Category: "Build Automator news"

Build Automator 2016 build 6.2.1359 released

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Build Automator 2016

 

We have released Build Automator 2016, build 6.2.1359

The update can be downloaded from our website at http://www.buildautomator.com/downloads.php or by using the "Check for Updates" option under the Help menu in the program.  

This build has several fixes including:

  • Clarion 9.0 installs were not always detected correctly.
  • Clarion 10.0 installs did not always show up as available version if only one more Clarion version was installed.
  • Icons were missing from some buttons as well as from some windows.
  • Maintenance Plan verification did not always work correctly.
  • Registration window was too short to show all the information.
  • In some circumstances {#INCLUDE(FileName)} could add 2-5 characters at the end of the resulting file.

There were some bugs in the Clarion 9 and 10 implementation.  I have simplified it so it should be easy to add new versions of Clarion as they are released.

The {#INCLUDE()} statement for the "Write Text To File" action had a bug in it causing extra characters to be written at the very end of the final file.  

The {#INCLUDE()} statement is a very powerful tool as it allows you to combine files into a single document.  I use this for example when building some of my installs where classes are exported via templates.  First I run our free ITInc2Exp utility to create the export file (.exp)  

Exporting with Inc2Exp

This loads the ITUtilityClass.inc and saves it silently to ITUtilityClass.exp.

I can then use the Write Text action to construct a .TPW file which is included in the main ITUtilities.tpl file.  This creates an export list for developers who use the Icetips Utilities in Legacy applications.  

Including the export file

Very, very simple and very powerful!  

There are now two webinar recordings on Clarion Live.  First webinar is from 2009 which is mostly still valid.  The second one from 2015 where I went through my Build Automator script for the Icetips Utilities and talked about how I do things.  The links above both take you directly to download the .WMF files for the webinars.  

If you are installing Build Automator on Windows Server 2012 or 2008 and you find that a crash occurs during the installation and when you run Build Automator, please let me know and I will get you set up with a slightly different install and executable.  

Arnor Baldvinsson

Build Automator 2015 build 5.12.1344 released

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Build Automator 2015

 

We have released Build Automator 2015 build 5.12.1344

The update can be downloaded from our website athttp://www.buildautomator.com/download.php or by using the "Check for Updates" option under the Help menu in the program.
 
There are several new features in this build, but there are also a lot of fixes behind the scene that make the program more stable than it has ever been.  The new feature list includes:

  • Full support for Clarion 10
  • Full support for SetupBuilder 10
  • Support for Code generation before build in Clarion 8, 9, 9.1 and 10
  • Drag and drop from Explorer is now supported on all entry and lists that use filenames.
  • Generate Manifest now fully supports Windows 10.
  • Both the install and the program files are dually code signed with both SHA-1 and SHA-2 code certificates, prepared for Microsoft dropping support for SHA-1 certificates in 2016.

But the main change is that Build Automator 2015 is completely built in Clarion 10.  We had decided that Build Automator 2014 would be the last build we did in Clarion 6.3.  It had served us well, but it really was time to move on.

It was not a pain free move!  Clarion 9.1 would consistently throw a non-descript "internal compiler error" on one of our classes and no matter what I did, it would never compile that particular code file.  Clarion 10 came around and lo and behold it would compile this particular file with no issues.  So on went the conversion process.  I found a few bugs along the way, both in Clarion and Build Automator!  Window resizing changed between Clarion 6.3 and Clarion 10 - don't know when - and it caused problems with most of the action windows causing quite a bit of work to get around that.  

I would have liked to have more new actions and features in this build, but it has taken so long to get it together that I didn't want to wait any longer!  But with Build Automator now in Clarion 10 it will be much easier to dive back in and get some new things going.  

FTP and Email are two of the things that I want to add and improve.  Currently you can only upload files, not download or do any other fancy stuff.  It would also be nice to be able to send emails from it in case of errors and attach the log file.  Version control is another thing that needs better support.  Although I have implemented TortoiseSVN using "Run Program" and it runs great, it would be nice to have a more native support for the most popular version control programs today.

Our support for Clarion 6 is coming to an end.  While the actions to compile with the old IDE will stay in the Build Automator IDE there will be no further development on them.  One of the features I want to add is more flexibility in the MSBuild action, so that it could for example be used to build multiple solutions or multiple projects, in a similar way as the "Compile Multiple Clarion Applications" where there is a list of items to compile.  

Arnor Baldvinsson

Build Automator 2014.4.9.1326 released

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We found a small bug in the install, where it didn't copy the picklist information to the new folder structure.  This is fixed in build 1326.  

I had already started improvements on the FTP window so I decided, why not, and finished them!  It now shows the local files being uploaded and goes through the list as the files are being uploaded.  

We have also discovered that it seems that the shortcut on the desktop may not be updated with the new path.  If you get an error when trying to run Build Automator about there not being any Plugins, then that is the problem.  I'm not sure under what circumstances this happens.  It happened on a machine that had the shortcut pinned to the taskbar, so perhaps that has some bearing on it.

Arnor Baldvinsson

Build Automator 2014.4.9.1325 released

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Build Automator 2014

 

We have released Build Automator 2014 build 4.9.1325 

The update can be downloaded from our website athttp://www.buildautomator.com/download.php or by using the "Check for Updates" option under the Help menu in the program.
 
