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Title: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 19, 2006, 09:20:46 pm
I'm sitting here struggling with my home-made paperwork of inventory tracking, repair tracking, and show schedules, and what a mess. There's got to be a better way, so I've come up with an idea.

There have been several inquiries lately about inventory control, including mine and I've come up with something. I've talked to a couple of folks here and I've come to realize that things like HireTrack, RentalDesk, and a couple of others are fine, but waaay too much sugar for a dime for companies like ours. And trying to learn something like Access or FileMaker to the point of making what I'm looking for is out of the question. So I'd like to propose something to the programmer-oriented member or members of the community. How about we come up with an idea for a simple, no-frills inventory-control program and can be written by someone here and offered for sale to the community whose needs it would suit? I'm talking a program that consists of a database of all of the equipment along with the ability to group together items (such as an FX rack or amp rack). Then you would have the ability to "book" an item or groups of items under two categories, either "show" or "rental", with the booking showing up in the database as "unavailable". A repair-tracking setion would be helpful (what the gear is, what's wrong, who's repairing it, tracking numbers, status in the inventory, etc.)For our needs, it doesn't have to have the value or depreciation listed. A "preventative maintinence" schedule would be cool, but not necessary. It doesn't need accounting capabilities. Personel info would be cool, but not necessary, as would trucking. Client info and/or sales info wouldn't be necessary, either. This would NOT take the place of HireTrack or such programs, but for smalled companies just needing to track where the gear is going, it would be fine. I still haven't found anything commercially available that fits this wish list. Maybe it could be written in modules such as sales, rentals, shows, trucking, personel, but then it would get complicated and encroach on the larger programs.

If this sounds like a doable idea, let's toss some things around. If not, let it crash and burn, won't hurt my feelings.
Gotta run, but I'll get back to this and see what we think...or don't...

(edited for speedy typing, girlfriend rang the dinner bell!)

Geri O
Title: Re: The invenrtory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Jonathan Woytek on September 19, 2006, 10:15:26 pm
I get paid to do stuff like this as a day job (well, not exactly anymore, but I still do this for pay as a consultant for some folks).  I think it might be interesting to take this on, but I'm going to need some specific help.  

I do have my own little sound company, and I'd love to have something like this--at the very least for tracking my own inventory and "cost to rent", etc.  I've been considering doing something like this for myself a lot lately, but haven't had the real push to do anything about it, figuring that I'd end up reinventing a part of the wheel that's already been invented for people like me.  

That said, I'm not big enough to do multi-part rentals, deal with trucking, etc.  That's a part of the business where I'd need help.  

Geri, if you're getting enough interest, I think that something like this would be worthwhile.  Before we could go very far, we would need to define a concrete set of requirements for "version 1", then we can grow from there.  The requirements will help to drive the decision on what base platform to use for this system, too.  For instance, if a lot of people on both the Mac and PC side want to use something like this, then Filemaker is one of the more obvious choices.  If people using this would be primarily PC-based, Access has its advantages and is easily scalable to larger systems.  If people want cross-platform happiness without the overhead of needing a filemaker runtime or Access, we could roll our own from scratch in Java.  

If you are getting sufficient interest, I'll create a wiki where we can work on the requirements collaboratively.  

One of the primary things that I think we should consider is whether this should be free or pay.  Personally, I don't care.  However, if we are going to do it for pay or any sort of fee, then we're going to have to work-out how that would work, too.  

jonathan
Title: Re: The invenrtory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 19, 2006, 10:44:45 pm
I thought I had mentioned the pay part in the original post, but no, I certainly don't expect someone or someones to write something like this for free. I was saying that let's have some ideas about what the program should be capable of, of course to not re-invent the wheel as you mentioned. Then, maybe the program could be offered for sale to the community members who would find it useful. Maybe even a stepping stone to the larger more involved programs. I don't know if this could approached like the Lab Sub project where Tom Danley so graciously provided his time and talents (not to mention possible competition to his future livelihood!) to make the Lab Sub project possible. hat woudl be nice, but I've no knowledge of the amount of work it would take (a LOT, to be sure), so I would not suggest that someone do it for free.

Geri O
Title: Re: The invenrtory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Tim McCulloch on September 19, 2006, 10:58:10 pm
Jonathan-

I'd be happy to contribute to the "wish list."  I'm not a DB programer, but I know what some of the things to track might be and how they relate to other things.

Count me in.

Tim Mc
Title: The database idea subthread
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 19, 2006, 11:16:57 pm
Since I truly believe that the interest is out there ("If you program it, they will come"? Laughing ), I'll start the "official wish list",

Naturally, a maser database to work from. Info such as make, model, serial number, company inventory number. It would have a status listing, such as "available", "unavailable", "Out for repair", "Time for PM", etc.

A "group" database that would be items made up of individual components. A group could be an effects rack, amp rack, or maybe even a console, its power supply, and an EZ-Tilt. I see how this part could get confusing, so it might need some special treatment that anyone might come up with. I imagine that with some folks, the group's contents could change from week to week. That's not a big thing with us at the moment, our racks stay prett consistent.

Once this database is created, you can create a "booking". A booking could be classed as a "show" or a "rental". In either case, the listing would make a change of the item's status in the master database. I like the idea of bar-coding, but that might be too complicated and I do want to keep the program simple.

That's my start of things. I might add or change things as we go.

Geri O

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Adam Whetham on September 19, 2006, 11:44:50 pm
I fully agree with this also.

Right Now our company has two offices 70 miles apart. I don't deal with our large production stuff. But i deal with our smaller rentals we deal with.. IE the speaker on a stick rentals with a talking head. (You can get some good income from these) And sometimes Something gets forgotten from a rental. Maybe I might double book a small Mixer. Or over book my PGX Wireless Lapel units.

Right now we haven't even bought software like hiretrack, etc. We just use Outlook on shared callendars so We can see whats going on with each shop.... tentativly see if somethings going out. etc.

If its something basic that does the trick. I Would love to find something simple. like this.

Callendar based.

Creat Job.(auto enter who puts job in. editable later)
Contact info of Job
Drag and drop items under job. (Items in a list organized in groups)
click next
Enter Load in/Load out== Pickup/Drop-off
Load in - Who will be there
Load out - Who will be there
NOTES
Alarm/reminder settings.

Saves after every step.

My basic Idea.

I realy think their is a demand for something like this. I would Love to support it.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Mark Meagher on September 20, 2006, 12:50:55 am
I'm in.

I was looking for something like this a few weeks back, actually started a year or so ago looking to track maintenance.
Most of the stuff that's out there that has interested me is known as "asset management" or "asset tracking" software and can get pretty elaborate and pretty salty, pretty quick.

I agree with everything that's posted so far as I can see a use for most of it in our place. With anything there will be some features and fluff that doesn't apply to your situation but that's ok.

I am particularly interested in the life cycle history of certain pieces of gear, ie: when and where purchased, when repaired, by whom, how much did it cost etc...

If you turn your gear over with any frequency and are constantly buying or selling gear, it can be a nightmare keeping the accountant up to speed on which gear is still on-hand and which needs pulled from the depreciation schedule. Not to suggest any accounting be included in this project but it sure would be nice to run a report with serial numbers and other info on what gear was bought or sold this year etc..

