Web outage over

The server upgrade started 9:38am and was complete at 9:48am.

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Planned web outage 8/22

Our web hosting provider will be doing a database server upgrade this Tuesday (August 22 , 2023) starting about 9am EDT. BJSoftware services such as checking in and purchasing will be down for a brief period. I will post once I hear the services are back on line.

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The evolution of Sewers

Can you believe that Sewers is in its 41st year? I wrote the first version in 1982 to run on a Radio Shack Model 3. Over time I moved it to PCs, then the Mac. In 2000 I decided I wanted to get away from answering phones and doing so many systems myself. So I figured out a licensing system and the web server software to support opening it up for others to use and moved it to Windows. It has evolved considerably since then, but the current version is substantially that Windows version. Over the past couple of years I’ve modernized some of the internals and moved to more modern database and server technology little by little. Over the past few months I’ve made a more concerted effort to modernize the underlying technology and web support technology and expand Sewers usability.

I had hoped to start rolling out updates earlier this summer, but an opportunity arose for an epic cycling adventure with friends, so I took it.

Now that I’m back, I’ll be releasing the first of a series of updates in the next few weeks. You probably won’t notice too many changes at first. A lot has changed under the hood, but I tried to maintain the user interface to avoid too much confusion. Subsequent releases will introduce more obvious changes.

Why make changes? A few reasons. First, computing is always a moving target. Standards change, operating systems introduce new requirements, security gets more involved, hardware becomes more capable, new technologies arise, and new things become possible.

With the second release we’ll introduce web syncing of your data. At present all of your data is on your machine and only your machine. With web syncing your data will be backed up to our server and you’ll be able to run Sewers from multiple different computers and they’ll all use the same data you’ve stored. Whenever you run Sewers it will automatically sync the data between the web and your machine(s). You’ll have the option to use (or not) web syncing. If you are interested in being an early adopter, drop me a line. I’m looking for a couple of beta testers before I release the feature to everyone.

Web syncing is just the first domino. With your data mirrored on the web (securely and privately stored) we can roll out new, web-based features over time. I’ve already been working on moving the persona editor to the web as it needed to be rewritten anyhow. Next will be online data entry from a browser. This means you’ll be able to start a design from your phone or tablet while on the road and finish it at your desk. It will work like the first few pages of the current design wizard does now. Eventually the whole design wizard will be ported to the web. I’m also working on a completely new plot plan editor that will be browser based and, hopefully, much easier to use and less buggy.

No promises on timing on any of this. I still need to do a massive amount of work to pull it all off and not all the technology is fully there yet, but I have confidence it will be.

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Errant software not registered messages

I am working on upgrading my servers and it appears that something in the changes has caused Sewers to sometimes give a message that your software is not registered. I am working to fix this, but it might take a application update and I still need to do a lot of testing before posting the next update because I have made a lot of internal changes. I think the issue is just a nuisance, but if Sewers prevents you from using designing systems, please let me know as soon as possible.

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Major overhaul of the Plot Plan Editor with Sewers 2022.11.10

The Plot Plan Editor. Love it or hate it. I’ve always hated it. The CAD engine in it isn’t mine and hasn’t been maintained in decades. It is quirky and generates nearly untraceable bugs. So a couple of weeks ago I started a major overhaul of its code, the old 3rd party code and my own. My main goal was to squash bugs, but in the end it ended up with many improvements. I won’t bore you with the internals other than to say that I did a lot of work and I think I fixed the issues in the 3rd party code. I tried not to change the interface so much that you’d be lost. Most operations should work pretty much the same as before. Some changes you can see and many more are behind the scenes. So here’s what you’ll see:

  • Auto Saving – plot plans are saved automatically as they are drawn. No need to do anything. As soon as you start drawing, Sewers starts saving. All plot plans are saved to a folder within your Sewers data folder using the serial number of the design. Something like:
    If you haven’t saved the design yet (that’s when Sewers assigns the serial number) it will be saved to a temporary file using a globally unique code, something like:
  • History – plot plans contain their complete revision history which means you can backtrack on any changes, anytime.
  • Undo/Redo – to facilitate using the plot plan’s history there are now full undo and redo features that can even be used after you’ve left and come back to the plot plan.
  • Better printing and PDF generation – cleaned up some issues with both printing and making PDFs.
  • Moved the File and Options menus – to make room in the interface for the Undo/Redo, the File and Options menu were moved to above the toolbar.
  • Killed off the user library – was still having issues getting the user library to work correctly so in order to get this update out, I killed it off for now. If that inconveniences anyone, please let me know and I’ll put some more work into.
  • Compatibility with previous plot plans – you should still be able to edit/print/etc old plot plans. They will be converted to the new format automatically.

