I am about to make the Final Filer (Desktop) version 1.9.5 available for download. It doesn't really offer much of the new except a beefed up Customer Quotations module that is integrated into the application rather than being a plug in. There are the usual bug fixes and further attempts to improve performance, perceived and real.
It was my intent to make this the last major update of the Final Filer. After all, 30 years is perhaps enough.
However, a couple of emails from power users wanting more, a phone call from a long time user telling me they were going to write their own data management system to replace the Final Filer, and the continuing daily barrage from our many "small" users give me reason to reflect.
The program started off in 1984.
The original code was in BASIC and its "database" was a simple text file. It didn't have a name back then. It was just a computer program.
By 1988 it had been re-written in CLARION, gaining some powerful data management features but still running under MS DOS. Importantly it was capable of running on a network. Some people were even paying me money for it! It needed a name. One evening, my partner and I were sitting on the shore of Lake Illawarra, and discussing software names. We concluded it had to be a single word or an alliteration. In this case, it was a record filing system and what it filed was pretty much final. Hence, the Final Filer.
Around about the same time a version of the program had been written in Superbase to run on the Commodore Amiga, a computer way ahead of its time. A programming acquaintenance and I had also written a couple of other business applications for the Amiga platform. We approached Commodore Australia for a dealership. We wanted to to get business applications out that had bling and what we might now call "eye candy", and the Amiga was the hardware of choice.
Unfortunately Commodore (AU) told us to go away.
So, we switched camps and moved onto the clunky, clumsy but emerging PC hardware platform, about the time of Microsoft Windows version 1. In 1991 I got hold of a copy of Microsoft's Access database which allowed Rapid Application Development (RAD) for Windows.
Within a year or two the limits of MS Access as a development system were becoming very evident. Switching programming systems again, I re-wrote the Final Filer in TurboPascal, using the MS Access database schema and files.
TurboPascal eventually became Delphi (Object Oriented Pascal), which continues to be the development environment for the Final Filer to this day.
Looking at the database schema, with the luxury of hindsight and much knowledge gained over the years, it could have been of a much better design. "Feature Creep" has also taken its toll, making both the database and program code inefficient in many places.
More recently, hunting a bug in nearly a million lines of code hit home; the thing's a mess!
On a more positive note, we have been playing with PHP/AJAX to re-write the Final Filer as a web server based application. It has had a name change, emerging as "CemeteryDB". There has been unexpected supported from certain industry forums, but I'm taking that with a grain of salt.
So, where am I?
First off, I've been retired from the workforce sincemid 2013. But I have an ongoing passion with coding, hacking (in a nice sense), and web development which is unlikely to diminish unless "Old Timers Disease" gets me.
However, since retiring from work I have picked up interests that I'd given up when I was a much younger man. Oddly, what didn't work back then is now panning out rather nicely. And it is keeping me away from the keyboard and screen.
Essentially then, development of the Final Filer desktop will cease when version 1.9.5 is released, other than bug fixes, of course.
But I am keen to develop the web server based replacement for the Final Filer. Wether it happens depends on a range of factors, such as interest & motivation.
The CemeteryDB-DBMS project
The development of the "CemeteryD-DBMS" web server based program started about twelve months ago, but has stalled due to a lack of interest by those orginally involved.
Now two of us have re-surfaced. Although gasping for air we have committed to picking it up again.
Using much of what has been learnt over the last 30 years, the program will use a completely re-designed database schema. The principles and support for the development are outlined here. Multiple databases will be supported:
We will also include "mapping", again using open source components to keep costs down and provide some future proofing assurances.
The source code will be offered as Open Source under a GPL license. Currently there are two people developing and maintaining the program.
The development/ programming systems & tools we are using will be Opensource as much as possible, but we are also using Scriptcase to speed up the development. The repository for the source code has not been determined. For now it will be linked at http://finalfiler.com
Where does this leave Final Filer Users?
First and foremost, any current user of the Final Filer desktop program, registered at http://finalfiler.com wanting the Delphi source code should contact me. Bear in mind the Embarcadero "Delphi" RAD system is not cheap. It also uses a number of third party components including the DevExpress ones. They are relatively expensive. You will need these tools to make any sense of the source code.
As mentioned, bugs once identified will continue to be fixed. However, the roadmap for the desktop application will stop at the lights once 1.9.5 is released.
Migration to the CemeteryDB program
Tools to migrate the Final Filer MS-Access data to a CemeteryDB database will be provided. I expect the migration to be robust and reliable, but we will help you with data migration and program installation if needed.
However, because there will be significant schematic changes to the database, reports will need re-working.
This has not been determined.There are a couple of opensource report engines available that we are currently looking at.
However, in the first instance there will be a desktop report engine derived from the existing one in the Final Filer. You should also be able to use any report engine capable of connecting to the selected database type.
What you can do for me right now?
If you are one of the couple remaining Final Filer power users mentioned earlier, do let me know what your intentions are so to help us decide what features and functions to include or prioritize in the CemeteryDB-DBMS project.
If you are one of many small cemeteries using the Final Filer, how about letting me know how you use the program? What sort of features that aren't available now would you like to see?
If you have my email address, drop me a line. If you haven't, use the contact form
Thank you for your support