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  1. #1
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    Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Forgive me if I am asking a daft question (as I'm prone to do).
    But I would really like to enhance my Access application, making it more
    intuitive for other users, by somehow linking entries on a wall planner type chart
    (currently implemented on an Excel spreadsheet) with individual database records.
    Here's the situation in brief:
    I have an Accommodation database which contains many tables
    including "contacts" (actual or prospective clients), "bookings" and "booked periods".
    I have written VBA code that updates the Excel spreadsheet to show the booked periods as blocks
    on a wall planner type of format with the block stretching from the arrival day to the departure day.
    In each block some basic information is displayed such as Client Surname, Number of Guests, Bedding Arrangements etc.
    A quick glance of the wall planner so generated gives the user important information at their fingertips - eg, it is clear which
    days and weeks are booked out and which are still free for any given property. (they are cottages in France).
    But I would like to make this wall chart interactive in some way - it might entail using something other than Excel to generate the chart.
    I'd like, for example, to be able to open up the client's booking record - a form with subforms in my Access database - by simply clicking on the
    relevant block on the wall chart.
    Another nice thing would be the ability to enter into my bookings table the property, arrival date and departure date automatically by
    dragging the mouse between the respective days on the chart's grid. (with each day of the year represented by a single Excel cell).
    I know it is a difficult one but can anyone suggest a line of approach that might work?
    It's one of those simple everyday things that the non-computer literate person would imagine is dead simple; but it's not clear to me at all
    how you would implement it without writing some fiendishly difficult code.

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Here's a link to a site that sells a product that may meet your requirements. No personal connection -- just something I came across when considering a similar application to yours. Look at the Designer Schedule Grid.

    http://dataspherellc.com/
    --------------------------------------------------
    Jack MacDonald
    Vancouver, Canada

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Thanks, I just received your message and had a look at the site recommended.
    I can tell straight away that it will be useful by the language they employ: some of the
    terms (such as 'time increment granularity') nearly identical to what popped into my mind
    during my independent musings during the past few months.
    Thanks and I will place a further post as I learn more for others to benefit by.

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Ok, I've read the website now, especially the "Designer Scheduler".
    I had already thought of using image boxes or command buttons on an Access form to create
    the 'wall planner'. But it's a bit clunky. It's a good idea but still rather unintuitive.
    I have this theory that the GUI for any application should be a sort of electronic extension of what
    people already do on paper - at least at the outset. So the feel is very similar.
    I believe this is correct because there is a good reason why people do what they do on paper they way they do it.
    Many office techiques have evolved naturally, etc, bla, bla...
    So I am after a graphic interface which works more like a drawing program: you use the mouse to draw various sized
    boxes on your grid and this enters the dates etc into the tables automatically according to where the box is drawn.
    Editing would work the same way.
    See what I mean?
    Any further leads much appreciated!

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Hi David,
    We've used a schedule control from DBI Technologies that might be of value - look at http://www.dbi-tech.com
    Wendell

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    I agree with your thoughts - a user should find an app intuitive to use and the way things are done on paper have evolved over time (survival of the fittest).

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    I've been messing about with the grid software from Datasphere for a couple of months now.
    My experience in VBA is very minimal to say the least.
    The coding behind their forms are quite complicated to me, although the longer I study them they are becoming somewhat clearer.
    But.
    My scheduler is now becoming usable to the way "I" want it to be, with all the functuality "I" require.
    Perhaps Hans could comment more on their code, he has done wonderous things with it, I would never have got past the earliest stages without his help.

    Datasphere provide excellent documentation with their product and are always at hand via their E.mail.
    They provide all the building blocks for a successful application.

    I wanted this scheduler to emulate what we already do on paper and it is doing just that and more.

    I'm not sure if this helps you in your quest, but if you do find a solution to help you then the very best of luck.

    I here Datasphere are re-writing their software to be much quicker than it is now.
    This is the only downfall that I have with the current design.

