Community
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
Reply

New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

Accepted Solution Solved
Avid Listener
Posts: 49
Country: USA
Accepted Solution

New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

I'm a developer by training and experience.  I've been an ACC for several yrs and I want to get back into development.  There are many versions of Visual Studio:  Pro, Premium and Express versions, etc.  I'm having a hard time getting started with the SDK, so I don't want to find out I'm using the wrong version in the first place.

 

My question is, which version should I start out with?  I use Visual Studio 2012 Express for Web for websites.  Is that good enough to do SDK development?  Or do I need to go to a Professional version.  I have all of them. 

 

Another question, what type of application should I start out with using the SDK?  Web? Windows?  Or should I just do a console application?  I want to get it up and going.

 

 

Kevin Varnon
ClientTrax CRM
Kansas City
(785) 408-3702
kevin@clienttrax.com

Accepted Solutions
Solution
Accepted by topic author kevin319
‎10-05-2015 10:28 AM
Silver Super Contributor
Posts: 2,328
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

If you can get it for free (MSDN, etc.) I would go with Visual Studio 2015 Enterprise since it has all the bells and whistles.  If you have to pay for it then the Community edition will probably be fine.  I would still go with the 2015 Community edition.

 

Stan


If you would like to get more out of ACT! you can find an ACT! Certified Consultant near you by going to:www.act.com/acc.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stan Smith
ACT! Certified Consultant
ADS Programming Services, Inc.
(205) 222-1661
www.adsprogramming.com
www.actwebhosting.com
Click Here to Purchase Act!

View solution in original post


All Replies
Bronze Elite Contributor
Posts: 2,115
Country: United_Kingdom

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

Hi Kevin,

 

My personal advice would be to download VS2015 Ex edition. I think in 2015 they have consolidated both the Web and Deskotp versions into a single but larger download and install. This way you can have the best of both worlds once you get mroe familiar with things.

 

The next bit of advice would be to avoid trying to code to APFW or APM, but to restrict your learning initially to the Desktop version of Act!.

 

The final starting advice would be to initially not worry too much about creating Plugins intially. The problem with plugins is that it can be quite a steep learning curve and you are having to mess around with the strange UI elements of the Act! application. Initially what you first need to be able to grasp are the central concepts and pillars to the SDK. If you've had exposure to OOP, coding in .NET and subsequently the Act! SDK becomes much easier. If you are new to OOP, I would really recommend that you first get familiar with the core concepts of OO before getting lost in the SDK.

 

The SDK can be very loosely categorised into 2 forms:

Framework apps - stand alone exe

Plugins -  compiled dlls that run inside an Act! instance

 

The Act! Object Model is basically split into 2 types of Entities:

Primary

Secondary

A primary entity is basically an Object that can exist by itself without having to be linked to another entity. Primary entities include Contacts, Companies, Opportunities and Groups. Secondary entities include Histories, Notes, Activities, Secondary Contacts and Custom Sub-Entities.

 

When you first start a simple Framework exe, you'll need to instantiate an ActFramework Object. That Framework object then will need to authenticate against a Database. Once you have successfully authenticated the ActFramework object then gives you access to the various Entity Manager classes from which you can start doing useful things. I owuld say the first steps to take is to create a simple app that logs into an Act! dB and then pings a HelloWorld type msgBox giving the name of the dB and then logs off.

 

I'll grant it's not the world's greatest or most excitign app, but it's all about baby steps.

 

I code in C#, others code in VB.NET. If you have a background in C/C++/Java then I would say you'll find C# more intuitive, if not go with VB.NET.

 

You could also be all funky and modern and start having a play aorud with the all new Web API which is a REST API for APFW v17.2 onwards.

 

I hope that helps and gives you some points to work from. When I frist started, I actually found the learning curve to be quite steep, but once a few key concepts sunk in, over time I learned to guess by instinct what could and could not be done by the SDK and to guess where Objects were and what would be the most obvious objects to use. Give yourself maybe 3-9 months of playing I would say. The community here is very helpful and Jim Durkin is one of the guys who is always happy and willing to help. He has over a decade in deving on Act! so you wont find many greater authorities on the SDK than him! Another couple of names to keep in mind are Stan Smith as well as Don Egen who are both dev community leaders as well, finally there is also Knif who is a pretty smart cookie and helpful as well. Sadly the two Swiftpage resident devs Rissel and Sam are no longer workign for Swiftpage so the dev forums are very much community led and supported now.

 

HTH. Good luck and have fun coding!

