Curious about a selling point ?

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Simon Knight
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Curious about a selling point ?

Post by Simon Knight » Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:35 am

Hi,

First I don't want or intend this thread to become a discussion about decisions taken in Edinburgh so with that in mind....

Having read a few posts about possible alternatives to Livecode I have been reading about some other development environments and so far I don't think I will be jumping ship soon.

I am a mac user so thought I would take a look at the web pages describing Swift and I am curious about the following line from near the top of the description of the language : "Even better, you don’t even need to type semi-colons. " . Are or were semicolons ever a great problem ? They must have been a real pain if Apple declare the lack of them to be a feature.

best wishes

Simon
best wishes
Skids

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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by FourthWorld » Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:59 am

LiveCode Script uses semicolons to delimit statements on the same line. C and most languages designed after it became the dominant influence use semicolons at the end of every statement, even if it's on a line by itself. NeXT/Apple darling Objective C was chock full o' semicolons.

I don't recall anyone ever going to the hospital over it. ;)
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stam
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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by stam » Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:08 am

It’s a minor issue people gripe about.
Flutter has ‘em, as do a great many languages. Swift doesn’t.

Personally I quite like Swift and SwiftUI, but there’s no cross-platform framework, so that always has to take 2nd place for me.

If I was developing Mac/iOS only it would be my preferred platform but alas, the health system in the UK is 110% Microsoft (for example the vast majority of our IT staff haven’t even heard of FileMaker Pro, which has caused untold difficulties with some of my previous solutions… and they always insist I try PowerApps. So annoying….)

Semi-colons can be slightly annoying if missed or misplaced, but not really any more annoying that misspelling a variable or typing “hte“ instead of “the”…

The point is made slightly tongue-in-cheek rather than a serious selling point I think ;)

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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by mtalluto » Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:34 am

Hi Stam,

I am curious about your thoughts on PowerApps. My guess is that your organization has access. Has anyone in your org made an app with the tool?

-Mark

Simon Knight
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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by Simon Knight » Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:16 am

Thanks for your replies. As to PowerApps strikes me as a recipe for locally produced unsupported apps that management eventually ban.

S
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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by stam » Sun Sep 12, 2021 11:23 am

mtalluto wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:34 am
I am curious about your thoughts on PowerApps. My guess is that your organization has access. Has anyone in your org made an app with the tool?
Hi Mark,
Yes we do have access, but not aware of any clinical uses of this or anything driven by clinicians - possibly this is used at some administrative level, but couldn't say for sure (keeping in mind our workforce is > 25,000). On the other hand i am aware of some few FileMaker Pro apps other than my own, but universally these are viewed as 'toys' by IT even though they solve very real clinical problems, and are actively discouraged because IT cannot control them.

Our IT insist on centralising all IT activity and run all the servers - we're in the crazy situation where even though i've funded and procured FileMaker Server and as well as a server box with built in RAID storage to run this on the intranet via a charity bid, we're not allowed to run any of this and it's just sitting and collecting dust; but as it was procured through the hospital (with money from a charity, not the hospital), i'm not allowed to use this privately either... so when i complained i was asked to consider PowerApps as an alternative.

I've not really had time to delve into PowerApps and the online documentation from microsoft isn't really that clear - the little time i've had to check this out left me non-plussed but i'm probably missing the point of it and would benefit from support form our IT to see if any solutions with this are possible.

However, there is no IT support for this at present - right now we're in the process of moving the entire conglomeration of hospitals to a new electronic health record system (multimillion investment likely to take 3-4 years) so all IT has been absorbed by this.

On the plus side, anything that has a zero ask from IT and anything that can be devolved to cloud hosted solutions is suddenly now encouraged, so that gives me room to use LiveCode + LiveCloud ;)

At some point i will do a deep dive into PowerApps, but between COVID, the COVID recovery effort to deal with all deferred clinical work and actual ongoing clinical work, time is very limited...

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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by stam » Sun Sep 12, 2021 11:32 am

Simon Knight wrote:
Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:16 am
Thanks for your replies. As to PowerApps strikes me as a recipe for locally produced unsupported apps that management eventually ban.
Not sure i agree - anything produced by people not part of the IT department risks being views as 'locally produced unsupported apps' - PowerApps as such doesn't increase the risk.

The acid test is clinical value in my case - about 6 years ago i created 2 clinical solutions which really have no correlate in any commercial package or solution our IT can provide and they can't therefore justify actually banning these. They just mutter under their breath ;)
I really should get round to commercialising these, but no time...

On the other hand, we've had plenty of solutions produced by our IT department (to the tune of > £20M) which are actually not fit for purpose and are disappearing after a colossal waste of time and money.

All technologies (i presume including PowerApps) can produce good and bad apps. I'm just not in a position to comment on how useful PowerApps is just yet...

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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by mtalluto » Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:35 pm

Thanks, Stam. I can see IT's point of view. But I find their desire to control everything for the sake of [enter tech jargon here] to be a double-edged sword.

You have a full-time job as a doctor. You need access to specialized software. Without, you have taken on the role of software developer to solve work problems. I see this situation becoming more and more common.

