We all know "Notes doesn't print". Nevertheless the topic of document output and reports is not going away, even if I'd like to ban the reports. There are plenty of ready made tools, but today I'd like to start with home cooked reporting.
Why the effort? Using only tools that use open standards you gain more control over the whole process and you can use whatever deems fit. The downside: it is more things you need to know and might not be suitable for business users (but its great to torture interns). In the long run you have a portfolio of source transformations that you can combine potentially faster than any reporting tool. The general principle is "Extract Transform Render":
Extract: Whatever will pull out the XML for the second step will do the trick. For list type of rendering ?ReadViewEntries will do the trick or simple DXL exports. Quite often you might opt for some bespoke code to extract code with an eye of a fast and/or easy transformation phase. You also might consider to extract your data in conformance with an established international standard
This step usually takes the XML from the extract phase and runs it through one or more XSLT transformations. XSLT is kind of IT Black Magic (other say it's just settheory) and can use quite some computing power. For high performance the pros use a dedicated applicance. Once you get the heck of XPath you can do some amazing reporting (e.g. "give me all sales guys where withing the last 5 sales of the 3 guys next to his ranking there was a carpenter")
Rendering is easy. The outcome of the transformation step will be XSL:FO which is a page description language. Use a free renderer or a commercialoffering and a few lines of code. The output typically is a PDF file, but you can target graphic formats too.
Long Term Storage and Retention
Thu, Aug 14th 2014 6:14a Stephan H Wissel Not just since Einstein time is relative. For a human brain anything above 3 seconds is long term. In IT this is a little more complex.
Once a work artefact is completed, it runs through a legal vetting and it either goes to medium or long term storage. I'll explain the difference in a second. This logical flow manifests itself in multiple ways in concrete implementations: Journaling (both eMail and databases), archival, backups, write-once copies. Quite often all artifacts go to medium term [read] Keywords: domino
Time stamped encrypted archives
Wed, Aug 13th 2014 9:12a Stephan H Wissel Developers use Version Control, business users Document management and consultants ZIP files.
From time to time I feel the need to safeguard a snapshot in time outside the machine I'm working with. Since "storage out of my control" isn't trustworthy, I encrypt data. This is the script I use:
# Saves the given directory (%1) in an SSL encrypted zip file (%2) within
# the personalFiles folder. The name [read] Keywords: connections
Designing a REST API for eMail
Sat, Aug 9th 2014 11:12a Stephan H Wissel Unencumbered by standards designed by committees I'm musing how a REST API would look like.
A REST API consists of 3 parts: the URI (~ URL for browser access), the verb and the payload. Since I'm looking at browser only access, the structured data payload format clearly will be JSON with the prose payload delivered in MIME format. I will worry about calendar and social data later on.
The verbs in REST are defined by the HTTP standard: , PUT, and DELETE. My base url would be http://localhost [read] Keywords: ibm
Workflow for beginners, Standards, Concepts and Confusion
Thu, Jul 24th 2014 10:12a Stephan H Wissel The nature of collaboration is the flow of information. So naturally I get asked about Workflows and its incarnation in IT systems a lot. Many of the question point to a fundamental confusion what Worflow is, and what it isn't. This entry will attempt to clarify concepts and terminology
Wikipedia sums it up nicely: "A workflow consists of an orchestrated and repeatable pattern of business activity enabled by the systematic organization of resources into processes that transform materials, pro [read] Keywords: collaboration
Warriors of Light
Sun, Jul 20th 2014 11:15a Stephan H Wissel Inspired by Paulo Coelho's manual for the Warrior of the Light:
Warriors of Light
We were born from the stars
Descended from the heavens
Armed with compassion
Determined to end the suffering
Subjected to the human condition
Battling ignorance with wisdom
Laying our lives for the liberation from illusion
When you look in the mirror - remember!
You are one of us. [read] Keywords:
Sun, Jul 13th 2014 1:12p Stephan H Wissel I like to cycle, I do that often and from time to time I have fun with traffic participants. One of the interesting challenges are multi-lane crossings (note to my overseas readers: Singapore follows the British system of driving on the left, so cyclists are supposed to cycle on the left edge of the road - which makes me edgy in some situations. So for right driving countries, just flip the pictures) where the outer lane allows more than one direction. Like these:
Road rules do require the [read] Keywords: google
From XML to JSON and back
Fri, Jul 11th 2014 8:12p Stephan H Wissel In the beginning there was csv and the world of application neutral (almost) human readable data formats was good. Then unrest grew and the demand for more structure and contextual information grew. This gave birth to SGML (1986), adopted only by a few initiated.
Only more than a decade later (1998) SGML's offspring XML took centre stage. With broad support for schemas, transformation and tooling the de facto standard for application neutral (almost) human readable data formats was established [read] Keywords: application
The folly of root cause analysis
Wed, Jul 9th 2014 6:12a Stephan H Wissel IT support's dealing with management is a funny business. Whenever something goes wrong, support teams engage in "defensive blaming" and the elusive quest for a root cause.
I've seen this quest (and blaming god and country along the way if it doesn't appear) taking priority over problem resolution and prevention. The twisted thought is: "If I'm not sure about the (single) root cause, I can't neither fix nor prevent it from happening again".
Why is that a folly?
It paralyses: If a pe [read] Keywords: application