Posts categorized “CaseDetective”.

CaseDetective 1.3.2 for FogBugz released

A new version of CaseDetective for FogBugz hit the ‘net last night, just a little bug fix release.

First bug: In very rare cases switching the graph to show Release or Priority could cause a crash with a “NilObjectException”, this slippery little sucker has now been squashed.

Second bug: If you change your password within FogBugz 6.0, or are using a new account created in FogBugz 6.0, the password will be encrypted and stored in a new format, this new format is now supported by CaseDetective.

FogBugz 6.0 introduced a new password format, and I didn’t know about it until a customer got a dialogue about the unsupported password format (sure am glad I coded that up).

It must be noted that this doesn’t mean CaseDetective 1.3.2 fully supports FogBugz 6.0, it doesn’t. What it does mean is that the “classic” filters you created in FogBugz 4 & 5 will still work, and any new ones you create this way too, but the new “search” style filters will not work. The new search axis style filters will be supported in CaseDetective 2.0 and CaseDetective On Demand when they are released, hopefully by early 2008.

The inbuilt buy mechanism has also been given a little love, so you can now buy CaseDetective for just $69 from within the trail version to be instantly upgraded from both the Windows and Mac OS X versions.

As always, CaseDetective for FogBugz can be downloaded from for both Windows and Mac OS X.

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!

FogBugz On Demand

So, the cat is finally out of the bag, Joel Spolsky has announced FogBugz On Demand, a professionally hosted version of FogBugz.

In my opinion FogBugz On Demand is a wonderful idea, it vastly reduces the barriers to getting up and running with FogBugz, if you have an internet connection and a few dollars at hand ($21 per user per month), you’re all set. No install, no server needed, no backups or upgrades to worry about, sign-up and go.

Some of us have been privy to the existence of FogBugz On Demand for a few months now, as frequenters of the Business of Software discussion group were let in early to beta test it. The deal was very good for being a beta tester, two users for free, perfect for the MicroISVs and such like that make up the Business of Software group.

Although FogBugz On Demand is a great deal at $21 per user per month, considering you’re not needing to pay up front for licenses, don’t have to worry about maintaining a server, backing up the database, or upgrading software, I do think Fog Creek have missed a trick.

I think Fog Creek would do well to extend the free license deal to any new account beyond the existing 45 day free trial, maybe just a single license for free, but preferably two per account.

Consider the hapless developer who finds himself in a new project with no feature, bug or inquiry tracking facilities. Imaging that poor sole being able to create a FogBugz On Demand account in just a few seconds, and start entering features and bugs to be implemented or fixed, passing the URL to their customer(s), fellow developer(s) or tester(s). Happy days! Suddenly the developer can have a central repository of all the work they have to do, can keep track of discussions related to the cases and project design and development (via the in built discussion groups functionality), and know when they have completed the work for each release. Even if the client hasn’t got a system of their own to track the project effectively.

And who knows, after the developer has given the spare free login to their manager, development partner, prime customer representative or favourite tester, how many others on the team are going to want to get in on the act rather than just use the public interface functionality? Now the customer has given the authorisation for 5 users of FogBugz On Demand for the remainder of the project. Next project they add another 5 users, now those two free logins have turned into $210 per month, every month, for this one client of the developer alone.

And once they have got comfortable with the great features of FogBugz (and the fabulous additions coming in FB6), maybe they’ll decide to buy the self-hosted version for all departments in the company.

Just how many contractors are there floating around from poorly setup client to poorly setup client? I suspect metric butt-loads!

As I said, FogBugz On Demand is a fantastic idea, it just needs to get one foot in the door as a couple of free licenses (not just a 45 day trial), and I think it’ll do very well indeed.


UPDATE 2007-07-11 15:40: Both Joel and Eric have contacted me to let me know that there is a “Student and Startup Edition” of FogBugz On Demand, that gives you the exact same two users for free functionality that I was whinging about being missing. It’s an option within the “Your Account” page for everyone. It has not been advertised just yet for fear of overloading the servers at a time when lots of people will be testing out the new service.

So, all my millions of readers, don’t go sign up for your free two person FogBugz On Demand Student and Startup Edition account at the same time, or else you’ll get me into trouble!


How does FogBugz On Demand impact CaseDetective?

Those who know anything about CaseDetective for FogBugz will know that it currently talks directly to the FogBugz database. With FogBugz On Demand being hosted by Fog Creek, there isn’t going to be any way to get to those SQL Server databases, it’s just not going to happen, they’re locked away tight. In fact, Eric Nehrlich from Fog Creek was kind enough to email me as soon as the beta was announced to tell me that there fact, and offer to help me in any way he could in getting any requirements championed for improvements to the FogBugz API for FogBugz 6.0.

As such, I’ve been emailing back and forth with Eric and Michael Pryor for a few months as Michael made progress with the spec and then development of the upgraded FogBugz 6.0 API.