There are several new features in this build, but there are also a lot of fixes behind the scene that make the program more stable than it has ever been.  The new feature list includes:

  • Full support for Clarion 9 and 9.1
  • Full support for Setup Builder 8.1
  • Support for Code generation before build in Clarion 8, 9 and 9.1
  • Improvements in copy/paste and several fixes to synchronization in the project window
  • File and folder Drag & Drop support in actions
  • External text files can now be included in the "Write text to file" action
  • Programs can be forced to run elevated (will prompt for administrator access)
  • Environment variables fully supported in scripts
  • Search locators make finding projects and variables easy

In previous builds there was a bug in the system that could sometimes lead to the wrong action being loaded, copy/paste being fragile, duplicating the wrong action item and so on.  This should be completely fixed now.  For more detailed list ofnew features and fixes please check out the version history page athttp://www.buildautomator.com/onlinemanual/version_history.htm.

One of the major new feature is the updated MS-Build action which you use for Clarion compiles.  It fully supports all versions of the Clarion IDE, from Clarion 7 to Clarion 9.1.  It now also supports code generation in Clarion 8-9.1.  Code generation was not possible in Clarion 7.  There is one caveat that I don't have any solution for:  Softvelocity does not allow Clarion Professional to generate code with their ClarionCL.exe, which is the tool we use to generate code.  This is unfortunate as it limits the usefulness of this feature, but never the less, it is an important update for us.

Another feature that I want to highlight is the option to include external text filesin the "Write text to File" action.  This allows you to generate files that include data from other sources.  For example I have started using this to generate the export list for templates that need it.  I generate the export list with an external tool, then write template code to a text file which has an Include statement which includes the export list.  End result is a template file completely generated by Build Automator!  How cool is that?!

Arnor Baldvinsson

Build Automator 2014

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Build Automator 2014 is in it's last days of development before being released.

Some of the cool new features are for example the ability to include files in the "Write Text to File" action. The syntax is simple:

{#INCLUDE("FileNameToInclude")}

The "FileNameToInclude" can be a fixed filename or a Build Automator variable. This makes it possible to generate partial code files that can then be included inside other files. I have started using this in some of my product files where I generate export file for classes with an external tool and then include the file inside a template file. Works great!

The "Run Program" action can now be set to run as administrator. This will prompt for administrator authorization during execution.

Selected actions can now be commented or un-commented by using the C or U keys on the keyboards for Comment/Un-comment respectively or by using the popup menu.

Some new functions have been added to the evaluation variables, such as GetFileDate, GetFileTime and GetFileSize.

Drag and drop from Windows Explorer has also been added to several windows where files could be added.

Several fixes have also been made along the way. The action item list had a problem where it could lose track of the action items under some circumstances. This has now been fixed and with it came fixes to several problems reported with the action item list not working properly, opening the wrong item or problems with copy/paste/duplicate. The FTP action has been modified so that if the files in the list are not found, they show up in red color on the update window. They are also reported during the FTP upload and the upload of the missing file is never started.

Internal naming convention for folders, files and registry keys has also been changed. This does not effect the user in any way and the installer will take care of updating everything automatically when Build Automator 2014 is installed.

The plan is to get the new build out before August 20th, 2014.

Arnor Baldvinsson

Build Automator Webinar recording

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I just wanted to re-post the link to the Webinar recording at Clarion Live that was recorded in June 2009. It is still very valid and an excellent introduction to Build Automator. You can view the webinar recording at
http://www.clarionlive.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=18&Itemid=57

If you want to save the recording, right click on the link above and select "Save target" or "Save Link As" in your browser's popup menu and save the wmv video file. The file size is about 284MB. If you click on the link above the content is streamed to your viewer.

Arnor Baldvinsson

New build, 1.70.1277 (Beta 9)

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We have just released a new build. This is the ninth and LAST beta build we are releasing for version 2.0, which will be out in about two weeks. Just documentation and some minor polishing is needed and if any issues are found in this beta they will be fixed as soon as possible.

You can download the new build from http://www.buildautomator.com/downloads.php

Note that you must have a valid Maintenance Plan to be able to install this build. This build is NOT available via the web update so you must download the full install. You do not need to uninstall previous version and your data will be preserved completely.

If you are currently using version 1.5 or the early 1.6 beta versions, I strongly suggest that you try this build.

Since version 1.5 we have added over 100 new features and fixes. See version history for more information

The fix list for Beta 7, 8 and 9 follows:

Fixes for Beta 7

  • Redundant debug information was being sent to the log file from E_Search_and_Replace_in_Textfiles. Fixed.
  • Clarion errors in log viewer were not color coded as errors. Fixed.
  • Copying and pasting action items sometimes fails. Can no longer be reproduced despite numerous efforts. Will tackle it if it comes up again, but I'm calling it fixed.
  • Main window sometimes appears outside of the visible area of the monitor(s). Fixed.


Fixes for Beta 8

  • Copy Multiple Files action does not expand variables correctly. Fixed.
  • Log File viewer had a one byte out of bounds memory problem. Fixed.

