Newsletter

Until now, we have announced changes to the Sales Manager on Twitter. But a lot of our users are not on Twitter, so we have decided to send out emails instead. To sign up for our newsletter, just send us a contact message, with the newsletter option checked.

Profile

This form allows you to update various parameters associated with your account, as follows:

Field Usage Default
Company Name This appears at the top of the main menu, for information only.
Contact Email An email address that we can use to contact you.
Password The password used to logon to the hosting service. password
Page Size The number of rows that the table editor displays. 10

Downloading customers

Background

The mobile app allows users to add new customers in the field, or to change the details of existing ones. It also allows them to upload these new or changed customer records to the web server.

As with orders, they hosting service allows uploaded customer records ti be downloaded as a CSV file, and uses change flags to acoid downloading records more than once.

The main difference is that mobile users can be expected to make legitimate changes to existing customer records. They cannot do this with orders, because orders cannot be modified once they have been sent.

Downloading orders

CSV File

Orders are downloaded from the web server in CSV format. The file in unnormalised form: the orders and orderDetails tables are joined together, and the product name is also included. This is a fairly standard format for downloading data from a web server. Orders for more than one item are split over several lines, with line for each item. Only fresh orders are downloaded.

Change Flags

In order to avoid downloading the samer record more than once, change flags is used. Every record has a flag that indicates whether it has been downloaded (or processed in some other way). The flag is set when the record is uploaded from a mobile device and reset when the Clear change flags option is selected. The standard procedure is:

  1. download orders
  2. process CSV file
  3. reset change flags

Repeat Uploads

The system allows users to upload an order more than once. This usually happens when the first attempt fails for some reason, or when the data has not been uploaded correctly. The hosting service also allows orders to be uploaded more than once, and updated records are output in the CSV file together with fresh ones. This means that the same order can be downloaded more than once.

Duplicate Order Ids

The mobile app allocates order numbers in sequence, and in a multi-user environment each user is allocated a separate reange of order ids. In principle this should ensure that order ids are always unique. However it is always possible that two users will use the same order id by mistake.

The hosting service can handle this, and both orders will be output to the CSV file. But the system that you are importing the CSV files to probably expects unique order ids. To help resolve this, the Find duplicates option lists all orders with duplicate ids. Hopefully there will not be any.

Maintaining stock levels

Introduction

The hosting service has a basic stock monitoring feature. A column called stock has been added to the products table, to record the stock level for each product. When an invoice is uploaded to the server, the corresponding stock levels are debited.

A new section Stock has also been added to the main menu, with the following options:

Option Function
Adjust stock levels Uploads a CSV file containing current stock levels.The stock values in the file overwrite the ones in the products table. Other rows are unaffected, and no other columns are changed.
List stock levels Displays the current stock level for each product.
Download stock levels Downloads a CSV file containing the stock levels for all the items in the products table. This file can be modified, and used as input to the Adjust stock levels option.

CSV File

The CSV file used for stock levels has the following format:

Name Contents
productId Unique id of product
stock Stock level
name Name of product (optional, for reference only)

Uploading a CSV file

This form allows you to upload data to your virtual web server. The data must be in a file on your computer, in CSV format. It must also contain a header line, with the names of the fields that you want to upload. Most fields are optional, and can be omitted if not used.

The fields are as follows:

Field Usage Default
Table The table to upload your data to. Choose a name from the drop-down list.
File Selects a CSV file on your computer.
Encoding Refers to the character set of the CSV file, which can either be ANSI or UTF-8. ANSI
Convert case If checked, fields will be converted to upper case, title case or sentence case, depending on their usage. checked
Trim spaces If checked, trailing spaces will be stripped strip from all fields. checked
Delete existing rows If checked, all the data in the table will be removed before the data in the CSV file is inserted. checked

N.B. The form will stop uploading data after ten errors have occurred.

Website update

General

A lot of work has gone into improving the overall appearance of the site:

  • There is a new colour scheme, to match the logo.
  • The size of the header text has been reduced.
  • The thick black lines have been removed or made thinner.
  • The meta info for posts has been moved.
  • The tables have all been spruced up.

Scripts and Strings

The server scripts and text strings have been tidied up:

  • The documentation is more detailed, and is now in PDF format.
  • The ASP.Net scripts only ship with the .Net assembly, and the VB.Net source code for reference purposes. The rest of the solution has been removed.
  • The Android text strings have been updated.

Sidebar

  • The links have been tidied up. Some have been removed, and others added.
  • By popular request, there is a new category for the Simpsons quotes.

Footer

  • In one of the sections at the bottom, an HTML menu has been added. This reproduces the top level links in the header, in plain text form.
  • In the other section, I have added a Simpsons quote.
  • There is a new social media menu for email, Twitter and RSS.

Choosing a locale

Introduction

The language that an Android or iOS app uses, and the way that it formats numbers and dates, depends on the locale. For computers, this is a combination of the location and the language, e.g. British English or Canadian French. The standard on both platforms is that the locale is determined by the user, and not by the app itself.

Changing the Locale on Android

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go to the Language & input section.
  3. Choose a Language from the drop down list at the top.

Changing the Locale on iOS

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go to the General section.
  3. Select a Language.