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  • PB pontential purchaser questions

    Hi all,
    We need a program and after looking at all the alternatives - which were either way too simple or way to complex, with none of them doing what we need - I'm looking at whether the best option is to create our own.
    We are experienced microcontroller programmers (assembler, C, and Basic) but have limited knowledge of writing PC software.

    PB/Win looks the best option (compiles to a single EXE, no .net or java etc runtimes needed, and programs can be run without installation), but as there is no demo version available, a few questions before I buy something that might not do what we need.

    So, the question is, can we use PB/Win to create an app like the one described below?

    - A fixed screen resolution, say 800x600
    - The program window is a changable bitmap (i.e. it can change while the program is running)
    - No top dropdown menu items (i.e. File, Edit, Help, etc)
    - user input is from 6 or so onscreen mouse clickable buttons
    - Can play video content in a sub-window (either AVI or Mpg, file names hard coded into the app)
    - Can get user input in the form of a choice (i.e. click on A, B, C, or D)
    - Can get user input as a few words of text (i.e. "Type in your name and click on CONTINUE")
    - Save the input obtained from the user as a text file at a hard coded location

    The user interface needs to be as simple as possible as it's intended for use by people with limited computer experience - some of these are overwhelmed by a web browser, hence the reason I want a self contained app, and not do this as HTML.

    What is it used for? It shows a series of stills (the background of the app screen is used for this) and videos, and then asks for their name and a few multiple choice questions about the content at the end.
    The results are saved for later review by a teacher or examiner.

    Is PB/Win suitiable for developing an app such as this?
    If so, what addons, if any (such as PBForms), would I need to buy?
    Is there such a thing as people that will write an app for $, if the above is too complex for a programmer with limited Windows develpoment experience?
    Thanks to anyone than can help.
    Chris.

  • #2
    Is PB/Win suitiable for developing an app such as this?
    Most resoundingly Yes

    If so, what addons, if any (such as PBForms), would I need to buy?
    You wouldn't need to buy anything else. You could buy any of the available RAD (Rapid Application Development) tools to make this easier though.

    Is there such a thing as people that will write an app for $, if the above is too complex for a programmer with limited Windows develpoment experience?
    Sure thing. There's a special forum right here to advertise for custom work

    For someone familiar with programming, this isn't that difficult of an application, HOWEVER, there is a learning curve necessary, especially if one has no, or very limited, experience with Windows. If this is the only program you're likely to want, and/or you want it in weeks or a few months, you'd probably be better off having it written for you. There is a cost of learning, and labor is always the most costly aspect of product development.
    Software makes Hardware Happen

    Comment


    • #3
      Chris, you are in good company. PBWIN8 is for you! If I can do it, somebody with more experience than me can certainly do it. For me... hobby 8bit microcontroller, all assembly pre 1999, some QB4, VB3, but very little, I purcased PB when it was 16 bit, Bob had me uprgrade to 32 not too long after, started with using the serial port to upload and download data, save to disk, display results. Then I became obsessed with learning the Win32 API and the GUI elements. It was all trial and error and a lot of help from this beautiful forum full of great warm people. Even if it is only one program, I bet owning PBWIN8 will inspire you to continue to do more with it. Lots of help from this forum in all aspects. My experience tells me writing PC software with the PowerBasic tools is much easier than learning to write C for a microcontroller using it's IDE/complier/linker/libraian.
      Best regards
      Jules
      www.rpmarchildon.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Chris,

        Have a look at this recent thread in Cafe section:
        http://www.powerbasic.com/support/pb...ad.php?t=36978
        Dale

        Comment


        • #5
          Check out the "developed with PowerBASIC" applications. I think there is a link from the PB home page. At least there used to be one.
          Michael Mattias
          Tal Systems (retired)
          Port Washington WI USA
          [email protected]
          http://www.talsystems.com

          Comment


          • #6
            For a start, take a look at:

            http://www.powerbasic.com/bw/index.html

            as well as...

            http://powerbasic.com/powerwho.asp

            Best regards,

            Bob Zale
            PowerBASIC Inc.

            Comment


            • #7
              as well as...

              http://powerbasic.com/powerwho.asp

              Best regards,
              Impressive, there is really noone missing .