So go ahead and kick the tires. I’d appreciate any feedback; good, bad, or ugly.

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New option for fewer laterals on some sloped-top at-grades

With the latest release of Sewers (2021.06.21) we have added a preference that may allow you to use fewer laterals for some widths of sloped-top at-grades.

In previous versions of Sewers the distance between the most downslope lateral and the edge of the downslope aggregate was set at 6 feet. 6 feet is the minimum distance allowed by the DEP Alternate Guidance document “At-Grade Absorption Area” at paragraph II.C.5.a.iii. The document does not specify a maximum, so it appears some unspecified designer discretion is allowed. We have added a preference that allows you, the designer, to set that maximum at 6, 7, or 8 feet. The preference is set to 6 feet by default, so if you do not want to use this new feature you do not have to do anything.

If you change the setting to 7 ft, a 14 ft wide system will now be designed with 2 laterals instead of 3; a 20 ft wide system will have 3 laterals instead of 4.

If you change the setting to 8 ft, a 14 or 15 ft wide system will now be designed with 2 laterals instead of 3; a 20 or 21 ft wide system will have 3 laterals instead of 4.

If you leave the preference alone (6 ft), sloped-top at-grades will be designed as they always have been.

The new preference is on the “Overrides” tab of the Preferences Editor.

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Printing fix & PDF archiving

With the latest version of Sewers (2011.03.10) the out-of-scale printing issue appears to be resolved. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

A few versions ago I added a feature that automatically saves a copy of any design you print – as a PDF into an archive folder. So now whenever you print a design, whether to a printer or to PDF, a PDF of it is saved to the “Sewers_Data\DesignArchive” folder. (The “Sewers_Data” folder is in your “Documents” folder.) Each time you print a given design, a new copy will be saved with a version number appended to the serial number of the design. So the third time you print design 21011601, it will be saved as “21011601(3).pdf”.

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Printing issues

I’ve gotten a couple of reports of designs printing too small, mostly looking like the font is too small. I’ve been working on this for a while now and I think I may have a solution on the way. In the meantime, if you are experiencing this issue there are two workarounds:

  • Save the design as a PDF and print the PDF


  • Under Display Settings (right click on the desktop to chose from the popup menu), change the Scale and layout to 100%.

I hope to a have a fix out for this soon.

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Another major update

The most recent major update (2020.10.30) upgraded display technology and expanded design capabilities. This one (2021.01.24) modernizes the underlying database and help systems.

The database system has been upgraded from a twenty-something year old, obsoleted technology to current technology. You should notice a significant speed up in the saving of designs (at least I did), but most importantly it keeps the software up to date with changing tech. With this update Sewers will download a new resources database (the one Sewers uses to store all the bits and pieces used to assemble a design from) and it will create a new user database to store your designs. On first run the software will port all of your old designs over to the new system and archive the old database. If you have a lot of designs it may take a few minutes.

The old help system was cumbersome to update and the technology behind it was pretty ancient, so we have moved it to web-based deployment. The new help window slides out when you click the [<] button on the right side of the screen. All of the content is delivered live from http://help.bjsoftware.com. The content of the help system has been updated. And since updates are a lot easier now, please let me know what additions to the help you might like to see.

I have been running this upgrade myself for about two months now to make sure it is solid, and it appears to be. But, as always, if you have any issues please let me know.

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Major new update

Version 2020.10.30 is a new release with some major, mostly underlying, changes.

  • The old rendering engine was replaced with a new one that should produce better looking reports, especially PDFs.
  • Pumps, tanks, filters, etc. should now persist when you navigate in the design wizard and they are saved in the database now as well. Plumbing fittings are not saved, yet. But hopefully they will in a coming version.
  • A broader range of effluent filters has been added and the defaults editor has been modified to allow multiple selections as defaults.
  • The database of text snippets that Sewers uses to generate designs has been thoroughly review for spelling and many typos have been fixed.

When you upgrade there are two files that should be installed by the upgrade utility. If one of them fails to install, run the setup program again. There should be a copy of it in the Sewers program folder or you can download it from the website.

If you have any issues with this update please contact me!


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