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    I'm sure Datasphere's product and support are very good but I have reservations about the whole approach.
    Firstly, unless I'm missing something I don't think the designing of a grid on an Access form will ever
    have the simplicity of doing the same thing on paper. I keep thinking of the wonderful "Villa Bencista" people who
    run a very successful and lucrative pensione near Florence, Italy, and they do all their reservations in a big reservation book using pencils!
    (over 100 rooms)
    They deal with people all over the world who are constantly reserving, changing
    dates and cancelling and they handle it with absolutely zero stress this old fashioned way - no worries about computer viruses
    or servers breaking down. You have to be there watching them doing it to really appreciate the absurd lengths we geeks go to
    to achieve the same thing electronically. Unlike us, THEY haven't been bitten by the computer bug.
    Notwithstanding this, I am still persisiting with computers. But I want something as easy and natural as Villa Bencista.
    Let's call it the Bencista Project.
    I used to be a video editor using mainly ///FASTS's video machine (it's a bit like Adobe Premiere).
    You could put a clip in the form of a rectangle on the time line and drop it anywhere, then extend the right hand end,
    shorten the left hand end etc etc. The timeline instantly adjusted the time codes of the start and end points.
    You could then (though I never bothered) save your compiled movie as an Edit Decision List (EDL)
    This is really just a table with the in and out points recorded.
    This is the sort of thing our BENCISTA scheduler should do.
    You just draw on the calendar your block of reserved time against the appropriate rental property
    and (say) double click on it to add further details such as client name, special requirements, phone numbers for contact, etc.
    If they cancel, you just delete the block and the underlying Access table updates accordingly.
    It would be really nice if this Scheduler was a sort of interactive web page so that your solution could be scaled up to be used
    on the web. The Datasphere approach would not have this scaleability, I'm sure.
    Isn't there some way? Is this really so much to ask?

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Dave

    Zero stress, I wish.
    What you envisage doing with your scheduler will be truly amazing.
    I suppose breaking it down, to start with. If some-one could come up with a way to manipulate a label so it can be extended or shortened just by holding the mouse at either end, I'm sure dates could be tagged.
    I would be more than interested if some-one could supply a demo as a starting point.

    But for now, I wish you every success in your quest.
    Please post back if you manage to accomplish even part of it.

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Creating something like you describe is possible, but it will be a lot of work. The Schedule component mentioned by WendellB may provide at least part of what you want - a drag-and-drop interface. See http://www.dbi-tech.com/show_products.asp?id_prod=3.

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    This issue is just another example of what I am always saying: how can software be so clever yet so stupid?
    The problem of being able to enter data by stretching a box or label in an intuitive manner has ALREADY been
    solved by the myriad software engineers who have designed various video editing interfaces.
    Yet no-one seems to have the imagination to apply such good techniques to other areas where it is sorely needed.
    To be quite honest, I have tested and previewed the 'solutions' developed by Datasphere and their ilk and I think that
    their packages are truly woeful. They've exchanged one type of burning hoop for one of another colour.
    I don't want to jump through any such hoop and I think everyone else secretly agrees.
    Surely the code that makes the stretchable video clip is not very complex and can be adapted for use with Access!
    Certainly I will announce any success in this direction on this forum, even if it is only a partial one, as I think all this .NETspeak
    is really obfuscation. Simplicity! It's all that we seek!
    End of tirade and good night!

  12. #12
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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Thanks Hans.
    Please see my tirade elsewhere in this thread.
    The Schedule component is really horrible - I've checked it out.
    This is 2003: time we produced much cleverer software than a re-hash of an ActiveX control!
    Is there any other lead to follow up at all - no matter how much work it entails?

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    I agree with you that an easy-to-use planning/scheduling/booking system would be very welcome. The subject has come up several times in this forum in the short period (less than a year) that I have been active here.

    Others may disagree, but I suspect that developing such a system within Access is not really easy, and that to get acceptable performance, it would have to be written in a compiled language - it could still use an Access database for its data.

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    Re: Viewing and editing graphically (Office 2000 Sr1a)

    Thanks Hans.
    I know it may not be easy and would probably not be able to be developed in Access.
    I am really keen to know though if anyone at all has really addressed the problem and come
    up with a solution -either commercially available or otherwise.
    Let's say I had a million dollars to buy this thing: where would I go to get exactly what I want?
    Any leads truly appreciated.

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