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Print Production: Horizons

Horizons Newsletter 2005We had a company newsletter that was for the clients of the company. I created this in 2005 and the publication has since changed names and I no longer work on the design/production of the piece. This is a full 8.5×11 flyer that opens booklet style, meant to be folded in half and be a self mailer. All of the content and images came from the Marketing Department, but the layout and graphics started with my ideas and were tweaked by Marketing input as we went along. This required coordination with print house to ensure the files were setup how they expect, as well as working with the Marketing Team.

I used Photoshop to process the images and InDesign to do the final layout and preflight for print.

Project Folder Automation

The company had a problem. Multiple file servers, one for each office location, meant there were multiple places a project could live. Organizing thousands of active projects was no easy task, especially if employees from multiple offices were working on the project. The structure for storage of these projects was hard to understand for the average employee, and they were the ones creating the folders. With no governance and lacking a full understanding of how to setup the folders and why, it was a mess. This is what I walked in on.

One of my first projects at the company was to address that. The Project Start Form (PSF) was a Word document inside the office templates. I used that as a base reference, and began creating a web application in VBScript. The accounting database, Sema4, was in an old FoxPro style database, and I used that to provide drop downs and checkboxes. I was able to very tightly control the user interface and make it as easy as possible. Not only that, once that Project Manager was identified, it was a lot like the finder selection in Vision, I would find the office of that employee and automate the folder creation process. I even created a shortcut in the employee’s home drive and saved a copy of the PSF data in the project folder. Once the tool was ready and tested, I took away the PSF office template and replaced it with a link to the intranet-based PSF. (more…)

My Daughter’s Website

My daughter was born in 2006, October. Being the first, I dotted all the i-s, crossed all the T-s, was a model father. Which means a website, because I was also a web father. I am working on resurrecting the actual site, but for now, here is the layout I created for it.

Harper Baby Website Layout

Visual Communications

Fuzzy CleoPeelMy formal education is from a technical college in Madison WI. I have an Associate of Applied Art from the Visual Communications program. My high school art teacher gave me a solid foundation in the basics of a variety of fields of art: Photography, pottery, three-point perspective, painting, drawing, color wheels and theory, and even watching Tron and The Dark Crystal. The Visual Communications program hit on all those points again and expanded to videography, trade show exhibits, physical slide show presentations, computer animation, layout and design, web design, and my introduction to world of Adobe.

Know_BoundariesGreen and GoldenI had specifically gone to school to become a web designer because high school taught me my main two passions were art and computer. What better way to combine those passions than web design. As this artistic, technological infection took me forward, I created art. And I had a new medium, the computer.

Report Automation

I have used SQL Server’s TSQL to generate Excel spreadsheets from Vision data, our ERP, and then deliver the document to various employees. The data in the document is customized to that individual and there are multiple types of audiences that have different reasons for the report, thus need a customized version of it. Even better, Vision can schedule and run the TSQL to make all this happen.

But, I found a better way.

I rebuilt the reports in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). The version available to me does not have the built-in dynamic scheduling capabilities, so I needed a plan b. I turned to the SSRS API and found that some simple C# .NET code could easily call a service and generate a report in various formats, and could accept arguments for the report parameters.

There are 4 versions of most reports that I create: Project Manager, Team Leader, Program Manager, and Management. All of these reports needed to be able to display customized data based on who was actually viewing the report. I easily found a way to pass in a URL based parameter to identify the proper employee data to display. This was really handy for the code, because code calls the report via a URL and I could easily supply each employee, one at a time and get all the reports I needed. With a lot of searching ,and trial and error, I found a tricky way to identify the person that is viewing the report in the browser. Not only could I use SSRS to generate these reports, the very same report can be used by all employees, showing them only the data they need versus all data.

This solution required C# .NET, Vision API,  SSRS API, and a number of Views and Stored Procedures using TSQL on MS SQL Server 2008.