Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Time, Oh Sweet Time

With things at work at a voluntary standstill, I've been enjoying having time to do some coding. A project that has been kicking around in my mind for at least a decade, with a couple iterations that shrivelled on the vine, is some way to track all the stuff that comes in each day, and which should all eventually be invoiced.

So a while ago I dusted off my very limited c++ skills and dove into the Qt4 api. As expected, the challenge is not so much the syntax. Using a library written by someone else requires getting into their thoughts to be able to make things work. Having done some gui stuff on OS/2 and Windows(very limited) in the past, I knew what I needed, and the learning was how to get Qt4 to give it to me.

I've found that if I feel the need to bend things around, I have missed something. In fact, most everything is quite easy and quick, once you find the class and method that you need to override. Learning which is the slow part of the process.

So I've figured out sql, models, tables, proxy models (finally stable in 4.2.2). The model-view architecture is very powerful. I had a familiar feeling of being totally lost and seemingly unable to grasp the fundamentals. Very satisfying. Already I have seen where KDE will be useful, ie. the date picker widget. I'm about to start delving into the calendar and contacts api's in kdepim. I intend to use the data entry and syncing of data from other sources that is built into the kdepim libraries. That should save me some work.

So here is a picture. Nothing is even close to being useful yet, still working on getting various data entry issues sorted out.

The structure of the application is to take seemingly random and unorganized data from all sources, ie. phone logs, vcalendar files, scanned and ocr'd documents, scheduled work and the odd data entry, and allow users to sort through it all quickly, assigning each event to a job. The job will then be organized further, some explanations and cleanups of the raw data, eventually outputting an invoice. We generate a huge amount of stuff, doing on average 4-5 jobs each a day, each with callbacks, parts ordering, some warranty issues. The only real roadblock so far is the lack of good free ocr software.

Why don't you try Kexi for this? It seems to me to be perfect for the task.
Have you tried kexi?

I've been surprised/astonished/frustrated at some of the limitations within Qt. I doubt if I would use Kexi even if it was feature complete. Which it isn't.

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