Fixes for Beta 9

June 10, 2011

  • MS-Build action modified for more flexibility.
  • MS-Build action can now handle both Clarion 7 and Clarion 8.


June 11, 2011

  • MS-Build action can now handle code generation in Clarion 8. Note that this is only enabled for Clarion 8 if a solution is selected. If a Clarion project file (*.cwproj) is selected, then it is available for Clarion 7 also, but this will not work in the Clarion 7.0 - Clarion 7.2 builds.
  • Added Copy, Paste and Duplicate to the pop up menu on the Action Items list.
  • Implemented a Duplicate option for the Action Items list. It can be activated by using the popup menu or by using Ctrl-D.
  • Implemented Alt-Enter on Action Items list to open the Action Items Properties window.
  • Hotkeys are now visible on popup menu on the Action Items list.


June 12, 2011

  • Added Windows 7 compatibility to "Generate XP/Vista/Win7 Manifests" action.
  • Added option to exclude dependency to "Generate XP/Vista/Win7 Manifests" action.
  • Implemented Ctrl-E on Action Items list to execute the selected action item(s).

Fixing the Copy/paste issue was huge. I have it verified fixed now! It was a rare and completely random problem that cropped up when pasting items into the action item list. After a lot of debugging I was able to isolate it and realized there was a vulnerability that had the potential of failing - it should never have failed, but some circumstances obviously made it fail. Essentially what happened was that in projects with multiple project items the last one would sometimes be act as it was selected even though it was not. I was able to put a Message() in the code to alert me if the mismatch happened and 3 months after I fixed it, the message popped up for the first time. I use Build Automator almost every day, so this shows how random and difficult to trace this problem was! When the message popped up and I saw that the selected project item was indicating the last, when in fact the first one was selected, and the pasting worked I knew I had caught that bug and fixed it:)

Please let me know as soon as possible if you run into any problem with this build! Note that you must have a valid Maintenance plan to be able to install it.

New Example Project

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We have made another example project available for download. This is a project that we use to build one of our developer third party products. It shows, among other things, how to call Help and Manual (H&M) to build PDF and CHM files from a H&M project and update text variables in the H&M project.

This also shows how we update source files with version information and write out Clarion version resource files (.version files) that can then be added to the Clarion project.

Just download the installer and run it and it will add the project to the "Build Automator | Examples" item in the Windows Start menu. Read more about it on our Example Download page.

Arnor Baldvinsson

Build 1.50.1212 available

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We have made build 1.50.1212 available for download. You can use the "Help | Check for updates" in the main menu to download the update.

In addition to what I talked about in the last entry we fixed two minor things this morning: The picklist did not scroll horizontally and checking or unchecking the "Show Splash Screen at startup" did not work on the splash screen itself - it did work on the options window.

As always we appreciate the feedback we get from you and please let us know on our forum if you have any problems, comments or ideas:)

Our next release will be around September 15.

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

Version 1.50 released

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We released version 1.50 on August 5. Time got away from us so I never got around to post about it here or on the forum. I will try to make ammends for that.

I described version 1.5 pretty thoroughly in my last blog and there were no further changes or updates made to the install after I posted that blog.

We will be releasing a new minor build tomorrow, Monday August 18. It includes two fixes for regressions that were introduced with fixes in last build and that cleans up couple of issues. The first problem was that under certain circumstances the Action item list could get corrupt. It didn't affect the data, just the list. The other one was that if the name of a Project Item was changed it would not trigget the "File | Save" option or the Save button to be enabled. However, when closing the project window it would correctly indicate that the data had changed and prompted for saving. Somehow one of the action files was accidentally removed from our source during a cleanup process - manual cleanup I might add&#59;) - and we have included it in the new build tomorrow.

Tomorrow's build also has one additional action - Terminate Script Execution. This is a very handy action as it allows you to stop the script. It can use a condition so you can conditionally terminate the script, for example if a certain button is pressed when using the Message action. If no condition is specified, the script will simply terminate. This can also be handy when debugging scripts and you only want it to execute upto a certain action item.

We have also added a validation of the Maintenance Plan, which was causing confusion. When you enter the Maintenance Plan it will now be automatically and immediately validated and the expiration date shown. The Maintenance Plan is verified when the program starts if it hasn't been verified and also when you update the Maintenance Plan. We have tested this in all possible ways we can think of. If you run into any problems with this please post on our forum and we will fix it right away:)

Finally I want to add that on a personal note we are going to be moving to Port Angeles, Washington and in fact we signed papers last week to sell our house here in San Antonio. The buyer has until next weekend to decide but if everything goes according to plan we will be moving out on September 18 and heading to Port Angeles. It will take us about a week to get up there. I don't expect this to affect our schedule since I expect to have the September build ready before we move and then we will probably not release another build until early November. If we have to delay the September build, it should only be until the very beginning of October.

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

More about next version

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After a week of very intense work we have completed all the programming and will be finishing up the documentation tomorrow. The new version, 1.5 will be out Tuesday morning if nothing unexpected comes up.

The FTP upload is complete and works great. It's fairly simple and only allows uploading of files to a single folder on the server. Later on we will add more powerful action that can upload subfolders as well. The server connection information is set up separately so when you create a new FTP action, you simply select the server from a dropdown list or click a button to view and update connections.

