Friday, December 20, 2019

DBDOC 11: Now Fully in the 21st Century

Ancient history...

When DBDOC was created in 1996, the world was a different place. The internet was in its early stages, and CD-ROMs were the latest and greatest. The task we were trying to accomplish with DBDOC was daunting -- document huge systems and make them fully searchable and cross-linked. We found MediaView, created for Microsoft Encarta, which long ago passed into the mists of time. The first version of DBDOC was constructed on the scaffolding of the MediaView system, originally intended to power multiple CD-ROM encyclopedias and the like.

Over the years DBDOC has gradually reduced its dependence on this core, while adding custom tools such as the Audit Window, Cross Reference utility, Watch Window, Error Browser and more.

Finally, with DBDOC 11.0, we decided to eliminate the dependence on a system created for Windows 3.1, as well as eliminate the significant limitations, weaknesses and quirks we had been working around for two decades. After all, one day, the old programs simply would stop working.

This required a complete overhaul of the internals of DBDOC, recreating functionality that had been provided by the venerable old MediaView framework. This was a significant challenge, but you will see immediate benefits. Moreover, DBDOC is now on a much better footing for new development moving forward. We no longer depend on components last touched in 1995!  Do you remember Windows 95, 98, NT4, 2000 and XP? They all have come and gone in the time DBDOC has been serving its users on the newest operating systems and computers, using a component older than all of them.

What has been gained? 
  • Nicer to look at: MediaView text files were trapped in 1995-era RTF, whereas the current DBDOC has the full power of a modern web browser available for presentation, enabling better formatting, readability and new features. 
  • No more size limits: Because of the DBDOC's dependence on the MediaView framework, project files were previously limited to two gigabytes in size. This limitation has been entirely eliminated, opening up the possibility of building in large numbers of additional documents such as AutoCAD, MicroStation and PDF files that previously were not feasible in many situations due to the project file size cap.
  • Faster and smaller: As it turns out, DBDOC compiles are faster now, taking 60% to 80% of the time they did previously. The resulting project file is smaller, often by as much as 40%.
  • Database backed: We have also completed to move to having a fully database oriented approach. The new ".dbdoc" file is in a standard database format, which should greatly facilitate the building of new tools for, presentations of, and interfaces to the data it contains.
What has been lost? 
  • Risk: One day, Mediaview will not be workable with a new verson of Windows OS. 
  • Direct support for RTF documents:  But now you can include anything that you can export as PDF.
We look forward to supporting our clients with DBDOC for many years to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment