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Documentation complaint: Getting started is HARD!

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Documentation complaint: Getting started is HARD!

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This is a long-ish post, intended to document the issues I came across so that perhaps they might be addressed.  You don't need to read the whole thing to get the idea, which is:  If I were looking at Progress and PDSOE as a development platform, I would probably give up on it fairly quickly, after concluding that the product lacks polish and good documentation, and probably doesn't work too well.

My environment is Windows 10, Progress 11.7.3 64-bit.  I'm an experienced developer, and I've been using Progress for decades-- so if I can't make it through the sample code then something is probably wrong.  It's not that Progress doesn't have a lot of documentation -- it certainly does, and much of it is excellent.  But I keep getting stuck trying to find it, or to make my way through it.

Most of my work over the years has been in a character environment.  I've learned enough of Studio, PAS and other "new" technology to be slightly dangerous.  But there is a lot of meat to these tools, and a lot of options that I simply don't understand.  I thought it was time to learn the tools in depth, and being a good developer I turned to the documentation.

The first thing I thought I would do was look at some of the sample code.  Handily enough, PDSOE includes a variety of samples.  AutoEdge|TheFactory sounds like a good place to start.  Nope:  it requires Savvion BPM components, and I don't have those.

Well, maybe I'm starting in the wrong place.  Let me try reading the documentation.  Ah, here we go:  "Getting Started:  Introducing the Progress Developer Studio for OpenEdge Visual Designer."  Perfect.  Till I get about half-way through the first chapter.

"Note: OpenEdge Ultra requires the installation of OpenEdge® Ultra Controls for .NET, which is an optional product. OpenEdge Ultra is required if you want to complete the exercises in this manual."

OK, I don't have that either.  Isn't there any sample code I can just run?  Back to the Sample Code.  There's a whole BPM section I can ignore -- AutuEdge|TheFactory should probably be in there -- but I can look at the .Net stuff ("OpenEdge Ultra Controls for .NET).  It's not what I'm looking for, but at least it's something.  Clicking on that brought me to the web page :"OpenEdge Ultra Controls for .NET Illustrative Samples"), which tells me

"The sample can be launched from the Proenv by changing to the relevant sample's folder, and running

prowin32.exe -p runner.p"

As a beginner, I probably would have gotten lost at "launched from the Proenv".  Then I would have gotten lost a second time at

"'prowin32.exe' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file."

But I'm an old Progress hand, and I know things.  I typed

   pro p -p runner.p

and for my troubles, I got:

"You can only use the .NET event loop in a GUI application. (15809)"

Oops.  OK; instead of prowin32, I'll try prowin64.  Nope.  How about prowin?  Hooray!  I can run a demo of some .Net controls -- which teaches me next to nothing about PDSOE.  But at least it's running!  But wait!  I spoke too soon.  Whenever I press "Launch Sample," I get a small grey window with no functionality.  Unless I run from code instead of the pecompiled runner.r, in which case I get messages like

"System.IO.FileNotFoundException.  Could not load file or assembly 'Infragistic4.Documents.Reports.v15.1, Version=15.1.2015....   etc."

It turns out that the “OpenEdge Getting Started: GUI for .NET Primer” is no better. It points you to a page where you can find downloads – but once you have found them, they do not match the documentation. I downloaded the 11.0 Samples and the 11.0 Documentation Examples. But then it tells you to look for the relative directory “src\samples\advancedgui”, which does not exist. If you dig a bit, you can find runner.p under “src\samples\GuiForDotNet\UltraControls”, but that doesn’t work any better than the above. It just fails more silently.

I then started reading the “Getting Started: Progress OpenEdge Studio” document. Huh?. “Click the AppBuilder icon from the Desktop toolbar to start the AppBuilder. …. Choose Tools -> Application Compiler from the AppBuilder menu. … Click the Run button from the PRO*Tools palette.” This seems like the wrong way to get started with Studio. (Oh, wait: I guess that OpenEdge Studio is not the same as Progress Developer Studio. But how would a newbie know something like that?)

So, what else have we got? “Developing BPM Applications With Developer Studio.” But as above, I don’t have BPM tools. Hey, look. If you search the doc table of contents for Studio, there is a link at the bottom to “Progress Developer Studio for OpenEdge.” I click on it – and after changing to an Adobe Flash-enabled browser I get a lot of stuff about “Architect.” Huh? What’s Architect? (Again: How would a newbie know? The linked-to videos show stuff from OE 10.2A, which is probably going to confuse as much as enlighten.)

So: scrap the docs, and scrap the samples.  Let's do some tutorials.  Look – I’m back to 10.2A Architect videos again.

If I were evaluating Progress, I'd be probably give up at this point and move on to a product that works.  And don’t get me started on Kendo UI Builder….

Please: can someone tell me that I’m just being dense, and that a smarter person would not be hitting these roadblocks?

-- Phil

All Replies
  • Sorry, but.. Welcome to the club!

    I thought that my problem was the cultural differences, and language barrier, that limited my ability to find the documentation to what I wanted, so long time ago I stopped looking for documentation except for the win-help, which is very good (although not perfect), and kbase.

    Starting with Progress would have been a pain if not supported by experienced people. Documentation for Architect/PDF/whater the next name would be, apparently is *not necessary* as it is "Eclipse based" (as if that were a good thing..)