With any luck the new API for FogBugz 6.0 is going to have enough information for me to reproduce all the basic functionality in CaseDetective that my customers rely on, not only so that I can support the huge changes in FogBugz 6.0, but also FogBugz On Demand.


So, the fun begins.

Just how am I going to cope with such fundamental changes to the data retrieval method for CaseDetective?

Will the next version of CaseDetective for FogBugz use the same code base, or start from scratch?

Will the next version of CaseDetective for FogBugz still be developed using REALbasic even?

Will the next version of CaseDetective for FogBugz have any other improvements?

There’s only one way to find out … stay tuned for the next post!

I met Joel Spolsky last night, and have the t-shirt to prove it!

FogBugz_t-shirt.jpgLast night was the Edinburgh meet up with Joel Spolsky, it was great to meet a few fellow software developers (and the occasional electronics/hardware/embedded software developer) who also think Joel’s articles are a great read. Although I seemed to talk to more Australian and New Zealand folk than I did Scottish, which is funny as I have often been accused of being from that area, and nearly moved there a few years ago, and it turns out Joel’s dad is from New Zealand.

So after the meet last night Joel and I we went for a nice dinner at Le Sept, just round the corner from the meet venue, whence my grilling of Joel commenced!

I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, we talked about all kinds of things related to software development, management, Fog Creek, FogBugz and other stuff. Joel’s a really nice guy, easy to talk to and very keen to share his knowledge, and also to help me out with CaseDetective where possible.

I hope Joel enjoyed the evening as much as I did.

CaseDetective for FogBugz 1.3.1 released.

Just a quickie to announce that CaseDetective 1.3.1 has been released; it includes a couple of bug fixes.

If you’ve had any problems in creating an extract or PDF file from certain filters because the “Save As” window doesn’t appear after the options window, you’ll want this release.
The issue was down to the default file name (filter name) being passed to the “Save As” window, if that filter name happened to have a “/” or other character in it that isn’t allowed in a file name, then the window simply failed to appear. The default file names for extract and PDF report files are now sanitised to only include alpha-numerics (a-z, A-Z, 0-9) and the space character, anything else is replaced with a hyphen. You can of course still change the file name once in the Save As window.
Thanks to Rosemarie for helping me find the cause of this problem with her wonderful debug log file, your patience and persistence is very much appreciated.

If you’ve had any problems with CaseDetective causing locking conflicts in your MS Access database, then you’ll also want CaseDetective 1.3.1.
I’ve only ever had one report of this problem, and it turns out it wasn’t actually CaseDetective causing the problem anyway, but CaseDetective has been updated to explicitly connect in read-only mode to any ODBC, MS Access and MS SQL Server database. It’s probably belts and braces and CaseDetective only does read-only operations on the FogBugz database anyway, but it can’t hurt as CaseDetective never updates the database.

That’s all folks.

What's going on with the Joneses then?

So, what’s going on with the Joneses then?

Abi With Two HandsWell, as of today Abi is 1 month and 1 day old, and boy has she grown already. She’s gone from 7 pounds 3 and a half ounces at birth to 9 pounds and 2 and a half ounces, and out-grown a number of clothes already. Apparently this is very good growth, especially as she weighed even less when she left hospital, Mummy is obviously eating the right kind of stuff (which is a real surprise, believe me)!

We’re not getting a lot of sleep at the moment, which impacts the rest of the day. Mummy often gets a nap for an hour or two during the day or late afternoon (when Daddy gets home) that she desperately needs, but Daddy catches up by having a night in the spare room every now and then. Although Abi has started to go about 5 hours through the night in the last couple of days, which makes a big difference.

I’m starting to get into the swing of going to work a lot earlier than I have been until now. Before, I used to leave home between 09:15 and 09:30 to get into work for 10:00, but am now leaving just before 07:00 to get in for around 08:00 (traffic is much worse at this time of day). This means I get to leave work approx 2 hours earlier now, leaving at 16:30 rather than 18:30, which of course means I get a bit more time in the evening with the family. The idea being that because Abi is generally waking up for a feed between 05:00 and 06:00, I might as well get up and into work and therefore have more time in the evening for Abi, Mandy and then some work. I’m getting the Abi and Mandy bit in mostly, but work hasn’t really clicked back in yet, I’m way too tired most evenings.

On the subject of work, development of CaseDetective hasn’t moved forward for some time, as you might imagine, but there are a couple of bug fixes I now know how to implement thanks to some great feedback from customers. It sure does help when you get a good debug log and a customer who’s keen to find a fix to their problem. I hope to get a bug fix version of CaseDetective out soon.

There are developments afoot in the world of FogBugz, there’s rumours of a new “service” that some “MicroISVs” might know about, I can say no more, and if you look in the right places you can see snippets of information that alludes to some of the new features in FogBugz 6.0 and it’s pending public beta release. Again, I can say no more, mainly because I have no more info, I have no more info than has leaked, I’m not privileged to any data that isn’t publicly available. But anyway, it’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s coming out of Fog Creek.

