Archive for December, 2006
A personally summarized list of new feature in Microsoft Office Word & Excel 2007. I may have missed a couple of features so don’t take this as a comprehensive list. I have listed the most salient features that I found to be worth listing (I might go in depth along with my experiences at a later stage).
The most obvious change is the user interface and you have no option to go back to the previous look and feel. It is true this new look and feel is much easier as it is entirely based on visual guides. At first you might feel a little bit complex, i did. But after playing around for a while you are sure to feel comfortable. Compared to the graphical look and feel the package is rather fast, responsive and stable. The closing and opening is surprisingly fast compared to early versions.
New features common to MS Office Package
- The previous versions toolbar is now referred to as the ribbons, they are huge and you will not miss.
- The ribbon is huge and take a lot of space on the screen, however, a simple double clicks on a tab hides and shows the ribbon.
- Once you select any text item you get a quick access bar right near your mouse pointer and you can customize this bar to have the most frequently used commands.
- Shortcuts are changed except for those starts with CTRL key, like CTRL + C for copy. However the new shortcuts are not difficult to grasp. Just press Alt once and you will be visually shown what key to press to access. Just try it, this version requires practice.
- The previous file menu is gone, you have to click a huge office logo at the top left hand site to visual get the open, print and save commands.
- Zoom In and Zoom out is at a click away at the lower right hand corner.
- The spelling and grammar check is placed on the review panel, and it has been improved tremendously.
- All page setup dialogue settings like margins, orientation and size are now in a tab in the ribbon.
- Built in ability to convert to PDF
- A new file format to make files safer, anti-corruption and smaller. It also support new smart art graphic, Math equations & themes. Now the extension for office is now .docx and for excel is .xlsx. The additional x represents XML.
- Personally I did found the format picker, styles, inserting pictures and view settings much easier to use.
New Features in Word 2007
- A lot easier to format and manager formatting. It is all click, click and click. With a lot of preformatted elements in a simple click away.
- Image/Graphic effects like transparency, shadow and other effects.
- A lot easier way to compare documents.
- The ability to find and remove hidden meta-tags and personal information stored with the document.
- A final version can be set to not allow and additional changed when marked as final.
- You can publish to your blog straight from Word 2007, in fact this post including the photos is published straight from MS Word 2007.
- Ability to add digital signatures
New Features in Excel 2007
- 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns, that makes the columns end at XFD. The formatting is changed from 4 thousand to unlimited. The memory management has been changed from 1 GB to 2 GB. And the calculations are much faster. Office 2007 also supports 16 million colors now.
- The formatting can be changed at a click using themes.
- The multiple conditional formatting rules
- A resizable formula bar, Function AutoComplete, Structured references
- Improved sorting and filtering notably by color.
- Table header rows now can be turned on and off
- Calculated column which need to enter one formula which is automatically mimics to other rows. No need to copy or fill the formula anymore.
- We can use table header name in formula
- In a total row we can now use custom formulas and text.
- Table formatting is at a click away.
- Charts are improved including visual chart elements to change every element of a chart with a simple click. Anything we can do with an Office Art now can be done to charts. More colors are provided for charts.
It took a while to get version 1.1 of vista website up and running. Mostly was stuck with ActionScript and PHP integration. It was a real pain in the ass when it comes to actionscripts. So I decided to invest some time in learning it, got a Total Training for advance flash 8 CD and spend nearly 5 hours learning it. It ain’t that hard but its more object oriented programming. I have rewritten the feedback and booking engine to accommodate new changes.
Version 1.1 have incorporated some of the planned additions including the following
– A new homepage, a lot of design tweaks to other pages, a flash animation in the homepage with the latest offer and a more corporate feel. A lot of small graphics like icons and colors has been changed, including logos of resorts.
– A database driven drop down menu, this menu’s color and style can be changed any time using CSS.
– Customer review system for the resorts. Now our customers can send in their reviews and experiences of the resorts and share it to other customers.
– Translation of the website using Astalavista
– A special offer page.
– A photogallery, currently only safari photos are loaded, all the resort photos will take some time to be updated.
And to list few of the future planned activities
– Resort Photogallery
– Revisit the map and redo it
– Revisit the customer comment system, if required develop a moderation system and other cool features.
The recently launched vista website (vistamaldives.com) was not properly indexed in most of the search engines for days. Hence, upon a search it was showing up the old pages, this means a lot of our customers will be directed to a page not found error, oops! We thought this will scare them and we don’t want that, as we are a good company. So I ran a test by visiting “www.microsoft.com/cool“, “www.cnn.com/cool” “www.bbc.co.uk/cool” to see what they are doing. Guess what, they have custom designed page not found (or error 404) page. Aha, this is exactly what I wanted. But how to do that? It came out to be fairly simple, 4 step process. Here is what I did (note: I have no idea if this works on IIS, but it works on apache).
