Category Archives: Maestro

Development.

Maestro has been re-scoped

The Maestro project has been re-scoped as a data set for demonstrating and testing ERP and ERP-like applications. The current implementation target for Maestro is OpenERP, and development of a Maestro standalone application based on the Yii PHP framework has been temporarily suspended.

This decision was based on the amount of work still needed to achieve a minimum viable feature set developing from scratch, and  the opportunities that become possible by building on OpenERP. I want to sincerely thank Maestro contributors Serge and Mark for their excellent work, and for helping me better understand the challenges of developing a Maestro application from scratch.

When I come up for air, I’ll post more on my experiences sp far with OpenERP, but I can tell you now I’m excited!

Installing OpenERP 7.0 using BitNami OpenERP 7.0 Stack

Fred Blauer recommended I take a look at OpenERP based on my described use case of PLM, Manufacturing, and Inventory Management.

I have been casually following OpenERP since v4.x (it was called TinyERP then), but had never configured a server – primarily because OpenERP used separate server and client, and I wanted a pure server system. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I took a look at the current OpenERP 7.0. OpenERP is now a pure web application, and BitNami has a free OpenERP Stack, including an Ubuntu-based virtual machine (in VMware format but also supported by VirtualBox). I’ll get the vm running first on my Win7 laptop with VirtualBox, and describe my experiences using OpenERP in a future post.

Create server

  • Download BitNami OpenERP Stack virtual machine (vm) to a Windows machine on my local network.
  • Using VirtualBox, create a new vm (Linux/Ubuntu 64b OS with 512MB RAM), but do not configure a boot drive.
  • Extract the files from the downloaded vm zip file into the directory VirtualBox created for the new vm.
  • Configure the new vm using VirtualBox Manager.
    • Network: Bridged (to have access from other machines in my network).
    • Storage: bitnami-openerp-7.0-3-ubuntu-12.04.vmdk (included in the BitNami vm download and copied to the vm directory).
  • Boot the new vm.

After booting, the console will display the server IP address and other helpful information (the IP address shown will likely differ in your environment):

*** Welcome to the BitNami OpenERP Stack ***
*** Built using Ubuntu 12.04 - Kernel 3.2.0-31-virtual (tty1). ***
*** You can access the application at 192.168.10.124 ***
*** The default username and password is 'user' and 'bitnami'. ***
*** Please refer to http://wiki.bitnami.com/Virtual_Machines for details. ***

******************************************************************************
*  To access the console, please use user 'bitnami' and password 'bitnami'.  *
*                                                                            *
*                                 WARNING                                    *
*  For security reasons, upon your first login, you will be prompted to      *
*  change the default password.                                              *
******************************************************************************

linux login:

If you copied the system drive for the vm from one host computer to another, the vm may report “The machine could not configure the network interface” after booting. This will occur if VIrtualBox provides a different Ethernet MAC ID on the second computer than on the first, and Ubunto creates a new Ethernet interface for a new interface MAC ID but is still configured for the interface on the first computer. Got it? “ifconfig -a” shows the Ethernet devices identified during boot, and “dmesg | grep eth” will show the network interface renaming. In this case, edit /etc/network/interfaces to specify the appropriate network interface (e.g. eth1 instead of eth0). See: http://www.howtogeek.com/168143/fixing-failed-to-bring-up-eth0-in-ubuntu-virtual-machine/ and http://gist.github.com/percursoaleatorio/6881040.

Login to the VirtualBox terminal using the provided username/password (bitnami/bitnami), and set a new password when prompted e.g. appleton (i.e. bitnami/appleton).

Enable ssh login

  • Configure sshd for remote login and scp file transfer.
$ sudo cp /etc/init/ssh.conf.back /etc/init/ssh.conf
$ sudo start ssh

PostgreSQL

My initial goal was to use pgadmin3 for viewing and managing PostgreSQL databases on the vm from my laptop.

