The plans for the Grading System

General discussions about grading.
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Carl Hibbard
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:05 am

What software do the local graders use now?
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Carl Hibbard

Michael Flatt
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Michael Flatt » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:06 am

Paolo Casaschi wrote: How likely are they to reply: "no thanks, you do not need to pay me for the whole LMS software, please define APIs towards the grading server and I'll adapt my system to work with those and anyone else should be allowed to as well."
Actually, I believe that is exactly what two LMS developers have indicated in the above discussion.

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Paolo Casaschi
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Paolo Casaschi » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:20 am

Michael Flatt wrote:
Paolo Casaschi wrote: How likely are they to reply: "no thanks, you do not need to pay me for the whole LMS software, please define APIs towards the grading server and I'll adapt my system to work with those and anyone else should be allowed to as well."
Actually, I believe that is exactly what two LMS developers have indicated in the above discussion.
There's a difference between discussing hypothetically about the best solution to a given problem and replying to a specific tender offering you money for a software you by en large have already developed.

Michael Flatt
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Michael Flatt » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:34 am

Paolo Casaschi wrote:
Michael Flatt wrote:
Paolo Casaschi wrote: How likely are they to reply: "no thanks, you do not need to pay me for the whole LMS software, please define APIs towards the grading server and I'll adapt my system to work with those and anyone else should be allowed to as well."
Actually, I believe that is exactly what two LMS developers have indicated in the above discussion.
There's a difference between discussing hypothetically about the best solution to a given problem and replying to a specific tender offering you money for a software you by en large have already developed.
More fool the ECF in offering to pay for something they don't have to.

Both LMS developers say they independently advised the ECF over the last 4 years on the benefit of developing APIs but that advice fell on 'deaf ears'.

As they say on Dragon's Den, "I'm out!"
Last edited by Michael Flatt on Sun Feb 14, 2016 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

NickFaulks
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by NickFaulks » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:46 am

Michael Flatt wrote: More fool the ECF in offering to pay for something they don't have to.
Council can nix that, and it sounds as though they may need some convincing not to do so.

Let's hope that Mike and Alex, who obviously could not contribute this this discussion irrespective of politcal considerations, are following and taking note.

Malcolm Peacock
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Malcolm Peacock » Sun Feb 14, 2016 1:48 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:What software do the local graders use now?
Some of them use an old Windows program called League where you define player lists, teams and fixtures and then enter the match results to generate an ECF grading file. Some manually enter the XL spreadsheet format. Some use their own spreadsheets / macros. Some use their own software. In my case, my own software eventually became an LMS.

Howard Grist
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Howard Grist » Sun Feb 14, 2016 2:27 pm

I'm not going to get drawn into this too much, but the current ECF central grading system was introduced for the 2002/3 season, and is written in Microsoft Visual Basic v6 and uses a Microsoft Access database. As I am unable to install the development environment on anything later than Windows Vista, I have rewritten this in Visual Basic under Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 and at the same time migrating the database to MySQL. As has already been said, once this has been done, we can then look at adding some APIs. Monthly lists are only going to work if you have monthly submission of results, and monthly submission of results using the current methods of graders sending files to the ECF who then manually process each one, just isn't going to work very well.
Former ECF Grading System Programmer

Angus French
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Angus French » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:01 pm

Howard Grist wrote:Monthly lists are only going to work if you have monthly submission of results, and monthly submission of results using the current methods of graders sending files to the ECF who then manually process each one, just isn't going to work very well.
This is new and important information because it affects all current systems/local graders.

I'm guessing the easiest way to automate the process will be to have the local graders/LMS systems deposit grading submission files in a place (on an FTP server) where they can be picked up and processed by the central grading system. But the files could also be sent to a mailbox from where they would be automatically extracted and you could have an API for submission of grading files... The results of the central grading system's processing would be sent back to the local grader whose email address is recorded in the grading submission file.

I'm confused by all the talk of an API because it suggests to me something more elaborate than I think is needed.

Brian Towers
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Brian Towers » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:29 pm

Howard Grist wrote:As I am unable to install the development environment on anything later than Windows Vista, I have rewritten this in Visual Basic under Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 and at the same time migrating the database to MySQL.
A couple of suggestions:
A year or two back I wanted to migrate some old VB6 code to .Net and used something called Visual Basic Upgrade Companion from mobilize.net. I got the free trial version which handled my relatively small projects for free. Of course if you're being paid T&M forget I said that ;-) and do it the hard way.
Unless you think the database is going to blow the 10 GB limit of SQL Server Express edition I would strongly recommend you use that. It is free and the management tools are free. Plus migration from Access (or MySQL for that matter) will be trivial.
The Access bit certainly helps explain the performance issues that certain members have reported as being a regular feature.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Brian Towers
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Brian Towers » Sun Feb 14, 2016 3:44 pm