Step 1. You will need a file called .htaccess in the root folder of your web server. So first create the file .htaccess. (Note: Windows Explorer will not allow to start a filename with a dot. Your options are to use command prompt to rename/create the file or upload the file in whatever name you want and rename at the server side).Step 2. Enter the following line in the .htaccess file using your text editor
ErrorDocument 404 /errors/404.html
Where 404 is the error code and /errors/404.html is the name of the directory/folder and file you want to be directed when a 404 error occur (note: I have a directory/folder called errors there).
3. Upload the .htaccess file to the web server root (top) directory/folder. (If you already have this file, than it is probably needed so try editing it, don’t replace it as some CMS uses this file. This means download the file in the server to your computer, edit it and upload. I am assuming you know what your are doing here).
Step 4. Design your error page relative to the file name used in step 2 and upload it to the proper folder.
This works like a charm, try this “www.vistamaldives.com/cool”
Now some tips on designing the error catching page. Just be creative but useful to the customer.
1. Don’t just redirect the customer to another page, like homepage, this is like devils work.
2. Explain what happened and give the customer options (but don’t be too tech).
3. Most well known websites give a search option, so if you have one, this is a good place to have it.
Some useful links
- Error 404 wiki Definition
- A site devoted to error 404 with some samples
- List of all error codes in the web world
- How to design a perfect 404 (advance stuff)
- Creating an error 404 page
- More advice on error 404
- A collection of creative error 404 pages
Good Luck with error 404
It was frustrating to find out that the newly uploaded Engsol website doesn’t display as expected in IE6. Screw Microsoft, all this work for hours and back to drawing board because of IE6 rendering dilemma. Lets cool it and tackle this. As I have recently upgraded to IE7 (which apparently shows the page as desinged) on my computer. So I have been Googling for hours to find a way to run both IE6 and IE7 on my PC simultaneously for testing purposes. Guess what, I stumbled upon the multiple standalone installer by Yousif Al Saif of tredosoft.com with IE3 thru IE6. This is by far the easiest and fasted way to setup multiple IEs out of more than 50 odd websites on this subject. This comes with all the needed title markers and registry fixes, in a single easy installer package. It even comes with special files to keep PNG scripts working in IE6 for proper testing. Wow. So if you are in the same boat as me then install IE7 from MS first, then go here for more instructions. All thanks goes to Yousif, a time saver!
Version 1.1 of Engineering Solutions website is completed and uploaded on 05 December 2006. Changes includes a cleaner look and feel with a backdrop, a fully dynamic database driven menu (editable through the admin panel) & a hit-counter powered by statcounter.com. Features added includes a newsletter system where users can subscribe to EngSol newsletter. Newsletters can be added/edited and send through email from the admin panel. All email queries submitted are now saved and viewed from admin panel. Projects page includes companies with maintenance contract and services. Descriptive images for the about, services and products pages. A full site search engine powered by Google SiteSearch is coded-in but pending the sites indexed by Google Search Engine, normally 5-8 days. Now remains the best part, to become creative with my camera.
Meanwhile most of the current images are subject to change during this period.
A last minute added feature is an online support (ticket) system for fault reporting, assigning tasks/jobs and monitoring progress online using email and web chat. Only privileged customers are allowed to use this system and registration is strictly moderated.
The Admin panel includes ability to add/edit nearly all the text and images. Along with management of the online support system, that is
adding customers, users, fault types and etc.
After nonstop coding & designing for nearly 30 days, today, 19th November 06, I have launched the new vista website v1.0. http://www.vistamaldives.com/. A site filled with features to help the tourist find their perfect holiday destination option in the Maldives.
Features includes search by atoll, interest & category option. Along with an advance search option. Live weather information for the Maldives with RSS feed. An interactive flash map of the atolls to visually see and select the atolls of the Maldives. More features are still to come for the map (somebody stop my thoughts!). Some of the graphics still needs to be fine-tunes and reanimated.
– Include resort, surf & dive site information in the map
– Change all the table, inline designs & DHTML Scripts to use CSS
– Rewrite some of the text
– A drop down menu
– Revamp the homepage
– Create icons and additional images
– Take photographs of some resorts, a lot more more photos
– Photo gallery
– Customer Review/Comment for each resort/safari