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First few steps in development...

New Member
Posts: 4
Country: USA

First few steps in development...

Hi all! I'm brand new to ACT developing and I'm hoping a kind soul will take mercy on me and help me out getting started. I'll first describe what I'm trying to do, and then follow with everything I have done to try and get this accomplished so far.

 

I am trying to create a new menu item that will launch preferrably a new ACT form, but it would also be acceptable if it launched a vb.net form. This form will contain a drop down with all the companies we currently do business with, so a user can select the appropriate company. The form will also contain some text fields that the user will use to enter data ACT is not currently set up to collect. Upon closing or saving the form, the information in the form will be stored in a SQL database, external to the ACT database. I don't think any of this sounds too complicated.

 

I began by first downloading the Sage ACT! 2011 SDK, and I copied the GlobalAssemblyCache folder from the disk to my local machine. I'm not clear on where this is supposed to go, so I have it in my documents folder for now. I read through most of the documentation included in the SDK, and also noticed that it includes a code sample for a custom menu plugin. This seemed like the beginning of my solution, or at least a good place to start to understand where the code goes, and what changes I can expect to see in the ACT UI. According to the documentation I read, all I have to do is include CustomMenuPlugin.cs in C:\Program Files\ACT\Act for Windows\Plugins. From what I understand, ACT looks to this location to run any plugins included here. I expected to see a generic "Cusom" menu item that didn't do anything when clicked, but that was at least present in the ACT UI. No such luck.

 

I then began looking for any solution to enter into this directory to see if I could get anything to change in the ACT UI. I found Jim Durkin's ACTTabPluginVB. I opened this solution in Visual Studio 2005, and bult the solution, but I am not sure what file(s) are supposed to be moved to C:\Program Files\ACT\Act for Windows\Plugins.

 

I've read the ACT! Plugin development FAQ blog entry. I've downloaded and listened to the Plugin webinar deck and recording. I've searched the development formus and Googled for some help, and while the answers seems like it's more than likely in this location then anywhere else, I am just not able to put my finger on a full solution.

 

I guess what I'm looking for is some real 101 stuff. What steps do I take when setting up my new vb solution to develop the form? What am I missing with the add new menu item solution included in the SDK that is stopping it from running? Are there any must read documents that would clearly explain the exact steps to start development? Any help with these questions would be greatly appreciated.

Employee
Posts: 1,163
Country: USA

Re: First few steps in development...

Hello WhyMe and welcome to the Sage ACT! Developer's Forum.

 

First, your objective is fairly common and there are a few add-ons currently available that provide you with this functionality. However, that certainly doesn't prevent you from creating your own solution.

 

The GAC simply contains all of the ACT! references, it's often suggested to drop it on the desktop or in a common folder so that when you're adding references to your project you don't have to delve through the hierarchy to find it each time. The CustomMenuPlugin should add a menu item to the bottom of the Tools menu, once you've built out the project you simply need to drop the CustomMenuPlugin.dll into the //Act for Windows/Plugins folder.

 

If for whatever reason your plugin does not load, you can find it listed in DependenetDlls.xml which is located in %appdata%\ACT\ACT Data. If your plugin is listed here, it is failing to load, you can delete either the specific line with your .dll listed or the entire file, it will rebuild itself.

 

I believe you've read most of the "must read" materials already and have a good starting point with the custom menu sample. You can call an "act form", but it does have certain limitations that may make it cumbersome to use, alternatively you can create your own form or even a seperate executable and call it from your plugin. 

 

I think the only reason the samples you've downloaded aren't running is because you've placed the .cs file in the plugin folder rather than the assembly (.dll) created from your project .

Matthew Wood
Act! SDK Support
Community Moderator
New Member
Posts: 4
Country: USA

Re: First few steps in development...

Thank you very much for the quick reponse.

 

I understand now that I have to put the dll for my "solution" into the C:\Program Files\ACT\Act for Windows\Plugins. No surprise that you were right when suggesting to not use the .cs file and to actually build the class library. Duh, I get it now that I see what you are saying. Pretty stupid on my part.

 

I have successful results with the sample included in the SDK now. Thanks for your support.

 

One more question if your still listening. When I open Sage ACT!v2011 Code Reference.chm, the left side shows, but I have an error on the right side, which is the side that describes the canned functions. Any suggestions on how I might go about fixing that? I think I'm going to need it.

Employee
Posts: 1,163
Country: USA

Re: First few steps in development...

I've run into a couple of people who've had issue opening chm files, what O/S are you on and what does the error say?

Matthew Wood
Act! SDK Support
Community Moderator
New Member
Posts: 4
Country: USA

Re: First few steps in development...

I'm running Windows 7. Not much in the way of error message. Just:

 

Navigaion to the webpage was canceled 

 

What you can try:

 

Retype the address

 

Also, all of the icons that are not the purple book are question marks. (Another sign of a broken link.)

Employee
Posts: 1,163
Country: USA

Re: First few steps in development...

This may help: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917607

Matthew Wood
Act! SDK Support
Community Moderator
New Member
Posts: 4
Country: USA

Re: First few steps in development...

Thanks for looking, but this wasn't the answer. You're check out Microsoft as the issue solution inspired me, and I found the answer at this site.

 

Basically you have to right-click the .chm file, click proerties, and at the bottom there is an unblock button. Click that, repoen the .chm file, and everything works. Looks like this is just another security feature without an intuitive solution.

 

Thanks again.