GNUe Traffic #7 For 15�Dec�2001

By Peter Sullivan

Free, as in donuts - we opened up an 'account' at the local donut shope for good ole jcater - they accept paypal now....

Table Of Contents


This Cousin covers the three main mailing lists for the GNU Enterprise project, gnue, gnue-dev and gnue-announce. For more information about GNUe, see their home page at ( . Details of the mailing lists can be found at ( , ( , ( .

It also covers, on an intermittant basis (i.e. when I have time), the #gnuenterprise IRC channel. A great deal of development discussion is still going on in IRC. You can find #gnuenterprise on, or you can review the logs at ( .

1. Website text for GNUe Accounting/Financials

30�Nov�2001�-�5�Dec�2001 (12 posts) Archive Link: "[gnue-discuss] Accounting Text Version 2.0"

Topics: Financials (Accounting)

People: Alan Clifford,�Neil Tiffin,�Phil Cole,�Reinhard M�ller,�Derek Neighbors

Alan Clifford provided some sample text for the GNUe Accounting module descriptions, covering:

Neil Tiffin said the following additional modules were also included:

Phil Cole said he thought Customers and Suppliers "should be in a Common area" shared between all the modules that used them. Alan said he kept changing his mind on this, and would go with the consensus. Neil said "we are not final on this but currently we have defined organization as the common object with both customers and vendors inherited from a organization." Derek agreed.

Reinhard M�ller said Alan's content "looks 100% Ok to me. :)" , but wondered if it should be called GNUe Financials rather than GNUe Accounting. Neil and Alan both felt Financials was the industry-standard terminology. Derek Neighbors uploaded Alan's text "with some modifcations" to the web site for further comments. He pointed out that "GNUe Reports will handle all reporting from all the systems" , but Alan said he understood that, but felt "the financial report generator is specialized because it has lots of formatting and summarizing logic working on a single, fairly simple database."

2. GNUe Human Resources (HR) proposal

2�Dec�2001�-�5�Dec�2001 (8 posts) Archive Link: "HR Package Proposal"

Topics: Human Resources

People: Neil Tiffin,�Kevin Handy,�Mark Smith,�Derek Neighbors

Neil Tiffin announced that a proposal ( for GNUe HR had been written by Mark Smith, and asked for comments. He noted that "We already have an employee class in base.person" which could be re-used. Kevin Handy poited out that there were a lot of date fields in the proposal, which were not necessarily exhaustive. Instead he suggested "a date history file " with a code, date and description. "The file would be cululative (rows are added, not changed, when anything changes)." This would enable a large number of fields to be removed from the definition, and would be easily extensible. He also suggested changes to the emergency contact table. Mark said the date proposals sounded a good idea, but "My only concern would be if it made user queries more difficult to write: could we avoid making people think 'give me everyone with date code nn date before 1970', when what they mean is 'give me everyone with date_of_birth before 1970'?" Derek Neighbors said he wasn't so sure - "this type of schema reminds me of unflexible code that puts things in slush tables so its 'easy' to add new data collection items. The problem is that generally the input for them looks like crap and are in odd places and reporting against them are pure hell." As GNUe implementors would always have access to the source code, it might make more sense to let them just add whatever dates they needed to the table as extra fields, rather than have a seperate, multi-row, dates table.

Meanwhile, Neil said he had made space in CVS for the proposals, and would formally add them in the standard formats - "ps, rtf, tex, docbook, and html" - once FSF copyright assignment had been received. He suggested sticking to plain text for the moment whilst changes were being made.

Meanwhile, on IRC ( , Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) commented on the HR proposal. There was some over-zealous cut and paste in places. GNUe also needed to be consistant about whether it was 'Human Resource' or 'Human Resources'. He agreed that "planning, time and expenses and project management belong elsewhere :)" and picked up a few other minor typos.

