mandag 25. april 2011

Pending name change

For a while, I have known that Agave has trademarked the name sqML for a product that is similar to (but not nearly as functional as) Trollsilm SQML. This has not been a problem, since development of Trollsilm SQML has been resting on a shelf for the last six years.

As I have pulled the product off the shelf, blown the dust off and started development again, I now see this as a pending problem. Not just in the form of possible law suits if I continue to use the name, but in the form of confusion between the products.

The new product will be open source, and it would therefore be fitting to open source the naming. SQML change 0.8.1 is therefore the actual name change, which will also affect the default extention used on the script/template files.

Suggestions will be accepted as comments to this blog post or to the facebook discussion until May 12th. As I ride from Paris to Amsterdam, I shall ponder the results.

søndag 24. april 2011

Unlean branch blocks road

After finally fixing up my bicycle for the season and going on my first proper morning trip (6.4 km), I encountered this branch half way:

[Photo of cut off branch locking the road]

My initial reaction, of course, was the knowledge that this branch would never have been "lying around" on the road for motorized vehicles. And so my brain started working on what process might be broken here, realizing that the lack of process might be the reason why the branch was still there.

I could go on about how counting the number of branches cut and then the number of branches cleaned away would make it blindingly obvious that one branch had not been cleaned away. Then again, just looking at the street should suffice.

But then, this was more likely the work of kids pulling a branch out, purposely blocking the road, long after the branch had been cleared. As such, the solution would be to bring the branch home, chop it up and dry for next winter.

tirsdag 19. april 2011

Using SQML in the IT department

Ordinarily, on doesn't use home grown technology at work. "Who is going to maintain it if you go?" is the typical caveat. "Let's use open source instead," says the government. Well, guess what. Open source technology is home grown technology. Mostly.

So I started implementing eTicketSupport in SQML. I mean, the application is already up and running, all I'm doing is change the gateway to it, using SQML to modify the database directly through my own GUI.

Points I've implemented so far:
  • Support technician may now respond "as user", so emails sent directly to the technician may be copy/pasted to the ticket as if the user had sent his/her email to the support address.
  • Response by email is optional.
  • Private messages are embedded as ordinary messages, though visible only to IT department. This way, it is easier to follow how these messages came to be.
  • Added another table with template responses based on ticket category. Once category is selected, you may click on template, which then gets pasted into the response edit box.
  • Users log in with their AD login information instead of ticket number+email address. Session is stored in cookie and valid for a week after last access.
  • Once logged in, their first view is all open tickets, followed by tickets closed the last 7 days.
  • Department leaders and super users get to see all open tickets within their own and all departments under them, and are allowed to add more information and follow what's going on in their own department.
  • Archive of old tickets on separate tab.
  • Integrated with overview of who works in your department and ability for department leader and superuser to add "new user" requests and reset passwords.
The code for this shall be open sourced soon.

And if I go? Well, I will continue to develop (it is open source), and I may give support as a consulting job - as will probably many others. And either way, this is merely a new entrance to existing systems. All I have done is to make it more efficient.

mandag 4. april 2011

Polishing old gems

As I have done a few snippets of code here and there to make my life a little easier, I still have not found the ease with which I did things when I used my own Trollsilm SQML, not to be confused with SQmlTM - Which reminds me I should change name of the language while I still have the chance.

I wrote the SLOB database in 1999, the markup language in 2001, and stopped developing it ca 2005 due to time constraints. The tool is still being used by an ISP in Norway, hoping that development will commence. Because just like myself, their experience is that they just haven't found any alternative that allows you to whip up full blown web applications in such a straight forward and intuitive fashion than this.

This might sound like bragging, but as I am now faced with new challenges at work, I long for this tool. I looked up "the competition" (Ruby-on-rails), and found out that they were not really competition after all. Does SQML - or should I call it "TrollML?" - have the right to live again? Should I spend time continuing its development?

You betch'a! There are caveats, of course. Currently, the SLOB database is the one getting the most out of the language. I need better SQL integration that makes it as easy to deal with mySQL as it is to deal with SLOB. And most of all - an Apache module release. I have a good list of things that need to be done, and in which order. And most importantly, I can feel my fingertips getting tingly in anticipation to work on this project again.

Business model? Open source. It's not the technology itself I wish to monatize on in the future, but assisting people who wish to use it.