To expand on something already posted...the ability to create assemblies for things that have to be packaged, for instance a mixer and it's power supplies have to go out together and all the other gear that falls in that type of situation. (referential integrity for you programmer types). Our company is small enough that sometimes gear overlaps from one rig to another. A side fill stack on one rig might be a standalone main stack on a smaller rig. So it would be nice to make sure that it wasn't booked to be used in 2 different rigs in 2 different places on the same day.

It also would be nice (or maybe just a fantasy), for those that have web sites for this to be browser based so it could be accessed from the road at any time. OK. Maybe not such a great idea.

I did a bit of development work over the years but I am certainly NOT the one to spearhead this project but will be more than happy to help anyone who is truly an expert.

Didn't mean to write a book here. Just a few thoughts.

Whomever is the man for the job here, please stand up so we can give you the atta-boy and take this thing by the horns and get it rollin'.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Darren Scaresbrook on September 20, 2006, 01:10:07 am
Hi Geri,
Have a look at this website. The program is "Production Assistant", the company is based down here in Aus. I haven't used it personally but I know someone who has it and they seem to be getting along fine with it. I think the pricing is reasonable, I even seem to recall a free version for businesses with just a few users (dont quote me on this!).
Cheers
     Darren

http://www.productionassistant.com.au
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Stuart Hogg on September 20, 2006, 06:14:12 am
Mark Meagher wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 05:50

It also would be nice (or maybe just a fantasy), for those that have web sites for this to be browser based so it could be accessed from the road at any time. OK. Maybe not such a great idea.


When using Filemaker, it is relatively easy to publish the database as HTML. Obviously you then need some kind of password protected way of viewing it, but the basic web-publishing functionality comes out of the box.

This isn't to say "you must do it in Filemaker" - far from it in fact, but I'd expect that similar "webkit" type things will be available for Java, SQL, etc.

The other thing I've seen is a product called SyncDek (google it). Using this product each used keeps a complete copy of the database on their machine, and they are syncronised with each other using an smtp link. This has lower network overheads than looking at web pages, with the bonus being that if you don't have online access you can see everything that is in the database up until the last update, plus you can add bookings and have them sync later.

Syncdek is fearsomely expensive (otherwise I'd be using it for our own databases) but again this might be an approach that could work for a home brew solution.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 20, 2006, 06:25:53 am
Hi, Darren. Thanx for the suggestion, I have the free version and I think it could be what I'm looking for. But it kinda falls in the "too much sugar for a dime" category. Still, I haven't written it off just yet. Mark keeps talking about a Version 3 supposedly coming out that will have, among other things, barcode capability. Hope it comes out soon.

Geri O
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Riley Casey on September 20, 2006, 01:00:13 pm
I've semi quoted your wish list Geri as an example of just how the variables of different business models make such a project so complex.  We do mostly industrials these days, work in a large urban area with alot of corporate / government clients so tracking client billing info is vital to us.  We mix and match gear combinations for EVERY show.  The whole concept of an A rig and B rig are long dead here.  On the other hand we have gone into digital consoles and digital drive racks heavily so that once a rack is packaged there is a big resistance to breaking anything out of it so grouping items is not a big issue.  Personal booking is really crucial for us since we are constantly juggling multiple crews and trucks each day.  Trucks NEVER stay onsite ( every truck is a threat in Washington DC - one of our drivers had a Capital police officer pull his gun yesterday because he decided that an empty case in the van was an ammunition box. )  I suspect that a one size fits all solution would very minimal or quickly out grow itself.

We are currently using a Filemaker based system that I built six years ago.  If anyone is using Filemaker and wants to go down that route I'd be interested in exploring it too.

Geri O wrote on Tue, 19 September 2006 21:20

I'm sitting here struggling with my home-made paperwork of inventory tracking, repair tracking, and show schedules, and what a mess. There's got to be a better way, so I've come up with an idea.

  • a database of all of the equipment along with the ability to group together items (such as an FX rack or amp rack)
  • the ability to "book" an item or groups of items under two categories, either "show" or "rental", with the booking showing up in the database as "unavailable"
  • A repair-tracking setion would be helpful (what the gear is, what's wrong, who's repairing it, tracking numbers, status in the inventory, etc.)
  • For our needs, it doesn't have to have the value or depreciation listed
  • A "preventative maintinence" schedule would be cool, but not necessary.
  • It doesn't need accounting capabilities.
  • Personel info would be cool, but not necessary, as would trucking.


Geri O


Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Shaun Wexler (MacFOH) on September 20, 2006, 01:08:15 pm
I've had this in development for over a year...  stay tuned.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Pete Thurston on September 20, 2006, 01:12:55 pm
My very first thought was that this could be easily designed in ASP.net and set up as an online instance.  Since it would be written based on the .net framework, an executable version could be created as well for Windows.  That way someone could have the "full" version at the warehouse for entering new stuff and managing the app.  The online instance would be accessible from the field, but it wouldn't make sense to be at a gig entering in new gear that was just delivered to the warehouse, etc...  

I think it's a great idea, and very marketable.  If the "wish list" ever makes it to a clear and concise set of requirements, I'd be happy to take a look and see what I can find the time to contribute, app-wise.  I do a bit of coding on the side and this is quite interesting.

The other thought is that if the entire app were to be designed in ASP.net and forget about the executable "full version" app, it would be completely cross-platform.  Anyone with a web browser that can understand ASP would be able to use the application.  Might be the smart way to go about it...

Just my thoughts...

.pete.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Jason Phair on September 20, 2006, 01:22:23 pm
Pete Thurston wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 13:12

  The online instance would be accessible from the field, but it wouldn't make sense to be at a gig entering in new gear that was just delivered to the warehouse, etc...  





However, it could be used for on-site repairs, and failures.  Sure, you won't forget if you blow up an amp to put that on the show report, but what if you have a bad cable?  The "tape over the end" system only works so well, and it's an item that's easily forgotten after a long show/loadout/drive away, and can be costly if that item is then shipped off to the next day's gig without having a chance to be checked in.  A real-time ability to "red-flag" items could be a showsaver.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Riley Casey on September 20, 2006, 01:27:03 pm
One consideration that goes against a web based app is that if you don't have web access you don't have your data base.  Locally served data in something like Filemaker can be portable in that you can take copies off your server for use on show site.  The data runs on the client app on your laptop just as it ran from the server.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Pete Thurston on September 20, 2006, 01:48:19 pm
This is true to an extent...

You could always make the "full version" in ASP.net and have it call from a local database on the same computer.  Then you can replicate the database to the web server anytime you want to make sure that everyone in the field or your other office has the same data.  That part would be VERY complicated with multiple users, though.  Making sure you're not overwriting other folks' changes, etc...

I think keeping it simpler would be better.  Maybe just building in a "database back-up and restore" functionality so that you can back up your database, restore it to your laptop and head out the door then restore FROM the laptop when you get back if you've had to note any bad cables or hours/miles logged, etc...  Basically not supporting multiple users/offices in the first release would probably make things a LOT easier to get off the ground...

.pete.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Iain_Macdonald on September 20, 2006, 02:45:39 pm
Geri,

An English version of EasyJob was recently released. It has some interesting features.

http://www.protonic-software.com/us/home/uebersicht/iUebersi cht.aspx

Somebody has already started an Open Source project on Sourceforge. But it seems to have gone nowhere! Not unusual.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/warasto/

Iain

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Jack Arnott on September 20, 2006, 03:29:00 pm
Hello Geri,

I think that the hardest part of implementing this project is that it is not a DIY, like the lab sub was, after the initial design. And how do we compensate the person(s) doing the work.

That said, I'm all in. My requests:

1) In the version of Quickbooks that I now have I like being able to do an estimate, and then if it comes to fruition, change it into an invoice. I would like something similar here. Maybe something calender based that would warn you if you have proposals pending that might cut into your inventory.  

2) In making bids I would like to be able to drop in single pieces, subsets (like a speaker system, or amp rack), or entire systems. I would also like to be able to save systems, like a known system for a certain customer or performer.

3) I would like to be able to bid by my own algorithm. IE, for me I usually do it by labor, gear, and expenses. So an edit screen where you can choose what items come up for bidding.

4) A labor pool to choose from, and drop in. Again calender based, maybe one that is interactive online so subcontracted labor can let you know if they are available or booked.

Good luck, Jack Arnott
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Pete Thurston on September 20, 2006, 04:08:40 pm
To All -

I just got back from a lunch with a few of my developer friends here at the day-job.  There is a high level of interest from two of them who I know would be able to put out a great project.

Once there's a concrete set of requirements, they're both quite interested in taking it on.

I don't know how much folks would be willing to pay for an application like this, but it didn't seem like they were AS concerned about financial aspects as they are about a new project to sink their teeth into.  I know they'd want to sell it, but what would you, as a business owner/operator, consider a fair price for a turnkey app to do all this for you?

.pete.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 20, 2006, 07:45:11 pm
Believe me, Jack, I'm all for a paid version of the program for the person or persons that write it. I would suggest that the writers make a time-limited trial version for the community to drive around the block. But, no, I certainly don't expect someone to invest several hundred or thousand hours and not get compensated for it.

The one reason that I suggested that accounting be left out was that a lot of folks might be in my shoes where the boss on the mount, errr, in the office already uses Quickbooks plus he has a system for proposals and bids which I have little if any part of (nor the desire). I need an "audio warehouse" way to manage inventory and the logistics of shows and rentals. We might consider the "module" idea of having sub-programs such as inventory, trucking, personel, accounting, etc, however many we'd want to build and each purchaser buys the modules he needs. I kinda wonder about the difficulty of making the modules interact together once assembled, but that's for the programmers to decide on or not. Another idea is that I see two sets of needs appearing here...One for the owner-operator kind of guy where he's the boss, pencil-pusher, gear-loader, and truck driver all in one. The other is the guy like me...doing everything EXCEPT booking shows and signing checks (more details that I want no part of... Twisted Evil )

I'm really interested to see what Shaun is coming up with. In fact, Shaun, is that all yer gonna let us in on??? Very Happy

Geri O

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 20, 2006, 07:48:02 pm
Me personally, I have no idea how a price would be calculated or what it would be worth. I think somewhere around a few hundred dollars would be a place to start. Too much? Too little? How about some ideas?

Geri O
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 20, 2006, 07:57:47 pm
Geri O wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 19:45

I'm really interested to see what Shaun is coming up with.

So are a lot of us.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Charles Johnson on September 20, 2006, 08:37:31 pm
Geri,

Disclaimer: I haven't read all of the posts in the thread, so this may have already been mentioned.

I've run into pretty much the problem that you're describing (haven't had the repair tracking problem, *knocking on wood*), and have written pretty much exactly what you're wanting (I think) in a web-based program, written in Perl. Currently, due to a bug that appeared in it (and that I've yet to have the time to track down), I'm back to the Excel spreadsheet and pencil and paper.

Let me shift things around on my web server, and then, while you might not be able to book shows (small bug, eh?), you can see what all it can do. I'll add to this thread once it's where you can access it.

FWIW and HTH,

Charles Johnson
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Shaun Wexler (MacFOH) on September 20, 2006, 08:38:43 pm
Much of what has been requested in this thread and elsewhere on the LAB has been planned and/or implemented already in MacFOH... Sebastiaan Meijer is another developer in the project who has been working on the database schema with me, along with a few others. I'm working with the developers of the Valentina database, and have full access to their source code, and have written a version of it for MacFOH, called "VX", so I can implement all of my custom tuning techniques, essentially rewriting their kernel by the time I'm done, but in essence it has allowed me to develop my own database layer and engine which functions with the existing networked client/server system in MacFOH and MacFOH Remote.  

Without going into endless detail (and yes, I could easily geek out about it), I recommend that those interested compile their wish-list of realizable database features and email them to me.  Essentially, MacFOH connects to a shared touring database [online] which stores all kinds of info for venues, gear, etc, and it gets synced to users computers so they have a copy of it locally for offline access, and any updates and changes are made when they have a net connection.  A secure user data backup service will be offered in the future, which will operate transparently via the same mechanism, and there is also a standalone MacFOH Server app which companies can operate to host their own private data, in-house and/or online, make hard-copy backups, etc.  

FWIW, in a former life, I designed and implemented the business management systems for two heavy-highway construction companies, and was also the Controller and VP of both corporations.  I wrote a double-entry accounting system in FileMaker Pro, and programmed all the other systems in Excel, scripts, tools, etc.  The accounting system managed all of our heavy equipment, trucks, scheduling, jobs, employees, union wage matrices, contracts, bidding, nearly everything.  I also designed and built an asphalt batch plant process control system on Mac, with NiDAQ SCXI interfaces to the HV controls, real heavy-duty "show-control"... mission-critical interlocking, controlling 120 million BTU burners, flame eyes, pneumatics, motors, VFD's, load cells, thermocouples, etc.  So as far as experience, I do have some, but suggestions and help are more than welcome.

Wink
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Jack Arnott on September 20, 2006, 10:05:45 pm
Geri O wrote on Wed, 20 September 2006 17:45

 Another idea is that I see two sets of needs appearing here...One for the owner-operator kind of guy where he's the boss, pencil-pusher, gear-loader, and truck driver all in one. The other is the guy like me...doing everything EXCEPT booking shows and signing checks (more details that I want no part of... Twisted Evil )
Geri O



Hello Geri,
I think that there needs to be more than two scenarios. The tendency is to think in terms of what we each want. To make it universal each of our suggestions will have to be presented, and then the end users would use the portions that apply to them. It seems to me that if this were written/implemented right that it would make it easier for anyone to wear any hat. IE, office help could do more bidding, boss could see what you have going to what show, you could even have it on line so clients could check your availability.
Like the truck driver. If that is his only hat, then that is the only portion that would show up for him.
Pink tends to have lots of vehicles, and a one system/one vehicle type of operation.
I have only two vehicles, and on some days have multiple shows per vehicle. I have mapped this out in excel, but only on schedule for vehicles and labor, not inventory.  

Oh, the wheels are turning.

Regards, Jack
Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Rob Spence on September 20, 2006, 11:15:54 pm
pardon if this is already mentioned (I promiss to finish reading the thread  Twisted Evil  )

For Bookings, some way to indicate that rental period vs the period that the equipment is unavailable. For example: I rented a pair of subs last week. The rental was for saturday but I picked them up Friday and returned them Monday. So, one day of revenue but they were unavalable to rent for 4 days.

