830 West Parr Avenue, Los Gatos, California 95030
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My Secret Weapon is a simple and fun way to build quality multimedia Windows 95 applications that fit a particular model. Applications typically involve attractive screens (with pictures), sounds, forms, print-outs, logic and math, and/or an Internet/Intranet capability. You do not need to be a programmer to use it.
You start by designing the screens with a WYSIWYG designer that is fun to use and remarkably efficient. Everyone who tries it becomes a fan of the approach. Put some text here. Put a picture here. Put a button to go to another screen there. It's all done mostly with mouse clicks and a minimum of dialog boxes. Naturally, you can also put areas in screens where the user is expected to enter data or select from options.
In addition to making things attractive, you'll want to make things happen. That's where "rules" come into play. Using a special language (like a programming language, but easier) you can specify actions to take place when buttons are pushed or screens changed. Such rules can refer to data the user has entered. For example,
message = "Missing Information" when rate <= 0 or hours <= 0
total = rate * hours
All values in screens can be referred to by their name and calculated values like "message" or "total" can be displayed anywhere in one or more screens. A few screens, a few rules--lo and behold, you have yourself an application that does something useful.
You can define one or more pages to be printed--presumably forms, etc. And you can send files to and download files from the Internet or on your Intranet..
The collection of data entered by the user can be saved as a file in typical fashion. If your application is an "xxx estimator," you would have one file for each "xxx" you estimate.
A complete tax package is probably the upper limit of the complexity of problem you would want to solve with this kit (assuming no custom DLL's--programmer talk). You would not want to use it in situations where millions and millions of calculations are required.
My Secret Weapon is great for wizzards, data reporting, or template-type applications, and permits you to put in a high degree of interactivity.
You do not need to be a programmer to use it. One lawyer has developed a package with about 30 screens, a few hundred variables, a thousand rules or so, and seven or eight pages of print-outs. (Note: I helped him with the rules.) It calculates spousal and child support in California and has been certified by the State for distribution. His part time creation is way ahead of the full-time "professionally" programmed competition in terms of ease of use and attractiveness and calculation accuracy. And, this problem was not easy! It requires complete tax calculations as well as iterations and goal seeking. You would be surprised how complex it is. If you would like to see that product, you can follow this link www.pegasussoft.com .
Below is a sample screen from the demo.
Note the odd shape of the window. As you can see, the program automatically scales to different screen and window sizes even adding scroll bars where necessary. That makes the process of developing screens easy and very forgiving. As long as you don't attempt to cram too many things on a screen, screens will always be adjusted to look good while taking full advantage of higher resolutions. Below is another sample from the demo illustrating the scalability more clearly. Notice that even the fonts used in listboxes have been reduced to fit available space.
Another example of easy-- when you have your program designed, one menu selection makes an INSTALL DISK for it.
You can download a demonstration by picking up the INSTALL.ZIP file. It will give you a basic idea of how an application developed with these tools works. You may even find the previous calculator to be your favorite. It has the nice feature of displaying all your most recent calculations. Also, you can send us a few words about your project using one of the screens in the demo.
After unzipping INSTALL.ZIP, simply run INSTALL.EXE. Unfortunately, I had to put WININET.DLL into the package as some older Windows 95 systems did not have this necessary DLL for Internet access. The download is thus a bit longer than I would like--418K, 4 minutes at 14.4K/sec.
Remember, what you will see is not a laboriously coded computer program, but an engine driven by WYSIWYG-designed screens, a few text files of rules, and a text file of printing instructions that can be prepared by non-programmers--even lawyers!