Monday, July 5, 2010

BrailleNote PBWorks: What "exactly" is new with version 7.0?

As I said on the BrailleNote List (a dedicated mailing list from HumanWare for BrailleNote family), the seventh major edition of the BrailleNote PBWorks was released. Technically, this is the 8th edition (there was a minor revision which I consider a major one) since the website launched in 2008. For those who want to know the technical workings of BrailleNote PBWorks site and what "exactly" is new with this build, here is an extensive overview of "under the hood" features in 7.0:

  • The Device View and resulting revision to Support Hotline page: Previously, Support Hotline contained what is now the category view page for support articles, organized into suitable sections for problems and comments relating to General, Hardware and so forth. Now, with the advent of Device View and Reverse chronological view, I felt it was time to modify the Support Hotline to include a small menu containing links to availible views - categories, chronological and by model. Thus, the content from previous incarnation of Support Hotline (the categories) was moved to a newly created webpage, then the actual Support Hotline was modified to provide an explanation of knowledge base articles and a menu for these three views. Speaking of views, the device view is essentially a list of articles in a list format which were organized (to the best of my ability) based on whether the article is useful for one or more BrailleNote models. Contents which were universal i.e. availible for all models was placed on top, followed by a breakdown of articles based on a unit, starting from Braillenote Classic (the oldest units availible) to the Apex (the latest). I'll explain the other views when I discuss the workings of BrailleNote PBWorks.

  • Anchors: An anchor, also known as same page link, is a marker to tell a web browser to jump to a specific section in an HTML document. There is a dedicated HTML tag (a href="#nameofsection" with the less-than and greater-than removed to not confuse Blogger), and a section marker (a name="nameofsection") placed at the desired location so that the browser's focus can move to it. In connection with PBWorks, the same page links were placed on long articles to ease navigating it (mostly to jump to a desired section).

  • Command Summary Table: It wouldn't have come alive unless a small program was involved in this process. I thought writing the whole command summary table by hand (involving HTML table code) was a tedious process, so I thought, "maybe I should write a test program to practice file i/o process in C++ language." Thus I created an HTML table generator program to capture text from the user, create some HTML table tags around it and write to a text file. The program used a loop algorithm to continuously read the command summary from the user (via getline function) unless an exit command was given (this is the example of a "while" loop). Then I would open the resulting file in Notepad and move the newly created table rows to another text file that had the HTML source code for the Command Summary page.

Well, I hope this post gives you an overview of what is really going on "under the hood" in version 7.0 of the website. As always, if you (the reader) have any comments, please let me know (using the Comments form on the blog page).
//JL (UCR)

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