Tuesday
Aug222017

MOSMAR Silver Sponsors of Elite VANTAGE APAC Sydney Conference - 10-11 October

It's nearly that time of year again for the Thomson Reuters Elite VANTAGE conference.  Held on 10-11 October in Sydney, MOSMAR are again silver sponsors and promise to captivate you all at our session on MatterSphere workflows. As always, we will provide a sugar hit to keep you awake and enthralled.

There is always much to learn at VANTAGE while having a great catchup with friends and colleagues in the industry. 

Be sure to register, and see you there!

http://www.elite.com/exchange/vantage/auc17/regional-conference/

Tuesday
Aug152017

Can law firms go online only for Office 365?

We get a lot of queries about Office 365, and about whether a law firm can use the online version instead of the local applications.

It’s an interesting question, and a very interesting answer. 

The first thing to be aware of is the online version of Word is very limited in what it can do. So as long as your needs for editing are basic, then the answer is “possibly”.

A deal breaker for legal is often the fact that the online version has limited support for track changes. If you have a document with track changes turned on already, then yes you can edit it online and your changes will be tracked – but the kicker is you won’t see the tracked changes online. You need to open the document on the desktop version to see your tracked changes. Also, there is no way to turn track changes on or off with the online version, so you need to do that in the desktop version of Word first.

Another commonly used feature in legal documents are cross references. Well you can forget about them in the online version.

We also won’t mention that you can’t insert or update a table of contents, you can’t add or edit styles, or you can’t add shapes, textboxes or WordArt. 

There is also only limited support for content controls. The online version only supports rich text content controls – so you can forget about things like date controls and dropdowns.

Law firms tend to have a lot of addins and customisations, most of which are also not supported in the online version.  So forget about all those macros and ribbon customisations your firm uses on a daily basis  - they won’t be available. Most commercial addins are either COM or VSTO addins – which do not work online as they rely heavily on the operating system and the .Net framework so will not be happy in the confines of a browser. 

Speaking of addins, that usually includes your document management system. You’ll find most will require the desktop version of Word.

The online version of the Office apps have a long way to go to even get close to the desktop versions. They may be a handy tool to get you across the line with a few basic edits especially when you’re stuck with only your phone, iPad or browser. But I don’t think you’ll be doing any of the real heavy lifting online any time soon.

Hopefully that answers the question for now.

Tuesday
Aug152017

Help with help files

Have you ever tried to open a .CHM file in Windows, and it shows the index but no content? Not exactly HELPful. It had me stumped when checking out the NetDocuments ndOffice extensibility documentation.

Well it turns out to be such a simple fix. Right click on the .CHM file, select Properties, then select Unblock.

Too easy.

Friday
Sep192014

Creating Setup Projects with Visual Studio 2013

It all became a reality when I right-clicked on my solution to add a new project. I thought I had made a mistake. How couldn’t I add a simple setup project after writing all that code? After a minute or two of intense (!) research, I received my answer:

"Visual Studio setup projects (vdproj) will not ship with future versions of VS."

Like the rest of the world, my heart was broken. It took me countless hours to figure out how to use the broken setup project technology, what was I going to do now? [1]

I overheard Pratik and Chris talking about the WiX installer as an alternative to deploy a product. All I thought was, how hard could it be? Shouldn’t be a problem. Thanks to Pratik and an entire work day, I found that the learning curve for WiX is quite steep even though it is more powerful than what the setup projects offer. Only when you figure out how to use it. The same can definitely be said about InstallShield, you can ask Pratik.

Today when my job sheet said ‘compile when these changes are made’, it got me slightly worried because I haven’t worked with WiX or InstallShield before. I wasn’t ready for a day of studying how to deploy the project I have been working on for a week for one client. With the tiniest bit of hope, I googled how to setup project in Visual Studio. It was one of those Hail Mary moments with no hope until I saw this gem:  

http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/9abe329c-9bba-44a1-be59-0fbf6151054d

In April 2014, Microsoft caved and released a free official extension to Visual Studio 2013 that allows you to create installer projects. It is exactly the same as the installer project types in VS 2010[2] except for some minor bug fixes. All you have to do is download the extension from the abovementioned link or simply search “Microsoft Visual Studio Installer Projects” on the internet[3]. When your VS restarts (you have to close and reopen it) you will have setup wizard and project types just like you could before.

Voilà!

Mutu


[1] The famous Visual Studio user request that has been up voted more than 6,000 times can be found at https://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio/suggestions/3041773-bring-back-the-basic-setup-and-deployment-project?page=40&per_page=20

[2] This is a good source to compare the 3 different installer deployment tool that Microsoft offers. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee721500(v=vs.100).aspx

[3] Alternatively, you can use the Extensions and Updates dialog as well.

Monday
Feb102014

An exception with exceptions

I've been having an extremely strange issue with a custom application. Basically the application is a form that displays to the user so they can select some options relating to how they want to print a document in Word. The form then goes off and does a few things with the printer driver and prints the document as required.

For some strange reason the form started playing up recently, and users were reporting that it was locking up sometimes, and the only way you could close it was to end the WinWord process in Task Manager which is a little drastic!

With a bit of debugging (and luckily being able to replicate the issue) I found the problem code was calling the DocumentPropertiesA function from winspool.drv. This was the part of the code that was updating the printer driver with the new settings. All of a sudden the call was not returning in some instances, but in a strange twist execution was returned to the form. No exception was returned. I enabled all the controls on the form to test further, and it turns out the form was indeed active again, and the buttons would work, but you could not close the form.

A bit of research reveals you cannot close a form if there is another event still running. So I guess the code running on the OK button event was considered to be still running.

If I clicked on the OK button again, the same code would run, but at the same line of troublesome code would actually return an AccessViolationException error, and you could not continue the code.

So a bit more research and yes, AccessViolationException is bad, and your code should stop.

But here’s where it gets interesting. In versions of .Net 3.5 and earlier, an AccessViolationException would get passed back to the CLR and you could trap it. As of version 4 it does not. Well thanks for that Microsoft. You can read all about it here. That was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Turns out the fix is pretty simple. In the class that was running, I added the following imports statement

Imports System.Runtime.ExceptionServices

Then on the actual sub that was running, I added the following attribute

<HandleProcessCorruptedStateExceptions()>
Public Sub Update()

And voila, the TRY CATCH around the problem line picks up the exception.

I can now catch the problem. Turns out it’s not fatal in this case, and the code can keep running, and even more strangely, it works. I suspect there is still another problem that needs a little more investigation, but I’m now back to a print dialog form that appears to work the same as before which no longer locks up. So happy users, and happy developer.

If you feel like reading more on exceptions, then here’s a little more light reading that you may find interesting, I know I did. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dd419661.aspx#id0070035