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Posted on: Saturday, 23 February 2008 by Rajiv Popat

For quite a bit of time I haven’t been talking about TacticSheet. For those of you who do not know or have forgotten TacticSheet, allow me to begin this post by refreshing your memory. TacticSheet is a free open source Timesheet entry system which we’ve been building using Visual Studio 2008, C# 3.0 and LINQ to SQL. For more information on TacticSheet, how you can download it, try it out, participate or contribute in it's development visit this URL.

We’ve been moving slower than expected in TacticSheet because:

  1. My day time job has been keeping me busy where I’m working on getting a lot of goodness we have on the banking side released as a service for free.
  2. We’ve been busy hiring; which means lots of interviews and lots of thought provoking discussions with candidates which is just helping me realize how weird our industry is becoming. This of-course has been translating and resonating into some of my posts lately. :)
  3. Visual Studio 2008 RTM introduced a couple of minor breaking changes to TacticSheet which was originally started on Beta 2.0 of Visual Studio 2008.

Excuses aside, we’ve got back to work, slow and steady and will continue to push new features into TacticSheet and make it more and more stable and usable.

Here’s what was checked into the Source Forge SVN a few days ago:

Changes to Allow TacticSheet to build and Run on Visual Studio 2008 RTM

We started TacticSheet with Visual Studio 2008 Beta 2. Most breaking changes we encountered were in the LINQ to SQL side. As promised, TacticSheet now builds and runs on Visual Studio 2008 RTM version.

A Brand New UI

I’m no graphic specialist; having said that I’m pretty proud of my Photoshop skills. I’ve also advised programmers to learn and pickup a little bit of UI designing. This check-in of TacticSheet introduces a light, crisp and slightly more professional UI than the pinkish UI we started off with. We hope you enjoy using it.

Clear Distinction between Advanced Allocations and Simple Allocations

In TacticSheet there are two ways to allocate an employee to a project. The allocation can be a simple allocation which basically means that you want the employee to be associated with the project for the entire life span of the project. For advanced allocation you only want him to work on the project for a given date range.

The previous check-ins of TacticSheet we picked up the start date and the end date of the project and used those to determine the duration for which the employee can work on the project even in case of simple allocation. As simple as the approach was, it was leading to problems when you want to extend the duration of the project after the allocation has already happened.  

In this version we explicitly tag a simple allocation as a simple allocation. Which means a simple allocation has no start date and end date associated with it and auto extends as life / duration of the project extends.

Tons of Bug Fixing and Validations

We’re not yet as stable as I would want TacticSheet to be. I would encourage everyone to play around with it and file bugs if you find them. Our firm belief that good software is never complete drove us to keep testing TacticSheet like Crazy, fix bugs and add more and more validations.

If you’re playing around with TacticSheet or towing with the idea of using it when it goes to the Release stage be rest assured that we would love to be involved with and fix Tactic-Sheet issues as and when they found. The whole point of releasing TacticSheet is to be able to support what we build and this check-in was one more step in that direction.

We’re Far from Done

During this time when I went silent on TacticSheet multiple people (much more than I had expected) asked, buzzed or emailed wondering if TacticSheet was dead. Far From Dead; it’s alive, breathing and taking baby steps at growing.

For all those who have subscribed to our mailing list and offered help in form of participation, thank you so much for your continued help and support. We really look forward to more of it!

Continue to watch out for new features, more stability, better UI in the coming weeks.

With the release of Microsoft MVC framework we've also been evaluating and considering the use of the framework in TacticSheet but that would mean moving some bigger pieces around and a lot of playing around with the framework before we take the plunge.

I'll be writing a series of posts which will describe my evaluation of Microsoft MVC framework as I play with it and try and try and use it to address some real life problems TacticSheet needs to address.  The posts will be focused on describing what's going on in my head as I decide whether TacticSheet adapts this technology or continues on it's current custom MVP plus Ajax based implementation. Expect additional posts on these in the near future.

Stay tuned for more features, interesting technologies and more open source goodness. :)