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Windward / C.U. Code Wars - A Good Time was had by All

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  • The challange defined - 8 A.I.s will compete in each game. One will win.
  • How to configure your computer for the game.
  • Sponsoring the Code War was a total blast. I think everyone there had a really good time. Everyone definitely put everything they had into it with 8 super-intense hours of design and coding. And everyone created a good A.I. We will definitely do this again next year.

    Which leads to the question, is a gaming A.I. a good problem for a code war? Even for a simple game this is a task that normally will take 1 – 3 programmers weeks to months. On the flip side, it is possible to create an A.I. that is competent in a day. Poor compared to a 2 month effort, but still superior to random moves.

    But let's step back and look at the purpose of the games. Google's Code Jam is designed to find them the best programmers for writing the fastest server code. And that serves them well for finding people that can further optimize their code that servers billions of requests a day. Microsoft's Imagine Cup is designed to get people to create useful applications using Microsoft products. And that serves them well exposing more people to the Microsoft suite of development tools. HP's Code Wars is for High School students and is designed to provide a fun event for the students.

    For Windward we have two sets of goals with the code wars. My personal goal is to create a fun event for the students who love programming. I also want to give incoming students an event where they can get to know the others in the C.S. department (when I started as a freshman at C.U. I knew no one and it was a bit lonely at first). And I like creating a competition where people are celebrated for their brain power rather than their athletic skills.

    Now to sell it to my company (this costs about 1K to put on and takes about a week of my time), we have the company goals. Those goals are to contribute to the community, be the #1 choice for internships, and for participants to remember Windward and consider us when they need reporting, docgen, or B.I. software.

    So based on what I want to accomplish from this, I want the contest to be intellectually challenging, push the participants to their limits (and a bit beyond), and give them a sense of well-deserved accomplishment at the end. But I don't care what the code in particular does. Nor do I care about the operating system or language. Because we're not trying to measure any particular skill nor promote any particular environment or products.

    I do think a game is also fun because instead of the result being a score for each team with the high score winning, instead you watch robots move on the board and shoot each other as you are following your robot cheering for it when it makes a good move. The play-off is a lot more interesting.

    So please comment below with your opinion as to what type of problem(s) we should present and any other suggestions for next time.

    Future Code War Environment

    The next time we are going to set it up where we talk to each entry over TCP/IP where we pass a problem across in an XML file and get the solution back in an XML file. This will make it easy to write a solution in any language on any operating system. Half the contestants were using IronPython and VisualStudio was missing basics like code complete for python (yuck!). (With that said, the best two entries were written in Python so it wasn't too bad of an environment.) But if it's a simple XML file sent across the wire, then each team can use any environment they wish and will have the tools they know the best.

    Next Code War Contest

    There absolutely will be another contest at C.U. at the start of next Fall's semester. So for those of you at C.U. who participated, tell your friends.

    But I also have a request from my youngest daughter who goes to Harvey Mudd to sponsor a Code War there at the start of this Spring semester. So I am going to contact Mudd, CalTech, and MIT and see if they are interested in having a group competition this upcoming January.

    Thank You

    And finally a thank you to Professor Ken Anderson who made this happen at the C.U. end and spent his Saturday at the event. And thank you to all the students who participated – you all made it well worth the time I put in on this in how much you enjoyed it.

    Tags Start & End

    Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

    Appendix B

    .NET code for multi-page image output

    Appendix A

    Java code for multi-page image output

    Data Bin Search

    The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

    Shrink to Fit

    This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

    Time Zone Conversion

    A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

    Image Output Format

    New image output formats added.

    PostScript Output Format

    PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

    New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

    Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

    Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

    This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

    Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

    Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

    Reorganized Ribbon

    The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

    XPath 2.0 as Data Source

    Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

    SQL Select Debugger

    SQL Select  Debugger

    • The look and feel was improved
    • Stored Procedure Wizard
    • Improved Exceptions pane

    Tag Editor/Tag Selector

    Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

    • Color Coding of Keywords
    • TypeAhead
    • Evaluate is now "Preview"

    Rename a Datasource

    All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

    Connecting to a Data Source

    New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

    Tag Tree

    Provides a display of all the tags in the template, structures as they are placed in the template. Provides an easy way to see the structure, go to any tag, and see the properties of a tag.

    Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

    Support for Google Application Engine Integration

    The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

    Additional Refinement for HTML Output

    • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
    • Better handling of template header and footer images
    • Better handling for background images and colors

    Redesigned PDF Output Support

    This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

    PowerPoint Support

    Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

    Tags are Color Coded

    Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

    Increased Performance

    Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

    Advanced Image Properties

    Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

    Improved HTML Output

    Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

    Version 13 New Data Sources

    Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

    Generate Code

    Designer (fka AutoTag) Generate Code tool allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables in your .NET or Java project. The process is quick, shortens delivery time and helps alleviate any bumps in the road.

    Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

    Any pivot tables in the template are carried over to XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will be pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

    Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

    In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, ot the properties in the parent.

    Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

    Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

    Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

    Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

    HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

    When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

    Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

    You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

    Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

    Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

    Specify Font Substitution

    If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
    In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

    Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

    When Windward is merging the data into a template, it process the template handling each tag in order, and the tags can pull from different datasources. This allows the select in a tag to use data from other datasources in the select.

    David Thielen

    President/CEO at Windward Studios

    From his early years as a Senior Developer at Microsoft, to legendary designer of the popular Enemy Nations strategy game, to reporting and document generation guru, Dave has never lost his passion for building superb software and teams.

    david@windward.nethttps://www.linkedin.com/in/davethielen/

    For over 10 years, Windward has lead the industry with our world-class document generation platform that creates visually stunning, data-powered documents designed exactly the way users want and are created in a fraction of the time and cost compared to existing solutions. Proudly located in Boulder, Colorado, Windward Studios is the premier solution for developers and business users adding reporting and document generation capabilities to their applications in over 70 countries around the world.

    © 2019 Windward Studios Inc.

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