January 29, 2001

Results of demo, ugly reporting hack

I love Perl: check out some cool stuff people are doing. The fact that Perl can be a glue for so many different things is (IMO) amazing.

Today was the demo that's been sucking up 12+ hour days for the last couple of weeks. Things went great -- we didn't have everything done, but everything that was there worked like it was supposed to. My boss and I created a nice (but ugly) hack: call a servlet with the right parameters; the parameters are passed to a command-line Win32 app which feeds them to a Crystal Reports engine and a report template which prints out the report to the default printer which has to be setup beforehand to pipe the output to ghostscript which saves the data to a file which is then sent directly to the browser.

U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi!

All of this could have been avoided if Crystal's engine wasn't so retarded. Closed-source sucks.

Anyway, we're using a number of open-source technologies (the previously mentioned JBoss, XMLC, and Tomcat) and the management (surprisingly) seemed very cool with this. Particularly when we told them that, in theory, the beans could be ported to a mega-expensive proprietary platform (read: Weblogic) if the client really wants.

So now we just see what happens and how much we'll start moving to Java + middleware from VB + client-server. I suspect that we can develop quickly enough (particularly with two or three more smart people) that the higher-ups would be astonished how much functionality we can replicate from the existing system within, say, six months.

Reading note: been going over Refactoring by Martin Fowler (et al). What a great book.

More soon on OpenInteract stuff, too. Things are hitting on all cylinders programming-wise right now. Nice feeling.

(Originally posted elsewhere)

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