Don’t know about you, but the reason I’m into computers is that you can work to see something get done.
What interests me are:
- procedures (personally, like “scripty” (eg. Korn shell scripts, batch DOS files) type software supervising compiled software or, in the case of Oracle, the wonderful sqlplus, to do database work along with compiled Pro*C along with PL/SQL procedural SQL)
- working with what you have been given
- trying not to winge (am an Analyst/Programmer)
- overcoming adversity
So you are asked to intervene at a certain point in a process and send out an email report when a paint colour formula, in this case, is created or updated. In other scenarios, you might want to SMS or setup a chat session or something, but you still have to sort out the practicalities.
So the place where you intervene is a really old PC (more than ten years old) running Microsoft Access that has some access to network drives, but not to the Internet. There is this great piece of functional macro software (VBA) working to do the rest of the job within Microsoft Access.
Well, you could ask for a more modern PC, that can get to the Internet, couldn’t you? This is tempting but very wrong, as the rearrangements involved would span more than ten years of company history of procedure, and why should your procedure spoil that?
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we coded Microsoft Access to SMTP Email on the understanding that one day this job might be done on a more modern PC, but for now, we realize there may be more to do. So this is part 1 of the story.
Part 2 is that, true enough, SMTP Emails from that PC were not possible. Solution decided was:
- old PC would, additionally, save *.csv to network drive accessible via ftp to be accessible by a more modern PC
- more modern PC would run a Task Scheduled Batch File call of a VB.Net console application to ftp at intervals during the working day
- the *.csv would become Excel documents shown to the user of the modern PC showing created and updated paint colour formulae
- if everything looks okay, the email would proceed, otherwise the email processing could be stopped for a particular job
Does the effort of Part 2 justify not modernising? That is a decision all right, but it is not one for an Analyst/Programmer, generally.
I loved this programming job because of its twists and turns and email code working on such an old PC (if it had, had Internet access (for email) Part 1 would have done the whole job), and use of methodologies and communications that are being overlooked every day more and more, but is that always for the best?
If this was interesting you may be interested in this too.