Saturday, July 25, 2009

How LRO works - Installation, Upgrades, and backups

Howdy everyone!

This blog will be about LRO and some cool information about how it works.

LRO's requirements & facts about its development

Literature Room Organizer is being built in Access 2000, and from time to time is opened in 2003 for the sake of compressing it a bit more.  It is my hope that LRO will be 100% functional with ALL versions of Access from 2000 onward...and without the need to convert it to later version. If anyone has any problems with compatibility, PLEASE let me know.

LRO has also been tested and works perfectly on:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista (which is what I'm building it on)
  • Windows 7

LRO has been tested and runs perfectly on:

  • 1 GHz Intel Celeron M processor
  • 512 MB of RAM (should never need more than 20MB)
  • 1024 x 768 resolution (minimum requirement)

NEVER run LRO off of a flash drive...unless you don't mind it being slow.  It will work perfectly fine...but might be rather slow at times.  It would be best to run it directly on your computer.

Installation vs Stand-alone

With my LRO program, I decided to put ALL the data into a single Access MDB file.  Some developers might argue that this is unwise and will hinder upgrades, but in the next section you'll see why this works out just fine.  In fact, my "out of the box" thinking is what makes it possible for LRO to be portable...and yet easy to upgrade.

The stand-alone file is just that...a single file with EVERYTHING.  Your data & the program itself are all combined into 1 file.  This makes backing it up very easy...just copy that file onto a flash drive for your backup.  It also makes transferring it from one computer to another very easy...because it's all self contained.

The Installation version is no's still 1 file.  But now it has a more "official" location, in your Application Data folder.  Not exactly the standard location for programs, but it insures that even someone with limited access can install the program. And then this installation version includes a few more files...the license agreement, a script for Access 2007 users to easily configure their Trusted locations, the changelog, and a little more.

Handling Upgrades

As I said, I used some "out of the box" thinking to make LRO easily handle upgrades, even though everything is contained in a single file.  See...when you close LRO, it will take all your data and copy it to a different location on your computer.  It will copy your data into the "%appdata%\LRO" folder.

When you download a new version of is completely empty.  It "realizes" that it is empty.  When it "realizes" goes looking for that backup in the "%appdata%\LRO" folder.  If it finds prompts you to restore your data.  Tell it "Yes", and everything is back the way it was work involved (on your part).  It's that simple!  Just download the latest and run it (or install it) and it will go fetch your data.  :-)

Tell it "No"...and it will rename the backup.  That way...if you accidentally told it "No", your data is still there...but it won't prompt you again because the backup has been renamed.  If you need that backup...or any previous backup, you will need to go to your "%appdata%\LRO" folder and rename the backup file to "LRO_backup".

And when you DO restore your data, LRO (since 1.0.7) will rename the backup and preserve it, in case something goes wrong during the restore...your good backup will remain intact.  But LRO will not allow more than 10 of these "extra" backups, and will delete the oldest one when 11 is reached.

I hope this will prove to be useful (and perhaps even comforting) to some of you out there! :-)

PS - Version 1.0.9 is still in progress.  Hope to have it ready in 1 - 2 weeks.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Version 1.0.8 Released!

Changes to Literature Room Organizer include:

  • Fixed: Blue highlight (for quantity change) appears BEFORE yellow highlight (for inactive item) on all order screens.
  • Fixed: Shrunk Quantity column size on "View All Orders" screen and "Publisher Search" screen.
  • Fixed: Added period to "Original quantity" message when double-clicking a changed quantity.
  • Fixed: Preorder's publisher dropdown is now limited to list.
  • Fixed: Inventory Management's Langauge dropdown is now limited to list.
  • Fixed: Inventory Management's Item Name dropdown is now limited to list, which also fixes an issue when end-user types something that isn't on the list.
  • Fixed: Quantities equal to or less than 0 are no longer allowed.
  • Fixed: Canceling the deletion of an order, item, or inventory item would cause the screen to jump to where the selected item would be on the top of what's currently visible. It no longer jumps.
  • Fixed: Access 2007 issue...when canceling a deletion, it would ask if you wanted to save the form.

As you can see, the focus of this update was fixes.  I did work on the Request # feature, but was not able to finish.  I don't want to rush this's actually pretty involved.  I want to make sure I do it right, so I decided to release 1.0.8 without it.  Although nothing was added, a lot was fixed.

Provided things go well...the next update will include the new Request # feature, along with some enhancements to Inventory Management.  I want to make sure both get done 100% correctly, so don't be surprised if the release of 1.0.9 is a bit late.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Version 1.0.7 Released!

Changes to Literature Room Organizer include:

  • Fixed: Centered the following forms: Login, Main Menu, Reporting Tools, and Settings. (Fixes Access 2007 Settings screen jumping issue).
  • Fixed: Reporting Tools reports were not adding up orders correctly.
  • Fixed: Reports had margins that gave issues for some printers.
  • Fixed: Reports didn't always show up in landscape orientation (for the ones that were suppose to).
  • Fixed: Minor cosmetic & consistancy issues.
  • Added: Calendar buttons on Reporting Tools.
  • Added: Start Date must be less than End date validation check on Reporting Tools.
  • Added: Reset Filters button on the Reporting Tools screen.
  • Added: INVENTORY MANAGEMENT!! After much work, I'm happy to announce Inventory management is now available.
  • Added: Creation of a backup after an upgrade. In case an upgrade goes screwy, your data is preserved from the last version 100% intact!
  • Added: "Extra" backup cleanup. "Extra" backups are created when all data is erased, migration data after an upgrade is refused, or (now) after performing an upgrade. A maximum of 10 backups are kept.

Inventory management is finally available!  It's a big feature...please explore it (make sure and read the Help included in the "?" button) and let me know if it makes sense or if you find any issues with it. It is fully functional, so whatever data you put in it is solid. NOTE: you have to turn it "on" on the Settings screen.

The reporting for Inventory Management will be enhanced over time.  I will try to make it look much more like the S-28 form, but that will take a lot of work.  Will get to this one day...soon hopefully.  I will also look at making a report to match or come close to the S-14 form.  Same will take a LOT of work.  But I will look into it eventually.

I know I said there would be some report enhancements on the Order Form screen in this was determined that it was a "training issue", not a problem with the reports.  So they were left alone, and now our LC understands which report to use.

Next update will be small.  I'm thinking of adding some "reminder" features, which of course you'll be able to turn on/off.  And also the ability to attach a request # (or more accurately, request month) to each order, which will add another type of report to the Reporting Tools screen.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Removing advertisements and block junk

Howdy everyone!

As I said, the next LRO update will be a bit delayed because I have a talk to work on for this Tuesday. However, I think it would be a good idea to post an article regarding internet filtering...

My support forum is a FREE forum.  I didn't even realize it displayed advertisements until I saw it on another computer.  That's because I have a filter on my computer.

Bluecoat offers a FREE (for home users) filtering program that works beautifully!  You can configure it to filter all sorts of categories, including Web Advertisements. If you are a parent, you may especially appreciate this tool for your kids' computer.  It even allows TIME help make sure they get to bed when they're suppose to. ;-)

Check out the website here:

Even if you don't have kids, it can be used to protect you by blocking malicious websites, removing advertisements, or just plain junk sites. It really is a well-designed program, and easy to use. Take some time to read their site, they'll tell you all about it!