Sunday, 13 July 2008

Great work, Batman

My project manager has been standing over me a lot these past few days, casually eyeing my monitor. Yes, he's my friend and he comes over to talk football (he's a Man U fan - but since when have you expected good sense from a project manager), but why do I get the feeling that he's surreptitiously keeping an eye on my progress?

It probably doesn't help that the application I'm writing is being shared by two different projects and so I have project managers fighting over my time like drunk guys fighting over a girl in a pub (you can tell I live in the rough part of town, can't you?).

My latest challenge (hey, get the image of the slutty chick in the pub out of your mind and keep up, willya?!) is writing in functionality to produce mail merge letters from the app. Sounds easy, doesn't it? You'd have thought that every one would want that, that all I'd have to do would be to hit the forums and copy someone else's work, right? Wrong. Well, kinda wrong. Scott Spendolini has written a utility that does mail merges that works excellently - until you try to merge a document that's larger than 32k in size! Great, what is this - mail merges for bloody elves?

So I've had to spend days amending the code to get it work with larger documents (the problem was that SUBSTR and REPLACE and htp.p work with VARCHAR2s and so can't go beyond 32767 characters). And so I've been fiddling with CLOBs and DBMS_LOB, breaking my documents down into bitesize chunks. And I've always bloody hated CLOBs so the last thing I want is a bloody Man U fan standing over me as I work! Grrr!

Anyways, I finally got it working (see how I take all the credit, instead of admitting that it was really Mr Spendolini that did most of the work?) and so now my users will be able to merge mail to their little hearts desires. Great work, Batman!

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