Well, Lonely Coder makes his presence on wordpress after a long drought of posts. If you were wondering why lonely Coder went silent for such a long time you will find the ultimate reason for it as you go through this post.
Yesterday happened to be the long awaited project submission date for our Software Group Project. Which is a Core module for us at University Of Westminster. The important aspect of this module is that it doesn’t have any Final Exam. As I wrote in one the previous posts of mine when I entered Second Year, The very first day we were greeted with a pleasant surprise and that is this project of us.
To begin with I was invited by Supun Devaraja (A Geek in JAVA by the merits of it) who was once privileged to become the all island top-scorer on SCJP (Sun Certified Java Professional) exams carried out by Sun micro systems. Still, beside the scenes i also got another surprising invitation from one of ma former team mate in developing MubarakMoulavi.Org, Gnanahulath (Agen a Geek in C++) and that was to initiate a group of our own. I never wanted to have another burden on my shoulders specially afta completing a commercial project of our own. So initially I was happy to join Supun’s team and just concentrate on coding and nothing else than that.
But this time I wanted develop a Standalone Application just for a change and also to make my presence in standalone applications development (Which I knew is always going to be a challenging task). Since many of ma friends regard my A game is Web-Apps development. Which I wouldn’t accept it at the first place though I have been developing Web-Apps for Cutting Edge and also at Archmage Software( Where I was first involved in the development of industry standard Applications and Web-Sites during ma summer vacation 2007/2008). Contrastingly, I always believe that my fate has taken me to that destiny.
The second invitation was quite interesting as I looked at it and since I have always opted to exploit and involve in ever so adventures stuffs by mother nature. Again I took up the challenge, afta confirming i t with ma friend Gnanam. And for everyone’s surprise we selected a Standalone application in midst of number of web-apps. We knew from the time that we took up this project, we both are heading towards the black hole. Our mission was to develop a Portable Project Management System in JAVA. That should be inter-operable, that should be portable. Our team comprised of six members since it was understood to be an exiting project.
Our team comprised four guys and two girls. Namely Gnanahulath, Sayanthan, Anushyanthan, Sharanya, Thiyalini and myself. When we met for the first time we had no idea of even what is a Project Management System and everyone was looking at each others faces. So we came to a conclusion and was to find out established Project Management Softwares and do some background studies on what is a project management system and what it is supposed to do.
We found Microsoft Project which nower days comes bundled with MS Office. and some other Open Source siblings of MS Project. We all had our own pieces of those softwares and exploited it to the utmost. Now we that we have an Idea of what is a Project Management System, our next step was to find relevant libraries and technologies to be used with it. Initially we wanted a database should be completely portable and we also needed some Libraries to plot Graphs dynamically.
While most of the well-known traditional databases(RDBMS’s) would never gonna help us in our course we opted a revolutionary new concept in Database Management System and that was to use would you call Object Database Management System(ODBMS) which is lately found to be really quick and used in most of the portable devices as their back end. A good example would be phones. Nower days most of the smart phones use Symbian Version 3 and they all use this particular technology.
And the first such system that impressed us was DB4O (DB for Objects) which is an open source solution and it’s development and maintenance is supported by IBM. We downloaded this fine piece of software bu had no idea as to how to use and even ho does it operate at it at the first place. Though we were so keen to learn all these new technologies and we met during weekends to discuss our issues and to share what we have discovered individually, nothing seem to be working for us. We knew we were no where near developing this masterpiece.
As the days went own we were just doing what we asked to produce at the end of every week. First up we named our group to be Team Pandora and our product to be Phoenix Portable Project Management System which eventually evolved to take it’s current shorten from P3MS for the easy of use. We also did a wonderful job with our initial Requirements Analysis(RA) and also with Modelling our System thanks to sharanya, Thiyalinin and Ganahulath. Sayanthan and Anushyanthan were active during first few weeks and then I donno what happened to them but they were hardly seen in action during next few weeks.
The Sad Story of Sports Meet2008
In the process Sports meet came up and I had a nasty injury on ma forehead during a practice session for Tap Rugger at Rudhra Park which I had to have five stitches just over ma left eye. And sad sad story was that it wasn’t stitched properly at the first time so I had to Re-Stitch it for the second time and this time thank GOD it was done properly by an expert. As we went on Since I was supposed to captain our house for the soccer match. And I was also interested in playing soccer afta a long break(From where I left it during ma A/L’s). All our concentration went towards the sports meet since this time it was done by our student union and we scheduled most of our matches in classy venues.