I had used a program named "ResSched" for several years. It was written as a scheduler for A/V companies and it did an ok job on the calendar but didn't do things like groups (rack-o-gear) and the reports from it were awful. It broke on me a few months ago and I am bummed cause it had all my cables in it and all the serial numbers of my gear  Crying or Very Sad
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: David Buckley on September 21, 2006, 03:43:16 am
For a program developed from scratch, the first big question is what is the platform for it to run on?  Mac, Windows or Web?  In most industries this question is a no-brainer, but there is popular support for the Mac in creative industries which somewhat muddies the waters...

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Stuart Hogg on September 21, 2006, 07:57:48 am
David Buckley wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 08:43

For a program developed from scratch, the first big question is what is the platform for it to run on?  Mac, Windows or Web?  


Is it possible to produce something worthwhile in Java or something that would be cross-platform?
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Mark Meagher on September 21, 2006, 10:21:29 am
Not to be a stick in the mud here, but for me, WIN platform is a requirement or browser based at the very least.

I understand that the creative service businesses are running Mac and the ability to integrate Mac into a PC Lan is there. However, being involved in more than one business in which both are PC based, I don't see having a power book or whatever the latest and greatest Mac laptop offering is, as a real advantage when I'll only realize its value for the purpose of this particular application.

What Shaun has sounds very interesting. Maybe he could give us a little insight in to the cross-platform capabilities of his application.

Maybe somebody could volunteer a bit of space on their website so we could have a place to add input concerning what we would like to see in this package, and maybe get a feature set defined and start to take shape with this thing.





Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Mike Lieman on September 21, 2006, 10:59:05 am
Uh, yeah...
Quote:


My very first thought was that this could be easily designed in ASP.net and set up as an online instance. Since it would be written based on the .net framework, an executable version could be created as well for Windows.



Imagine my suprise when the new $APPLICATION_VENDOR told me that their shiny new .NET application Just Would Not Run on our 100 2GHz Celerons, w 512MB of RAM.

Seems the .NET framework is a pig.  Perhaps consider the lesson of the real ISP/ASP model, where all you need is a web browser and a URL.

Installing ANYTHING to a client pc is "Just Bad Form" these days.

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Rich Mullen on September 21, 2006, 11:11:07 am
Geri,

We are already pretty far down that road. We have an access/sql based system that does most of what you mentioned. Initially we developed it as a stepping stone to get our operations into line with what a 'off-the-shelf' product would demand. After all this time we aren't even sure if we'll changed anytime soon, even though we've grown substantially. I have played project manager during development and a programmer that works for my wife did the actual coding. In my previous life in the real world I was a retail accountant focusing on inventory control (musician part-time), that experience has been helpful. Funny how life goes.

It has been in full use for 6 years now. We have done a number of updates and revisions to fine tune the system. As of now we are very happy with it.  I have demoed Hiretrack and like it, but it's too complicated for what we want.  We have discussed the possibility of marketing this as a product..but there are hurdles. However if you're interested in looking at it...contact me. Don't PM as I don't really check that.


877-645-3343 x201
rich@edgeaudioservices.com
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Shaun Wexler (MacFOH) on September 21, 2006, 01:13:30 pm
Mark Meagher wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 07:21

What Shaun has sounds very interesting. Maybe he could give us a little insight in to the cross-platform capabilities of his application.

Maybe somebody could volunteer a bit of space on their website so we could have a place to add input concerning what we would like to see in this package, and maybe get a feature set defined and start to take shape with this thing.



There is already a publicly-editable Wiki for MacFOH online, and you are all welcome to add your ideas to the Database wishlist.

http://wiki.macfoh.com/User_Wishlist

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: David Buckley on September 21, 2006, 03:07:54 pm
I know you've look at at the heavy hitters, but a seach on Tucows found Crystal Clear Hire which from reading the docs may be enough for what you want...?  The product history shows that they do add features on user requests, so if there are insurmountables with it then perhaps they could be fixed?  Price is in the "few hundred dollars" ballpark.

Disclaimer: No affiliation whatsoever with this company.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Tim McCulloch on September 21, 2006, 04:58:47 pm
I would reject out of hand, any application that requires Micro$oft's .NET.  Period.  NO discussion.

Thank you, please drive thru...

Tim Mc
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Jonathan Woytek on September 21, 2006, 09:55:02 pm
Well, it seems that I'm no longer needed here, so I'm going back into my little cave now.  Smile  I'll be interested to see what Shaun can put together, and here's hoping that it might eventually run on Windows, too (not personally a windows fan, but those are the machines I have by necessity right now).

jonathan
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 21, 2006, 10:57:44 pm
Jonathan Woytek wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 20:55

Well, it seems that I'm no longer needed here, so I'm going back into my little cave now.  Smile  I'll be interested to see what Shaun can put together, and here's hoping that it might eventually run on Windows, too (not personally a windows fan, but those are the machines I have by necessity right now).

jonathan



The hell you say. You're certainly needed on this project. I seriously doubt that Shaun's efforts will ever be ported to Windows and while I've always wanted to explore the Mac world, the Windoze world serves my needs nicely enough and it will be a while before I have funds to use on a Mac notebook.

I think it's safe to say that the interest is here, but we haven't gotten to the point of making the wish list, except for my meandering desires. Plus I see where some ideas of what platform to base it on (java, Filemaker, or a FMP Runtime program, etc.). I still maintain, keep it simple, make accounting optional, if at all. I'm not quite sure where to take it from here.

Geri O
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Mark Meagher on September 21, 2006, 11:28:21 pm
Jonathan Woytek wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 21:55

Well, it seems that I'm no longer needed here, so I'm going back into my little cave now.  Smile


Hang in there with us Jonathan. Rolling Eyes


I checked out Shaun's wiki for MacFOH and it looks very much like what we are talking about (the feature set). I don't know if it will ever be ported or available as browser based or not. Based on the experience listed in one of Shaun's earlier posts he is certainly more than capable of tying it all together to make it work. Unfortunately I am tied to the Bill Gate$ box for too many other apps to just jump ship in the middle. Like many others, I need to look for something to happen in the Windows direction.


Jonathan mentioned in an earlier post that he would start a wiki somewhere for this project. Maybe that's the next step?

I have a mountain of notes and fantasy sheets that I have compiled while thinking about my needs over the last year or so. I will decipher those and post them in the next couple of days to also include some of the other info that has surfaced here wrt Geri-O's posts.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Chris Davis on September 22, 2006, 02:50:50 am
I see this as a potential Study Hall topic, if not a development forum.  At least so the potential user and programmers can make sense of it all.

It seems to me as if some of the necessary programs might already exist.  So one challenge would be to track down and objectively test all qualifying existing software and keep records on programs versus feature sets which could be cross-referenced by any visitor.  A spreadsheet of sorts with "ken's links" to third party websites.  

With so many people going in different directions, it might be difficult for developers to realize what other peoples demands are.  As a developer, I know that my own thoughts and preferences cloud my programming to some extent.  Part of the task is being aware of the demand out there.  That is why I think a comment page would also help out.  Something to effectively gather data on what it is people are asking for.  That would be a benefit to any developer with functional descriptions and to model/build/refine their programs.