IT may find this changing workplace a little uncomfortable and will have to adapt. It is promising that IT allows you to make your software. We need to address the notion of the 'developer gap.' IT is too busy to make what you need. Commercial software is not available to meet your needs. You have to make your software to get stuff done. You are a unique sub-class that is capable of writing code. The majority of users in this space will not be as skilled at coding. Thus, the flurry of no-code and low-code tools to the rescue. FileMaker does a decent job in this space.

By my estimate, LiveCode has more sales potential serving this market than trying to appeal to the general programmer market. I think LC is well aware of this. And, this is a larger market with a lot of room to grow LiveCode.

PowerApps is Microsoft's answer to the low-code space. If a given org is already heavily vested in Microsoft, MS believes they should have their data and apps in one place. But your data is not in an existing database. In turn, Microsoft's initial value story breaks down. I am not sure how complete the tool is for solving your software needs. I am happy to hear that LiveCode/LiveCloud is working for you.

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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by Simon Knight » Mon Sep 13, 2021 9:11 am

I find myself agreeing with most of what has been written above about large organisations and IT. IT departments spend most of their time just keeping all the machines running, keeping them up to date and making sure the company intranet is available. This leaves little time to develop special softwares that will in their view need designing, building, DOCUMENTING and maintaining and woe betide any user who want the application changing once the design is set in concrete. Dare I say that "people like us" are seen as trouble makers as we point out the inadequacies of what they are offering and then create tools that probably look ugly but work.

Mark wrote : "By my estimate, LiveCode has more sales potential serving this market than trying to appeal to the general programmer market. I think LC is well aware of this. And, this is a larger market with a lot of room to grow LiveCode." This was exactly why I purchased RunRev back in 200? instead of teaching myself Python or Ruby. At the time it was being marketed as a tool for Subject Matter Experts and I have used it ever since.

There are wider issues such as education which in my daughters case just taught her Microsoft Word and later some of the Adobe Suite. This maintains a myth that only Microsoft and Adobe have applications that are worth using whereas my extreme view is that they are best treated as virus : ever tried maintaining a four thousand page specification written in MS Word ? Don't, the bugs just keep on coming and hitting you in the face. She was never taught programming which appears to be considered one of the dark arts

As to IT in health care in the U.K. the key issue, in my opinion, that may have been addressed far to late is that the NHS failed to design a patient record with the result that different firms and hospital departments created their own to meet specific needs. Had they, back in the 1990s, specified a patient record that all applications had to use I suspect things may have been better. As it is now many systems have been kludged rather than rebuilt. It is telling that when the NHS announced that patients could opt out of having their records available beyond their own G.P. surgeries my own surgery was overwhelmed with opt out requests. There is not much trust in the national wide data system.

I think it would be fair to say that this thread has been subjected to extreme drift, interesting discussion though. ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; ;-)

best wishes
Simon
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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by stam » Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:56 pm

Extreme drift ;) Off-topic posts in the off-topic thread?
Well yes and no - the underlying question could be seen as commenting on alternative IDEs.

This target population you point out, while interesting, may not be the most lucrative. Without support from IT depts (where in the UK Healthcare the only requirement seems to be certification for MS products), this will largely consist of hobbyists who with few exceptions seem unlikely to cough up £1K/year - equally this target population will want to create something that will persist - you see where I'm going with this... but i digress from my digression ;)
Simon Knight wrote:
Mon Sep 13, 2021 9:11 am
As to IT in health care in the U.K. the key issue, in my opinion, that may have been addressed far to late is that the NHS failed to design a patient record with the result that different firms and hospital departments created their own to meet specific needs. Had they, back in the 1990s, specified a patient record that all applications had to use I suspect things may have been better. As it is now many systems have been kludged rather than rebuilt. It is telling that when the NHS announced that patients could opt out of having their records available beyond their own G.P. surgeries my own surgery was overwhelmed with opt out requests. There is not much trust in the national wide data system.
There have been several attempts over the last 2 decades of creating region-, sector- and even nation-wide digital records; the problem is that one size does not fit all, no comprehensive consultation was taken beforehand involving all specialties and even just getting nomenclature/classification & coding systems right is an unbelievably huge project - just look at the ever-evolving SNOWMED-CT.

Previous attempts at creating larger databases either been trying to do this on the cheap or allocated to politically expedient 'buddies', often costing hundreds of millions or more and resulting in systems not fit for purpose. The recent scandalous 'track and trace' UK platform, costing £35 Billion is still not fit for purpose. Can you imagine losing hundreds of thousands of records because you chose the excel file format as intermediate storage but weren't aware there was a hard line limit... might have been a PowerApp ;)

Beyond the vast technical challenge, the daunting security concerns and information governance issues suggest to me that a nationwide database is probably not remotely feasible and never was. NHSX/NHS Digital has been working on projects focusing on interoperability of systems and with local agreements to use implicit rather than explicit consent, which is much more sensible. We already use such integration systems in daily practice and in the last few yeas has dramatically improved patient care although still have a long way to go... (in the last 3-4 years i've finally been able to directly view GP notes, bloods, observations and prescriptions for our catchment area \o/ )

But I suspect what you are referring to as the relatively recent opt out from GP surgeries is something different again. The opt-out i saw recently was rather unambiguously suggesting your data could/would be sold for profit to 'big data' companies who are not necessarily subject to UK law. I suspect this may be the main driver for lack of trust rather than a nationwide system.