Neil Tiffin (neilt) asked about industry "templates - how will these be done ?" Derek said this needed defining. Neil said "i am reluctant to refer to something we have no idea how it will work" He felt that "an implementation framework not a conceptual framework" for templates was needed. Derek said he agreed, but "until rest of the core team is ready to start discussing it doenst do a lot of good :("

Derek said "i didnt get a chance to fully go over the class information (gcd's)" but he thought the proposal was a good start. He said " i want/need some of this stuff, but having in all gcd is killing me as i cant implement a gnue solution that way today :( - so i either have to undo the gcds into a relational format or roll my own" . He was "hoping jamest can get a decent forms/geas driver, but its not lookign promising - lots of performance and holes in some things" . The designers were not happy with the query system. He clarified "btw: not saying thigns are hopeless - just saying it sucks to be sitting on some pretty good stuff - (base packages, sales, hr, etc) but having hands tied wrt implementation - it will all work out in due time - just i want to writing some apps :)"

3. Segmentation faults with GNUe Application Server

10�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 10 Dec 2001"

Topics: Application Server

People: James Thompson,�Reinhard M�ller

James Thompson (jamest) said he could create a segmentation fault with GNUe Application Server. He explained "i think what is happening is that if I create a empty query object and then tell it to execute query - geas server segfaults" . Reinhard M�ller (reinhard) said this was perfectly possible and said "I will have a look at it" .

4. Preferred database drivers for GNUe Forms and Designer

10�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 10 Dec 2001"

Topics: Forms, Designer

People: Ulrich Ech,�James Thompson,�Derek Neighbors

Ulrich Ech (jack-e) asked what the best database driver was "for use with forms/designer ??" . James Thompson (jamest) said "pypgsql is the one I have used lately" . Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) suggested "odbc is a little cleaner and no dependency :)" He said "as you can see we cant agree :) - but thats the great thing about gnue, its all about choices :)" . James said "I suggest that you not follow dneighbo's suggestions though as he always seems to trip up bugs" . Derek riposted "what jamest is really saying, is if you want to know if something 'really' works ask me :)"

5. SAP database driver for GNUe

10�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 10 Dec 2001"

Topics: Designer, Forms

People: Ulrich Ech,�Jason Cater,�Derek Neighbors,�James Thompson

Ulrich Ech (jack-e) said "i'm new to gnue and browsed through the cvs sources and saw that the sapdbdriver needs some help .. i'm willing to contribute but i will need help understanding the dbdrivers concept .." Jason Cater (jcater) said "we really could use someone to write the schema introspection code for it" . Later, Ulrich said "I have done db-inspection of sapdb for use with pydo .. perhaps i could contribute this" . Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) said GNUe Designer needed this "for the 'wizards' to work - also anyone wishing to use common outside of gnue forms would find useful - and even within forms people might want the ability in triggers..." James Thompson (jamest) said "I think postgresql drivers would be the one to learn from" as that already had introspection. Derek said it was best to get the database connection code working first, "then when that is working move to the introspection functions (not they arent important, but they are less critical)" .

Later, Ulrich confirmed "basic zipcode-example works with sapdb .. now off to the introspection-thingies :)" He hadn't tested it with dates, however. James confirmed that the introspection did not include primary-foreign key relationships, although it could be extended to cover this. However, "the designer designs UI not the table layout at this time" . He explained "schema discovery is a new feature of the dbdrivers and is not mature or complete - what we have now is setup your db - run a wizard in designer that looks at a single table and autobuilds a simple form - manipulate that form to get what you like - wizards can be written as plugins and I hope to see master/detail wizard someday - we can extend the dbdriver model to meet our needs if people find it lacking" .

6. Data Types in GNUe Common

10�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 10 Dec 2001"

Topics: Common

People: Ulrich Ech,�Derek Neighbors,�Jason Cater

Ulrich Ech (jack-e) asked where he could get more information about what data types were supported in GNUe Common, reporting that he was "half way of introspection-support for sapdb ..." Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) gave some examples of how the postgresql driver converted database-specific data types to more generic types for GNUe Common. He said "i think the 'data types' in GNUe Forms are pretty 'limited'" Ulrich asked why "in the oracle driver " LONG RAW" is mapped to "number" this is strange ..." Jason Cater confimed that Oracle treated LONG RAW as "Raw binary data up to 2 gigabytes (cannot be a key)" Ulrich asked "is there a hook for converting longs to e.g. stringio ?? sapdb needs to handle long-fields with some <longfield>.read() method .." . Jason said "we haven't implemented blob-like support yet" and suggested "you might want to put a # TODO: comment in there saying that those types weren't implemented because you need buffer-like capabilities (or something to that effect)" .