  • Edit postgresql.conf so PostgreSQL will listen on all IP addresses.
$ sudo vi /opt/bitnami/postgresql/data/postgresql.conf
...
listen_addresses = '*'                  # what IP address(es) to listen on;
...
  • Restart PostgreSQL. I tried using pg_ctl but it wouldn’t initially run because of missing libraries. I solved this by adding the BitNami common libraries and the PostgreSQL libraries to LD_LIBRARY_PATH in ~/.bashrc (and logged out and back in again).
$ vi ~/.bashrc
...
# for BitNami Stack PostgreSQL
LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/opt/bitnami/postgresql/lib:/opt/bitnami/common/lib
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH
...

However, this just led to other problems – the user to run pg_ctl as, whether the unset environment variable PGDATA is an issue, etc. I’m sure this isn’t how BitNami intends this to work (fwiw, /opt/bitnami/ctlscript.sh seems to be the intended control point for everything), but

Finally I just rebooted the vm, but pgadmin3 still wouldn’t connect. Perhaps it’s a firewall problem…

However, the PostgreSQL psql cli utility can be used (the password for the bitnami_openerp database is ‘bitnami’):

bitnami@linux:~$ psql bitnami_openerp
Password:
psql.bin (9.2.4)
Type "help" for help.

bitnami_openerp=# help
You are using psql, the command-line interface to PostgreSQL.
Type:  \copyright for distribution terms
       \h for help with SQL commands
       \? for help with psql commands
       \g or terminate with semicolon to execute query
       \q to quit
bitnami_openerp=#

For more information on psql, see the PostgreSQL psql documentation.

Configure OpenERP

The BitNami OpenERP stack vm includes a database called bitnami_openerp (Administrator username/password: user/bitnami). I’m going to create a new database from scratch and install the basic modules needed to support Maestro workflows.

Access the vm from a workstation browser. The IP address for the vm is shown in the vm terminal window after booting (or after logging out).

  • Create a new database (company). The PostgreSQL master (super-administrator) password is “bitnami”, and I’ll use “appleton” for the new database password. OpenERP will create a new database with an administrative user (username/password: admin/appleton) and a demo user (username/password: demo/demo), and will login to the database as the administrator.

You will likely see a “timezone mismatch” warning in the top bar of the window. This is because the timezone set in your user preferences (which was configured by BitNami when they created the OpenERP stack) is different from the timezone your browser believes you are in (which comes from your workstation). You can access your user preferences by clicking the drop-down menu beside your username in the top bar of the window.

Install the following OpenERP applications using the Modules > Apps menu:

        • MRP (Manufacturing Orders, Bill of Materials, Routing)
        • Project Management (Projects, Tasks)
        • Issue Tracker (Support, Bug Tracker, Helpdesk)
        • Warehouse Management (Inventory, Logistic, Storage)

You will be prompted for your OpenERP user id and password (free to register) to start, and for any required configurations as each application is installed. Applications often have dependency applications, which will be automatically installed.

If you want to experiment with pre-defined demo data, select Manage Databases in the login screen and create a new database selecting “Install Demo Data”. The new database will be configured with a basic set of applications and demo data.

Still to do

Now that I’ve got OpenERP installed, the top items on my To Do list are:

  • Learn how OpenERP works! Create a couple users, import Maestro bills of materials, manufacture some serialized items using un-controlled, batch controlled and serialized raw material, etc.
  • Learn more about host OpenERP and Python web applications in general using WSGI by examining the BitNami OpenERP Stack (/opt/bitnami/apache2/conf/httpd.conf includes a WSGI reference).
  • Install OpenERP on FreeBSD. As of 2014-03-20, there is a binary package available for OpenERP 7.0, but it will still take time to understand how to make it usable.

Related information

For more information on OpenERP, a great reference is the OpenERP Book.

 

Updated since first posting 2013-07-22.

Northwind on MySQL

The Northwind sample database provided with Microsoft Access is an excellent tutorial schema for managing small business customers, orders, inventory, purchasing, suppliers, shipping, and employees. My problem was that I wanted to experiment with it using MySQL and the Yii Framework.

