WriteLog Contest Module Development – Part 1: The Tools

WriteLog is the only leading contest logging program offering an open contest module development process for anyone with programming skills that is willing to dig in. I have traveled through the process and now I’d like to present where I’ve been and offer a map of the trail.

The Tools

    Programming skills

I have a BS in Computer Science with some programming experience. For this task, you will need passable C++ skills and be able to work with a project that uses the techniques for writing Windows programs as it was done in the ’90s. The generated code tends to lean toward C with some C++ peppered in. Integers, C strings, and one and two dimensional arrays hold most of the data. If you don’t know what a pointer is and how to de-reference one, you are under water from the start.

A contest module is basically one big class with OLE interfaces and local elements all thrown together. To generalize, you will be writing methods that WriteLog calls when the user does stuff. Sometimes you are responsible for saving the information and sometimes WriteLog is asking for a detail or for you to provide score information.

    Programming environment

The contest wizard is a project template that works in VC++ 5 and 6 only. However, once the project files have been generated you can work on the contest module in VC.NET Pro. After generating the project in VC++ 6.0, I tested the generated code with VS.NET 2005 and was able to compile a working contest module. The free Express versions of Visual Studio do not work for this task because they do not compile MFC code and you cannot edit and compile resource files. In theory, you could edit the source files in your favorite text editor and compile with the free command line compiler in the Windows SDK. Getting the template code out of the wizard would have to be up to your own devices; you would have to edit the resources by hand; and you would have to write your own make file. If you have written Windows programs beyond a simple hello-world command line application using the command line compiler, then you know what kind of high hurdle it would be to compile a module this way. I have not tried it yet, but the IDDE that comes with the $50 licensed version of Digital Mars C++ might work to edit a contest module but I’m 99% sure the contest wizard will not work with DM. Visual Studio 6.0 is your best bet.

    WriteLog software

You need a licensed copy of WriteLog. Download the contest wizard from the WriteLog web site.

Your first task is to do the one-time setup list of actions from the WriteLog contest wizard read-me file.

That’s the tools you need to pack in order to get to our destination–a working WriteLog contest module.

WriteLog is Copyright © 1992-2009 by Wayne E. Wright, W5XD.

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