29 May 2007

Web programming to web program

I’m facing writing a passel of web-based applications. So I started doing what any self-respecting semi-sane geek would do: started writing web applications to help write the web applications.

OK, so far I’ve got a skeleton which lets me design and to a certain extent lay out PostgreSQL tables within a web form. Yes, I’d be delighted to be motivated by the MySQL people to make MySQL a participant in this system. (-:

Rather than write a bazillion reports, I’m about 2/3 of the way through a thingy which turns a PDF into a report. The benefit in this is that the user hits a button in their web browser and is suddenly facing a PDF (which they can print) of the results.

I’m highly tempted to add this capacity to an ODF document, so one can sit down with OpenOffice Writer & churn out report templates effortlessly. Spitting out .odt files to be saved is easy enough, but I’ll have to look into automating a shell-based ODT printer to basically turn an .odt document plus a bunch of SQL rows into a printed report, automagically.

Awesome magic would lie in turning this into a browser plugin as well. Yes, one can use MIME types to invoke Writer & the like, but it just ain’t the same. Oh, & some poor twit has to learn how to hit the Print icon instead of just watching reports flowing out of their printer (or someone else’s printer).

The fundamental idea is to assemble a kit of parts for assembling web apps, so you can walk into someone’s office & turn out a useful book-keeping application on the spot.

As my book-keeper will no doubt hasten to point out, this will mean more work for book-keepers — not less — as the one thing book-keeping software does not come with is knowledge of the experience kind. He makes serious $$$ rescuing people from their commercial book-keeping software, using a big dose of common sense and a big dose of real book-keeping experience.

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