7. Using GNUe Designer

11�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 11 Dec 2001"

Topics: Designer, Why GNUe?

People: Ulrich Ech,�Derek Neighbors,�Daniel Baumann,�Jason Cater,�James Thompson

Ulrich Ech said he "still need to figure out how to build complex forms/apps" Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) said he usually started in GNUe Designer, and then would "run a wizard against the 'biggest/base' table for my form and let it auto create that. Then i use designer to add additional datasources (detail) and the widgets needd to support them" . Ulrich asked how to do master/detail forms. Derek said "just add a new datasource then in it fill out the information to bind to a master [...] you have to pick the fields to 'link' on" .

Derek said that using GNUe would always be more limited "in the sense you are a LOT less confined say writing an app in C and GTK+ - however it will take you a lot longer" and "you will be tied to single UI" . It was a question of the right tool for the job. In his experience " thus far 'most' data aware business applications are a good choice for gnue as fancy widgets etc arent all that necessary and the maintainability, speed to develop and UI choices are worth it" .

Ulrich asked how to create a multi-form application. Derek said "currently what i have done is create a 'launcher' form" but he added "we are working on a 'dynamic menuing' system" . Daniel Baumann (chillywilly) said "I don't see GNUe as being app can hack up a nice 2-tier app for now with it, but that's not what you want in the long run" . Jason Cater (jcater) said "there's nothing wrong with 2-tier - it's a different approach" . James Thompson (jamest) added "i think you'd be amazed how many "non app ready" 2-tier solutions driver todays businesses" .

8. Importing GNUe Forms code

11�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 11 Dec 2001"

Topics: Forms, Common

People: Ulrich Ech,�Derek Neighbors,�James Thompson

Ulrich Ech (jack-e) said "my first thought was to import the interesting parts of gnue-forms and use them directly .. has anyone done such a thing ??" Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) said "well that is what common was DESIGNED for :) so db abstraction, rpc abstraction, and everything else in common was designed to be available to any python developer wishing to use them. I think the parser is there too. If you were to start importing things into forms I would question why not add to forms what you need done instead of importing it" .

James Thompson (jamest) said "the forms trigger language and the UI system on forms are currently both being rewritten so any input on where it's lacking would be greatly appreciated" . Ulrich said "ok .. let me first try all the things we are talking about before i rumble around with less knowledge about what i'm really talking :) i'm willing to bring in my ideas :) and probably some code as well .. but i really need to get into it .. as i've often said to others: read the sources, luke :))" The thread degenerated into a good-natured feud over how difficult the GNUe Forms code was to read, and whose fault this (and everything else) was.

9. Electronic Business XML

12�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 12 Dec 2001"

Topics: Application Server

People: Sacha Schlegel,�Reinhard M�ller

Sacha Schlegel (SachaS) said "i am studying ebXML (electronic business XML. So today companies already use erp systems. the ebXML specifications provide a framework to get a global electronic marketplace." This allows companies to "define their business processes in XML document and send this XML docuemnt to a registry." Businesses could use this registry to find trading partners with compatible business processes, and create a "new XML document, called Collaboration Protocol Agreement." . The ebXML software at both parties would then use this CPA to define "the roles (buyer, seller), the documents which have to be sent (order, shipment notice, bill etc) and in which order" , using the data within each company's ERP system. This implies the need for a "gnue-ebxml convertor" . He said "i think if there is a Business Process Engine within gnue (geas) where I can model business processes " this would be fairly easy to link in.

Reinhard M�ller (reinhard) said "my experience is that every company tries to have a single business process that is valid for all customers or all vendors" . Sacha said "that the ebXML registry is filled with COMMON business processes" . Although "ebXML targets Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) it looks like bigger companies will profit of ebXML first."

10. Combo boxes in GNUe Designer

12�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 12 Dec 2001"

Topics: Designer

People: Jason Cater,�Derek Neighbors

It was asked how to define an integer field in Designer. Jason Cater (jcater) said "there should be a "typecast" attribute that you can set to numeric" . He clarified "the typecast property should have a combo box" . Derek Neighbors said "i think wx has screwed up painting so on the combo boxes it 'behaves' like a combobox, but it doesnt 'look' like one :) [...] i think its cause its a combo box in a grid" . If the problem was definantely with wx, he would raise it as a log with "the wx lists" . Jason said "there whole grid system is botched (and they know it :) I think we are the only major project using them (most others implement their own) but I had them displaying right at once" .