Oh, and it seems like I might actually get to meet Joel Spolsky (co-founder of Fog Creek) next month in Edinburgh. I don’t suppose I’ll have much time with him as there’s 50+ people already signed up to the meet up, but still, should be nice to meet Joel.

CaseDetective 1.3 Post Development Lessons Learned: Part 2

This post is very closely related to my previous post about the lessons I’ve learned while developing CaseDetective 1.3, as it’s also about my reliance on eSellerate’s tools. It’s therefore going to be a short post.

In the previous post I mentioned that with the change from Integrated eSeller to Embedded Web Store imposed by eSellerate when supporting Universal Binaries, it effected how CaseDetective checked for updates. If I’d had my own check for update code independent from eSellerate, I’d not have had any problems when eSellerate changed how they set up SKUs (Stock Control Units).

Lesson Learned: Develop your own check for update mechanism from end to end, or use an open source solution that you have full source for and control over.

CaseDetective 1.3 Post Development Lessons Learned: Part 1

CaseDetective 1.3 took a little longer than I hoped to develop, partly because I took some time off to recharge my batteries after CaseDetective 1.2, but also because of some painful obstacles I had to overcome during it’s development.

This is the first post in a short series of “Lessons Learned” from development of CaseDetective 1.3 for FogBugz.

The first, and most asked for feature that I needed to develop for CaseDetective 1.3 wasn’t even a real feature; Universal Binary for the Mac OS X version.

A Universal Binary version was long overdue, I would have loved to have got one out for v1.2, but REALbasic hadn’t got that functionality stable by the time I started development, and more to the point, the eSellerate Universal Binary REALbasic plugin wasn’t anywhere near ready. As I rely on this plugin for validating serial numbers and for in-app purchases, this “feature” had to slip to v1.3.

Unfortunately the Universal Binary eSellerate plugin for REALbasic caused me a lot of headaches, which considering the Mac OS X users of CaseDetective are vastly outnumbered by Windows users, is very frustrating.

The first, and most annoying problem with the eSellerate UB plugin was that it wasn’t cross-platform, meaning I couldn’t compile CaseDetective for both Windows and Mac using the same eSellerate related code; I had to continue to use the old Integrated eSeller plugin for compiling the Windows version. And to add insult to injury, the old plugin would not work with the latest REALbasic IDE without being converted to the latest plugin format (a tool for this is provided with REALbasic), and even so, seemed to clash with the new plugin so that you had to compile for Windows and Mac as two separate steps (even when using #if to target the OS specific code). I resorted to making everything I could an external item and creating a copy of the project so that I had one project for Windows and one for Mac OS X. Each project referenced pretty much the same external items except for one module that included Windows or Mac specific eSellerate code, and ran each against a different version of the IDE so that the plugins didn’t clash. It worked, but wasn’t ideal for productivity.

The new eSellerate UB plugin for REALbasic was also different in operation to the old plugin, it used their “Embedded Web Store” framework, which used an embedded web browser in a window, and required setting up of a web store in the eSellerate admin panel. Now, I wouldn’t have had any problems with this change except that it required different handling of Stock Control Units (SKUs, don’t ask me why they use a “K”, I have no idea), which totally broke the way you setup the check for update functionality. Now I needed to update two areas of my eSellerate setup to cope with the Integrated eSeller used by the Windows version, and the Embedded Web Store (EWS) used in the Mac version. This is a recipe for disaster (although I think I’ve avoided disaster so far).

Also, unlike the old Integrated eSeller, the Mac EWS plugin needed a file to be copied into the app bundle after it was created, the old version didn’t require any extra files, it was compiled in and self installing.

Oh, and in the end I had to disable the in-app purchasing from the Mac version anyway because I found that if you tried to print the invoice shown after completing a purchase it totally hung the app and required a force-quit. Now, this may have been something that I did, but I’m stumped as to what that might be, seeing as printing the invoice had nothing to do with closing the window and returning to my app, so I’m pretty sure it’s a bug in the eSellerate plugin or EWS framework. When I found this bug I was about ready to explode, there was no way I was going to waste any more time in trying to find a workaround, so I just disabled in-app purchasing in the Mac version. Mac users will have to buy through the web store and copy their license details into the “Enter License” window, not a huge problem as most people seem to buy that way anyway, but still, it’s a shame I couldn’t use this convenient in-app purchasing mechanism which sets the user’s license details automatically on purchase completion.

I think version 2.0 of CaseDetective may just be using a custom serial number scheme rather than eSellerate’s own scheme, and then I won’t need to use any eSellerate plugins at all.

Don’t get me wrong, in general I like eSellerate, in all my dealings with them I have had superb support and have had zero problems reported to me by customers about their buying experience through them. It’s just that their REALbasic support has taken a serious nose-dive, which is unacceptable to me.

Lesson Learned: Develop your own license code scheme, regardless of purchasing mechanism.