              Comment


              • #8
                Chris, I would add "Ditto" to all the other responses (and as you can see there are MANY of them in such a short time span.

                In my experience with PB, my short answer is "This is a close to "Open Source" programming as M$ facilitates"

                Everyone here has their own expertise and a lot of "cross-expertise", that since I started here, I have since found NO problem unsolvable (Thanks to the input and help from others in the forums).

                My advice....worth twice the price just from support forums alone

                (Bob better not take me up on that comment though *teasing grin* )

                That said Chris, from your description, is it safe to assume you are looking to show a bit of an interactive demo of a device that is run by your microcontroller program? (curiosity got the best of me )
                Engineer's Motto: If it aint broke take it apart and fix it

                "If at 1st you don't succeed... call it version 1.0"

                "Half of Programming is coding"....."The other 90% is DEBUGGING"

                "Document my code????" .... "WHYYY??? do you think they call it CODE? "

                Comment


                • #9
                  To Joe Byrne

                  I didn't know where to put this, but I notice Joe signs his posts with:
                  All those in favor of global warming, please raise your hands.
                  I was driving to the coast the other day and noticed a sign:
                  All those who want to arrive safely, please raise your right foot.
                  Brian.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    All those who want to arrive safely, please raise your right foot
                    just so long as you do this in the RIGHT lane where all the old grannies and less competent drivers belong.
                    Software makes Hardware Happen

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For what it's worth

                      I'm a new comer to Powerbasic and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it. I don't think you could do any better.

                      The forum is great at helping with questions and problems and the POWER is all in there to do whatever you want!

                      As stated before, there is a windows learning curve but buying the print version of the PowerBasic mannual and 'Programming Windows' by Charles Petzold is really helping me. If you love programming, I think you'll love PowerBasic.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cliff Nichols View Post
                        That said Chris, from your description, is it safe to assume you are looking to show a bit of an interactive demo of a device that is run by your microcontroller program? (curiosity got the best of me )

                        Actually, it's nothing to do with the microcontroller side of things... the two are very separate. I might - sometime in the future - attempt a Windows program to communicate with a microcontroller via RS232 or similar (I've already done this in DOS in QB45 a few years back).

                        The PC software I was talking about is an education+assessment type program.

                        The only PB video playing program I could find from the links and searching the forums was a rather fancy multiple file type drag and drop video/DVD player thing.

                        I'd like to walk before running - has anyone done a simple player that can play a single file (hard coded filenames OK) in a fixed size window?
                        Any video format would be OK (AVI, MPG, SWF, etc, but preferably not WMF). If so, I'd like to see the source to see how difficult a task this would be.

                        Regards,
                        Chris

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Larry McAnally View Post
                          I'm a new comer to Powerbasic and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it. I don't think you could do any better.

                          As stated before, there is a windows learning curve but buying the print version of the PowerBasic mannual and 'Programming Windows' by Charles Petzold is really helping me. If you love programming, I think you'll love PowerBasic.
                          Hi, thanks for the reply (and the same thanks to the others that replied).

                          Getting books isn't the easiest thing in our corner of the world, so for now I'll be sticking to the "electronically deliverable"....

                          I'm currently looking at the downloadable apps that come with source code, to get an idea how easy/difficult this task is going to be. Looks reasonably straightforward so far, with the exception of video playback (see my previous post).

                          Regards,
                          Chris.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You could always try Patrice's MCI movie player for starters. Poor Man's Movie Player from the source code forum.
                            Engineer's Motto: If it aint broke take it apart and fix it

                            "If at 1st you don't succeed... call it version 1.0"

                            "Half of Programming is coding"....."The other 90% is DEBUGGING"

                            "Document my code????" .... "WHYYY??? do you think they call it CODE? "

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Chris,

                              I'd suggest that you use Search's Advanced Search option. Search the Windows, Programming and Source forums for one of the formats you listed. I just searched on AVI and got 123 hits.
                              Rick Angell

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Larry McAnally View Post
                                buying the print version of the PowerBasic mannual
                                I can't suggest enough to buy the manual. It unraveled DDT for me, and got me up to speed on some other PB areas I was confused about. It is a must-have IMHO.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Playing a video in a window is somewhat simple using the build-in Windows MCI commands:

                                  Note: This code does require a later version (6.1+ I think) of WMP, and proper codec support must be installed for the video file that you want to play.

