I spent some time this afternoon writing some content in DocBook format using a tool called XMLmind XML Editor. I am using the free Personal Edition. I like the editor, it was quick to learn and works as advertized. After writing a couple pages I decided to see how it looked as a PDF file.
It turns out that turning DocBook into PDF isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I have yet to find a good solution. I may have to buy the full version of XMLeditor.
I haven’t made much progress over the last few weeks as I have been working on a project at work which was taking a lot of my free cycles. Fortunately the project at work also uses phpHtmlLib so some of the work I did for the work project will roll out to this project as well.
Even though I haven’t put a lot of active cycles into wp-SwimTeam, I have been looking for some ideas on how to deal with event ordering better. Event ordering was one of the last things I checked in and I went back and used it and it is clunky.
I have concluded that Event Ordering and ultimately heat sheet management needs to be AJAX based so drag and drop can be implemented. I want to implement something similar to this jQuery Portlet demo. Since I have never done anything with AJAX (other than a Google Maps implementation), this is new ground for me.
I have learned quite a bit about Swim Team software in the past month or so that I have really been working on this project. Once I got the basic plugin working, I started looking into how we can use the registration data we collect with some of the commercial Meet Manager software. Hy-Tek seems to have the vast majority of the market for Swim Team and Meet management. Unfortunately Hy-Tek has a really closed software solution and have no plans to open it up.
I find it amazing that Team Manager cannot import a roster from Excel or other ASCII (CSV, tab delimited, etc.) file. I spoke at length with their tech support yesterday and they fully believe all of the data entry should happen in their tool. That would be ok if it was the least bit user friendly but it isn’t. One of our coaches shuddered at the thought of entering the roster in Team Manager this year – after enter a couple of swimmers, I completely understand why. It will take a long time. A really long time.
I am now on a mission to produce US Swiming’s SDIF v3 files from our database to try and import them into Team Manager. If this works, then we should be ok. The SDIF v3 specification is old – about 10 years old and reminds of old FORTRAN punched cards or CoBOL. Each record has specific character widths and positions. It doesn’t look to hard. USA Swiming’s new XSDIF specification would be better but Hy-Tek has no plans to support it. XML is absolutely the way to go with this sort of interchange data.