The FTP upload action is a bit different from other actions because it allows you to test the action right when you are setting it up. This way you can make sure that the connection is correct and you can optionally upload the files also to make sure that everything is put in it's place. You can optionally set the files to be uploaded as lowercase.

We added a very useful feature to the "Clarion compile" actions that allows us to grab any errors from the compiler window and automatically include them in the Build Automator log. This screenshot shows the results of compiling a Clarion app that resulted in 4 compiler errors. The Build Automator log now shows you what module is involved, what lines and what errors! This makes it so much easier to spot problems during unattended compiles. Big thank you to Clarion guru Larry Sand for helping me out with some screen scraping code that worked absolutely perfectly for this! And thanks to one of our Clarion users for suggesting this on the forum last week:)

The last thing we have worked on is a very powerful "Delete Files" action. It has several very powerful options which I'm going to discuss just a little bit.

You can select a single file or you can select a folder. If you select a file, then only that one file would be deleted, but you can always modify the selected file/folder to include any valid wildcards. For example C:\Temp\*.* would apply to all files in the C:\Temp\ folder and C:\Temp\*.txt would apply to all *.txt files.

You can Include Subfolder, which will then recursively delete files in all the subfolders under the selected folder. For example for C:\Temp\*.* it would delete all files in C:\Temp\ and any subfolders that might exist under the C:\Temp\ folder.

The Build Automator can prompt for confirming the delete process. Note that this will halt unattended builds and the program will wait until the question is either confirmed or declined. So if you are running unattended builds, we suggest that you uncheck the "Confirm Delete" when you are satisfied that it is correctly set up and it works correctly. The message will tell you how many items there are available to delete.

The deleted files can optionally be sent to the Recycle Bin or it can be skipped. Skipping the Recycle bin is considerably faster but then the delete process is premanent and cannot be reversed. Use at your own discretion.

During deleting process every error is logged into the Build Automator log. The log gives you extensive error information directly from the operating system. However you can optionally select to log every file that is deleted. This is a good option to have when you are checking things out and setting things up to make sure that the files that you expect to delete were deleted and nothing else.

Normally Read-Only and Hidden files are not included in the delete process, but you have an option to include Read Only and Hidden files. Doing that adds a small subprocess that changes the attributes on the files to normal/archive before the delete process runs. System files are never included in the delete process. If you have needs to delete system files, please let us know and we will add that as an option. Files that are locked or in use by other processes cannot be deleted. They are reported in use and skipped.

If you are using the *.* wildcard in your delete process you can also opt to remove all the subfolders. This option is only available when you use the *.* wildcard as that's the only way that all files are removed from all subfolders. If you need to completely remove a subfolder but can't use the *.* wildcard, we suggest that you set up a second "Delete Files" action that deletes the subfolder and all of it's files.

Similar to the FTP Upload action, you have an option on the "Delete Files" action window to click a button to bring up a view of all the files included in the file search and would be deleted by the process. This makes it easier to check what files are included with the different wildcards and also if there are files in subfolders etc. that match the wildcards.

Tomorrow, Monday, we will finish up the documentation and the install and the new version will be out Tuesday:)

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

Moving on - next build on the horizon

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It's been quite a while since I posted on the blog! We have been so busy that time has just flown!

As some of you may know we are moving to Washington State. So we have been working on getting our house ready to sell and we decided to take some time off to work on that. That meant that other things slowed down in the meantime. But the house is now on the market and that means we are back to work:)

For the past week I have been working very hard on a new version of the Build Automator. We have a lot of exciting stuff that we are including in this new build and I'm just going to mention the highlights of what I've been doing.

First of all we have completed an update to the "Call MS-Build" action so that it can now work with Delphi 2007/RAD Studio from CodeGear. For this we needed to do some research into setting environment variables as the RAD studio does that when it shells out to the command line console for manual calls to MS-Build.

We have also completed new actions for Setup Factory and MSI Factory from IndigoRose. Every thing looks good for both actions and we have not run into any problems at all with either product.

The Message action got a complete overhaul. You can now specify what buttons to show on the message box and also which one of those buttons (or none) should be a default button. The button value is stored in a variable that you can then use in conditions or whatever. Each button has it's own value in the system variables and you can use those to compare with in action conditions.

Today we completed a "Call DLL" action that is extremely powerful as it allows the Build Automator script to call function a dll and pass upto 6 parameters to the function. Currently the parameters are limited to char* parameters for C or CONST *CSTRING in Clarion since the Build Automator's data is entirely based on CSTRINGs. We may add support for multiple data types later on. The function must return an integer value which is passed on to the $ExitCode$ variable for you to use in later actions if needed. If you need to pass data from your dll to the Build Automator script that cannot be confined to an integer, you could use an INI file or the registry to pass data back to the Build Automator.

Just because the datatype is a string doesn't mean you can't use if for numbers, they are just passed as strings so you may need to run conversion functions on them to convert them to the proper datatype.

This action opens up all sorts of possibilities for extensions to the Build Automator scripts and makes it a very powerful tool. If the Build Automator doesn't have what you need, you can simply create a DLL to do it and call it from the Build Automator!