Since I was asked to rest for a week I handid over the captaincy to ma fiend Gnanahulath and he ony took it on from there. But for everyone’s surprise the day before the match I would decide to platy the mach at Cooray Park. Even most of my team mates didn’t know that I’m gonna join them for the match. The first match we were given a shock treatment where we lost our match 3-0. Our players were not properly organized and the passes were really poor, they never seem to be hitting the target. Since it was a knock out tournament and we ony had four teams, we could ony play for the third place match. This time our we were much better and we completely dominated the game during first half. And I was lucky enough to kick my first goal for the day minutes before the completion of first half. Suddenly, everybody was happy and could see a lot more composed and a confident team during the break. Now since we have a Goal to our name we had two options either to go for the kill or to defend it. But most of us wanted to go for the kill and we decided that’s the way to go about it. But the entire look of the match changed when once our defense went wrong for us. And best defender was in attacking the ball with us playing up and down. This time he wasn’t down there to defend it when ma friend Zaan (ZaanRider) made his way to the goal to put the equilizer. The match match endid in a draw during Golden Goal both the teams failed to score a goal so the match had to be decided with penalty kicks. Ony me and one one of the guy in our team succeeded in the process while all the other kicks strayed.
The misery continued for our house in the next games as well and we could ony become the runners up in the most awaited cricket match at Colombo University Grounds on the final day. And my ony other event for the sports meet was medley relay. Where I started of with the first 800 meters and ended up third. then I changed the batten to manindra for the next400 meters and then was CJ (Channimale Jayamanne) to run the next 200 meters and finally was our sports women to run us the last100 meters. We ended up third there. All in All the sports meet was a success for our union and sadly for me our house ony managed to become fourth at the IIT Sports Meet 2008.
Back to P3MS
While we finish sports meet, We suddenly realize that we have come come to the last week of our lecture serious for this semester which also means that we conclude our second year. There are many a things to ponder for us now. First thing is to finish off our Group Project, then it’s the exams (Got 6 of them). And then it’s internship.
Exam schedule has already been sent via mail. Now the first thing will be to finish our group project. So we started from where we left prior sports meet. And we knew that we have to step up our tempo if we are to do a good job with the project. We thought rigorously on it and decided to stay at IIT for next couple of weeks. Some other teams would also join us at this to stay overnight at IIT. Thanks to HOD(Head Of Department Computing) We were given the final year lab, conditions are excellent. As we feel the heat, now we have a clear picture of what we gonna implement and where we can optimize our piece of software since it has to be a portable software.
We needed to handle multiple projects, generate dynamic reports, produce charts to show how the projects and its tasks are populated. To all these stuff we needed libraries to produce PDFs and to generate graphs. That’s where we found DynamicPDF for PDF generation and JFree Chart to plot Charts. Still the problem with charts is that they use a different technology called SWT(Standard Widget Toolkit) by eclipse. and SWT wat work with JAVA Swings nor vise-versa. So once agen we come to a deadlock when it comes graphs and Gantt Chart since thay all use SWT for smoother graphics than using swings. So we don’t wanna give up SWT as well still the problem with SWT is that it’s slower than swings. So we wouldn’t like to lack in performance and at the mean while we wanted graphics to be at it’s best as well. So we decided to have our main window as swing and then to use SWT for graphs and Gantt Chart as menu items. So that they will be running on their own. SWT is slower because it’s actually embedded into a browser window. And I will be getting to the technical aspects of all these technologies later on when I get time.
Yesterday happen to be that fine day where had to submit it. We came up with our system from Gnanam’s place at around 12.30 PM. As we came in we could see other teams all dressed up professionally to do demos were present and doin their demos. Me and Gnanam were never having the looks and cloths of some one doin a demo. To be honest we didn’t even brush in the morning. And myself, I was wearing a shirt which was torn on all corners of it. There is no way that we can help our looks as I turned to Gnanahulath, he would ask me to get on with it. All the other Pandorians were there and I requested thiyalini to give a final look at our Documentation and the User manual. She and Charu went on with printing it while Gnanam and myself tested our system one last time before we present it and then went on to write the CD which had the first official release of Phoenix Portable Project Management System(P3MS) to our Module co-ordinator.
The happy news is that we have plans of making it an open source software under GPL(General Public License) license via uploading it to source forge for public use and further development. So you all can go ahead and use it if you have JAVA runtime installed on your machine. Feel free to use it and give your feedbacks on it. And Report us if you happened to find any bugs on it. I will also keep the executable version of it here for your convenience. Hope you all will have fun with P3MS.