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Output quote...how to proceed...your thoughts???

P: n/a
I posted on this topic a while back and received some good responses.
However, I have better insight into what I'm looking to do so I am
tapping the wealth of experience here again hoping to find a general
consensus on how to proceed from here. Thank you in advance for anyone
who takes the time to reply...

I am upgrading a VB4.0 program for a client who distributes it to its
reps worldwide. We are not at the point where we want to make this
internet based - the reps like having it on their own computer for
various reasons (such as slow internet access, etc) that I am not going
to argue against.

This program is a customized quote generation program where the user
types in all sorts of information about an application and after
several calculations are done by the computer, one or more products are
recommended that will meet their needs. The user then selects the
product(s) they desire and a quote is generated. The quote consists of
several parts: Customer Info (name, address, etc), Rep Info (reply to
name, etc), Application Info (we spit back all the inputs that were
used to select the product to cover our @##), a BOM (can consist of
anywhere from 1 to 20 or more line items), some legal language and
optional product info (drawings, dimensional data, detailed
description. Pretty straightforward stuff.

Let me provide a bit of history because it may impact the solution that
is suggested.

This program was originally written in QuickBasic and the resulting
quote was dumped into a simple text file and saved as
<quotenumber>.txt. Wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. The
program automatically opened a text editor that allowed the user to
fully modify anything on the page. Everything was formatted to print
within a letterhead that was fed into the printer.

Along came an upgrade to VB4.0 with Crystal Reports. The program was
modified to store all info into Access databases and then the quote was
generated in Crystal Reports. Although the quote looked much nicer
(added graphics like dimensional drawings, boxes, formatting, etc) and
could be printed on plain paper, there was an obvious loss of
customization because the user no longer had full editing capability of
the quote. A note field was added to each part of the quote allowing
the user to add any notes they might like. Far from a fully editable
quote, but it did help somehat.

Next came a desire to e-mail the quotes as attachments. The program
was modified to allow for an option of generating the quote as a Word
Document through Crystal Reports. This allowed users some additional
editing capabilities as well as the ability to attach it as a DOC file.
The negative being that any changes made to the document were saved in
the DOC file but not in the Access databases.

All this history brings us to today. The program has been upgraded to
VB.net (2003) and now comes the part of how to handle quote generation.
Some of the information is stored in Access databases (such as
customer name/address, sales rep reply info, etc). As I looked at
using Crystal Reports to generate the quote and then save it in another
format, two problems quickly emerged that made me decide there must be
a better way:

A) If you have Crystal save it as a Word Document, all the text is
placed in text boxes which makes editing and then aligning everything a
real pain. Seems less flexible than the old CR/Word combination.
b) If you go the PDF route, you lose the ability to edit anything
without having Adobe installed

To finally get to my question: Does anyone out there have
thoughts/experiences to share that will help me find the best way to
output the quote? Keep in mind the following criteria we would like to
meet:

1) The finished quote can be fully edited. Lines of text can be
added. Part descriptions can be changed. Whole sections can be
removed, etc. The less constrictions the better. A lot of the reps
are still around from the days of the QuickBasic text files and they
loved the flexibility that offered. For example, if this your
suggestion is a Word Document, I do not want the user to have to
reformat all the paragraphs, pages, etc anytime they add a paragraph or
change a part number.

2) If edited by the end user, we want the changes saved so that it can
be pulled up at a later date and modified again as needed.

3) The finished quote can be attached to an e-mail and the end user can
open without the need for additional software. (OK, perhaps MS Word
would be required).

4) Ideally, if the user changes a price or quantity in the BOM any
other totals that are affected would automatically be updated.

5) It would be nice if the quote was professional looking (i.e. the
company logo in the header, formatting, etc). To put a bit of
perspective on this though, the users I have polled would rather have
editing capabilities than pretty boxes, graphics, etc.

6) The quote can incorporate graphics such as dimensional drawings,
product drawings, etc.

7) Ideally, the quote could have catalog pages (in the form of PDF
files) attached to it (although this would be a bonus and we can live
without it)

8 ) Ideally, whatever solution is suggested, we would like to not be at
the mercy of a third party vendor.

In my previous post, some users suggested adding a form to the program
that would allow the end user to modify anything before generating the
quote. This would work well for the BOM perhaps, but still would
limit some of the capabilities as I see it, such as editing the
boilerplate text that's part of every quote. Or adding a paragraph
here or there.

I am open to your ideas and look forward to reading them.

Thanks,

Jmar

Jan 6 '07 #1
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P: n/a
Although I have not coded against it yet, I thought that your scenario was
what Microsoft's InfoPath product was designed for. It is a data-entry-form-focused
package that uses XML and your own custom code and configuration to generate
documents based on user input. InfoPath is part of Microsoft Office.