The last thing we are working on for this new release is FTP uploads. This will be a simple action to start with that will simply take a list of files and upload them to a folder on a specified server. We plan on having this working today and finished off by tomorrow morning.

We also have a couple of smaller actions that we are working on. We have also improved the logging quite a bit so that it now shows the project line numbers and action item line numbers and the same information as the project action list in the program shows.

We are very excited about this new release and hope you are too:)

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

Plugin demo

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We had hoped to get some demonstration of how to create plugins for the Build Automator out before the end of the week but that will not happen until next week. We have been battling air conditioning problems in the office since Wednesday and working in over 30°C/85°F is not exactly inspiring so things have been quite slow:-/ We had to replace the coil in the indoor unit and we are finally getting a guy today to do that:)

Even so, we have been pushing through and have made some changes and improvements to the IDE. One of the things we got reported was that if the Build Automator was used as a part of a batch file that was run overnight from a schedule it would halt because the Build Automator showed the logfile and did not terminate. So we added a /NL parameter to the command line which can be used with the /E paramter to Not show the Log file.

We also discovered that if no items were in the Action Item list, it was still possible to execute action items, update action items etc. which should not have been possible. We have gone through Project Window to make sure that options are not available when they shouldn't be. This will make the IDE safer and easier to work with.

With the small fixes and stuff that we have made we will probably kick out a hotfix build next week to keep everybody upto date.

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

Combining the Developer and Standard Editions

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As we released the final build of the Build Automator last week we posted that we had combined the Standard and Developer Editions before the final release. We feel that this may need some more detailed explanation.

The released Build Automator includes everything that the Developer Edition was designed to have. That includes the ability to create and use your own plugins. But instead of having the Developer Edition including everything we can ever come up with, it will include basic set of actions. Specialized actions that are not of general use will be provided in separate plugins that we will make available for sale. The price for those plugins will vary depending on development time and other factors, but we see the prices range from perhaps $20 to $100 - could be more, could be less.

Lets look at an example: For Clarion developers there are already two actions in there to compile Clarion applications. One is for a single application only, the other one is for multiple applications. This is an example of a basic functionality that would be found in the standard action set for the Build Automator. Originally we had posted plans to add actions to register templates, run utility templates etc. and this was to be part of the Developer Edition. Now rather than having to purchase the Developer Edition you can buy the Build Automator and then buy the Clarion plugin.

If you don't need the Clarion plugin, you still have the ability to compile your applications in the Build Automator. We will provide a plugin that can export applications and dictionaries, execute utility templates, etc. etc. that are all very Clarion specific. Programmers using other languages will not find much use for the Clarion plugin. Clarion programmers on the other hand might find such a plugin very useful.

We don't feel that this diminishes the value of the Build Automator in any way - quite the contrary. Now you can buy the software which will provide you with the basic functionality but if you need some other specialized actions, you could develop them yourself or possibly purchase them from us or other BA third party developers.

The reason why we made this change before the final release was simply that we didn't feel it was right to stuff everything into the Developer Edition. The reason why we developer the Build Automator so that it could be extended with external plugins was flexibility. I did not see that we gave much flexibility with just two different editions of the software. I see this benefitting both us and our customers as being both more flexible and more attractive financailly for both parties as well as our customers will only be paying for what they need rather than paying for what they need and then all kinds of specialized stuff that they may not need.

If you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to contact us:)

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

Finally: A new build

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At long last a new build and a new blog post! For the past month I have been so busy working on the Build Automator that I haven't taken time to update the blog.

To cut a long story short, we released a new build yesterday, version 1.30.100. This is our "finished" build of the Build Automator, meaning that the product is now fully working and functional and we look at it as finished. We still have a very long list of new features to add and in fact we have already started added features for the next build. Our next scheduled build will be in early July, about a month from now, but it is quite possible that we will feel sufficiently excited about our progress that we'll issue interim builds. The main focus in next months build will be FTP. Automated FTP is just an awsome feature that can be used for so many things that are not really related to creating new installs. I, for example, plan on using it for updates to our websites.

There is a long list of new features and fixes in this new version that you can access on our version history page. I'm not going to rewrite that list here, just metion a few things.

By far the biggest change in this new version is our decision to combine the Standard and Developer edition. Rather than having a Developer Edition that contained everything and the kitchen sink we decided to have just one edtion of the software. We could then develop specific plugins in addition to the standard plugins that came with the software. These additional plugins would offer more in-dept support for specific tools or operations. For example we might have a special Clarion plugin that would be for Clarion only. Perhaps a plugin for Visual Studio or even narrow it more down and have plugins for C#, VB.NET and C++ that could offer very language specific support. We feel that this will give us the freedom to develop some very sophisticated plugins where there is market for it. It also gives you the freedom to choose exactly what plugins you want. In fact with this design you can basically design your own Build Automator to include exactly what you want and need!

The Set Variable action makes the Build Automator a very powerful tool. You can now set variables anywhere in your script and in addition to just setting them to static values, you can set them to increment or decrement numbers, which comes in handy when creating version resources, or you can use about 50 functions to format or parse data to what ever you need.

The command line parameters along with the file association in the install allowed us to add a very cool feature: create shortcuts to the project files. This allows you to create shortcuts to the project you have open so you can double click on those shortcuts to open or execute the project. When you create the shortcut you can select if it's an open or execute shortcut and also where to put it.

