Sunday, January 18, 2009

In memoriam: Eric Chatonet

Today, as I was catching up with emails on the use-revolution mailing list, when I came accross a post La communauté Revolution est en deuil that informed the members of how Eric Chatonet had passed away.

Like many others, this news has left me with a deep sadness - for we, the members of the Revolution community, have all lost in Eric an extraordinary man - intelligent, generous, always helpful and armed with a wonderful sense of humour. I fondly remember meeting him in person at the Revolution Conference in Malta in 2006, exchanging ideas and experiences, and smoking cigarettes with him, Malte Brill, and Tariel Gogoberidze on the balcony of the hotel.

My condoleances and thoughts are with his family. Having unexpectedly lost my father 4 years ago, I have an idea of how his son must be feeling right now. May he rest in peace, with a glass of wine and a cigarette, enjoying the afterlife to its fullest. He certainly earned it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Revolution newsletter articles

One of the best things about Revolution is its strong-knit community - whether it's on the mailing list or on the forums, when you post a question there's bound to come an answer from one of the many users that have faced a similar problem. And soon enough, the newbies come of age and start replying to questions as well. This way, the good advice keeps getting spread over an ever-growing group of users.

Another important resource is the Revolution newsletter, where both the company's engineers and a variety of writers from the uer community share their knowledge and their solutions for challenges encountered while developing their applications. I just concluded a series of articles on using the 'merge' function, which got good reader feedback.

The 'merge' function is one of those extremely helpful weapons in the Revolution armoury, which every developer should know about and use, as it has many applications and can save you a lot of time. It goes through a text, and evaluates expressions that you've put in between [[...]] double square brackets, and executes statements that you've put in between <?...?> processing instruction brackets; and when it's done, it hands you back the end result.

This makes it an ideal tool for assembling HTML pages, RTF documents, XML files and other text-based file formats. But you can also use it as a preprocessor for templates, ranging from SQL queries to VBScript or AppleScript. One particular combination is to use Microsoft Word as a reporting system in two ways: merging an RTF template into a document, and then merging the necessary script to automate Word and print the document for you.

Here are links to the individual articles:
- The Power of Merge (revUp | Issue 55 | August 18th, 2008)
- The Word of Merge - part 1 (revUp | Issue 61 | November 20th, 2008)
- The Word of Merge - part 2 (revUp | Issue 62 | December 22nd, 2008)

Enjoy the articles and Revolution! And if you still have to make a New Year's resolution, make it something along the lines of 'I want to learn' - as education is the only path that leads to prosperity...