Goldenseal and Google Drive

We just had a couple of tech support calls with a new user who wanted to put their company file on Google Drive, and share it between two computers in the office and on a jobsite, without using a VPN.

For two Macs or two Windows machines, it probably will work if you do the following:

  1. Install the Goldenseal application (tree icon) on both computers.
  2. On your office computer, set up a Google Drive folder, and put your company file in it.  Double-click on the company file icon to open it.
  3. On your laptop computer, open the same Google Drive folder, and double-click on the company file icon to open it.
  4. Make changes on either computer.  Google Drive will synch the file.

WARNING: Google does a whole-file synch, which is not as safe as the record-locking system we use in the multi-user version. Data may be lost if two people work on the same record at the same time.  There is also some chance the file will become damaged, since we didn’t design it to be file-synched. This approach is experimental, so please use it at your own risk.

NOTE: it apparently is not possible to open the same file from both Mac and Windows, over Google Drive.  This is probably related to the different file systems they each use.  For cross-platform connections you’ll need to use the multi-user version, or swap the file locally.

If you do try this, please let us know how it works out!

Goldenseal Pro Progress Report #3

Here’s the latest from our contractor in Australia:

The next stage is very large. So far we have developed methods to export the layout of a window to an xml formatted file that Qt Designer can understand and edit. We have also written a top level UI wrapper that can create windows from the xml files.
The rest of the time has been spent trying to determine the best way to integrate this into the existing code.

Meanwhile, Turtlesoft staff has converted a bunch of Goldenseal  code so it works in a modern 64-bit OS.  The new app will still be able to read existing company files that use 32-bit formats, and we want to make the migration path as easy as possible.  We may need to have an automatic, one-time conversion of the file format, but so far that hasn’t been necessary.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director
Turtle Creek Software

New website

We started Smartknives.com about 10 years ago, to give the staff something tangible to do when tired of sitting at the computer. We just gave it a new website with an updated web design.  Much cleaner than the old site, and it now works well on phones and tablets. The html is also much easier to maintain, with less clutter.

Now that we’ve tested out the newer web tools, we’re starting on the new Turtlesoft site.  It shouldn’t take too long to convert the main pages to the new design.

 

Goldenseal Pro Progress Report #2

The Goldenseal Pro update is proceeding steadily.  It just hit the first of five payment milestones with the contractor who is moving it to QT.

All the app does right now is create and open files, and show a window for a simple list.  However, that means that a lot of difficult background work is now completed.

Goldenseal Pro flavors

Modern programming tools make it easier to build multiple apps from the same source code, so we are planning to split Goldenseal Pro into a much wider range of small business solutions. Below is a tentative grid of 20 future apps, with different features included.  They range from free up to $1295 for The Works (single user). The bigger apps also have multi-user versions. Double-click to expand.

Goldenseal-Pro-Flavors

This is still a work in progress, and comments are appreciated. Most likely we will trim the list before the actual release date, to make choices less confusing.

Dennis Kolva, Programming Director

Goldenseal Pro Progress Report #1

Our contractor reports:

so far we have started integrating the Qt event system into the existing handlers. When you start the app, the file selection window is displayed using Qt and then the file
is loaded using Qt objects for reading and writing.

Meanwhile, we are working on general plans for our next generation of software.

  • The bad news is, we probably will stop having printed manuals.  They are a lot of work, and hard to keep up to date as the program changes.
  • The good news is, we will start making instruction videos instead, for the areas where people need the most help.   We can pretty much put our training classes online, so anyone can view them at any time.
  • We’ll also keep expanding and improving the Answers button on our website, and we will rewrite the site so it works better on phones and small screens.  There are a well over a thousand pages on the site, so it’s going to be a gradual process to rewrite it.

Goldenseal Pro is underway

We just selected a programmer from Australia who will do the coding for Goldenseal Pro.  Whoo hoo!  As it turns out, waiting a few months was a good thing, since we were able to choose among several very qualified candidates.

For the Pro conversion we will use the QT framework, which will update both the Macintosh and Windows versions, at the same time.  QT is a popular, open-source framework that should make it easier for us to stay current with future OS improvements.  We probably will also use it for future mobile apps, since it supports both iOS and Android.

The best guess at arrival time is 2 to 3 months.  The current upgrade options for existing users will be available until shortly before the release.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director

Recessions are good

For some reason, our recent posting of the Goldenseal Pro project is getting tons of qualified programming contractors, and the price quotes are looking much better than what we received last September.  So, we are very optimistic that work will start in earnest on Goldenseal Pro, probably in just a week or two.

Based on financial news and the Baltic Dry Index, it looks like there is a bit of a global economic slowdown going on right now.  So, along with cheaper gasoline, it also seems to be providing much better availability of programmers.

Dennis

Goldenseal Pro progress

We just re-posted the Goldenseal Pro programming work on a couple of websites for programming free-lancers.  At least we are getting experienced at talking with people about it, and have more detailed specs to give.

Back when we were Turtle Creek Construction, we sometimes had to calculate estimates for the subcontractors doing work for us. We’d say “the computer says you can do it for $4250” and they’d say OK.

Maybe it’s time for us to take our years of job costing data for Turtlesoft, and make an estimator for programmers.

Dennis

Goldenseal Pro progress & thoughts about free estimates

We are currently negotiating with a 6th possible programming contractor for Goldenseal Pro, in a 5th country.  So far they have all gone something like this (spread out over a week or 2):

  • Contractor:  We can do the work for $xxxx.
  • Turtlesoft: OK, let’s talk details.
  • Contractor: Great!  Our hourly rate is $xxx.
  • Turtlesoft: Um, what about that $xxxx quote?
  • Contractor: If you pay us for 40 hours of  work at $xxx, we can give you a fixed price estimate.  But, wouldn’t you like to do it hourly instead? It’s really much better to do it hourly.  Really.
  • Turtlesoft: No, we don’t know you well enough to do hourly, and would like a fixed price quote please.  What do you need from us to make that happen?
  • Contractor: (disappears)

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Back when we were Turtle Creek Carpentry, we started off doing time and materials work, but gradually discovered that bidding was more profitable (on average).   I think the basic idea is that any project is risky, and someone has to bear the risk.  In theory, it probably ought to be whoever has more experience and knowledge about the work.    They’ve done it before, and can calculate the costs better.

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On the other hand, every construction contractor probably has horror stories of free estimates gone awry.  Bad math, or nice drawings and calculations that are handed over to someone else who does it cheaper.  Free-estimating anxiety is why we first wrote estimating spreadsheets back in 1986, and why MacNail, BidMagic and Goldenseal have been popular since then.

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Anyhow, we are still looking.  If we don’t have a contractor lined up by February, we will start the work in-house.

Dennis