New programmers/programs would be nice.  Existing programs would fit the bill in certain cases.  I just have a bit of a problem envisioning a "one size fits all" solution in the grand scheme of things.  Too often an inadequate feature set or bloatware happens.   Embarassed
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Robert Pugh on September 22, 2006, 07:29:38 am
Hi all,

I've been watching this thread with much interest and am glad to see many good ideas being listed as to what they require from an application such as this.

Please feel free to get in touch with me at contact@crystal-clear-designs.com if you wish to discuss the possibility of adding new features to Crystal Clear Hire which are not currently available.

Just as a side-note, Crystal Clear Hire doesn't require .NET in order to run. It does require Windows however - and Microsoft Word (this lets users customise order/invoice documents that the application produces).

Kind Regards,
Robert Pugh
http://www.crystal-clear-designs.com


Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Jeff Knorr - Cobra Sound on September 22, 2006, 10:56:13 am
We are very interested in helping to develop a web-driven SR provider application with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) functionality.  I haven't started any development but have been researching a Content Management System named Drupal that could be a good basis for such an online system.

I would opt for an open source modular development system with key developers getting paid for support contracts and/or to develop custom client specific features.  This way everyone could contribute and benefit from the project while keeping the cost of entry very low.  Enterprising individuals could also provide application hosting/support so all that end users would have to do is login to a webpage.  An open source development model would also help to increase the available pool of developers and speed development by leveraging other projects (like Drupal - see Drupal.org).

I agree the first step is to iron out the required base line features and start to research development options.  My background is in Computer Engineering, Web development, Linux administration, and SAP business software.

Jeff

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Phillip_Graham on September 22, 2006, 12:39:46 pm
Reading this thread is a reminder of why people talk about the idea of objects in programming classes in college Smile  I lost track of the number of commercial, and in house, solutions pushed forward in this thread.  Every company really is a software company at some point.

Geri,

I would submit to you to take a step back for a second.  Go through this thread, contact the developers of all the mentioned (commercial) programs.  Put those in a excel spreadsheet, and compare them.  I suspect you will find one that meets your needs.  Post that spreadsheet here and help other people out, too.  Also, expect to pay real money for a program that does quality work.  

If you don't find one you like, then come back and start with a much more rigorous set of details for your software.
_____________________________________________

As a dabbler in this industry I see two guiding principles:

1.  People make your name-their set up/take down, show execution, shaking hands, networking, intangibles.  This IS your reputation.

2.  Your back end makes you pofitable-How you BID, how you PAY your people, track maintain inventory, handle repairs/depreciation, and purchase new capital.

Because the back end covers so much stuff, and your clients could CARE LESS about how it all works behind the curtain, companies like SAP that offer all-in-one solutions, are increasingly popular for businesses.

My 2C
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Michael Prasuhn on September 22, 2006, 01:29:17 pm
Jeff, don't get me wrong I love drupal, but I don't think it would be well suited for this project. I think in the end you would end up with 97% rentalapp.module and then 3%drupal, but everything you do would have to go through drupal just enough to dictate how everything in the rental app portion of it is done... While I had some crazy ideas about this the other night, using CCK to create gear entries and containers for racks and then using the event module to schedule...organic groups to manage crew...I'm just not sure we could get it to the level of functionality that is demanded by most in this thread.

On the other hand,  drupal site or a wiki would be a great way to offload this discussion to a centralized place, and I would be more than willing to set something like that up or host it.

-Mikey P
Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Too Tall (Curtis H. List) on September 22, 2006, 03:17:18 pm
Geri O wrote on Tue, 19 September 2006 23:16

Since I truly believe that the interest is out there ("If you program it, they will come"? Laughing ), I'll start the "official wish list",

Naturally, a maser database to work from. Info such as make, model, serial number, company inventory number. It would have a status listing, such as "available", "unavailable", "Out for repair", "Time for PM", etc.

A "group" database that would be items made up of individual components. A group could be an effects rack, amp rack, or maybe even a console, its power supply, and an EZ-Tilt. I see how this part could get confusing, so it might need some special treatment that anyone might come up with. I imagine that with some folks, the group's contents could change from week to week. That's not a big thing with us at the moment, our racks stay prett consistent.

Once this database is created, you can create a "booking". A booking could be classed as a "show" or a "rental". In either case, the listing would make a change of the item's status in the master database. I like the idea of bar-coding, but that might be too complicated and I do want to keep the program simple.

That's my start of things. I might add or change things as we go.

Geri O




Hi Geri,
Audiopass, the QC (Quality Control) part of Praxis uses bar codes to keep track of any speaker in the inventory so you have a history of how it measures every time it is tested (Usually when it comes back off the truck).
I would think bar code would be mandatory for all the larger pieces of gear or entire racks etc.
I don’t see it putting a bar code on every 10’ guitar cord, but you need to be able to quickly identify the gear to track it.



Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: David Buckley on September 22, 2006, 04:35:05 pm
Too Tall (Curtis H. List) wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 07:17

Audiopass ...  uses bar codes to keep track of any speaker in the inventory so you have a history of how it measures every time it is tested ...  I would think bar code would be mandatory for all the larger pieces of gear or entire racks etc. I don’t see it putting a bar code on every 10’ guitar cord, but you need to be able to quickly identify the gear to track it.


As a ex-professional software developer (which is what keeps me interested in this thread, as well as having some hirable kit), there are two aspects of a simple inventory control system that are (in programming terms) "interesting".  Take away these two (hard!) requirements and the job becomes simple, the sort of thing you can knock up reasonably quickly, as it comes down to things, hirers, bookings, and the relations betwixt said entities.

The first is in the groups mechanism, because the groups can change over time, and worse than that, between bookings yet to be delivered.  Thus a simple concept of a group is x+y+z is not valid except at a point in time.  Next week a rack might have x+y+z, the booking the week after needs x+q+z.  Thus a barcoded rack isn't a permanent entitiy (other than the rack itself), its just a promise of what might be inside.  But you need to be sure the racks have the right contents.

Theres also the possibility that one could ask for there to be layers of groups, or recursive groups.  It would be nice to simply rent out "the disco rig", as a single entity, which is a "group" of things, but some of the things in the disco rig may include groups within, such as a rack or coffin.

The second is alluded to by Curtis, namely that when you book a show you want, say, half a dozen subs, of your total stock of a dozen identical subs.  At booking time you dont care exactly which of six of those twelve subs, any six will do.  But at checkout and checkin, you need to be sure exactly which of them it is, so if it/they goes missing you've got a serial number to report.  As mentioned, you can track usage of stuff for mainenence purposes.  But you really may not care about (example) guitar leads as they are truly interchangeable, but in order to send them out, you need to know if you've got them, so you need to know how many you have...

And certainly in Europe and Aus/NZ (and maybe many other places) your tracking of mains cables is important, and most such cables will already be barcoded on their PAT test label, and some of the "usual suspect" hire packages enable PAT testing data to be held in the inventory.  

Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on September 22, 2006, 05:09:45 pm
David Buckley wrote on Fri, 22 September 2006 15:35

Too Tall (Curtis H. List) wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 07:17

Audiopass ...  uses bar codes to keep track of any speaker in the inventory so you have a history of how it measures every time it is tested ...  I would think bar code would be mandatory for all the larger pieces of gear or entire racks etc. I don?t see it putting a bar code on every 10? guitar cord, but you need to be able to quickly identify the gear to track it.


As a ex-professional software developer (which is what keeps me interested in this thread, as well as having some hirable kit), there are two aspects of a simple inventory control system that are (in programming terms) "interesting".  Take away these two (hard!) requirements and the job becomes simple, the sort of thing you can knock up reasonably quickly, as it comes down to things, hirers, bookings, and the relations betwixt said entities.

The first is in the groups mechanism, because the groups can change over time, and worse than that, between bookings yet to be delivered.  Thus a simple concept of a group is x+y+z is not valid except at a point in time.  Next week a rack might have x+y+z, the booking the week after needs x+q+z.  Thus a barcoded rack isn't a permanent entitiy (other than the rack itself), its just a promise of what might be inside.

The second is alluded to by Curtis, namely that when you book a show you want, say, half a dozen subs, of your total stock of a dozen identical subs.  At booking time you dont care exactly which of six of those twelve subs, any six will do.  But at checkout and checkin, you need to be sure exactly which of them it is, so if it/they goes missing you've got a serial number to report.  As mentioned, you can track usage of stuff for mainenence purposes.

And certainly in Europe and Aus/NZ (and maybe many other places) your tracking of mains cables is important, and most such cables will already be barcoded on their PAT test label, and some of the "usual suspect" hire packages enable PAT testing data to be held in the inventory.  




I don't have any expertise in this area but isn't this all just a form of relational database? The magic may be in the middle ware, i.e. bar code scanners, and/or data entry terminals. I hear Motorola just bought Symbol. I'm not sure if that's good or bad but Symbol seemed a little more dysfunctional than Motorola  FWIW.

One idea that I had which is out of left field like so many of my ideas was to have an on board digital processor clock a front panel led in such a way that a bar code scanner might be able to read it as if it was a bar code swipe. Some variant on UPC could identify the product with perhaps additional info like serial number, agency approvals, etc. This would get around the problem of precious front panel real estate. I kind of like S/N that can't be scratched off.

Or not.....YMMV  Cool

JR
Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Too Tall (Curtis H. List) on September 22, 2006, 06:30:06 pm
David Buckley wrote on Fri, 22 September 2006 16:35

Too Tall (Curtis H. List) wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 07:17

Audiopass ...  uses bar codes to keep track of any speaker in the inventory so you have a history of how it measures every time it is tested ...  I would think bar code would be mandatory for all the larger pieces of gear or entire racks etc. I don’t see it putting a bar code on every 10’ guitar cord, but you need to be able to quickly identify the gear to track it.


As a ex-professional software developer (which is what keeps me interested in this thread, as well as having some hirable kit), there are two aspects of a simple inventory control system that are (in programming terms) "interesting".  Take away these two (hard!) requirements and the job becomes simple, the sort of thing you can knock up reasonably quickly, as it comes down to things, hirers, bookings, and the relations betwixt said entities.

The first is in the groups mechanism, because the groups can change over time, and worse than that, between bookings yet to be delivered.  Thus a simple concept of a group is x+y+z is not valid except at a point in time.  Next week a rack might have x+y+z, the booking the week after needs x+q+z.  Thus a barcoded rack isn't a permanent entitiy (other than the rack itself), its just a promise of what might be inside.  But you need to be sure the racks have the right contents.


Theres also the possibility that one could ask for there to be layers of groups, or recursive groups.  It would be nice to simply rent out "the disco rig", as a single entity, which is a "group" of things, but some of the things in the disco rig may include groups within, such as a rack or coffin.

The second is alluded to by Curtis, namely that when you book a show you want, say, half a dozen subs, of your total stock of a dozen identical subs.  At booking time you dont care exactly which of six of those twelve subs, any six will do.  But at checkout and checkin, you need to be sure exactly which of them it is, so if it/they goes missing you've got a serial number to report.  As mentioned, you can track usage of stuff for mainenence purposes.  But you really may not care about (example) guitar leads as they are truly interchangeable, but in order to send them out, you need to know if you've got them, so you need to know how many you have...

And certainly in Europe and Aus/NZ (and maybe many other places) your tracking of mains cables is important, and most such cables will already be barcoded on their PAT test label, and some of the "usual suspect" hire packages enable PAT testing data to be held in the inventory.  





I realize that would happen. I don’t know the easiest way to handle this so that billing is easy, but you have many choices. A simple way might be to have the bar codes of everything in the rack on the outside of the rack. Slips of paper plastic wrapped and you scan them all when they go in and out. You could still have the bar code on top of the SPX90, but it would also have a loose piece of paper that goes onto the outside of any rack it is installed in.

Or you could print out a sheet of paper for each rack every time the rack goes out and throw it away the next time it goes out. The only permanent bar code would be for the rack itself.

In many cases you would have a rack that does not change much or just has a few things added


Hey what about RFI tags like Walmart and all the big boys use?
Perhaps a little over budget for the reader?
LOL


Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Chris Davis on September 22, 2006, 06:53:16 pm
The relational database lends itself to update all related fields in all matching records.  The benefit is one change can propagate to all linked or related matching fields.  
Although relations should work to tie together most of the database fields, I see a problem in using them to produce permament records of temporary equipment groups, as others have noticed.  

So, I might suggest that "temporary" relations (to produce permanant records) may be used here in the form of scripting.  That way as soon as the script if done executing, then the data is permanantly embedded and no longer linked.  Then at any point in time, the groups (which can be related or linked to the individual equipment records) can be changed and not affect the records from previous transactions where the groups may or may not have contained different equipment.

So, to summarize...individual groups are related (linked) to each piece of individual equipment it currently contains.  This is a temporary arrangement.  It would be feasible for it to be a temporary arrangement because all record-keeping or transactional records have all the group/equipment information permanantly stored in each record, not related or linked.

Scripting can then be used later on to sort through all embedded info from previous transactions to show you exactly what equipment was in each group for each customer.  So you could go back in time and see what you used for a particular gig a year ago.

Also scripting could be used as an interlock to prevent someone from modifying the contents of a related group until the equipment is checked back in to the shop.

Also, the relational db could update all items within a group as checked-in/checked-out depending upon whether one single item in a group is scanned (thus eliminating a group-specific barcode).  

Furthermore, the db program could display all items within a group upon check-out or check-in for quick visual verification purposes.  

Furthermore, checkboxes could be used next to each item to be verified to serve as an additional procedural part of verification as well as account for missing/stolen/out of comission equipment.
Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Rich Mullen on September 22, 2006, 07:25:50 pm
That is how we worked out the rack items issue to allow for kits and add flexibility to change and add that stuff. Our system is Access/sql based and structured to allow for a good deal of wheelin' and dealin' with rack and components while still not allowing you to book out 2x 9001's with the same serial number Smile.