-----
Tim Patrick - www.timaki.com
Start-to-Finish Visual Basic 2005
I posted on this topic a while back and received some good responses.
However, I have better insight into what I'm looking to do so I am
tapping the wealth of experience here again hoping to find a general
consensus on how to proceed from here. Thank you in advance for
anyone who takes the time to reply...

I am upgrading a VB4.0 program for a client who distributes it to its
reps worldwide. We are not at the point where we want to make this
internet based - the reps like having it on their own computer for
various reasons (such as slow internet access, etc) that I am not
going to argue against.

This program is a customized quote generation program where the user
types in all sorts of information about an application and after
several calculations are done by the computer, one or more products
are recommended that will meet their needs. The user then selects the
product(s) they desire and a quote is generated. The quote consists
of several parts: Customer Info (name, address, etc), Rep Info (reply
to name, etc), Application Info (we spit back all the inputs that were
used to select the product to cover our @##), a BOM (can consist of
anywhere from 1 to 20 or more line items), some legal language and
optional product info (drawings, dimensional data, detailed
description. Pretty straightforward stuff.

Let me provide a bit of history because it may impact the solution
that is suggested.

This program was originally written in QuickBasic and the resulting
quote was dumped into a simple text file and saved as
<quotenumber>.txt. Wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. The
program automatically opened a text editor that allowed the user to
fully modify anything on the page. Everything was formatted to print
within a letterhead that was fed into the printer.

Along came an upgrade to VB4.0 with Crystal Reports. The program was
modified to store all info into Access databases and then the quote
was generated in Crystal Reports. Although the quote looked much
nicer (added graphics like dimensional drawings, boxes, formatting,
etc) and could be printed on plain paper, there was an obvious loss
of customization because the user no longer had full editing
capability of the quote. A note field was added to each part of the
quote allowing the user to add any notes they might like. Far from a
fully editable quote, but it did help somehat.

Next came a desire to e-mail the quotes as attachments. The program
was modified to allow for an option of generating the quote as a Word
Document through Crystal Reports. This allowed users some additional
editing capabilities as well as the ability to attach it as a DOC
file.
The negative being that any changes made to the document were saved
in
the DOC file but not in the Access databases.
All this history brings us to today. The program has been upgraded to
VB.net (2003) and now comes the part of how to handle quote
generation.
Some of the information is stored in Access databases (such as
customer name/address, sales rep reply info, etc). As I looked at
using Crystal Reports to generate the quote and then save it in
another format, two problems quickly emerged that made me decide there
must be a better way:

A) If you have Crystal save it as a Word Document, all the text is
placed in text boxes which makes editing and then aligning everything
a
real pain. Seems less flexible than the old CR/Word combination.
b) If you go the PDF route, you lose the ability to edit anything
without having Adobe installed
To finally get to my question: Does anyone out there have
thoughts/experiences to share that will help me find the best way to
output the quote? Keep in mind the following criteria we would like
to meet:

1) The finished quote can be fully edited. Lines of text can be
added. Part descriptions can be changed. Whole sections can be
removed, etc. The less constrictions the better. A lot of the reps
are still around from the days of the QuickBasic text files and they
loved the flexibility that offered. For example, if this your
suggestion is a Word Document, I do not want the user to have to
reformat all the paragraphs, pages, etc anytime they add a paragraph
or change a part number.

2) If edited by the end user, we want the changes saved so that it
can be pulled up at a later date and modified again as needed.

3) The finished quote can be attached to an e-mail and the end user
can open without the need for additional software. (OK, perhaps MS
Word would be required).

4) Ideally, if the user changes a price or quantity in the BOM any
other totals that are affected would automatically be updated.

5) It would be nice if the quote was professional looking (i.e. the
company logo in the header, formatting, etc). To put a bit of
perspective on this though, the users I have polled would rather have
editing capabilities than pretty boxes, graphics, etc.

6) The quote can incorporate graphics such as dimensional drawings,
product drawings, etc.

7) Ideally, the quote could have catalog pages (in the form of PDF
files) attached to it (although this would be a bonus and we can live
without it)

8 ) Ideally, whatever solution is suggested, we would like to not be
at the mercy of a third party vendor.

In my previous post, some users suggested adding a form to the program
that would allow the end user to modify anything before generating the
quote. This would work well for the BOM perhaps, but still would
limit some of the capabilities as I see it, such as editing the
boilerplate text that's part of every quote. Or adding a paragraph
here or there.

I am open to your ideas and look forward to reading them.

Thanks,

Jmar

Jan 6 '07 #2

This discussion thread is closed

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