png
CaseDetective Pie Chart.png
CaseDetective Line Chart.png


Thanks Mike Chambers, and Merry Christmas to one and all!

Thanks to Mike Chambers, Christmas has come early as I’ve just received a nice envelope in the post! :-)


It’s an updated RIA Guide, eboy stickers and Adobe AIR 1.0 Launch postcard. Thanks Mike, the guide is very handy, and the stickers and postcard are cool.

So, it just leaves me to wish you, the reader of my humble blog a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s hoping you have a healthy and prosperous 2009.

Excited about the next version of Flex Builder and it's friends

I’ve just been reading about the next version of Flex Builder (code named “Gumbo”) that some lucky people have just got their hands on at MAX NA ‘08, it sounds like there are some great new features.

I’m looking forward to the FlexUnit integration and new network monitoring functionality, they’re the kind features that could make some serious improvements to development efficiency. The network monitor is particulary important to me, as my Flex development is all about sending and receiving data over the network, much like 99% of Flex apps out there.

But, what could be a real winner for future product development is the new Client Data Management (CDM) in Flex Builder, if it works well it sounds like it could be a very useful integrated and supported way of managing large data sets on the client from a remote source.

The new name for the designer -> developer product that was code named Thermo is “Flash Catalyst“, which is a great name for this product. Flash Catalyst will be used to take the output of traditional application design such as multi-layered Photoshop files and turn them into working Flex prototypes. It’s the kind of thing that could seriously aid in the designer -> developer transfer, I expect we’ll see an abundance of great looking Flex and AIR apps with wonderful user interation as a result of the developer being able to better use the designer’s output.

CoCoMo has also been officially released, which looks like a fantastic collaboration SDK. I hope to make use of CoCoMo in the future.

We're back!

CaseDetective128.pngYes, it’s true, we’re back and developing CaseDetective for FogBugz again!

It must be true as the IMiJ Software and CaseDetective websites have had a bit of a face lift. There are further changes in the wings, but both sites are looking good, even if I say so my self.

There’s no date for when CaseDetective 2.0 will be available just yet, but be assured development is well under way.

Adobe Flex 3 and AIR now live!

Adobe FlexBuilderWoohoo, my favourite development platform(s) have just had their big release, Adobe Flex 3 and AIR (Adobe Interactive Runtime) were released just a few hours ago (while I was sleeping soundly).

Go read all about Flex 3, AIR and how you can build wonderful desktop AIR apps with Flex.

And if you’re a masochist, read about building AIR apps with HTML/CSS or Flash.

Adobe AIRI love all the side bar stuff they’ve got on the Flex and AIR product pages, they’re really reaching out to developers that are interested in Flex and AIR and would like to integrate with other technologies, such as ColdFusion (natch), Java, .NET, PHP or Ruby.

Personally I’m having a blast reading through Peter Armstrong’s Flexible Rails book. I’ve long thought Ruby on Rails great at connecting to the database and very powerful at exposing the data model cleanly with wonderful ways to validate data, and best of all, easily migrate the schema as the application evolves. Flex on the front end brings a full rich internet experience without the JavaScript/AJAX headache.

I’ve just paid for and downloaded my FlexBuilder 3 Professional upgrade, time to play (well, after I’ve been to work, come home, spent some time with Abi, put her to bed, had dinner with Mandy, and done a few chores that is)!

Weight off my mind.

Phew, last night I killed a bug in CaseDetective 2.0 in less than 30 minutes of development that had been bugging me (pun intended) for well over 4 weeks!

And what’s more, 30 minutes later after re-activating another feature that I’d disabled because I had a bug in that code that had also been bugging me for well over 4 weeks was also fixed, without me making any further changes!

I hate (love) it when that happens! :-)

The annoying thing is, my code for the first feature is virtually the same as before last night’s edits, I’d almost got the bug fixed before in that I’d whittled it down to a very specific block of code that I could hard-code around to get the results I wanted, but couldn’t get the proper solution to work, even though it looked absolutely right. I worked and worked on the area, making sure I fully understood the all the properties and events of the classes involved, but alas the solution failed to reveal itself.

Out of frustration I switched one parameter to a function that should have absolutely no effect from “true” to “false”, fully expecting that the problem still existed. It fixed the problem. Fantastic! But also very very annoying. I can only assume it’s either a very subtle bug in the framework, or more likely me not quite fully understanding the event interactions of a couple of classes.

I tell you, it feels great to have fixed these two problems, they were two great weights stopping me from progressing in important areas of CaseDetective, and stopped me from being able to efficiently concentrate on my work.

A great weight has been lifted off my shoulders, full steam ahead!

How's it going with this Flex stuff?

I think it’s sometimes a good idea to conduct a thorough hard-hitting interview with yourself about a subject to fully explore said subject. There now follows an interview between you (U) and me (I), where I pose and answer the questions I think you might ask of me, and I’m not going to hold anything back…

U: A little while ago you talked about redeveloping CaseDetective with Adobe Flex, is that still happening?
Sure is.

U: Great! How are you finding Flex then?
I’m loving it.

U: Care to expand on that, it’s not going to be a great interview if you don’t give me proper answers!
Oh, OK then, sorry.

I’m really enjoying developing with Adobe Flex, it’s name is very apt, the flexibility you have while developing is fantastic. Just being able to drag and drop a number of controls in Flex Builder’s great looking design view, and then switch to source view to add a few extra details is wonderful. The xml like nature of the mxml format makes this a breeze, especially with Flex Builder’s code hints and completion.

ActionScript (Flash Player’s and therefore Flex’s scripting language) is very clean and familiar, being based on the ECMAScript language specification. Anyone with even a smattering of experience in Java or any other modern object orientated language will get on famously with ActionScript. It’s deeply object orientated, it’s amazing what you can do with it, especially as the Flex and Flash libraries are pretty solid, and easy to extend.

U: It looks as though Flex Builder 3 is coming on strong, have you looked at it?
I switched to using Flex Builder 3 beta 1 a couple of months ago!

U: Isn’t that a bit risky, developing on a non-released development platform?
Some might think so, but in this case it works for me.

I started off with Flex Builder 2, bought it (and lot more from Adobe), and it does the job. However, when I saw some of the great new features in Flex Builder 3 I had to take a look.

I spent a good few weeks continuing main development in Flex Builder 2, and then checking out to Flex Builder 3 to see how it handled it. I had no problems at all.

When I played with the new AdvancedDataGrid I knew I couldn’t stay on Flex Builder 2, I wanted the multi-column sorting and grouping functionality the AdvancedDataGrid has to offer.

When I had good long think about it, I realised that I’m not planning to release CaseDetective 2.0 until early next year, which coincides quite nicely with the planned release schedule of Flex Builder 3. So for me it’s a strategically positive plan to develop with the better functionality available in the beta releases and submit any problems to the Flex Builder team, than to carry on using a version that doesn’t give me all of the whiz-bang features I want and that I’d want to upgrade around the time of CaseDetective’s release anyway. Better for me to get ahead of the game and be familiar with the new version of Flex Builder and the Flex SDK than to have to catch up later.

U: You mentioned the AdvancedDataGrid as a feature you’re really enjoying in Flex Builder 3, anything else you’re liking?
The other Flex Builder 3 features that I’m totally and utterly in love with are “Mark Occurrences” and Code Refactor support.

Mark Occurrences highlights every occurrence of a class, function, variable etc that matches the one your cursor is currently on. It’s sounds like a very simple feature, but believe me it’s a really intelligent and very useful one. When your cursor is on a variable name for example, every usage of the variable is highlighted in a nice blue colour, and in the right hand gutter is a little blue block that shows where the occurrences are across the whole file. If you click on one of those gutter blocks the code window moves to show it, which is great for quickly navigating from the declaration to the use of a variable etc. It’s hard to explain, but it works very well and has really sped up navigating source files when editing. What’s particularly nice is that it understands scope, so it knows that the same variable name declared in multiple functions is not the same variable.

The new Refactor contextual menu is very handy when you’re zipping along with development and find you could have named that class, function, variable etc better. Pick refractor -> rename, give it a new name, select Preview to see all the places that it’ll get updated, from the declaration to all the uses, hit OK and the jobs done. Wonderful, saved me a barrel load of time, and what’s more removes all reasons for keeping a rubbish name, making code much easier to read.

Flex Builder 3 Beta 2 was released just a few days ago, and having those two features has made this week one of my most productive and committed development weeks for a long time!

U: Thanks for giving us the time for this interview Ian, much appreciated.
You’re welcome, enjoyed it.

Switched to FogBugz On Demand / Workaround for changed scoutSubmit URL.

