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PAD Maintainer


Disclaimer

This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

The Problem

There are two versions of PAD (Portable Application Description) in wide use, one is 3.11. You create them with PADGen. You submit them directly to PADSites. The other is 4.0. You create these with a klutzy online editor. Your not permitted to submit them directly to PADsites. PADSites are supposed to pay ASP (Association of Shareware Professionals) for them.

As you can imagine, there has been great reluctance to switch over from 3.11 to 4.0. Most PADSites use 3.11 but a growing number are using 4.0. In the meantime programmers are supposed to maintain both independently making the same changes to both with every new release of their software.

There is a more general problem of efficiently doing bulk updates to XML (extensible Markup Language) files.

The Solution

The following is not a fully satisfactory solution, but it is a start. The programmer uses the PADGen utility to compose and maintain his PADs (Portable Application Descriptions) in 3.11 format. He does all his maintenance on the 3.11 pad. After making changes he runs a utility that converts the 3.11 PAD to 4.0 format. That cannot be 100% automated since 4.0 has extra fields you must fill in and new categories. So for each pad, the user creates an XML touchup file that contains the values for new fields, or overrides of existing fields to use in creating the 4.0 file. It also contains lines of the form:

<PADmap>-remove-</PADmap>

saying you want the entire <PADmap> section removed.

Study up on XML. This project is quite a bit easier than you would think. You don’t have to parse the XML yourself. JAX parsing will create a DOM (Document Object Model) tree.

You will find this program much easier to debug and maintain if it runs off a script that tells it which elements to copy over, which to leave behind and which to set to configured values. The basic and convert and the touchup could use the same engine.  The script might look something like this:

Going Further

It is still an onerous job to manually reimport the 4.0 format files into the ASP database, one by one. So what you want is a utility that keeps track of what is in the ASP database and automatically imports any changed 4.0 format files.

JAX
SAX
XML

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