                                  Code:
                                  Local szFile As Asciiz * %MAX_PATH
                                  Local szAlias As Asciiz * %MAX_PATH
                                   
                                  ' Set the file name...
                                  szFile = "c:\test.mpg"
                                   
                                  ' Set an alias for the file...
                                  szAlias = "MY_VIDEO_FILE"
                                   
                                  ' Open the video file...
                                  mciSendString "open " + $Dq + szFile + $Dq + " alias " + szAlias, ByVal %NULL, 0, 0
                                  mciSendString "set " + szAlias + " time format milliseconds", ByVal %NULL, 0, 0
                                   
                                  ' Assign the parent window (hWnd). This is the window that will contain the video...
                                  mciSendString "window " + szAlias + " handle " + Format$(hWnd), ByVal %NULL, 0, 0
                                   
                                  [...]
                                   
                                  ' Start playing the file...
                                  mciSendString "play " + szAlias, ByVal %NULL, 0, 0
                                   
                                  [...]
                                   
                                  ' Close the file...
                                  mciSendString "close " + szAlias, ByVal %NULL, 0, 0
                                  Last edited by Kev Peel; 16 Apr 2008, 03:36 PM.
                                  kgpsoftware.com | Slam DBMS | PrpT Control | Other Downloads | Contact Me

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Kev,
                                    Lets stay away from the whole "CODEC" part for the time being....(That in unto itself could be a whole topic of discussion, for lack of a better word )

                                    Just for grins, I tried out a few formats I had residing on my system, and not knowing the CODEC that made it, (and a few I made my own, knowing the CODEC) I think Patrice's version (I assume a port from VB???) covers most the formats.....maybe not all, but I think the generic question was "Can it do it?"..."Can I understand it?"..."Can I modify it to my use?"

                                    From my experience...a resounding YES

                                    (Sorry Kev, I did not mean to point you out as a example, but I believe users need to walk before they can run.) Its like comparing Notepad to Word2008. (Do you just need to show the text? or show the glamor of the text sort of thing)

                                    I am glad you brought it up though cause anyone beyond "Just make it work" I am sure has hit that wall of CODEC's vs Formats type of thing
                                    Engineer's Motto: If it aint broke take it apart and fix it

                                    "If at 1st you don't succeed... call it version 1.0"

                                    "Half of Programming is coding"....."The other 90% is DEBUGGING"

                                    "Document my code????" .... "WHYYY??? do you think they call it CODE? "

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Hi,
                                      Thanks for the reply. This is the kind of info I was after.
                                      A few questions though...

                                      1) "mciSendString" looks like an undeclared subprogram. Is this a built in Windows function? Looked in the online manual, it was not mentioned under the alphabetical listing, so presumably it's not a Powerbasic keyword.

                                      2) What is the meaning of the % symbols, as in %MAX_PATH and %NULL?

                                      3) What is the meaning of "Alias"? This has a different meaning completely in microcontroller coding - there it assigns an input or output name some hardware connected to the circuit, such as Red_LED or Power_Switch.

                                      I'm still looking through the other examples in the links - there is still hope yet I can figure this out...

                                      Regards,
                                      Chris.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        1. It is a Windows API function. You must call Windows API's when writing almost all types of PB programs. Functions such as mciSendString provided by Windows are documented in Microsoft's MSDN Library

                                        The files with the definitions (win32api.inc, etc.) are included with the compiler. These files were translated from the original C files provided by Microsoft.

                                        2. These are Windows API (numeric) constants defined in the above mentioned files. When writing even a basic GUI program, you use a LOT of constants. A lot of constants are designed to be used with only one or two functions. It depends on the context.

                                        3. Using the ALIAS keyword with mciSendString simply allows you to use another name instead of the file name. The file name should always be in quotes, so if an alias is used, the quotes are not. There is no relation to hardware programming.
                                        Last edited by Kev Peel; 17 Apr 2008, 09:32 PM.
                                        kgpsoftware.com | Slam DBMS | PrpT Control | Other Downloads | Contact Me

                                        Comment

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