At the end of last week I created a brand new (free) FogBugz On Demand account, extracted my existing FogBugz MySQL database with mysqldump, and submitted it to Fog Creek to get it loaded up into my new account.

It took a few days before my new account was fully loaded, it seams Fog Creek have a little back log of uploads to do, obviously FogBugz On Demand has proven popular.

All is fine and dandy now, my support email is getting pulled into FogBugz On Demand directly from the POP3 account on my domain host (there was a little blip with the first couple of emails not being deleted from the POP3 server at first, but since then it’s worked flawlessly), and I can access my cases and get notifications with no problems.

However, there is one little gotcha, ScoutSubmit, the mechanism used by my applications (see RBScoutSubmit) for submitting crash data directly into FogBugz.

You see, my applications used to send their scoutSubmit data to my Mac OS X server sitting in my office at home, via a domain called that I setup at my domain host to point back to my ADSL static IP address. This worked fine, occaisionally my ADSL would go down, so for an hour or two I might not get any crash data, but seeing as I can go weeks, if not months without a crash being reported, that wasn’t a big deal.

So, to make the switch seamless, I figured all I had to do was point to the my new FogBugz On Demand domain via a CNAME alias, and I’d be home and dry.

How wrong could I be!

First, my old FogBugz server was at, and the new FogBugz On Demand server doesn’t have a /fogbugz/ path, oops!

Second, even once I had the new CNAME directive in place, when I accessed FogBugz On Demand complained about there not being an account setup for, oops again!

I contacted Fog Creek support to see if there was any way round the domain name not being a valid account issue, seems they are aware of it, and would love to be able to do something about it, and with a little work could probably get something in place, but there’s one big problem, SSL certificates. Currently, all FogBugz On Demand accounts are served up via HTTPS, as you would expect, and all are covered by the certificate. Getting something in place that allowed other domain names to be used instead, with valid SSL certificates, that’s gonna be a nightmare, if it could be done.

The only option therefore would seem to be to change all my code to point to the new FogBugz On Demand URL, or switch back to using my own server.

I’m getting rid of my server soon (I’ll talk about that in a future post), so switching back is not an option.

I don’t want to change my code and release new versions of my applications to point to my new FogBugz On Demand account either, not only because I would then have to change and release new versions again if I decide FogBugz On Demand really isn’t for me (unlikely), but also because there are numerous versions of my applications already “out there” using the old url.

So, the first (should that be second?) solution I came up with was to setup my domain as a proper website on my domain host, and use a rewrite rule in a .htaccess file to proxy the requests through to FogBugz On Demand. This almost worked, I could get it working while accessing the website myself, but submitting data (using POST rather than GET) to scoutSubmit.php didn’t work, even with the rules taking into considderation the switch to ASP from PHP. I spent many hours last night on this, and then it struck me…

… I needed a proxy script, just like the one I’ve already developed for CaseDetective On Demand!

You see, CaseDetective On Demand is built with Flex, which runs in your web browser’s Flash engine plugin, which is very very serious about security. From Flash, you can’t grab data from any old domain, you have to have the authority to do so. To get data from a website without them putting a little file (crossdomain.xml) on their website that gives you permission, you have to use a proxy script. A proxy script is something non-Flash that you put on a site that you have control over and trust, which takes your request, forwards it onto the real destination url and then returns the results when they come back.

I built one of these little scripts for CaseDetective On Demand, so it wasn’t too hard to strip it down a little and make one for this job. You can download an example of the proxy script if you so wish.

The script works for both GET and POST methods of submitting data to scoutSubmit.php, I’ve placed this script in a fogbugz directory under my root, with the root and fogbugz directory protected from prying eyes with a dummy index.html.

If you’re considdering switching from your own Linux or Mac OS X FogBugz install to the excellent FogBugz On Demand service, this script may just come in handy. You need to edit it before you use it to change the destination to your own FogBugz On Demand url, I think it’s pretty obvious as to where you do this.

In development: CaseDetective On Demand

I bet you didn’t see that coming! :)

I think it’s sometimes a good idea to conduct a thorough hard-hitting interview with yourself about a subject to fully explore said subject. There now follows an interview between you (U*) and me (I), where I pose and answer the questions I think you might ask of me, and I’m not going to hold anything back…

U: So, FogBugz On Demand is public, is there any likely-hood of a CaseDetective On Demand then?
I: Yep. CaseDetective On Demand is being developed as we speak, well not at this very moment as IMiJ Software’s sole developer is all tied up answering your inane questions … but it is being developed when I’ve got any time available.

