Colin Hume's Downloads
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In my spare time when not writing and calling dances I'm a computer programmer. The two sides have come together in a computer program I have written for organising my dances, and I am making it available to other callers. It is written in Delphi (a far superior language to Access, C++ and Visual BASIC in my opinion) and it runs on Windows 95 upwards.
You can read the article I wrote about Programme Planning
for CDSS News.
The main screen shows one of three tabs: Dances, Events and Rules.Dances
contains all the dances in your repertoire: Title, Format, Style, Level of difficulty, Author, Collection, Music (information for the band, or information about what track of what recording you use), and so on. The main area contains the actual dance instructions. I realise it will take you some time to set all this up, but I've given you a head start by providing you with the details of my
repertoire of over 2,000 dances. This consists of English Country Dances (both Playford-style and traditional-style), American Squares and Contras, 175 Scottish Dances and a few others. I've removed the instructions from most of them, since these are copyright, but I've left in the instructions for all my own dances, Traditional dances, dances published before 1940 (except interpretations which may still be in copyright, such as those by Pat Shaw, Tom Cook, Christine Helwig, Charles Bolton and Bernard Bentley), and dances by Bob Archer, Alan Davies and Cary Ravitz. Of course you can add, delete and modify dances as you wish, and you have the option to delete my entire repertoire and start from scratch, or to be more selective — you might want to delete all dances with a Style of American, or all dances with a Rhythm of Rant — or even all dances with an Author of Colin Hume! If I have some of your dances in the database and you are willing to let me give out the instructions, please let me know — and similarly you could ask other dance writers for their permission. Equally, if I have given instructions to dances which you think are still in copyright please let me know.Events
contains all your events (past and future): Organisation, Event type, Date, Time, Band, Venue, Town, Fee and Contact information. The main area of this screen contains the programme for the event. It is very easy to add dances to the list just by typing the first few letters, remove them from the list and reorder them within the list. Again I have given you an idea of how to use the program by giving you all the events I've called for the past two years — with an option to delete all of these once you're ready to start using the program for your own purposes.Rules
(which you needn't use if you don't want to) allows you to specify a set of rules for each event type and then check your event against the rule. For instance, for a Dance you might want to insist that the first half contains two American Squares and two longways Playford-style dances, and that the evening as a whole contains one Hornpipe, two waltzes and nothing above level 6. For a Workshop you might want to insist that every dance is at least level 4. It's so easy to leave out something that you meant to put in, and this way you can quickly check your programme — and amend it or not, as you see fit.
As you add dances to the event you are planning, you will be shown the overall level, and for each dance you will see when you last called it, when you last called it for this Organisation, and how many times you have called it in the last 18 months. Maybe it doesn't bother you, but I don't want to end up calling several dances which I used the last time I called for this Organisation, and I don't want to call the same dance too often in a short period of time. There are even options which allows you to select only dances which you have not called for the past 18 months, or not for this Organisation, just to stop you getting into a rut. You can also see a drop-down list of all the events where you have called this dance before, and jump from that to view the event itself. And you can jump to the Dances
page to view all the information for the current dance.
You can put session headings (“Beginners' Workshop 9.30-11am” and so on), Intervals (Breaks) and Extras in the programme, and you can also add Notes — for instance, to remind yourself that there is a display spot at 9.30, or to give extra information to the band. You can produce a page in HTML (web page format) which you can print out for yourself, put on your web site or email to the band — giving the dances, the band information, and any notes. You can also produce a text file giving the instructions for all the dances which make up the event — some bands like this for contras so that they can choose exactly the right tunes for the dances, and some Organisations like this because they can practice some of the trickier dances before the event and be confident that you're not going to call a different interpretation. And you can produce a web page giving all your forthcoming bookings — See my Bookings page
for an example!
After the event you go back to the program, update it to reflect what you actually called, add any Notes (such as “Don't call there again”) and save the final version, at which point the counts for the dances are updated.
The data is held in a Microsoft Access database. Please note that you do not
need a copy of Access on your machine. You do
need the library routines, but they come with Windows XP and later.
You can specify one or more options for Recorded Music (including the ability to play the specified MP3, Wav, CD or whatever files).
There is a facility to print onto cards. In the USA, Avery produce Index Cards — letter-size micro-perforated sheets containing three 3" x 5" cards (Product Code 5388 or 8388), available from Office Depot and presumably other places. I don't think these are available in England, and I don't imagine they are available in A4 size, so I buy them in the States and feed them through my printer manually. This feature will print the title in a large font at the top of the first card, with a card number and indicator if the dance flows onto another card; the second and subsequent cards have the title in a smaller font and a card number — so you don't start calling a dance and then realise that you don't have all the necessary cards! Clicking a button will display all the dance instructions which have been updated but not yet printed, so that you can make sure you're printing multiples of three cards and not wasting card.
There is a facility for importing your existing Dance and Event data. I imagine any reasonable spread-sheet or database can export a table in comma-delimited format (CSV) so I've gone for that. I can import dances into the Dances table and Events into the Events table, but I don't think I'll be able to link the two together automatically — you'll have to run the Dance Organiser and give the titles of the dances called at each event.
The first button downloads DanceOrgFull.msi which is a Microsoft Installer package to install the program and the data. Open it, or save it to disk and then run it — once the program has been installed you can delete the downloaded file.
You need to be in Administrator mode to install the program. You can run the program in User mode — the first time in it will see that the program directory is read-only and will offer to copy the data to a folder within “My Documents”.
The principle of shareware is that you can try a program out for a period and decide whether it really is what you want. If so, I'm selling it for £50 GB ($80 US) and am always open to suggestions for improvements from registered users.
If you have already installed the Dance Organiser, do not
click the first button — you don't want to overwrite your existing data! To pick up the latest version of the program, click the second button which installs just the program and the Help file.
is a freeware editor and validator for web pages, complete with FTP mode which allows you to compare files on your local drive with those on the server and upload the newer ones. It also reformats HTML, CSS and ABC files, and does various kinds of validation. Since I'm giving it away free I see no reason to praise it to the skies — if you want it, take it! But I'd be pleased to hear any feedback and will do my best to answer questions and fix bugs.
I have also run an evening class (currently six two-hour sessions) entitled Build your own Website
and you're welcome to download the notes, though it's not the same as having me there to answer (and ask) questions. If you find that the session notes say “Notes will be available on the website after I have run the session”, I'm afraid you'll have to wait.