So I can’t begin to explain how long I’ve been trying to get Plugin support working for VB.Net, that it’s not even funny any more. I’ve been typing and typing away, going reading over the code, and could not for the life of me figure out why my plugins just weren’t working the way I needed them to work. Finally though, I can say, plugins are now working for my GIGeeks’ Military Data Solutions software and it’s sister project SecurityDataSolutions project.
So why plugins?
Well two things need to be known about before know why plugins are a big deal: What are the GIGeeks’ MDS and what is the SecurityDataSolutions (SDS) projects?
GIGeeks of course is the long talked about and developed brainchild that started as the ArmsRoom database. GIGeeks was the development name I gave the series to denote the ideas of Military People (myself at the time) and Veterans (myself now) who are Geeks developing solutions for the Warfighters of our nation. My ArmsRoom Database really changed things up for my when I worked the Armory, and if I had the ability to do that project full-time and still be an Armorer, I’m sure that Database could have grown exponentially. Working with our Supply arm as well as dealing with other companies in terms of Inventories, Maintenance tracking, etc, it became very clear that paper just isn’t going to cut it. And EXCEL is NOT a great tool to use for some couple thousand pieces of product worth millions of dollars. Combine that function with basic business Human Resources’ ideas, and you have a Suite of applications to develop. Personnel Trackers, Mission Trackers, Equipment, PT Scores, etc. The warfighter on the front lines may not need that, but you bet your ass people in the rear are tracking every moment. So far from what I saw, they’re tracking it with Excel spreadsheets. Sharing the spreadsheets, editing them, hoping you have the most up to date that they had….it’s a mess.
SecurityDataSolutions (SDS), on the flip side, is the same idea, but designed for Security Departments like the one I work for. Again, Human Resource components, Inventory reports, Incident Trackers, it’s all the same, just a little different.
So……Why plugins then?
SDS and MDS are essentially the same application. They wont be interchangeable of course, but to call a spade a spade, they are the same. At the basic root, MDS and SDS are host applications that don’t do much of anything. I may hardcode security functions into them and cosmetically alter them, but all they are is a shell application that does nothing more but load these Tasks that need to be used. You need to get a Report…Open the Reporting Plugin…Manage Personnel, open that one too. The plugins allow the real soul of the application, and depending on what you want or need of the software, you’ll only want to get all that you paid for. For instances, Squad Leaders who have 5-10 Soldiers wouldn’t want to worry about Inventories really, if so, maybe just a small little check list of sorts. So instead of paying Premium for a larger application/plugins, they only need to get the more basic edition.
For me as the developer, I only have to develop my application, and develop the plugins. If bugs or upgrades are needed, they’re compartmentalized separately and can be handled separately. If I were to need to develop an SDK to allow for outside developers to work and develop with my application, then they would only need to know the APIs to hook in, and not know all of my Source code. It’s really a future proof idea, and my hope is it’ll mean bigger and greater things for me and my development.