U: Cool! Tell me more, what’s it developed in, I guess it’s not a REALbasic application then?
I: Your guess is right on the money, how clever of you! CaseDetective On Demand is being developed in Adobe Flex for that Rich Internet Application (RIA) experience. In fact, it’s not just CaseDetective On Demand that’s being developed in Adobe Flex, CaseDetective 2.0 is too.

U: Eh, CaseDetective 2.0 for FogBugz is being developed in Adobe Flex, how’s that going to work, I thought Flex ran in Flash?
I: Adobe Interactive Runtime, AIR for short. I can use pretty much the same code base for both CaseDetective 2.0 and CaseDetective On Demand.

U: Now that really is cool! If CaseDetective On Demand and CaseDetective 2.0 are being developed in the same technology, from pretty much the same code base, are they going to offer the same features?
I: Almost, but not quite. As it stands, I’m thinking of making CaseDetective On Demand a free taster of what’s in the installable CaseDetective 2.0.

U: So what’s going to be different then?
I: Nothing’s set in stone just yet, it’s very early days so things are very very likely to change as development progresses, but this is how I see things panning out…

CaseDetective On Demand will look almost identical, but obviously will be running in your web browser rather than on your desktop.

CaseDetective On Demand won’t be caching data like CaseDetective 2.0 probably will, it’ll grab “live” data from FogBugz when ever a selection changes. If it’s being run online, then you’ve got to have an internet connection anyway, right?

CaseDetective On Demand is unlikely to have all the report outputs of CaseDetective 2.0, these will be reserved for CaseDetective 2.0 as an incentive to download, but you will probably be able to get a good idea of what would be printed or extracted from CaseDetective 2.0, you just won’t be able to actually save it out.

U: Will CaseDetective 2.0 work with both an installed version of FogBugz and FogBugz On Demand?
I: Yep. In fact, if the installed version of FogBugz has it’s API URL available to be called from the internet, then CaseDetective On Demand will work with that too.

U: What if people find CaseDetective On Demand to their liking, and want it to become a fully featured application that they can access from any modern web browser?
I: If there is enough interest, then we’ll just have to see about making it so.

Plan A was to make CaseDetective On Demand a fully working online application, with a small subscription charge per month per FogBugz user id used (with the first one being free). But by plan X things had settled down to CaseDetective On Demand being a great way to get a taster of the full CaseDetective 2.0. Who’s to say that in the future plan Z doesn’t loop right back to something similar to plan A?

U: I’m sure you can call web services such as the FogBugz API from within a REALbasic developed application, why are you jumping from REALbasic to Adobe Flex/AIR for CaseDetective 2.0, surely development time would be less if you stuck with REALbasic?
I: You’re probably right, if I stuck with REALbasic as my development platform for CaseDetective 2.0 I’ll probably be finished a bit quicker than I expect to be with a complete re-write to Adobe Flex/AIR.

The thing is, if I stick with REALbasic I’ll probably not be able to offer CaseDetective On Demand, I simply don’t have the time to be able to develop a brand new application of this scale for the web, and make the extensive updates necessary to CaseDetective for FogBugz 6.0. By developing in Flex/AIR I’m killing two birds with one stone, as the rather ugly saying goes.

U: Ugh, yes that really is an ugly saying, thanks for that! I’m still not completely sold though, why not forget about CaseDetective On Demand and just update CaseDetective for the FogBugz 6.0 changes?
I: OK, you want the real reason? The huge improvements to FogBugz 6.0 scare the life out of me!

One of the most sort after updates to FogBugz for quite some time has been the beefing up of the filters, making them much more flexible, with many more options. The rumour is that FB6 will have some seriously improved filtering and searching capabilities, just the thought of having to develop the changes needed to duplicate this functionality with direct queries to the database scares me rotten. And there’s a lot more coming in FB6 than just filter and search improvements.

With that in mind, and the fact that the FogBugz has an API that can be called as a web service which includes such things as a list of filters, and retrieving case details for those filters, there is nothing for it but to switch to using the API. And if I want to support FogBugz On Demand, it is absolutely necessary as there is no access to the database.

U: But you’ve pretty much said all that already, surely that’s not the real reason?
I: Switching to the FogBugz API is a big job, and although REALbasic has good web service features, other technologies do it better, Adobe Flex being one of them. When I first heard about AIR (called Apollo at the time) my interest in Flex was piqued even more.