I found a number of MySQL ports of Northwind on the internet, but none with all 20 tables in the current version, or that included foreign key constraints. The only solution was to make my own.

I’ve put the results on GitHub should anyone else be in similar need: http://github.com/dalers/northwind

 

Column Types in Yii Migrations

I can never remember the abstract column types Yii supports, and never seem to get the right search string for google, but I’ll remember my own blog post.

Yii Database Abstract Column Types

Physical types are given in brackets using MySQL syntax.

  • pk: auto-incremental primary key type (“int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT PRIMARY KEY”).
  • string: string type (“varchar(255)”).
  • text: a long string type (“text”).
  • integer: integer type (“int(11)”).
  • boolean: boolean type (“tinyint(1)”).
  • float: float number type (“float”).
  • decimal: decimal number type (“decimal”).
  • datetime: datetime type (“datetime”).
  • timestamp: timestamp type (“timestamp”).
  • time: time type (“time”).
  • date: date type (“date”).
  • binary: binary data type (“blob”).

If the abstract type contains two or more parts separated by spaces (e.g. “string NOT NULL”), then only the first part will be converted, and the rest of the parts will be appended to the conversion result. For example, ‘string NOT NULL’ is converted to ‘varchar(255) NOT NULL’.

I have shamelessly plagiarized this list from the Yii manual. Also see the Yii manual’s excellent article on migrations, and queirozf.com has a nice list of tips.

 

Maestro project now on GitHub

Maestro is now on GitHub. See the README.md for an overview of the project (and Getting Started instructions), and the wiki for project documentation. Unfortunately, there’s not much else yet other than the migration file for the schema, which should be stable (at least for a while).

In order, the immediate goals are to:

  • Complete the demo data set and load scripts
  • Auto-generate CRUD MVC code
  • Host a demo system on dalescott.net
  • Complete a basic read-only Part module

After a number of abortive attempts trying to adapt existing projects, this time it feels right – not too hot and not too cold. If you need to know what’s going on in, ask the Maestro!

Installing mdbtools, MariaDB, Nginx, and PHP on FreeBSD 9.1

This was originally a 2-part series, but has since been edited to a single post as part 2 was never fully completed.

Sometimes building a new server is easier than upgrading an old one, with the added bonus of staying up to date with current install procedures. Here’s the procedure I followed to build a new FreeBSD 9.1 server recently. I’ll be installing everything on the bare server (no jails).

FWIW, this server configuration is now being called a “LEMP” server, for Linux, Nginx (spelled “EngineX” for the “E”), MySQL (or MariaDB), and PHP (or as in my case, either PHP or Python).

The major applications being installed and their versions are:

  • FreeBSD 9.1-RELEASE
  • mdbtools v0.7 (project head from GitHub)
  • MariaDB 5.5.31
  • Nginx 1.4.2
  • PHP 5.5.1
  • phpMyAdmin 4.0.5

Create a virtual machine

You can build a bare-metal server, but a Virtual Machine (vm) can be more convenient to work with, and a dump from the vm can be easily restored on a bare-metal server if needed. The virtualizing environment I use is VirtualBox. Start by create a basic virtual machine for BSD (FreeBSD), with 256 MB memory, a 20G IDE primary master drive, and a CD/DVD drive IDE secondary master.

You may also need to configure the network interface for your situation. Consider how the vm will connect to the internet, and how you will connect to it. My default configuration is to bridge my laptop and the vm network interfaces. This gives me access to the vm from the host and from any other devices on my LAN, but requires a DHCP server on your LAN, and port 22 routed (not blocked).

If you don’t have internet access (e.g. if you are in someone else’s conference room), or if you do but port 22 is blocked (e.g. you’re in a certain popular fast-food restaurant with free WiFi), you will need to use a NAT or Host Only network connection in VirtualBox. If you don’t, the IP address Windows choses for itself will typically not be in the same subnet as the IP address VirtualBox choses for the client, and the two will not be able to communicate.