The final change in this version that I want to mention is that the Maintenance Plan has now been added to the software. From now on you will need to have a valid Maintenance Plan to download updates to the software. The Build Automator comes with a 60 day free Maintenance Plan when you purchase. Those who purchase the Build Automator before June 15, 2008 receive a Maintenance plan that is valid until June 30, 2009. Everyone who has purchased the Build Automator should have received their Maintenance Plans yesterday (June 5). If you did not receive our email, please let us know.

Please note that our office will be closed from today (Friday June 6) until Monday morning, June 9. We will probably not be able to answer emails during this time, but if you need to contact us, please use our forums.

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

Update on new build

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We have been so busy lately working on the next build that I haven't taken time to write!

We released a new build last week, May 15, and have released a few minor build since then to fix things. We had problems with our Clarion compile actions. We have received report from one of our tester that this problem is now solved. The fix will be included in the next build which is scheduled for Thursday, May 22. We also received reports about problems with the Project Items, which we have duplicated and we are about half way done fixing those.

The Web Update is now fully functional and future updates will be released as web updates from now on. You can of cource download the full install if you want to.

This week's build will include documentation about how to create new actions using the Developer Edition, but most of it is behind the scenes work on separating the Standard and Developer Editions.

One of the things that we wanted to do in order to separate the editions was to create a script to rebuild the Build Automator. That includes compiling all code, Clarion and Visual C++ code, and compile the standard install and the web update. We can now truly say that the Build Automator builds itself! It will compile and prepare each build from now on, fully automatically!

Next week's release will include the Maintenance plan setup in the software. We will start releasing Maintenance plan code to customers who purchased before June 1 in the first week of June and all customers will receive it before we release new updates after June 1st.

We will keep you updated as we get closer to the release of the new version, but so far everything looks good and the new build should be on schedule:)

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

When unexpected things happen...

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We had planned to release a new build today, Monday. But sometimes things just don't go as planned! The past 24 hours have been a demonstration to me that sometimes the only predictable thing is the unpredictability of things&#59;)

I have been meaning to take some time to customize the skin that I'm using for this blog and at least add the Build Automator logo at the top and put a link back to the website. It doesn't seem to be possible to add the link without modifying the skin. So last night I decided to install b2evolution on my local server, which I use for all web development testing before I upload it to our webserver. Installing was a breeze and then I was going to transfer the mySQL data from our webserver to our local server. I have been using SQL Front (formerly MySQL Front) for years for MySQL work. I didn't have it installed on the server machine so I downloaded the latest and installed it. While I was doing the transfer I got some SQL errors on couple of tables and it didn't finish the transfer. I had run into this with the forum database as well so I decided to use the same method and drop the local database and try again.

So I drop the database. About half a second later I realized to my horror that I had dropped the database on the webserver, not the local server! And now I had one non-existing database on the webserver and one partial database at home - not a good situation at 11:30 at night. After several minutes of sheer panic I realized that I did have the table with the postings on my local machine, it had made it over before the transfer failed, so I realized that I could rebuild the blog. I sent my hosting company an email and asked them if they had a backup. This morning I had an email from my friend Benjamin Krajmalnik, one of the owners of the Illumen Group which hosts our sites, with a zip of the database. I uploaded it and the blog was back up and running. Thanks to Benjamin, I had my blog up again:)

This morning I spent time getting the blog back up and since I was messing with it I figured that I should take the time and try to change the skin. After almost two hours I realized that there was something very, very strange going on. Half the skin is in a style sheet and the other half in php. The problem was that no matter what I did with that .css file, nothing changed in the layout! When I realized that I could delete the file and nothing changed, I decided to post on the b2evolution forum and ask for help&#59;) After taking a break for this all and doing something else it dawned on me that the path to the css was probably being fixed somewhere because I was using the data from the webserver! So I went back to the computer, renamed the .css file on the webserver and lo and behold, my local server was indeed pulling the file from the webserver, not local!

When I had finally figured that out it was kind of a relief to me as I realized that the darn .css hadn't taken over and posessed my computer! I settled down to do some final testing of the new build when I ran into something unpredictable and unexpected again that I had to fix. What I found was that our new "Compile multiple Clarion apps" action would not advance from one app to the next one unless I clicked on the Build Automator icon to activate it. Since I had also added the same method to the "Compile Clarion" action, it would not terminate the compile process either. Very strange behaviour indeed that demanded investigating and fixing right away. To add to my misery I realized at one point that I had been compiling the wrong DLL for about 30 mintues - definitely not my day&#59;) In the end I found the culprit, a timer that was expected to fire hadn't been initialized, so it never fired and that timer was responsible for breaking up the compile process. Simple thing that was overlooked and broke the code completely. Once that was fixed, everything started working as expected. I hadn't noticed it before because I was switching between Clarion and Build Automator to make sure everything worked ok when switching and I never realized that the compile process required a manual intervention between apps! Everything looks very good now and the build is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday May 13 :)

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

Tech Stuff: "Failed to execute target process..."