When I took a long hard look at Adobe Flex 2, I saw lots of stuff I really liked. It’s got a very nice IDE (Flex Builder, based on Eclipse), MXML is very flexible and quick to work with, ActionScript 3.0 is familiar without even having seen any before (it’s very ECMAScript compliant), and the optional chart components are fabulous.

It’s those chart components that finally tipped the balance. The charts functionality introduced in CaseDetective 1.1 has been a big success, but they are very basic, and frankly not as good looking or feature full as I would like. It would take me a humongous amount of work to improve the current charts, in fact they would most likely have to be re-written from scratch as at present they are a third party component that hasn’t seen much improvement of late. Flex’s charts are really good looking, easy to work with, and have many options for extension.

And besides, I’m still looking for a development platform that I can take forward and start consulting with when Informix 4GL finally dries up. Flex is much much more exciting to work with than Informix 4GL, and has a much bigger job market than REALbasic even at such an early stage in it’s own development, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some serious experience in Adobe Flex with this project and a couple of other projects I have in mind to show off to prospective clients or employers.

U: Ah-ha! Now the truth be told! You’re developing CaseDetective 2.0 and CaseDetective On Demand in the technology you’re looking to use for making a real living at for the next few years!
I: That is the truth m’lord. As much as I’d like to think CaseDetective could pay the the mortgage, it’s a long way off from it at the moment, I mean light years away at present.

U: What about backwards compatibility, will CaseDetective 2.0 work with FogBugz 4 and 5 as CaseDetective 1.3 does now.
I: Unlikely.

U: That sucks.
I: Yeah, I know. FB5 will be partially supported as there is a version of the FogBugz API available that can be downloaded and installed already, in fact the skeleton of CaseDetective On Demand has been developed so far using that existing FB5 API. But it’s very light weight, hardly any data is available.

From what I can tell, most FogBugz users upgrade within a few months of a major upgrade being available, so I can’t imagine there’ll be a lot of new customers wanting to use CaseDetective with FogBugz 4 or 5 in the not too distant future anyway.

I expect FogBugz 6.0 will be available quite a bit before I’ll be able to get CaseDetective 2.0 developed and out anyway, so I don’t think backwards compatibility is going to be a major issue, it might be the case that CaseDetective users upgrade their FogBugz install to v6 and then start contacting me about when CaseDetective will support it! I’m more worried about that.

U: Hmmm, that is tricky, how long of a delay are we looking at before you’ll get CaseDetective 2.0 out the door with support for FogBugz 6.0?
I: I really can’t say at the moment. Life is pretty darn busy, I’m in a full time contract for a few more weeks, with an extension being offered for a few more months, and I want to spend some time with my wife and baby daughter now and then, so development time is pretty scarce.

With some feature prioritisation, missing out the least used features for now, concentrating on the core of CaseDetective’s being, I might be able to get something out by the end of the year, but it’s more likely to be early next year.

U: Wow, that’s quite some time away until release, sorry to hear that.
I: Me too.

U: Is there any good news for existing customers?
I: Well yeah, of course!

I’m confident CaseDetective 2.0 will be a much nicer experience for the user, Flex/Flash/AIR has some usability features that can make an application much more enjoyable to use.

Those new charts should look great, and those much requested pie charts will finally be available.

CaseDetective 1.x will still be around, supporting FB4 and FB5 for a while. Although all development efforts are aimed at CaseDetective 2.0 just now, any show stopper bugs in CaseDetective 1.3 will be squished where necessary.

And CaseDetective 2.0 will be a free upgrade to existing users of CaseDetective 1.x.

U: CaseDetective 2.0 a free upgrade to existing users, that’s a nice gesture.
I: It’s the least I can do, considering the delay and what not.

U: Well, thanks for such a candid warts ‘n’ all interview, your time is very much appreciated.
I: You’re welcome, thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk to you, I enjoyed it.

Were my questions and answers simply not good enough, do you have some proper questions for me? Then please post your questions in the comments for this post.

* I was going to use Y, but I simply couldn’t cope with Y-I, “pet” kept popping into my mind.
Caching of data on the desktop may not make it into CaseDetective 2.0, it may have to come a little later. I want to make CaseDetective a lot lighter than it has been, this may take considerable work.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much I might just be doing this kind of thing at lot more often!