If you use the NAT connection, you will need to forward the following ports in order to communicate with the vm from the host:

ssh               host port 2222        client port 22
HTTP              host port 8880        client port 80
MySQL TCP         host port 3336        client port 3306
MySQL UDP         host port 3336        client port 3306
ftp               host port 2221        client port 21

Install FreeBSD OS

Install FreeBSD base system. Perform a standard install using FreeBSD-9.1-RELEASE-i386-dvd1.iso (or -bootonly.iso), with the following configuration:

hostname: firefly.scc.local
root password: secret
daemons to start at boot: sshd
user: dale (group wheel)

After installing the base system and rebooting, login as root and update the FreeBSD OS:

# freebsd-update fetch
# freebsd-update install

If freebsd-update reports that /usr/src/crypto/ssl/s3_cbc.c is missing, create the directory path (e.g. “# mkidir -p /usr/src/crypto/ssl/”) and fetch/extract again.

Update the ports tree:

# portsnap fetch
# portsnap extract

Edit /etc/hosts to specify a FQDN (fully qualified domain name) for the server:

::1                     localhost firefly.scc.local
127.0.0.1               localhost firefly.scc.local
#10.0.2.15               firefly.scc.local # default VBOX NAT IP address

Install portmaster:

# cd /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portmaster/
# make install clean

If desired, install and run portaudit to monitor port security notices (you may want to omit this if you won’t be updating the system):

# cd /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/portaudit/
# make install clean
# portaudit -Fda

Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config to allow remote ssh login by root and user dale, and restart sshd. The base system versions of OpenSSL and OpenSSH will be used (I trust the FreeBSD security committee, and not replace them with updated versions from the ports tree just to be up to date).

root is being allowed remote ssh access for managing databases remotely using MySQL Workbench. If this isn’t needed, don’t give root remote ssh access to avoid a potential security risk should the vm be deployed to the public one day.

# vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
# add following
AllowUsers root dale
PermitRootLogin yes
#
# /etc/rc.d/sshd restart

Copy your ssh public key to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys (e.g. using WinSCP).

If desired (e.g. if this server will be in continuous use), you may want to define a mail alias for the root user, so that local system mail gets forwarded to a real system administrator.

# vi /etc/mail/aliases
add following alias:
root: realuser@realdomain.com

Install utility applications

Install some basic utility apps that usually come in handy eventually:

# cd /usr/ports/archivers/p7zip/
# make install clean
#
# cd /usr/ports/ftp/curl/
# make install clean
#
# cd /usr/ports/textproc/flip
# make install clean
#
# cd /usr/usr/ports/devel/git
# make install clean
#
# cd /usr/ports/www/lynx
# make install clean
#
# cd /usr/ports/ftp/wget
# make install clean
#
# cd /usr/ports/archivers/unzip   # might already be installed
# make install clean

Install mdbtools

mdbtools is a suite of utilities for working with data from an MS Jet database on a Unix system. First, install the GNU build toolchain needed to compile mdbtools.

# cd /usr/ports/devel/libtool   # may already be installed
# make install clean

# cd /usr/ports/devel/automake
# make install clean

# cd /usr/ports/devel/autoconf    # may already be installed
# make install clean

# cd /usr/ports/textproc/flex/
# make install clean

# cd /usr/ports/devel/bison/    # may already be installed
# make install clean

# cd /usr/ports/textproc/txt2man/
# make install clean

# cd /usr/ports/devel/glib20  # undocumented dependency
# make install clean

# rehash

Next, clone the mdbtools Github repo locally:

> mkdir ~/src/
> cd ~/src/
> git clone https://github.com/brianb/mdbtools.git

And finally, build and install mdbtools:

> cd ~/src/mdbtools/
> autoreconf -i -f
> ./configure
> gmake
> su - 
# gmake install

Add the installed mdbtools man pages to manpath (the install uses the Linux-typical /usr/local/share/man/man1/) by creating /usr/local/etc/man.d/mdbtools.conf and rebuilding the whatis database:

# vi /usr/local/etc/man.d/mdbtools.conf
# add MANPATH
MANPATH /usr/local/share/man
#
# /etc/periodic/weekly/320.whatis
# exit
> apropos mdb

Install Web App Stack

My goal is a simple common stack using MariaDB and Nginx for hosting PHP and Python-based web applications with MySQL back-ends.