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When we first released the Build Automator one of the first people to download the demo got an error after running the program once. It was an obscure error that we had never seen or heard about, the message only stating "Failed to execute target process (Error Code 5)"
Error message

I posted questions about this on several developer newsgroups and did not get much information back. But my luck was about to change! Few hours after I posted a fellow Clarion programmer and photography enthusiast, Marty Honea, called me and asked if this customer was using Internet Explorer 7. He had run into a similar problem few months earlier and got information that this was caused by security settings in IE7 and he gave me information about how to fix this.

This was on April 30 and I posted this right away to my customer but didn't hear back from him until today. Apparently I wasn't receiving his emails for some reason. The fix I had sent to him worked perfectly.

First of all, the fix:

Open Explorer and navigate to the executable that is showing the error. Right click on the EXE file. At the bottom of the properties window, on the "General" tab there is a section at the bottom, called "Security" which shows a text about that "this file may have come from another computer and might be blocked to help protect this computer"

This section ONLY shows up if the file is blocked! Click the "Unblock" button on the right, under the "Advanced" button and this whole section disappear and so does this cryptic error message!

Next, some digging:

Tonight I decided to do some research and see what I could come up with. Apparently this comes from a zone protection that is implemented in IE7 and under Vista. From what I understand this may also happen under XP. When a file is downloaded or copied the OS seems to add an alternate data stream to it that indicates where it came from. When the file is run, or opened, the source of this datastream is compared to the computer where the program is currnently running and if they don't match, the zoning restrictions kick in. In this particular case the abrevity and obscurity of the message is such that it's impossible to figure out what is causing it.

Most people haven't heard much about Alternate Data Streams (ADS) sometimes also called "Additional Data Streams". This is a feature of the NTFS file system that allows anyone to attach data to a file, rather than add to the file. Not only that, this data doesn't show up anywhere unless you know where to look. Until XP SP2 you could create additional streams using notepad and save the file to something like myfile.txt:additionalstream.txt Notice the colon in the filename? That's the indicator that the data should go to an additional stream, rather than into the file itself.

The interesting thing is that if you view the size of the file in Explorer, or any other software that doesn't specifically look for ADS, the software will not report the ADS at all! It is, for all intents and purposes, completely hidden from view. This opens up the rather strange possibility of having a hard drive full of 0 byte files, but the drive is full of data!&#59;)

Some resources:

http://www.wikistc.org/wiki/Alternate_data_streams
http://forums.techarena.in/showthread.php?t=727473
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb897440.aspx
http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=%22This+file+came+from+another+computer%22

Progress on new build

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We have made very solid progress this week and we will probably cut a new build of the Build Automator on Monday. We have fixed all problems that have been reported to us so far, including:

  1. The Move up/down buttons on Project Window behaved erratically and could corrupt project script. Fixed.
  2. Confirmation message was showing when a new action item was created and then cancelled. Fixed.
  3. The Move up/down buttons on the Project Window did not work with the Project Item list, only the Action Item list. Fixed.
  4. When Setup Builder was run there was no indication that anything was happening. Setup Builder does not have any interface that shows when it is run from the Command Line. Now this action shows a window that tells what project is being compiled and asks the user to wait. Fixed.
  5. The "Compile Setup Builder" window did not fit into 800x600 window. The window has been made shorter and is now resizable. Fixed.
  6. Startup Folder on "Run Program" and "Run File" actions did not update. Fixed.
  7. The "Compile with Clarion" action was rather cumbersome. We have added a "Compile Multiple apps with Clarion" action. Fixed.
  8. When selecting paths and files, the default folder was always the program folder. We have changed this so that each file and folder select path is saved and restored. For example when you select the Startup folder for a "Run Program" action it will be saved to use next time you use that action. That does not affect the Startup folder in the "Run File" action. Fixed.
  9. Save button on Project Variables window did not close the window. Fixed.
  10. Adding variables to "Compile Setup Builder" would only allow one variable. Fixed.

We had one report of the "Compile with Clarion" action being unreliable and the DDE connection not working properly. We have rewritten part of the Clarion compile method we will be putting it through the pace over the weekend. So far it looks rock stable.

In addition to fixing those things we have the IDE now completely separated from our own plugins that contain all our actions. This is a huge step in the process of getting the Developer Edition ready for it's final release. We now have two independent action plugin DLLs, one for the Standard Edition and one for the Developer Edition. The technology is rock stable and we have had no issues with it whatsoever. We are very excited to see this product mature and grow up :)

-- Arnor Baldvinsson

For Clarion programmers: Joel Spolsky's 12 Steps to Better Code - now possible with Clarion!

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8 years ago the famous Joel Spolsky (Joel on Software) wrote an article on his blog about the "12 steps to Better Code" In the article he presented his "Joel Test" for software developers to take in order to measure the quality of their software operation. His second step was called "Can you make a build in one step?"

This is a reasonable question, particularly when you need to create builds on regular basis for Q&A teams to follow up on the work of the development teams. Often times this particular thing can be a daunting and error prone process and is often not done by software companies. This has been particularly difficult for Clarion developers because Clarion does not have a command line compiler, rather relies on DDE to control the Integrated Development Environment.