Angus French wrote:I'm confused by all the talk of an API because it suggests to me something more elaborate than I think is needed.
I agree that the Wikipedia link given earlier gives that impression. In real life it is much simpler.
An API merely tells you what you have to do to use somebody else's software. In this case, as several people have already suggested, this would specify the format of fields in an XML file which would be HTTP POSTED to the server. That again sounds more complicated than it is.
An XML file is just a file of data which uses XML tags to pass the data. So, something like this:
<ECFGradingUpdates>
<CompetitionCode>xyz</CompetitionCode>
<Games>
<Game>
<Player1ECFCode>abcde1</Player1ECFCode>
<Player2ECFCode>abcde2</Player2ECFCode>
<Player1Result>0.5</Player1Result>
<Player2Result>0.5</Player2Result>
</Game>
<Game>
<Player1ECFCode>abcde3</Player1ECFCode>
<Player2ECFCode>abcde4</Player2ECFCode>
<Player1Result>0</Player1Result>
<Player2Result>1</Player2Result>
</Game>
</Games>
<ECFGradingUpdates>

Would pass the results of two games from one competition.
An HTTP POST takes about half a dozen lines of code.
The XML would be generated and sent automatically by the LMS running on the congress organizer, league controller, club secretary's computer when the "Send to ECF" button was pressed.
Last edited by Brian Towers on Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:07 pm

Angus French wrote:
Howard Grist wrote:Monthly lists are only going to work if you have monthly submission of results, and monthly submission of results using the current methods of graders sending files to the ECF who then manually process each one, just isn't going to work very well.
This is new and important information because it affects all current systems/local graders.

I'm guessing the easiest way to automate the process will be to have the local graders/LMS systems deposit grading submission files in a place (on an FTP server) where they can be picked up and processed by the central grading system. But the files could also be sent to a mailbox from where they would be automatically extracted and you could have an API for submission of grading files... The results of the central grading system's processing would be sent back to the local grader whose email address is recorded in the grading submission file.

I'm confused by all the talk of an API because it suggests to me something more elaborate than I think is needed.
No Angus just no, it's very manual unsecured and well horrible.
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Carl Hibbard

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:11 pm

Brian Towers wrote:
Howard Grist wrote:As I am unable to install the development environment on anything later than Windows Vista, I have rewritten this in Visual Basic under Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 and at the same time migrating the database to MySQL.
A couple of suggestions:
A year or two back I wanted to migrate some old VB6 code to .Net and used something called Visual Basic Upgrade Companion from mobilize.net. I got the free trial version which handled my relatively small projects for free. Of course if you're being paid T&M forget I said that ;-) and do it the hard way.
Unless you think the database is going to blow the 10 GB limit of SQL Server Express edition I would strongly recommend you use that. It is free and the management tools are free. Plus migration from Access (or MySQL for that matter) will be trivial.
The Access bit certainly helps explain the performance issues that certain members have reported as being a regular feature.
Again no Brian you are confusing grading database with grading site.
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Brian Towers
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Brian Towers » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:17 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:Again no Brian you are confusing grading database with grading site.
Now I'm definitely confused about who is confused ;-)
Howard Grist wrote:I'm not going to get drawn into this too much, but the current ECF central grading system was introduced for the 2002/3 season, and is written in Microsoft Visual Basic v6 and uses a Microsoft Access database.
...
at the same time migrating the database to MySQL
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Angus French
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Angus French » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:40 pm

Brian Towers wrote:
Angus French wrote:
Howard Grist wrote:I'm confused by all the talk of an API because it suggests to me something more elaborate than I think is needed.
I agree that the Wikipedia link given earlier gives that impression. In real life it is much simpler.
An API merely tells you what you have to do to use somebody else's software. In this case, as several people have already suggested, this would specify the format of fields in an XML file which would be HTTP POSTED to the server. That again sounds more complicated than it is.
An XML file is just a file of data which uses XML tags to pass the data. So, something like this:
<ECFGradingUpdates>
<CompetitionCode>xyz</CompetitionCode>
<Games>
<Game>
<Player1ECFCode>abcde1</Player1ECFCode>
<Player2ECFCode>abcde2</Player2ECFCode>
<Player1Result>0.5</Player1Result>
<Player2Result>0.5</Player2Result>
</Game>
<Game>
<Player1ECFCode>abcde3</Player1ECFCode>
<Player2ECFCode>abcde4</Player2ECFCode>
<Player1Result>0</Player1Result>
<Player2Result>1</Player2Result>
</Game>
</Games>
<ECFGradingUpdates>

Would pass the results of two games from one competition.
An HTTP POST takes about half a dozen lines of code.
... which looks not dissimilar to how a grading submission file currently looks: the same data content; the same essential structure; just different formatting/syntax. My point was that I don't really think it's necessary (at this stage at least) to change the format of the submission and certainly not necessary (if this is what was envisaged) to allow different types of submission (a subset of an event's results say, rather than a full set of results).

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sun Feb 14, 2016 4:53 pm

Brian Towers wrote:
Carl Hibbard wrote:Again no Brian you are confusing grading database with grading site.
Now I'm definitely confused about who is confused ;-)
Howard Grist wrote:I'm not going to get drawn into this too much, but the current ECF central grading system was introduced for the 2002/3 season, and is written in Microsoft Visual Basic v6 and uses a Microsoft Access database.
...
at the same time migrating the database to MySQL
Migrating.

The online database uses an exported copy of Access modified into MySQL.
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

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