Sunday, November 11, 2007

New VIC is coming. Really.

I haven't forgotten about this. I've just been swamped with paying projects. Nevertheless, I've gotten to many of the new features I wanted to include for the next release, and have only a few more to go, mostly in Projects, and in making things a bit better for users operating directly off the server rather than a local replica.

(VIC has been geared toward replicas since... well, forever, but I've recently gotten more feedback from users who are working directly off the server copy with no local replica. That's the way this works, folks. I do NOT fix problems that I do not experience and no one else has complained about. But if you have a problem it gets fixed pretty quickly when it's brought to my attention.)

New feature: Selectable Logos.

This isn't a vanity feature. Branding the software you use is an important step in getting users to embrace it and use it. It's a psychological trick, but I think it's an important one.

User-editable logo has previously been an "under the hood" feature, added by the excellent Rob Breault some years ago, but I had disabled it in the general releases because it seemed a little unstable on my machine. Mostly, though, it was because I'd improperly implemented Rob's change in the frameset. I had some time yesterday to revisit this, re-instate it, and beef it up a little bit and it will be back in the next release. It does mean that the Admin will have a little extra setup to do at the outset, but that's OK, I'm sure. Previously, to change the logo you had to edit the database design.

Here's how it works. When installing the new template (or creating from scratch), you'll need to go to the Database Profile in the Config database. Don't bother to open the config database first, as you'll just get a scary message and your Navigator pane won't look right. Just highlight the db then pull down the Actions menu, then Tools, then Edit Database Profile.
If you've used VIC before you might notice that the profile no longer appears in a frameset. This is to aid in setting up the new format without seeing a bunch of errors. Just keep in mind that with a new install, you need to create ALL of your other local databases from the templates first and save VIC Config for last. Then edit this profile. It looks like this:
There are a lot of other options, but Logo is the one we're interested in now. We want to make sure we've created and selected one. So you can click Edit Logos now. You'll see a list that's probably empty except for one blank entry named "[Default]" Add as many as you like. At the moment we can only select one globally, but the ultimate goal here is to provide a selection of logos so that individuals can select their own; perhaps for different departments, or just because it's cool.

When adding a logo you can put whatever graphic you like in there, and can select from something that's in the database design or something on your hard disk. Two VIC logos are provided in the database design... the cartoon VIC Beaver and a more conservative beaver logo for stodgier folks. However, you can select a graphic from your hard drive as well. Just keep in mind that a logo for the frameset should be a maximum of 78 pixels in height, and about 120 pixels wide. For best results you should also center your image after you import it. And don't forget to name it!

OK, save the logo and close the Logos view. That should put you back in your Global Profile document, and you can click "Select Logo" to pull from a list. There no practical limit to the number of different logos you can prepare, assuming you give them unique names.
Here I'm going to select the Natural Beaver. The fuzzed out entries are some that I've prepared for other folks for demoing the feature so they can see how VIC would look installed on their own system and personalized.

Once you've selected your new logo, Save & Close the Global Profile. This will propagate the change to all of the other databases. (It doesn't copy the logo to all the other databases... just its location. That frame will be loaded from the Config database).

Before the logo change:

And after:
Of course, yours will have whatever you like on it. And no, the word "" is NOT permanently embossed in the frame. It's just part of the graphic I provide by default. Your's might say something catchy like "IBM" or "Joe's Seafood Emporium".