The Build Automator has changed all this. Because the Build Automator is written with Clarion in mind it fully supports the DDE communication to the Clarion IDE. We will also be adding actions this summer that can register templates and run utility templates. That will make it easy for example to rebuild your template registry from scratch. Rebuilding the registry is something that we would reccommend doing on semi-regular basis to keep the registry clean.

The Build Automator is not just for the old IDE, which will be replaced with the new Clarion 7 and Clarion# IDEs soon. The Build Automator has an action that calls MS-Build to compile any project or project solution that can be compiled with MS-Build. This includes any Visual Studio solutions/projects as well as Delphi. But more importantly this also includes the new Clarion IDE that is used in both Clarion 7 and Clarion#. So with the Build Automator you can pretty much cover all the major development tool, including most Clarion versions. On the Clarion front we have only really tested the Build Automator with the Clarion 6.3 IDE and the new Clarion 7 IDE. It should, however, work without problems with the older Clarion 5.5, Clarion 5.0 and Clarion 4.0 versions.

Many Clarion developers use the excellent Setup Builder from LinderSoft. The Build Automator was written with SetupBuilder in mind and in fact, Lindersoft has made several updates and changes to the SetupBuilder to accommodate the Build Automator. So the Build Automator is the perfect match for SetupBuilder users! You can now build your SetupBuilder installs with a single press of a button using the Build Automator. This is particularly efficient when doing web update builds. You can set the new version number in one place in the Build Automator and it will take care of the rest. We have been using the Build Automator for a few months now on our own installs, including the Build Automator installs, so you could say that the Build Automator has been building itself. :D

Separating Standard and Developer Editions

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We have now completed the separation between the two editions. We still have some coding left to complete the interface between the IDE and the external plugins, but that is minor work and could be completed tomorrow (Monday).

Next build will definitely be able to use third party plugins - in other words, you will be able to write your own plugin actions for it, using your favourite language:)

The Build Automator does not yet support .NET dlls but we plan on adding support for that soon after the Developer Edition goes gold!

We will provide simple skeleton projects in Clarion and Visual C++ that demonstrate how you can create third party plugins for the Build Automator. The Build Automator can even help you out by generating the skelton for you!

This coming week we will also start publishing tutorials and videos on our Tutorial page. We will make announcements about that on both this blog and our forum, so make sure that you check out the blog and forum regularly!

Moving on: The Developer Edition!

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As soon as we got todays release out we were back at work on the next task, which is to finish the Developer Edition. We have made great progress already! One of the big challenges in the Developer Edition is completely dynamic loading of DLLs.

This is needed both for the IDE itself as the Action Editor and all related functionality will from now on be in it's own DLL which will only be distributed with the Developer Edition. It needs to be completely independent of the main application so it has to be dynamically loaded at runtime. The other place where this is needed is for the action plugins. The only thing the IDE knows about each plugin DLL is what it's called and what the CallFunction is called! This is stored in the action file and is the only information that we need in order to load and execute the actions in the DLL.

We took the first step today by separating our own action dll into a dynamically loaded plugin. The IDE is no longer dependent on it and this also means that we can start working with additional plugins and thereby making it possible for you to write your own! Everything is looking good so far and early next week we will have the Action Editor separated and then we can put the Developer Edition together pretty quickly.

It's even possible that we might be able to release the Developer Edition ahead of our own target date of June 1st! But don't worry! The all inclusive $99.00 offer for the Developer Editon plus a one year maintenance plan from the Developer Edition release date will remain in effect until June 1st :)

Bug Fix!

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We just got a report that an error message was popping up when the program started stating that it could not create "Global Variables.avar". We have found and implemented a fix for problem. We have tested it on both Windows XP and Windows Vista to make sure that it's gone. We have uploaded build 1.10.200. We apologize for the inconvenience.

New version released

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Finally, we have got our new website up! We have also made a new build available, version 1.10.100.

For information about what's changed and added, please check out our forum posting at http://www.buildautomator.com/forum/index.php/topic,5.0.html

We are very excited about the new website and this new version. We are already working on the next build which will be out sometime next week. It's primary target is the separation of the Standard- and the Developer Editions and full support for external plugins so you can start writing your own plugins for it!

Like I mentioned in the last post we have added some "eye-candy" to the program and we will continue to do so. It is important to us that the program looks good, but first and foremost that it is simple to use and FAST!

Obviously we use the Build Automator to create the builds for itself:) For those who downloaded the original build, we would suggest that you uninstall it and then install the new build. Your projects and data will not be affected.

Slight delay on the release

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We had some last minutes fixes and updates to do on the program and the new website is getting it's final updates tomorrow morning (May 2nd) and when we have that in place, the new release goes out the door:) We got our automatic key-code generator up and running today so anyone who buys from our website will get a key code delivered right away. The new website is looking awesome and we are very excited about getting all these things out tomorrow.

One of the new features that we added was an About window that shows version information etc. It is also used as a splash window that opens when the program opens. You can turn it off if you don't want it.

We also added the same option for the picklist so it can be turned off if you don't want it to start when you run the program.

We of course also added this to the options window where you can turn those windows back on if you want to

Build Automator blog

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Welcome to the Build Automator blog. For the past week, since our initial release on April 24, we have been busy working on a new build which will be released tomorrow, April 30. We have added several new actions, updated the documentation and we have a brand new website in store also!

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