Vivek Gargav
Caldere Associates Ltd.
www.caldere.com
vgargav@caldere.com
My Blog
Nickel Contributor
Posts: 175
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

Thank you for the call out and compliment, Vivek. Smiley Wink

 

Vivek has provided a lot of great info there, so I'm just going to help out with the VS version. The new combined express version is called the Community edition. It is basically the Pro version but without all of the extra tools you get with purchasing the software. However, it can still use all of the extensions and such that the paid versions can use. Here is the download page: https://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/downloads/download-visual-studio-vs.aspx 

 

I'll clarify that my skill set isn't very strong with ACT, but more in general programming. If one were to look through my post history (assuming it can be done, not sure), it'll mostly be general programming responses. I just like to help out where I can since this community helped me get the few framework applications I've done up and running properly.

 

Avid Listener
Posts: 49
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

Well, guys, that's exactly the information I was looking for! 

 

I've been in IT for 30 yrs.  For the last 6 or 7 yrs, I've been away from development and I've come to realize I really miss it.  And you just helped me get restarted.  So, I'll go ahead and get the latest Community version of Visual Studio.  At least I'll start off on the right track. 

 

I'm sure I'm be back to bother everybody about what I'm doing wrong.  I apologize in advance!

 

Thanks so much for your prompt responses!

 

kv

Kevin Varnon
ClientTrax CRM
Kansas City
(785) 408-3702
kevin@clienttrax.com
Avid Listener
Posts: 49
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

I guess I should ask, should I get the latest version, 2015 or go with 2013?
Kevin Varnon
ClientTrax CRM
Kansas City
(785) 408-3702
kevin@clienttrax.com
Solution
Accepted by topic author kevin319
‎10-05-2015 10:28 AM
Silver Super Contributor
Posts: 2,328
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

If you can get it for free (MSDN, etc.) I would go with Visual Studio 2015 Enterprise since it has all the bells and whistles.  If you have to pay for it then the Community edition will probably be fine.  I would still go with the 2015 Community edition.

 

Stan


If you would like to get more out of ACT! you can find an ACT! Certified Consultant near you by going to:www.act.com/acc.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stan Smith
ACT! Certified Consultant
ADS Programming Services, Inc.
(205) 222-1661
www.adsprogramming.com
www.actwebhosting.com
Click Here to Purchase Act!
Avid Listener
Posts: 49
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

Thanks, Stan.  That's what I wanted to know.  I've already downloaded 2015 Community.

Kevin Varnon
ClientTrax CRM
Kansas City
(785) 408-3702
kevin@clienttrax.com
Avid Listener
Posts: 49
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

[ Edited ]

I have the web version of Act! 17 installed on my machine.  Is it worth uninstalling and installing the desktop version to make it easier to learn the SDK?  Or can I treat the web version like the desktop version for the purposes of SDK development?

Kevin Varnon
ClientTrax CRM
Kansas City
(785) 408-3702
kevin@clienttrax.com
Bronze Super Contributor
Posts: 1,231
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

You can treat the web version like the desktop version. I only ever install the web version on my development PC.

 

Thanks

-- Jim Durkin

Avid Listener
Posts: 49
Country: USA

Re: New to .NET Development for Act! SDK

I looked at the PPT on plugin development and it's a good explanation.  What I'm not clear on is when you write you plugin.  I use Visual Studio 2015. 

 

In the following example:

1. When you make a new project in Visual Studio, what kind of project is it in the first place?  I mean it's not a console application or ASP.NET web application.  Is it a class library?  I want to start off on the right path.  Is there a plugin template I can use?

2. Where it says "Act.Web.Framework.IWebPlugin" where does that come from?

3. Where do the Session variables come from?  A reference somewhere (Using stmt)?

4. Do I need to add the references to the DLLs?

5. Do I need to compile (build) it?

 

Ex #2: Write a plugin to add your own tab to ACT! (web)

public class Class1 : Act.Web.Framework.IWebPlugin

{    

/// <summary>

/// Init is called after a database has been logged onto. All tabs, menus, and toolbars

/// get reset on each logon, so we always add them here.

/// </summary>

/// <param name="session"></param>

public void Init(Act.Web.Framework.ACTSessionManager session)

{

// Add the custom tab provider to the contact detail page.

session.LayoutTabs.AddCustomTabProvider(LayoutType.Contacts, new Act.Web.Framework.CustomTabProvider(this.ServeCustomTab));

}

 

private bool ServeCustomTab(Act.Web.Framework.ACTSessionManager session, out string tabName, out string tabURL)

{

//the text that will be displayed on the tab

tabName = strings.ContactTabName;

//the URL to the page the user will be redirected to when clicking on the tab

tabURL = session.AppPath + "Plugins/SamplePlugin/foo.aspx";

//return true to tell the provider to process this info and generate the custom tab

return true;

}

}

Kevin Varnon
ClientTrax CRM
Kansas City
(785) 408-3702
kevin@clienttrax.com