Using MariaDB will mitigate risk of MySQL falling out of favor as Oracle continues to orient MySQL to its own needs, with minimal to no impact on applications and use. However, I expect to be using PostgreSQL more in the future, in particular as OpenERP uses PostgreSQL, but also because I seem to see more projects using it every day.

Nginx will provide improved performance on older and less capable hardware, and is becomming (has become?) the new standard for web servers, with its asynchronous event-driven approach to requst handling (instead of using more threads), and a reportedly simpler configuration (we’ll see about that…).

Install MariaDB Database Server

Install MariaDB:

# cd /usr/ports/databases/mariadb55-server/   # includes client
# make config ; make install clean
# rehash

Edit rc.conf to start MariaDB at boot:

# vi /etc/rc.conf
...
# add mysql_enable
mysql_enable="YES"

Manually start MariaDB:

# service mysql-server start

Setup grant tables:

# cd /usr/local/   # mysql_install_db assumes its running from here
# mysql_install_db --user=mysql

Configure root password:

> mysqladmin -u root password 'appleton'
> mysqladmin -u root -p -h firefly.scc.local password 'appleton'

Grant root permission to connect remotely:

> mysql -u root -p
mysql> grant all privileges on *.* to 'root'@'%' identified by 'appleton' with grant option;
mysql> exit;
>

Use the provided my-medium.cnf config file and edit for using InnoDB tables:

The output from “my_print_defaults –help” implies my-medium.cnf should copied to /etc/my.cnf, but I’ll use the MySQL convention I’ve learned until I know different.

# cp /usr/local/share/mysql/my-medium.cnf /var/db/mysql/my.cnf
# vi /var/db/mysql/my.cnf
...
# Uncomment the following if you are using InnoDB tables
innodb_data_home_dir = /var/db/mysql
innodb_data_file_path = ibdata1:10M:autoextend
innodb_log_group_home_dir = /var/db/mysql
# You can set .._buffer_pool_size up to 50 - 80 %
# of RAM but beware of setting memory usage too high
innodb_buffer_pool_size = 16M
innodb_additional_mem_pool_size = 2M
# Set .._log_file_size to 25 % of buffer pool size
innodb_log_file_size = 5M
innodb_log_buffer_size = 8M
innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit = 1
innodb_lock_wait_timeout = 50

Restart MariaDB:

# service mysql-server restart

and finally do a basic test to confirm things are basically working:

> mysql -u root -p
...
MariaDB [(none)]> show databases;
...
MariaDB [(none)]> use test;
...
MariaDB [(test)]> exit;
Bye
>

Install Nginx web server

Nginx will interoperate with PHP via FastCGI and PHP-FPM (FastCGI Process Manager), and with Python via FastCGI and via the flup library (py27-flup).

Install Nginx with appropriate options (note I’m not enabling SSL, which I don’t need at the moment, but I may wish later I had included it also):

# cd /usr/ports/www/nginx/
# make config
Use the default configuration options:
IPV6 IPv6 protocol support
HTTP Enable HTTP module 
HTTP_CACHE Enable http_cache module 
HTTP_REWRITE Enable http_rewrite module 
HTTP_STATUS Enable http_stub_status module
WWW Enable html status files

# make install clean

The Nginx config file is:

/usr/local/etc/nginx/nginx.conf
Edit rc.conf to start Nginx at boot:
# vi /etc/rc.conf
...
nginx_enable="YES"

Manually start Nginx:

# service nginx start

Test that Nginx is running by browing to the vm (e.g. http://localhost:8880).

Nginx will be configured later.

