Hi everyone. It's about time to ramp things back up on this list. We've had a busy time since we were last posting regularly, so I'd like to sketch in some of what we've been doing and discussing to set the stage for the backlog of posts we have coming your way.
First up, from Monday, 22 April to Friday, 26 April 2013, we held our first Hackers' Retreat, a kind of programmers' camp in which we hauled a group of VISTA hardhats away from the Internet (*gasp*) and other distractions to get them (us) to focus on a problem together for a week without distractions. And when I write "without distractions," I mean surrounded by natural beauty at Fort Worden State Park (http://www.parks.wa.gov/fortworden/) in the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound. With forests, beaches, camp grounds, ancient fortifications, deer, bald eagles, golden eagles, and other wildlife, and unusually beautiful weather for this time of year in the Northwest (though a bit cool for our California and New Mexico programmers), the event was unanimously hailed as beautiful.
DSS (http://www.dssinc.com), Fourth Watch Software (http://www.fourthwatchsoftware.com), Fourth Watch Business Continuity Services, and the VISTA Expertise Network sponsored this event to help advance the work on Laboratory Version 5.3, a goal that we were able to achieve. We got a lot done that week, and we set in motion the continuing work on Lab 5.3 that we'll be posting about in the days and months ahead. We were able to demonstrate that with a little funding, VISTA development can proceed much faster than anyone (even we) expect. We know you'll be pleased by what you read about in the posts ahead. As you do, please remember to thank DSS and Fourth Watch for supporting this critical VISTA work; it could not have happened without backing.
Second, Lab 5.3 is now officially under development. We have a team leader, documenter, people tasked with refactoring, people tasked with overhauling the Lab Data file (the infamous file 63), and people tasked with creating a new mobile- and web-based user interface for selected options in Lab. We originally expected that we would only be able to build up the UI infrastructure but not actually deliver any mobile- and web-based options, but we already finished the first version of one of them at the retreat, much to our surprise, so now we have had to acknowledge that progress toward a modern UI for Lab is going to proceed more quickly than we had expected. In the posts ahead, we'll discuss our list of priorities - which can still be modified to take into account the needs of our test sites and other project partners, so now's the time to contact us if you want to partner with us on this project. Our ability to change priorities will go down the closer the project gets to our December 31st release of Lab 5.3.
Third, work on patches for File Manager Version 22.2 is underway. The patch stream will contain bug fixes and enhancements arising naturally from Fileman 22.2 as it now stands mixed with support for Lab 5.3. The first patch, DI*22.2*1, falls into the former category - moving the unit-testing framework from the unreleased XTMUNIT routines to DMUNIT to eliminate Fileman 22.2's dependency on unreleased software. Coming soon will be a patch in the latter category - to improve Fileman's support for .001 fields that are not just numbers, such as when a file's record numbers are pointer values, a situation that comes up in Lab's file 63. As part of this work, we're working with OSEHRA's version-control team to integrate the new OSEHRA Forum system into their existing VISTA git-hub lifecycle, melding the best of VA and IHS's classic VISTA software lifecycle with the power offered by git-hub. Of such fertile crossings between classic and new is every renaissance conceived.
As always, your questions, comments, and criticisms are most welcome. This is a community gig, so we're at your service.