12-23-2014 03:42 AM - edited 12-23-2014 03:44 AM
My programming experience to date is 2 months with Excel VBA. My experience with ACT! is 2 days. I'm going to be building a system to gather data in an Ipad App, email it to my company's server and then import it into ACT! (Possibly Via Excel if necessary).
I currently know how to program virtually none of this. So, I'm after some general guidance.
My working concept is:
Ipad App (glorified spreadsheet), Input Data which is then emailed to Outlook as a Spreadsheet (or Text, or CSV or something appropriate). VBA to grab it, format for ACT and put it in a designated place on our server. Import it into ACT.
First off, is the above concept a good (/reasonable / not overcomplicated) one? Especially for someone who's going to be learning it all from scratch?
More generally, I gather ACT uses .NET, can anyone recommend a good place to learn more about it?
Thanks in advance for your help. Any other advice you want to offer will be much appreciated.
P.S. If you're wondering how, exactly, I find myself in this situation.
I was at Uni studying Maths. Left to join a startup investment fund / Wealth Manager. In 2 months went from no programming experience to building a Quant Trading Model / Backtester in VBA (among other things). Company wants to expand and hire salespeople and need a scaleable system for getting client data from meetings (all over the country) into ACT. Since we don't need to have it right now (and they're impressed with how fast I picked things up so far), they're happy for me to take a month or 2 to learn everything I need to know and build it. So here I am.
12-30-2014 08:26 AM - edited 12-30-2014 11:21 AM
This is all doable and the solution architecture you've described is fine.
Assuming you can get a file on a server somewhere you've got a couple of items that are going to be a bit advanced technically:
1. You need to determine how you want to trigger the server based app to run, determine whether to process the file or not, process the file (import it into Act!) then dispose of the file (so you don't reimport it again at the next trigger event).
2. Importing the file into Act! programmatically - Imports can be messy, determining merge/insert rules, data overwrites, handling failures etc... You'll likely want to look at some tools that can help with doing this as it will take some time even for an experienced programmer to automate an import from scratch.
For item 1: Can you execute this as a time based poll? Meaning can you run a job that looks at a folder every 30 mins and imports files if they are there? If so you have a wider range of options (you can use windows scheduler for example to run your program). If you need to import the file as soon as it arrives - you'll have to look at a couple of different issues here, how to trigger, and handling multiple threads (a file comes in and triggers while your app is still processing the previous file).
For item 2: I recommend looking at some Act! import tools - Oak merge, Egrabber, etc... Some of these may be able to solve your problem end to end, so take a look at their tech and you may just end up configuring items instead of writing any code.
Personally I would start with eGrabber to see if you could leverage their inbox data scraping tech to get data into Act!.
Hope this helps.
Best of luck
01-02-2015 12:34 AM
Thanks Allen, that's all really helpful.
We're a very small company and case times are usualy measured in weeks, if not months, so real-time isn't very important at the moment (I could reasonably run it just once a day and it would barely make an impact on our operations). Also due to our size, we're not going to be generating a huge volume of data so I could easily do all the importing manually until I learn how to do it programmatically
Those tools all look really useful. Unfortunately, for the same reasons as above, they're not viable (from a cost/benefit perspective) for the company.