Install PHP processor

Install PHP:

# cd /usr/ports/lang/php55/
# make config
...
enable additional options:
FPM Build FPM version

# make install clean

Edit PHP php.ini configuration file:

# cp /usr/local/etc/php.ini-production /usr/local/etc/php.ini
#
# vi /usr/local/etc/php.ini
...
# uncomment session.save_path
session.save_path = "/tmp"
# add default date timezone
date.timezone = "America/Edmonton"

Install a motley assortment of PHP extensions (essentially the current requirements for phpMyAdmin, MediaWiki and the Yii framework).

# cd /usr/ports/lang/php55-extensions
# make config
...
enable additional extensions to install:
BZ2
CTYPE
CURL
DOM
FILTE
GD
ICONV
JSON
MBSTRING
MCRYPT
MYSQL
MYSQLI
OPENSSL
PDO
PDO_MYSQL (why PDO if not PDO_MYSQL ??)
READLINE
SESSION
SOAP
XML
ZIP
ZLIB

# make install clean

Configure PHP-FPM

I will be using the fastCGI process manager PHP-FPM (included with PHP starting with release 5.3.3) with Nginx.

Configure PHP-FPM by editing /usr/local/etc/php-fpm.conf:

# vi /usr/local/etc/php-fpm.conf
...
make following changes ("-" means delete, "+" means add):

-; events.mechanism = epoll
+events.mechanism = kqueue
...
-listen = 127.0.0.1:9000
+listen = /var/run/php-fpm.sock
...
-;listen.owner = www
-;listen.group = www
-;listen.mode = 0666
+listen.owner = www
+listen.group = www
+listen.mode = 0666

Edit rc.conf to start PHP-FPM at boot:

# vi /etc/rc.conf
...
php_fpm_enable="YES"

Manually start PHP-FPM:

# service php-fpm start

When user web applications are installed in Part 2, Nginx will be configured for each PHP application to use PHP-FPM.

Install phpMyAdmin

phpMyAdmin provides convenient management of the MariaDB database server, without requiring any client-side software. First, install phpmyadmin from ports:

# cd /usr/ports/databases/phpmyadmin/
# make config
...
disable options:
APC PHP APC (animated progress bar) support
# make install clean

It seems that pecl-APC (the APC option in the phpMyAdmin config) can’t be compiled with PHP 5.5 (see FreeBSD forum). I’d rather not downgrade to PHP 5.4, and I suspect I can make do without an “animated progress bar”, so I’m unselecting it for now.

Load pma tables:

# cd /usr/local/www/phpMyAdmin
# mysql -u root -p < ./examples/create_tables.sql

Configure Nginx:

# command
# command

Create the phpmyadmin configuration using the setup wizard (and copy to config.inc.php). Access http://hostname/phpmyadmin/setup, specify connection type: socket (instead of tcp) and use suggested names for all tables.

Increase max session before auto logout to 9 hrs (from 3 min):

# vi /usr/local/www/phpMyAdmin/config.inc.php
...
$cfg['LoginCookieValidity'] = 3600 * 9; // 3600 sec/hr * 9 hrs
...

Also edit session.gc_maxlifetime in php.ini:

# vi /usr/local/etc/php.ini
...
; increase max session time for phpMyAdmin. Max session time for phpMyAdmin
; set to 9 hrs in phpMyAdmin config.inc.php ((LoginCookieValidity), which
; requires increasing php garbage collection to greater than 9 hrs
; E.g. 32500 sec = (3600 sec/hr * 9 hrs) + 100 sec
session.gc_maxlifetime = 32500

Configure Nginx:

# command
# command
# command

Install requirements for PHP unit and functional testing (optional)

If you’re going to use the server for PHP unit and functional testing, you will likely want to install xdebug and testing frameworks.

Install php-xdebug:

# cd /usr/ports/devel/php-xdebug
# make install clean

Edit /usr/local/etc/php/extensions.ini and comment loading xdebug as std extension.

Edit /usr/local/etc/php.ini to add loading xdebug as zend_extension.