We used 'default pack' field in the products table to designate an items normal location. That allows a SPX 990 to be put into a pull over rack numbered 201. Then then when you pick 201 that particular 990 goes with it. You can choose that 990 to rent OTC. The 201 nrack will come up color coded indicating an item has been removed. You can pick loose items out of a shop storage rack and add them to a rack. We achieve that by using again a relational field in our orders table called pack-in.

A relation database with some thought to a decent table structure can work very well in this app. At least it does for us.
Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Chris Davis on September 22, 2006, 08:48:22 pm
I just thought that up as I typed it, with Filemaker in mind.  It seems the biggest difference between our ideas is that you have default places where your equipment goes and I had a organic approach to let the chips fall where they may.  Thanks for confirming.  
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Riley Casey on September 22, 2006, 09:02:23 pm
If the sticker shock of things like HireTrack are a major issue look at this solution :

http://www.projectmaker.com/

After building my own Filemaker based system I was very impressed with this as a commercial offering.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Riley Casey on September 22, 2006, 09:29:27 pm
I know that the computer programming geeks among us have been having fun tossing around their own sql/opensource/whizbang compter terms but I'd like to suggest that alot of what has been suggested is perhaps over kill for what Geri is describing.  Bar coding is certainly a slick idea.  Being able to manipulate the contents of standard case packs and racks is very slick.  In actual use however it's surprising how much traction can be obtained by a much simpler database that is able to tell you that five of your eight tri-amp racks is out on a certain day and that drive rack 1005 is out.  Know that it's easy to see that your coming up short on booking a second that day that needs tri-amp racks.  It's also possible to know that the SPX2000 that is a part of the 1005 rack is out on rent to a local band with a good query function.  It will still be necessary to put a gaff tape label on the rack lid about the missing SPX but it's all a very real world solution that is a bit more attainable and reliable in some ways than some more high dollar, high complexity solutions out there.  Aiming for a mid level solution may well be a more usable solution for the mainstream operations than aiming for functions that are more suited to large, multi-warehouse operations.
Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Rich Mullen on September 22, 2006, 09:45:28 pm
I am sure filemaker would work out in a similar fashion. I would just add that what I typed was an example of what you can do in our system (or any other build in this way). We built ours to allow for any form of operation. Meaning, we have some items that are 'in racks' because that's what we do on a day to day basis. We have some racks that are pre-built and we built others to suit. Many components, wireless etc.. are in storage racks and pulled and built during prep. They way our table structure and user forms etc... are built is to allow for either situation or both. And really many combinations of that. Particularly given that when we are REALLY slammed we're tearing things apart and/or building all kinds of special duty racks and stuff.

I would point out that like any system you get out of it what you put in. If you don;t enter the raw data and maintain the orders correctly, the system won't work. GIGO baby. Pretty much like any sound system....If the muso's suck they're gonna suck loud.Laughing  

By the way, if you haven't picked it up we ARE NOT a touring company. We do corporate, special event and some theatre stuff.
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Mark Meagher on September 23, 2006, 12:33:56 am
Riley Casey wrote on Fri, 22 September 2006 21:02

If the sticker shock of things like HireTrack are a major issue look at this solution :

http://www.projectmaker.com/

After building my own Filemaker based system I was very impressed with this as a commercial offering.


This certainly has some interesting points. Has some potential. I would need to review it and certainly demo it further before spending money on it.

I particularly like the way they deal with the correspondence section from a project management POV, in that all communications for that project is contained within.

I think the master item database should work the same way. I would like to be able to select a certain piece of gear and find out everything there is to know about the life history of that gear from one inquiry screen with all those documents at my fingertips.

FWIW


Anybody got that wiki ready yet?
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Jack Arnott on September 23, 2006, 02:05:47 am
[quote title=Geri O wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 20:57
I still maintain, keep it simple, make accounting optional, if at all.
Geri O
[/quote]

Hello Geri O

I think that remark is aimed at my suggestion, and I think I misrepresented myself there.

Quickbooks is good for sales, both in the estimate, and billing department. But it is not great for doing estimates or bids in live sound, at least from my perspective or use of it.

I think that this new software should be usable for bidding. Billing is easy to lift the total and place in Quickbooks.

But one of the elements of bidding is knowing if you have the gear/manpower/transportation to do a show. It seems if it was used for this, if the bid comes to fruition it would be easy to enter it as a solid date on the calender, with all the components already accounted for. And in your case this is when it would come to your attention. Also, it seems if all bids were run through this it would make the process more consistent, and speaking for myself, wouldn't have to remember what was budgeted for labor, etc. (Maybe even have PITA factor, so I can justify those extra charges to those special few.)  Cool  

Regards, Jack

Oh, and for this and MAC FOH also. A weight calculator option for everything added to the bid/pick list. So you know if you are at or above your maximum payload for that vehicle.  
Title: Re: No, not necessarily...
Post by: Geri O'Neil on September 23, 2006, 07:27:13 am
[quote title=Jack Arnott wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 01:05]
Geri O wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 20:57
I still maintain, keep it simple, make accounting optional, if at all.
Geri O
[/quote



Hello Geri O

I think that remark is aimed at my suggestion, and I think I misrepresented myself there.




I went back and checked the context of that post and no, it wasn't your post that I was referencing. I guess what I'm getting at is a program that won't be too difficult to write. You make some excellent points about the accounting part and that sounds fine if it's doable. I would hope that the accounting part could be written so that it doesn't continually nag the user to input prices and values should he (or his boss) is using another accounting program.
Also, the weight part of the program is an EXCELLENT idea!! Didn't think of that one and man, what a help that could be for loading trucks and trailers. Good idea indeed.

Take care,
Geri O
Title: Re: No, not necessarily...
Post by: Scott Raymond on September 23, 2006, 10:10:07 am
[quote title=Geri O wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 06:27]
Jack Arnott wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 01:05

Geri O wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 20:57
I still maintain, keep it simple, make accounting optional, if at all.
Geri O
[/quote



Hello Geri O

I think that remark is aimed at my suggestion, and I think I misrepresented myself there.




I went back and checked the context of that post and no, it wasn't your post that I was referencing. I guess what I'm getting at is a program that won't be too difficult to write. You make some excellent points about the accounting part and that sounds fine if it's doable. I would hope that the accounting part could be written so that it doesn't continually nag the user to input prices and values should he (or his boss) is using another accounting program.
Also, the weight part of the program is an EXCELLENT idea!! Didn't think of that one and man, what a help that could be for loading trucks and trailers. Good idea indeed.

Take care,
Geri O


I'd agree on the bid or quote part.  Even as a small company I've wished  for even a spreadsheet where I could go down a list of components or subsystems and just click a box to add that item.  Then a section for time and distance and it would come up with the amount. Most PDA's will even handle spreadsheets which could be a bonus if you need a quick estimate and aren't around a computer.  Ahh well, maybe a winter project along with all the others on the back burners.

The weight idea sounds good for the guys with trucks or large trailers.  Maybe even calculate HOW to load the truck.  We had a company come through with a national CW act several years ago (when the fair was doing big shows) that could of used something like that.  They got to the back of the trailer and didn't have room for the last few items.  They had to pull a bunch of gear off the truck and repack to get it all in. Rolling Eyes  They should have at least made some notes on how it was in there in the first place.  Mad
Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Tom Bourke on September 23, 2006, 10:15:22 am
#1 requirement is cross platform!  Just in this thread we have 50/50 mac/windows with a Linux person or 2.  Personally at one gig I have Mac/Linux/ and one windows NT box ONLY because I have a Shure box that needs it.  At another gig every thing is Win XP.  At home every thing is Linux with a Mac book in the future.  I have another friend with old windows looking to slowly switch to Linux.
As far as I can tell the world is moving slowly to platform independent/web based programs.

