• ContrOCC Developer’s Hackday

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    We recently held the first ContrOCC Developer’s Hackday, which was all about giving the team some time to work on things that would make the product a little nicer for them in some way. For example: A development task or bug that’s getting on their nerves but which isn’t getting scheduled Improving developer tools Experimental development which might or might not work A prototype solution or toy program to demonstrate an interesting idea A spec or mockup for something more[...]

  • OCC’s Marathon Man

    Laura Walton Blog Post

    OCC’s Ulen Neale is very near the completion of a huge challenge; one that he has named 12 in 12 in 12. Ulen has run his 11th marathon this year and he is planning to do one more before the year is out. Ulen is dividing the funds he is raising through the marathons equally between Sobell House Hospice and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) Support. There is no cure for PSC, which is a degenerative liver disease, but PSC Support[...]

  • Replacing trigger-based validation with foreign keys

    Julian Fletcher Blog Post

    Several techniques are often deployed in well-designed databases to minimise the amount of invalid data. Common ones include: Check Constraints– checks that can be made on a single row in a single table, for example: StartDate <= EndDate Height > 0 Age < 199 Unique Indexes– to make sure we don’t have duplicate entries in a table, for example: National Insurance Number Car Registration Number Triggers – a last resort for cases where “it’s complicated” or we have to check[...]

  • OCC’s Conference Season

    Laura Walton Blog Post

    OCC has been extremely busy during the conference season promoting our contract management and financial assessment management product, ContrOCC. Nick Warner and Damian Payne were at the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Information Management Conference held at the Hotel Russell, Bloomsbury, in October. Later the same month, Damian Payne, Chris Smith and Keith Musson represented OCC at the National Association of Financial Assessment Officers (NAFAO) meeting at the Macdonald Burlington Hotel, Birmingham, where Damian demonstrated the new[...]

  • UX best practices from homepage to checkout – UX Oxford

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    UX Oxford‘s September talk was given by James Chudley and Jesmond Allen from cxpartners on UX Components Deconstructed. James and Jesmond are the authors of ‘Smashing UX Design: foundations for designing online user experiences’ and in this talk they focus on their advice for providing the best user experience on common website components; the homepage, category/product listing, product page, shopping basket, and checkout. You can find the slides for the talk embedded at the end of the post. Homepage UX[...]

  • UX Oxford – User research doesn’t need to be boring

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    August’s UX Oxford talk was “Research is boring: How we sell it, do it better, and make better use of it.” from Lee McIvor, a freelance user experience designer and the organiser of lightningUX. As user experience designers, we often come up against the misconception that user research is not important, that a design does not need to be fed by research, but that we can take the “genius” design route, assume that we know what we need to know,[...]

  • Dealing with personal opinion in web design

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    Design can be a very subjective matter. All of us have our personal likes and dislikes when it comes to the appearance of the products, tools and websites we use, but it’s important for both the designer and client to set those aside when you’re working on a web design project. Websites are designed for their audience, for the users that the owner is hoping will visit and complete some transaction or task. As part of the user-centred design process,[...]

  • Developing apps for the Microsoft Surface tablet

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    Microsoft has just announced its entry into the tablet market, the Surface. Designed and manufactured by Microsoft, Surface will launch this Autumn and comes in two models: A more powerful, expensive, thicker & heavier (13.5mm, 903g) one running Windows 8 Pro on an Intel chipset comparable to the latest ultrabooks. This tablet will be able to run demanding desktop applications such as Office, Photoshop and others. An attachable stylus will also be available for handwriting and annotation. A cheaper, more[...]

  • Set up WordPress in the Cloud on Windows Azure

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    “The Cloud” is a term that we use to describe a way of hosting and running websites and applications where we ship off our files and databases to whomever we choose and have all the worries of managing the details of hardware, operating systems, networks and datacentres managed for us by them. This way, the specialists at the cloud provider can focus on providing a high quality, scalable platform, and the customer can focus on developing and deploying their website[...]

  • Debugging inside an SQL Trigger

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    Debugging inside an SQL Server Trigger can be incredibly difficult, since the data exists only in the scope of that trigger. However, there are a couple of techniques that can help. Raise an error You can output debug data from the Inserted and Deleted tables by converting it to a string via XML as follows: Declare @ErrorInfo varchar(8000) Set @ErrorInfo = Char(13) + 'Inserted: ' + Char(13) + IsNull ((Select * From Inserted FOR XML PATH('')), '') Set @ErrorInfo =[...]

  • ContrOCC User Group Meetings – May 2012

    Laura Walton Blog Post

    We were delighted to welcome representatives from some 25 Local Authorities to Oxford this May for two more successful and enjoyable User Groups for ContrOCC , our complete contract management and financial assessment solution for social services. The meetings, one for the Children’s system and one for the Adults’, took place just down the road from our offices at Trinity College. Trinity has some of the most beautiful gardens and buildings in Oxford, and it provided us with a stunning backdrop[...]

  • Oxfordshire Young Enterprise County Finals

    Laura Walton Blog Post

    OCC are very proud to continue our support of Young Enterprise in Oxfordshire. Young Enterprise is the United Kingdom’s largest business and enterprise education charity. Every year they help 250,000 young people learn about business and the world of work in the classroom under the guidance of volunteers from 3,500 companies. This year saw 550 young people aged 15 to 19+ set up 43 teams/companies, from 35 schools and colleges from across the county take part in the Young Enterprise[...]

  • Rank your SQL SELECT results

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    The third of a series of posts introducing handy functions built into SQL Server (2005 and above) to help you include interesting metadata about your SELECT statement’s results. Include row numbers in your SQL SELECT results Partition your SQL SELECT results into groups Rank your SQL SELECT results Rank() and Dense_Rank() If you’d like to rank your SQL SELECT result set by one or more factors then you can use Rank() or Dense_Rank(), which are best demonstrated with an example:[...]

  • Partition your SQL SELECT results into groups

    Luke Canvin Blog Post

    The second of a series of posts introducing handy functions built into SQL Server (2005 and above) to help you include interesting metadata about your SELECT statement’s results. Include row numbers in your SQL SELECT results Partition your SQL SELECT results into groups Partition By If you’d like to partition your SELECT statement’s result set into groups, which can be treated separately for things like row-counts or aggregate functions, then the Partition By syntax is perfect. Let’s look at an[...]