[xdebug]
; load xdebug as zend_extension (loading as std extension commented in php/extensions.ini)
zend_extension=/usr/local/lib/php/20100525/xdebug.so
; enable profiling
xdebug.profiler_enable = 1
xdebug.profiler_output_dir = /tmp/profiler
; remote settings
xdebug.remote_autostart=off
xdebug.remote_enable=on
xdebug.remote_handler=dbgp
xdebug.remote_mode=req
xdebug.remote_host=localhost
xdebug.remote_port=9000

Install pear and pear PHPUnit for unit testing Yii-based projects.

# cd /usr/ports/devel/pear
# make install clean
# pear config-set auto_discover 1
# pear install pear.phpunit.de/PHPUnit

Install PHP pear Selenium, which is a dependency for Yii PHPUnit testing, but is also used for functional testing. Install curl and PHP curl extension first if not already installed.

# cd /usr/ports/ftp/curl; make install clean
# cd /usr/ports/ftp/php5-curl; make install clean
# pear install phpunit/PHPUnit_Selenium

And that’s that!

Compiling mdb-tools on Ubuntu 12.04

I recently replaced Linux Mint 13 with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as the GNU Linux distribution on my dual-boot laptop. One of the first tasks after basic configuration was to install mdb-tools for Maestro development (used to extract data from a Parts&Vendors MS Jet4 database).

Install build dependencies:

$ sudo apt-get install libtool
$ sudo apt-get install automake
$ sudo apt-get install txt2man
$ sudo apt-get install libglib2.0-dev libdb-dev

Clone the mdb-tools GitHub repo:

$ cd ~/src
$ cd src
$ git clone https://github.com/brianb/mdbtools.git mdbtools
$ cd mdbtools

Compile mdb-tools, and install executables and man pages

$ ./autogen.sh
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install

Rebuild ld cache:

$ sudo ldconfig

Man pages are installed for mdb-tools executables:

  • mdb-array
  • mdb-export
  • mdb-header
  • mdb-hexdump
  • mdb-parsecvs
  • mdb-prop
  • mdb-schema
  • mdb-sql
  • mdb-tables
  • mdb-ver

For more information on mdb-tools:

For more information on why you have to run ldconfig after installing mdb-tools:

 

Mayan EDMS

I might have mentioned I like the Django web application framework because it’s Python, has good documentation and a strong community (there are even books you can buy!). I spent the first two weeks of 2012 learning some Python and working through The Definitive Guide to Django. Developing and testing locally was easy, but I abandoned the effort after another two weeks trying to configure a Python web stack on my FreeBSD server and returned to the pervasive AMP stack because of its simplicity.

However, yesterday I became aware of the Mayan EDMS project after being featured in a recent FLOSS Weekly podcast (hosted by Randal Schwartz of Perl book fame). It’s a really cool EDMS written using the Django framework, and might be suitable as the DMS component in Maestro.

It seems Django/Python documentation has matured since my aborted effort last year, so a new attempt may be more successful (I’ve also approached some local Meetup groups for some help this time). If I can deploy Mayan to my production server I might be switching frameworks (and languages) again. I don’t have much to lose though because I haven’t really deployed any significant Maestro code yet – most recent work has involved sorting out data structures and synchronizing data from external systems, with some re-usable shell/cron scripts for import data and throw-away ATK and Yii code (I didn’t even write the Yii code, it was generated CRUD code).

What makes Mayan EDMS great? Here are the features as listed on the Mayan EDMS project website, plus a couple additions of my own:

  • Electronic signature verification
  • Unlimited document versioning with revert
  • Unlimited user defined metadata
  • Automatic OCR of documents (with distributed OCR processing)
  • GPL3 license (although I’d prefer a BSD-type license)
  • No commercial “premium” version (the open source version isn’t a limited-feature teaser!)
  • Django/Python
  • and many more….
    • Dynamic default values for metadata
    • Filesystem integration
    • User defined document unique identifier and checksum algorithms
    • Local file or server side file uploads
    • Batch upload many documents with the same meta-data
    • Previews for a great deal of image formats, including PDF
    • Full text searching
    • Configurable document grouping
    • Permissions and roles support
    • Multi-page document support
    • Multilingual user interface: English, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal) Russian, Italian, Polish, German, French, Bulgarian and Dutch.
    • Duplicated document search
    • Plugable storage backends
    • Color coded tagging

I’ll post detailed installation instructions on FreeBSD as soon as I’ve got it working.

cbdb and TrackStar (and WordPress)

I’ve now spent some time with cbdb, and thought I’d share getting it running, and my takeaway from reviewing TrackStar and cbdb features (after that, it’s time to check in with Larry and see what tricks CMS is up to). First though are some comments on WordPress.

