This article describes the technical details of Acute Softwares products including advanced configuration techniques. It is designed for power users who want to use the software in different ways, Network administrators, and potential users who want to know exactly HOW the software works before they try/buy it.
General - how the products are written, distributed etc
Common Themes - Diary datapath, reusable library, INI files
Diary - how data is stored, database format
InfoLink - reminder system, recording PC usage
All products are written using Visual Basic 6.0 and are built and tested on both Windows95/98. However, in all cases there are no tricky API calls used, and as such all products run well on NT and Win2000
All products require the VB6 runtime files to be installed on your PC. You can get these from http://www.acutesoftware.com.au/cont_products.html , and also on the cover CD's of many PC magazines. You only need to install these once, and there is a good chance that you already have them on your system.
How the Products are distributed
All Shareware and Freeware products are distributed in ZIP format and are available from SIMTEL.NET (exact URL for each product can be found here at http://www.acutesoftware.com.au/freebies.html ) Each ZIP file should contain at least the following file:
APP_NAME.TXT - description of the application
SETUP.EXE - used to install the software
SETUP.LST - used by setup.exe to determine location of files
APP_NAME.CAB - used by setup.exe to copy the software
Other files that may be in the ZIP file:
APP_NAME.XML - this is the XML file used by Software Search engines which contains all the information about the product and company.
LICENSE.TXT - legal mumbo jumbo, basically says install at your own risk and dont blame us if you PC bursts into flames.
REGISTER.TXT - text file showing how to order the full version.
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This is a library of classes, forms and modules which I have developed over the years to specifically handle Personal Information management and File utility tasks.
Basically, all information is stored as plain text wherever possible. This is faster that registry settings and databases and allows anyone to change settings at will with a text editor. Where databases are used (Diary, Contacts Manager, etc) the fields are separated with the ASCII code 31 and the records are terminated by a line feed.
It also means that other programs can search the Acute Software diary files, etc and retrieve 'readable results'
Many of the products use Diary records, either to record events or view appointments. In each of the applications you can choose the path where these diary events are recorded/retrieved. Note that the Diary applications need a directory, NOT a filename. This is because the records are saved in a month by month filename to elimate archiving problems and large file sizes.
The diary filename format is Dyyyymm.dat
Use of INI file instead of the registry
All Acute Softwares products use INI files instead of the registry. This is by design - it is much faster to edit a text file than it is to load Regedit, search and play around with registry keys.
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How is the data stored
Data is saved to disk whenever an entry is added. This is neccessary to prevent synchronisation problems as it is possible for multiple programs to record to the one dairy file at once.
When an entry is added a new ID is created based on the date and previous ID, and stored in the appropriate date based diary file. Before adding the entry it searches the file for any other entry containing the exact date,time and details and will NOT record it if a match is found. This was a bug in version 1.0 of the diary where Dserver could sometimes record duplicate entries.
Acute Softwares Diary saves its database as readable text, and uses the ASCII character 31 to separate the fields. Each record is terminated by a newline character.
The list of fields is as follows:
length (number of minutes)
Remind Date (yyyymmdd)
Remind Time (hhmm)
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At the specified interval (1- 60 minutes) InfoLink searches the current months file for reminders and pops up a message if the remindTime now and it hasnt already been 'done' Reminded events are added to the diary_old file which can be deleted.
Recording PC Usage
The PC usage is recorded as follows:
Each minute the current active windows caption is logged to a file DIARY.RAW Depending on the Diary settings (1 - 60 minutes), it will be summarised into diary usage events. These are normal diary events with the ActionID set to: Usage
Recording which Files you modified
When Autobackup, or Autobackup-Pro run, they can record the file backed up as a diary event. This effectively gives you a list of all the files you used during the day with the time that you last saved it.
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