Simon Knight
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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by Simon Knight » Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:44 pm

When it comes to government IT I have to remind myself that its 2021 and not 1980. I am unable to name a large government IT project that has gone well. Being able to view G.P. notes in hospital suggests some progress and I wonder if the GPs are able to see the hospital notes. My own surgery is a good case point. I have the choice of two nearby hospitals to visit should I need to, one in area and one out. Blood results from the in area hospital are delivered electronically and update my patient records under the heading Results. Results from the out of area hospital arrive by letter and are scanned and stored as images which takes time and is error prone. It seems that there is no method of sharing results from the in area lab with my consultant in the out of area hospital electronically so both the surgery and I send paper letters which again takes time and is potentially error prone.

You mention the nightmare that is confidentiality especially when IT manages take the decision not to upgrade from unsupported versions of the OS and get hacked by ransomware. So I suppose that we should not be surprised that data was lost because some fool did not understand the limitations of MSExcel or the windows clipboard. That particular cock-up is probably partly due to a lack of training and or a case of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Interoperability can not happen unless if is placed front and centre in the list of requirements and it is accepted that it costs money and requires testing. So don't hold your breath, after all its government IT we are talking about.

I agree that I don't think the SME market is large enough to help Livecode. Also why will a SME decide to use livecode rather than some other tool? We can give good reasons but I expect most will look elsewhere and not bother to find out.

Obviously when I rule the world I will solve all these and other problems.

Simon
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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by jiml » Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:28 pm

stam wrote:
i am aware of some few FileMaker Pro apps other than my own, but universally these are viewed as 'toys' by IT even though they solve very real clinical problems, and are actively discouraged because IT cannot control them.
Our IT insist on centralising all IT activity and run all the servers
Monolithic systems make good targets.

I recall having lunch in Culver City, CA on the day that North Korea attacked Sony Pictures for releasing the comedy The Interview, which poked fun at Dear Leader. The streets suddenly began to fill with workers pouring out of the studio with nothing to do. Their Microsoft computers/systems had all been rendered useless in one fell swoop. The workers and departments using Macintosh computers remained busy at their desks.

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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by stam » Mon Sep 13, 2021 7:36 pm

@Simon - yep, within our catchment area, GPs can access all hospital documents and results as well. As you say these systems have a long way to go still, but i think we're probably better off that many other areas in the UK on that front.

I wouldn't necessarily knock on everything our IT does - it does actually do very many things excellently. But by trying to keep everything centralised under top-down control it also sows the seeds of it's own inadequacy.

I've long advocated a system i've worked with elsewhere, where we have 2-3 IT personnel embedded in our department to manage our specific needs and provide an interface with the corporate IT. That probably would have gone a long way to sorting many of these issues but unfortunately even though our department has been willing to fund this, it's been blocked by IT. So there's that...

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Re: Curious about a selling point ?

Post by PaulDaMacMan » Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:47 am

I'm lucky, I guess? I work for a fairly large international corp that uses FileMaker Server, at least at our location, and our IT dept. doesn't seem to have a problem with it, we just use it for data entry and job tracking as a front end though. Also it's been an extremely Mac-centric sector and has been for decades now (although there was also some SGI Indigos/IRIX and Sun Sparc Stations involved in those early days).

As far as colons and similar syntax are concerned, I say the less symbols used the better, they make everything look cryptic and confusing to me. If you've ever looked at some heavily nested C stuff with a bunch of *pointers*, &handles and such, you'll know what I mean. There's no need to be cryptic like that in the current day and age, I'm not sure there ever really was other then past limits like 400k storage medium.

Here's some C (from docs for a certain joke language, I shouldn't repeat it's name :-D ):

Code: Select all

++p;
*p=+9;
while(*p != 0){
--p;
*p=+8;
--p;
--*p;
}
--p;
putchar(*p);
and here's an C interpreter written in that Turing Test passing joke language:

Code: Select all

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<-]>--..<+++++++[>++++++++++<-]>-.<+++++[>----------<-]>---.[-]<<<<<<.>>>>
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--<-]>.+.+++.-------.<++++++[>----------<-]>-.++.<+++++++[>++++++++++<-]>.
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+++.
I'd hoped that Swift was going to be what I had wanted from AppleScriptObj + Interface Builder, a more xTalk-like (although AppleScript is actually "LISP in disguise", evolved from SK8Script apparently), for "the rest of us", user-centric programming environment. But I don't think they've got that with Swift at all.

I believe there is some cross platform work going on for Swift now, but I'm not sure how far along that is.

I've actually looked at a lot of Xamarin syntax on Microsoft's site while looking at Apple APIs (ironic isn't it) for doing LCB stuff. That site is nice because you can see everything about an API, inheritance from other object and such in one big hierarchial list. Xamarin's built on the framework .NET on WIN / MONO on MAC/LINUX and C#
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