If all you need is a simple tracking program open up Open office or your favorite database/spread sheet and spend some time playing.
If you need more look at the other programs out there.

Every company is a little different.  Make it flexible if you want to sell it to the masses.
Title: Re: No, not necessarily...
Post by: Rich Mullen on September 23, 2006, 11:27:06 am
We have 2 conditions that apply to an item that is added to an order. When an item is added to an order that is NOT confirmed (signed contract), the next time you go add THAT item to another order it will show a 'yellow' condition. Meaning it is in another outstanding estimate. There is a adjacent button on this screen that launchs a 'Where is it' report that'll tell you what estimate it's on. When an order gets confirmed that item is not available to choose from the equipment list. This works pretty well for us.

As far as the travel distance issue, we end up putting in different line items charged that apply for different conditions (i.e. different trucks and delivery 'rings' or 50, 100 miles etc..). We also have a mileage line charged that in manipulated by the QTY field in the order. Just put in the rough mileage.
This is a good system.

We have the weight summing AND a case count. Both are pretty cool. I can say that we haven't been real good about getting a good, exact weight on everything. So it more of an estimate, but I would be accurate if we weren't SOOOO lazy.

Again these are all the best solutions we could come up with. I'm sure there are different solutions that'd work too. But these are good ways and seem to OK for us.

Title: Re: No, not necessarily...
Post by: Too Tall (Curtis H. List) on September 23, 2006, 12:10:15 pm
[quote title=Scott Raymond (Scott R) wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 10:10]
Geri O wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 06:27

Jack Arnott wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 01:05

Geri O wrote on Thu, 21 September 2006 20:57
I still maintain, keep it simple, make accounting optional, if at all.
Geri O
[/quote



Hello Geri O

I think that remark is aimed at my suggestion, and I think I misrepresented myself there.




I went back and checked the context of that post and no, it wasn't your post that I was referencing. I guess what I'm getting at is a program that won't be too difficult to write. You make some excellent points about the accounting part and that sounds fine if it's doable. I would hope that the accounting part could be written so that it doesn't continually nag the user to input prices and values should he (or his boss) is using another accounting program.
Also, the weight part of the program is an EXCELLENT idea!! Didn't think of that one and man, what a help that could be for loading trucks and trailers. Good idea indeed.

Take care,
Geri O


snip-

The weight idea sounds good for the guys with trucks or large trailers.  Maybe even calculate HOW to load the truck.  We had a company come through with a national CW act several years ago (when the fair was doing big shows) that could of used something like that.  They got to the back of the trailer and didn't have room for the last few items.  They had to pull a bunch of gear off the truck and repack to get it all in. Rolling Eyes  They should have at least made some notes on how it was in there in the first place.  Mad


That would be the difference between a simple musical act and a Broadway play. They have laminated cards with all the trunk numbers and diagrams of how they fit.
Smile

Title: Re: The inventory control question again...An idea..
Post by: Sebastiaan Meijer on September 25, 2006, 09:42:50 am
Geri,

http://www1.live-audio.com/messages/archive6/50928.html
I did some work for Mike Babcock in the past. Consider it a predecessor for the design made for MacFOH. (Shaun: long time since we've had contact! But I've been touring a bit much too....) It is a MS Access file, so not Mac-friendly, but you could use it as a starter. I consider it freeware, just send me an email at sebastiaan (insert @ here) basstec.nl. I'm a tad busy this week but will send the file as soon as I have internet for more than 30 minutes.

Sebas
Title: Re: No, not necessarily...
Post by: Scott Raymond on September 25, 2006, 10:03:31 am
Too Tall (Curtis H. List) wrote on Sat, 23 September 2006 11:10



That would be the difference between a simple musical act and a Broadway play. They have laminated cards with all the trunk numbers and diagrams of how they fit.
Smile




Good point.  Never had the pleasure of working with a Broadway type show other then in the theatre but packing sets and odd-ball sized gack can be a real pain.  Helped with a Geoff Moore show once where they were traveling with one 53 footer for sound, staging and lights on a smaller show.  Cases and racks on the bottom.  Sets and lighting almost up to the roof.  Real pain to load but the guy loading the truck knew exactly where everything went and when we were done there was only a couple inches left to the back doors of the trailer.  Funniest thing I ever saw was a crew that came through with laminated cards and named cases including "Beavis" and "Butthead".  Made it a bit of fun looking for cartoon characters.  Laughing
Then there was a CW artist that had a portable basketball goal in the back of the truck that had to come out first.  I wonder what catagory that comes under on tracking software?
Title: Re: The inventory - Filemaker users
Post by: Riley Casey on September 25, 2006, 10:57:34 am
If anyone is currently working with or making plans to work in Filemaker I'm happy to collaborate such projects.  These are a sample of what we currently use.  
Title: Re: The inventory - Filemaker users
Post by: Bennett Prescott on September 25, 2006, 01:53:00 pm
Well, that looks pretty comprehensive already!
Title: Re: The database idea subthread
Post by: Rob Spence on September 26, 2006, 12:32:57 am
also, for equipment you sell/loose etc, the item should be "marked" as sold/lost etc so it can still be referred to if you were to report on stuff in the past.
Title: Re: The inventory - Filemaker users
Post by: Stuart Hogg on September 26, 2006, 07:04:34 am
Riley Casey wrote on Mon, 25 September 2006 15:57

If anyone is currently working with or making plans to work in Filemaker I'm happy to collaborate such projects.  These are a sample of what we currently use.  


Riley's material was incredibly helpful to me when I was starting to build our own Filemaker solution. Got some great ideas from it.


Title: Re: The inventory - Filemaker users
Post by: Riley Casey on September 26, 2006, 09:42:28 am
I'm glad to hear that turned out for you Stuart.  I'd be interested to know what direction you went on that.


Stuart Hogg wrote on Tue, 26 September 2006 07:04


Riley's material was incredibly helpful to me when I was starting to build our own Filemaker solution. Got some great ideas from it.




Title: Re: The inventory - Filemaker users
Post by: Stuart Hogg on September 26, 2006, 12:51:19 pm
Riley Casey wrote on Tue, 26 September 2006 14:42

I'm glad to hear that turned out for you Stuart.  I'd be interested to know what direction you went on that.



Our solution (so far) only covers hires and invoicing, we've never gone as far as dealing with crew or vehicles. We've got a few folks on staff who can create stuff in Filemaker, so we have added lots of random things to keep track of specific processes, and also things like price lists for sales items etc. The advantage of this approach is that it's relatively easy for us to add new functionality as we require it, the main drawback is that we have a sprawling mess of something approaching two dozen different files, and lots of legacy stuff that we don't use any more but would be awkward to remove.

I've had a play with the latest version of Filemaker (8.5) and quite like the idea of starting from scratch and rewriting everything into a single multi-table file, but I'm dreading the amount of work that this would be.