Announcing Chahiye.info

Last couple of weeks, besides developing a salesforce application for one of my clients, I was also involved in building a new website – http://www.chahiye.info along with a couple of friends. Yesterday night (9th May’ 08) at around 10pm IST we moved the site from staging to live environment on our servers. Do have a look at the site and let me know your views.

About chahiye.info

Through chahiye.info, we intend to be bring various Services to our customers offering them un-paralleled customer service. To start-off we are doing a pilot in Gurgaon with Real Estate sector where we intend to reduce the pain involved in searching for an apartment at a negative cost to the end customer (we are offering cash back) . The way it works is pictorially described in the image below (click to expand).


We are also offering free APPLE IPODs for referrals. So if you know people who are looking out for an apartment in NCR region, do refer your friends here – if we are successful in helping out your friend, you will win a free IPOD shuffle delivered directly to your home.

The team is raring to go and our road map includes launching other services soon. If you wish to stay updated on the happenings, you might want to add chahiye.info/blog to your Feed Reader.

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Google Apps from within Salesforce

Very recently Google and Salesforce tied up to make Google Apps accessible to SF users. Here are more details about the story on Tech Crunch.

Since, I’m right now involved in building an application over Salesforce’s force.com platform, I was kind of excited and was waiting for google apps to be made available. To my surprise I saw links for “Google Apps” showing up in my SF account. The speed with which this came out was pretty cool.

Check-out the video below to know more on how the two work together.

Adding a WYSIWYG Editor on a HTML Text Area

One of the applications that I’m currently working on required me to write a small Java program that allowed users to send email from a web page. [Yeah – Nothing so great about it but sending emails is not what this post is about]. The page allowed user with basic email facilities and also supported Email Attachments (Thanks to Apache commons File upload). It allowed users to compose text emails through a regular HTML Text Area.

On Completing the application, one of the first enhancement that came my way was to enable rich text & spell checker in the body of the email. This initially looked quite a challenge to me as I had no clue how to go about building this. However After spending some time with my dear friend – Google, I found a couple of Tools that could help me out. I ended up using FCKEditor, which enabled writing/editing rich text through Java Script.

The product was not very costly (license details can be found here) & was fairly easy to set up. After a couple of hours, I managed to set it up properly and the HTML text area in my form got modified to that shown below (click to en-large). Notice the tool bar on top of the email body text area. One of the greatest feature of this editor was that it supported copy/paste from MS Office applications (Word, Outlook) without breaking down the formatting.

The reset of this post provides brief instructions on how to set this up. For more details, please refer to their online documentation here.

1) Download FCK Editor from here [I used version 2.6].

2) Unzip the downloaded compressed file into your web-app directory. With Tomcat for example, the un-compressed folder (fckeditor by default) should be placed into %TOMCAT_HOME%\webapps\%YOUR_WEBAPP_NAME% directory.

3) Point your web browser to the following linke in order to test the installation. If correctly installed you would see a text area with a tool bar similar to the one shown above.

http://yourip:port/your-webapp/fckeditor/_samples/default.html

4) Add the following lines to your web page in the section

window.onload = function()

{

var oFCKeditor = new FCKeditor( ‘my_text_area’, ‘90%’, ‘400’, ‘Default’, ” ) ;

oFCKeditor.BasePath = “fckeditor/” ;

oFCKeditor.ReplaceTextarea() ;

}

window.onload = function()

{

var oFCKeditor = new FCKeditor( ‘my_text_area’, ‘90%’, ‘400’, ‘Default’, ” ) ;

oFCKeditor.BasePath = “fckeditor/” ;

oFCKeditor.ReplaceTextarea() ;

}

Note(s)

1. This example adds rich text toolbar to a text area with the name ‘my_text_area’. You might want to replace this with the actual name that is being used in your HTML form.

2. The Base Path refers to the directory where the editor is installed. It defaults to fckeditor which is the default directory in which fckeditor is unzipped.

3. For more details, please refer online documentation here.

Script to change network settings

These days I’m working from my client’s office for some part of the day and continue from my office for the remaining portion of the day. This requires me to change network settings on my windows XP Dell laptop (almost) every time I boot it. This was a painful activity that I wanted to somehow get away with. If you have encountered this pain too, then read on for details on a method that worked well for me.

Today I sat down to figure out how can that be simplified. 10 minutes of googling showed up a nice utility called “netsh” which was in c:\windows\system32 folder on my machine. It provided simple ways to dump/export existing network settings into a text file and re-load/import the same from it later if required. This was all that was required. I dumped my network’s settings into a text file and created a batch file through which it could be imported back. Did this for both the networks & I ended up with two nice short-cuts on my desktop which allow me to change from one network to another in 5 seconds.

Thanks Google.

The steps that I followed in order to do this were

a) Opened a Dos Window

b) Exported the current settings into a text file (network1.txt) by typing the following

netsh -c interface dump >> network1.txt

c) Created another text file called switch-to-network1.bat [Name could be anything, but extension should be bat]

d) Opened this file in Notepad (or any other text editor) and type in the following

netsh -f network1.txt

Make sure that the bat file & text file are in the same directory

e) Right click on the bat file, create a short-cut (if desired change its icon) and put it on your desktop.

website errors fixed for IE

My wife recently browsed to my website and noticed that it wasn’t showing properly. The home page showed only the right panel (the one with my image) and the main panel was below the right panel and was very easy to miss.

I was able to reproduce the problem on IE with a resolution setting of 1024 * 768. Had missed the error earlier as the default setting on my laptop is higher than this and the problem does not appear on this. I also noticed that the ‘Contact Me’ page had similar problem over IE even with higher monitor resolution.

The problem was easier to fix (adjusted the panel widths) but considering that a good percentage (~ 48%) of visitors on my website use IE and all of these users would have seen the shabby looking site is embarrassing.

Force dot com

I recently got introduced to Force.com which is a platform from salesforce.com that allows a user to quickly build interesting & powerful data centric applications without having to write a single line of code.

A week ago, I used to think of salesforce just as an online tool to manage sales data for an organization. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that their platform has now evolved much more than just being a CRM. They interestingly have a tutorial kind of a document that provides step by step instructions for building a hiring solution for a organization’s HR team. The example provides detailed instructions on how to go about it and exposes the reader (in steps) of the power of the underlying platform. I certainly think, I might be using this a lot for building applications quickly.

For more details, just sign-up as a developer, get an account spend time on reading the documents along with trying out their stuff and you should be ready to do a lot of interesting apps on their platform with very minimal effort. The URL http://www.salesforce.com/developer/ would be a good starting point.

Web Load Simulator

As promised in my earlier post, here’s the description of my first completed project

The project’s goal were

a) To find the maximum number of concurrent users a web portal will be able to handle.
b) If the figure found above turned out to be less than the estimated load then also work out ways to resolve the situation.

I wrote a simple JAVA application to handle part a). Details for the same follow –

The application allowed setting up any number of page flows that users would hit [A page flow essentially defined a list of GET/POST requests to be sent to the server along with delays in between] These page-flows were defined with the help of their marketing people who were aware of typical user actions (based on analytics reports). Once the page flows are defined, the program allowed setting up the number of users that would be going through a page flow. This allowed them to simulate the actual usage scenario of their portal.

On starting the program, a thread would be created for each user and a configured page flow assigned to it. This thread on starting would hit send the HTTP GET/POST request, from the received HTML response would parse the resources (images, java scripts, style sheets etc) and then send GET requests for them – just the way a web browser would behave.

The application captured the response received for each URL for each thread and later at the end of the program generate a report that would contain the response time for each URL hit and a higher level summary.