The applications are written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA, Version 5 or later) running on top of Excel 97, 2000, or 2002 (Version 8 or later) under Microsoft Windows. In some cases, functionality from Excel Version 9 (Excel 2000) is used, such as non-modal windows in Volunteer Log, making that application only accessible from Version 9 or later. In general, Excel 2000 is recommended as it is more robust and will exhibit fewer problems than Excel 97. Help is provided by HTML documents, without VML or XML extensions or any required plug-ins. Any modern browser, such as Netscape or IE should suffice to access them. Optional direct printing of IAC sequence forms A, B, and C are automated by a single VBA procedure running in Visio (not required if the forms are pre-printed). No other applications are required, even though the functionality could be greatly enhanced by the use of a shared dynamic database, high speed internet connection, and a LAN between computers. However, the contest environment is temporary, dynamic, and often cost-constrained. Keeping it simple and modular seems the best course of action.
Each spreadsheet is designed to operate independently and can be used as a stand-alone application. If you have problems with one (see below), the others should operate without difficulty. Communication between spreadsheets is by text-based disk file. With different spreadsheets running on the same machine, putting them in the same disk directory will enable them to easily pass disk files back and forth. When different machines run the spreadsheets, floppy disk is a nominal and preferred method of passing disk files if something sophisticated like a LAN is not available. If a LAN is available, using a shared folder from one computer (nominally the Contest Ledger) will allow each of the other applications to share data. Import and export of data files can be made to any Windows accessible directory or device. Automatic import and export of these data files is built into the programs and eliminates the need for repeated manual intervention (in this case, the pre-registrations will be automatically uploaded to the contest ledger(s), satellite registrations can be automatically exported to the master ledger, and volunteer data can be automatically sent to the volunteer log)
Fundamental Design Features:
The programs share certain characteristic design requirements:
See the Program Updates page
The spreadsheets and attached VBA code have been tested repeatedly in the Excel 2000 environment, but with each new bit of functionality or bug fix, previously working features can fail under some circumstances. There has been much less testing under the Excel 97 environment, so your chances of problems there are substantially higher. I don't have access to Excel 2002 (XP), so I can't make any promises there, except that Microsoft has been moderately successful in the past making Excel backwards compatible and there really aren't that many changes in Excel 2002 anyway.
If you find a bug, contact me and I'll make every attempt to fix it ASAP. This is a very good reason to download the software early and try it out with old contest data. If you're at a contest, I can't guarantee that I'll be able to fix it before the next flight, but since the spreadsheets are modular, you won't lose your Contest Ledger even if the Volunteer Log fails catastrophically. If a given function in a given spreadsheet fails to operate (normally giving a VBA error message), the Excel application will normally continue to function with no loss of data. If you make it a point to regularly back-up your data (no excuses here, the backup data function is prominently displayed in all of the application's menus!), you can normally just restart Excel even if it crashes, restore your data, and be where you were before the problem occurred. All that will be compromised is the operation of a specific function, until I can find the problem and fix it.