WordPress

I thought I’d include comments on WordPress, since I’m consolidating my personal content using WordPress.

  • WP has a nice plugin management system, with plugin’s automatically adding themselves into the application’s admin menu structure (or Dashboard).
  • If a WP module uses roles role-based authorization, the roles are managed using the plugin’s menu – or at least that’s how the NextGEN gallery plugin does it. Achievo has a single security profiles system that combines the privileges from each module (i.e. the actions that the role controls access to) onto a single role management page. To be honest, I’ve only ever used the system, but the privileges are grouped by module, and are a combination of basic CRUD actions that can be performed on a business object, with some extras.  My preference is the Achievo approach, with all the permission for a role managed in one place (so far, cbdb’s rbac seems close enough).
  • I like how NextGEN handles image uploading (a choice between a drag and drop interface or an Explorer-style interface fr uploading files, multi-file select in the Explorer-style interface, support for uploading zip image archives, and an upload progress bar). Similar functionality would work for uploading files in Maestro.

cbdb

  • The views generally show raw data, rather than user-oriented information (e.g. type, signed, grade …), and only the create/update form shows user-oriented data (a dropdown selector for Type and Grade, and radio buttons for Signed, Bagged and Collectable). TrackStar polishes things off a bit better in this area.
  • I like that the menu system for cbdb is created early in the development process compared to TrackStar, but the menu colors don’t work for me. I don’t agree that hiding menus a user isn’t authorized to use is good practice, and believe it actually leads to more confusion when users don’t understand why they don’t have have different menus presented, and prefer a static menu (greying-out menus that the user doesn’t have the authority to use, or showing the menu with data but greying-out the Edit or Save button).
  • The calendar wizard to enter dates looks nice, but it’s missing buttons to move between years (although I suspect it can be configured).

TrackStar

  • User management hasn’t been fleshed out as well as in cbdb, in particular not being able to view a list of users associated with a project.

ATK / Achievo Update

I’ve committed to the Yii framework now for building Maestro (check Maestro posts for more information). I’m not following the rss feed from the Achievo forum anymore, and I’ve removed (sigh…) the Achievo/ATK menu from my website so as to not mislead anyone as to my involvement. However, Achievo’s features and simple user and administrator interface are still unrivaled in an open source app of its type, and Maestro will be strongly influenced by Achievo.

In case the information is still of benefit to anyone, here’s the content from the static Achievo/ATK menu page.

- dale

Achievo / ATK

Achievo is a web-based Business Support Services (BSS) application for organizations, built using the ATK Framework and licensed under the GPL. Achievo was originally developed by iBuildings, but is transitioning to community leadership. Achievo includes a rich set of core modules, including support for employees, projects (phases and activities), timesheets, organizations, contacts, CRM (customers, campaings and contracts), and document management. There are a wide variety of Add-on modules available for additional functionality, and you can add or develop Custom modules for more more specific requirements. Achievo is stable and suitable for production.

The ATK framework is a special purpose PHP framework targeted at business applications. It allows database-type applications to be build quickly and with very small amounts of code. Its focus on business features makes it an excellent framework for HRM, CRM, data management and CMS type applications. The ATK framework was originaly developed by iBuildings, but is transitioning to community leadership. The ATK Framework is stable and suitable for production.

Adapto is a new project led by Ivo Jansch, who conceived Achievo and the ATK framework, to re-implement the concepts proven in the ATK framework to the next level, concentrating on easy to use CRUD functionality for relational databases and other data sources with only a few lines of code, and using the Zend Framework (v2) for caching, view rendering, database connectivity, etc..