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Tue 18 May 2004
The Fat and Thin Luca
Category : Technology/fatThinInstaller.txt
The nice thing about doing Postfix Enabler is that the code forms the basis of a general purpose installer.
With Luca, I've re-used the Postfix Enabler framework to help me create an installer that can populate either an existing MySQL installation or a brand-new MySQL installation with the basis of an accounting database, e.g., a user-selectable Chart of Accounts, depending on what business a user happens to be in, as well as enough data to show how the system can be used.
It would have been difficult to do this - as well as several ideas that we're about to explore - using the existing standard mechanisms available for software installation on Mac OS X.
The problem I had with Luca was that I went for the option that uses a separate external database, rather than embedding one inside (e.g., using SQLite), because I wanted to be able to offer the users power (e.g., Oracle and MySQL) and choice. But that made the system more complex because we've got two parts which could come apart quite easily.
And we've forced people who might otherwise like to use an accounting system (especially if I can find a way to make it clear that you're actually doing wealth-management rather than accounting) care about something that should properly be kept transparent to them, i.e., the use of a database system.
So we've thought long and very hard about this installer - because it could help us make the use of the database largely transparent, again, to people who don't want to care about it.
We've made some refinements to it. We've now made two versions of the installer - fat and thin - so that people who already have a MySQL installation can download and try out Luca that much faster, while people who don't know what MySQL is could still get to use the accounting system rather painlessly, though it will take a longer time to download.
Don't know if it works well, but we'll learn something whichever way it goes.