    My conclusion was (and still is), that Progress is not for new people, is for experienced users. The only way into Progress is by the hand of a experienced developer.. no available route for a standalone new user of it.. Maybe because no big company has such a user?

    Finding new developers seems to be a no-no for Progress since ever (based on others comments.. and my company experience). So if you ask me, I'm not surprised at all..

  • Documentation has been an issue that I've hammered on PSC for years. The 11.3 release was a huge improvement over the old stuff - but as you can see there is still much room for improvement.

  • And yet, I have had no trouble taking programmers with experience in higher level languages and databases and turning them into ABL programmers with dispatch.

    Consulting in Model-Based Development, Transformation, and Object-Oriented Best Practice  http://www.cintegrity.com

  • Certainly, Thomas.  ABL is not hard to learn -- and the docs are a bit better there.  But that's a different world.  Simply getting a trial system and reading the docs is the way a lot of new programmers learn a system.  That's how I got started with Progress.  I don't think I could do that today.

    If you (or someone like you) hired me, getting started would be much easier.  Put me in a room with experienced users who can guide me past the rough spots, who will direct me to what I should read and what I should ignore, and who can answer the "stupid" questions without my having to spend hours searching for them -- and I would would be up to speed fairly quickly.  

    This community can stand in stead of such a room, but I don't like to ask questions here unless I cannot answer them myself.  I can sometimes spend hours/days in the attempt.

    It is not my intention to disparage Progress; I would rather see it succeed beyond my wildest imaginings.  But a few things need to happen first, and this is one of them.

  • In the spirit of constructive criticism:

    I would like to see a series of tutorials on how to build AutoEdge, or at least parts of it.  It could step a new user through the tools and the development environment, and then in a second pass and step users through a second time to demonstrate best practices.

  • The best documentation for beginners I have found is FreeBSD documentation.

    If you follow the manual, everything is there, in a simple and concise explanation, with references to the detailed material. You don't need to read it all, just search for what you are looking for, and it's there.

    Progress has lots of excellent documentation, but it lacks the "manual" that guides you through. Adding the "global" manual will solve most of the documentation problems. And I don't mean a list of the available documents, but a very concise manual (that will be a huge one) with every subject, in it's shortest expression.

  • Hi Phil,
     
    I’m in full agreement with you!
     
    But I don’t think it would be AutoEdge anymore today. It would be a CCS compliant backend with KUIB as the frontend. AutoEdge was a vehicle to demonstrate techniques around what was trendy 10 years ago. Large parts on the backend are still valid. But the frontends that PSC focusses on today are KUIB and NativeScript. Having that said, I personally still see a lot of room in the world for good desktop applications (a user working 8-hrs a day on the same PC deserves the best UX he can get – and does not  care that much about deployment benefits).
     
    Von: PhilF <bounce-PhilF@community.progress.com>
    Gesendet: Montag, 21. Mai 2018 17:06
    An: TU.OE.General@community.progress.com
    Betreff: RE: [Technical Users - OE General] Documentation complaint: Getting started is HARD!
     
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    Update from Progress Community
    Das Bild wurde vom Absender entfernt.
     

    In the spirit of constructive criticism:

    I would like to see a series of tutorials on how to build AutoEdge, or at least parts of it.  It could step a new user through the tools and the development environment, and then in a second pass and step users through a second time to demonstrate best practices.

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    Das Bild wurde vom Absender entfernt.
     

    Architect of the SmartComponent Library and WinKit

    Consultingwerk Ltd.

  • I've not looked in any detail, and apologies if you've found it already, but there is a getting started area that goes with the Classroom edition. Maybe there's some stuff here? documentation.progress.com/.../index.html

  • I had suggested a PDF version of the old "pocket progress" that was a small binder years ago.

  • Thanks, James.  I did come across that, and found that it pointed to a document on PDSOE which I had missed -- but which is actually worth reading:  Progress® Developer Studio for OpenEdge® Online Help.  I think I had ignored it assuming it was going to be something akin to the help facility in PDSOE -- containing some small nuggets of wisdom, but chopped up and impossible to simply read.  I was wrong; it's an actual document, and it covers a lot of material.  I don't know how valuable it will be, but at least it is a bona fida PDSOE manual.

    So, score one for Progress.  I wish I had found this first.

  • Thanks, Tim.  I agree with you -- I *loved* Pocket Progress.  But eventually last copy (v9?  I think) got so far out of date that it ceased to be useful.  I can find things as quickly in the PDF of the reference manual.

    But that only takes you so far.  Learning ABL is not too bad; the reference manual is straightforward, and I don't mind reading material like that.  It is really the IDE stuff -- PDSOE, Kendo UIB, etc that is making me nuts.

  • Aah I really feel your frustration on this :-) and I have been there as well. Hopefully one day there will be much better documentation. Till then I love the community, hoping for better days.
     
    //Geir Otto
     
  • Well spoken !
     
  • I do wish they would check the sample code in the documentation.

    For the DISPLAY statement, 4 of the samples just won't run because of errors.

    I can imagine this is very discouraging for devs learning OE (seeing as this is a 101-statement)

  • I know it's a bit of a pain to do, but you can raise documentation bugs through Supportlink and they're pretty good at addressing them.