11. Sandsurfer Time Recording

12�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 12 Dec 2001"

Topics: Payroll, DCL, Forms

People: Jason Pattie,�Derek Neighbors,�Jason Cater

Jason Pattie (pattieja) had helped to build Sandsurfer ( , "an open source time keeping tool we wrote" in perl. They were looking to link this to an open source payroll system. Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) said "we dont have payroll done BUT i have customers needing it so i would be willing to make it priority" . He said he normally didn't care for web-based applications, "but i see value in web based 'time entry' i.e. clock in clock out" . Jason Pattie explained "SandSurfer has client billing included and some other company related features" . Derek said it could either be incorporated into GNUe, or integrated by "being flexible to someone adding stubs where necessary to interface to GNUe" . GNUe normally used python rather than perl, but Jason Pattie said "we wanted to rewrite the whole thing anyway" . He confirmed that Sandsurfer did not currently do notifications for incorrect/incomplete time.

Derek said that DCL ( was a "good performance metrics tool, but not a hard core when are you at work when aren't you tool" . Jason Cater said his organisation used swipe cards with a "magnetic strip" and proprietary software. Derek had previously set up a web-based system - "any terminal with a webbroswer could clock you in" . For non-PC users, they "put a pc at front desk (running linux) that was OLD like 486 and have it with browser open to page - it was 'login' click the button logout" . This was then extended to a remote location as well.

Derek said that "if you are serious about using gnue we can probably focus some attention to a solution - if you needed something yesterday and only want something that is ready now today out of box, then gnue wont work :)" Jason Pattie said "this will be a process of growth - my boss wanted to incorporate payroll into SandSurfer, but wanted to check to make sure that there weren't systems out there already so we wouldn't reinvent the wheel yet another time." They were currently using "a web-based accounting system which is open source as well called XIWA ( (XIWA Is Web Accounting)" . Derek asked " any reason you didnt use sql-ledger/ ( [...] just curious as it seems popular and is perl (iirc)" . A lot of people interested in using GNUe long-term were currently using it as an alternative to gnucash. He personally "still cant imagine doing books via a web interface, but i suppose if you are low volume you could do so w/o tearing your hair out" . Because of validation issues, the entry forms often had to have multiple pages. "Redrawing the screen after every 'action'" was also not suitable for high-volume usage. The GNUe HTML front-end would have similar issues, "the difference is it become optional w/o recode so if i make a gnue form for something it can be used web, curses, gtk, win32 - so the folks doing 500 invoices can use gtk or such and not suffer penalty - but for a same disparate organization they can use the webforms" .

Derek said he could knock up some demo forms in GNUe "like the edit/add/deletion of users" and would see if he had time to "install sandsurfer" . The management screens could be written in GNUe Forms, leaving the web-based front-end for clocking in or out. Also, "i might be able to take our hr spec and whip up employee screens which would be the basis of your user tables " so that an employee's "login references their hr record for like thier name, job title etc" .

12. Using DCL for the GNUe Project internally

12�Dec�2001�Archive Link: "[IRC] 12 Dec 2001"

Topics: DCL

People: Derek Neighbors,�Nick Rusnov,�Michael Dean

Derek Neighbors (derek) confirmed that the GNUe Project is now using DCL ( internally. He "needs to create a 'guest' account so people can see whats there then create a little page so can create an account to 'add' items" Nick Rusnov (nickr) suggested "a non-login account for tickets" . Michael Dean (mdean) suggested an "e-mail gateway" . Derek said people would be able to either register to create tickets, or "just email and it autocreates a ticket :) via gateway - the 'advantage' to registering will be then you can get the 'status' of your ticket and status will be mailed to you etc etc etc" He said "for now you can see whats there by using user: guest pass: guest ( " . GNUe team members would be given their own individual usernames and passwords soon. He confessed "best way to get one is email me lots of crap that should be in dcl and i will get sick of entering it and give you an id instead and tell you to enter it :)" .

Sharon And Joy

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