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[OBSOLETE] QuickEE - A Tool for Experts

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Introduction

OutofDate.pngQuickEE (QEE) is a Windows application written by and for Experts to assist in answering questions on Experts Exchange (EE).
QuickEE

Background

Prior to February 2007, many Experts used QuickPost (QP), by ameba. With the release of the new UI after that time, QP stopped working and ameba decided not continue support. This left a huge hole and a group of Experts got together with the aim of creating a replacement which would work with the new EE.

I had previously written an application when I was first learning VB. It was basically a copy of QP and was only an exercise to see what I could do. So with this experience, I threw my offering in and over the next few months, got more and more requests from Experts for new features until it got to the point where it was a fully featured application.
 

The Latest Incarnation

The latest version (v2.*) was released in early May, 2010 and, while it is functionally the same, it has a new UI which I hope is easier to navigate.

It also uses a different method for displaying questions which allows much more functionality and a much cleaner view. More information on the Question Viewer is below.
 

Installation

QuickEE makes use of Microsoft’s ClickOnce technology, which allows for easy deployment of updates. Unfortunately, because it’s MS, it’s made a little harder than it should be. The below link will only work when clicked from Internet Explorer. It will not work with any other browser, unless an appropriate add-in is installed.
 
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!! Download QuickEE here !!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Because Experts Exchange is always changing, the HTML of the pages also changes and that can cause QuickEE's parsing routines to fail. The major advantage of using ClickOnce is I can regularly publish updates which fix regular problems caused by EE changes and the users do not need to do anything. QuickEE will check the server each time it starts up and if a new version is available, will alert the user who can then choose to update or not.
 

Using QuickEE

Before starting QuickEE, it is advised that you switch over to the "Expert Skin" on EE as QEE requires it for several pages. Note that if you cannot switch over to the Expert skin, it probably means that you do not have Premium Services, which are also required to utilise QuickEE.

When you first start QuickEE you will be shown a Start-up wizard, which will guide you through some important setup requirements.

Startup Wizard
Step 1 - Setting up your Proxy Settings
Step 1
If you are going to be using QuickEE in a work environment, you may be operating behind a proxy. By default, QuickEE should use the same settings as those in Internet Options; however that has not always been the case. It is recommended you fill in these fields in this first step…

Use Proxy – Only check this if you intend to fill in the below fields.
Server Address – The address of your proxy server, either a qualified address or an IP address
Port – The default port of "8080" should be OK in most cases, but can also be "80" or indeed any other port number. Check with your IT department to verify the correct port to use.
UserName – The UserName you used to login to your windows account.
Password – The password you used when logging in to your windows account.
User Domain – The domain your windows account logs in to.
Step 2 - Logging In
Step 2
In this step you enter your Experts Exchange username and password. Please note that QuickEE does not store your login information as plain text. Instead it saves the cookie returned from EE which it will use for future sessions in the same way as your browser does when you check the "Remember Me" box.
Step 3 - Prepopulating your lists
Step 3
In this step, you can prefill your lists with those saved on Experts Exchange. Only your favourites can be edited from QuickEE, although if you make any changes to your Filters or Saved Searches, you can reload the list in Options.
Step 4 - Importing QuickEE v1.* templates
Step 4
QuickEE allows you to insert "canned" text into your comments. This step allows you to import any templates you may have used if you used the older versions of QuickEE (v1.*)
 

Using QuickEE

The List Selector
List SelectorThe List Selector groups your lists by category. Double-click a category to view its child lists.
Double-click a list to view its questions in the Question List.
To open a list in a new tab, right-click the list and select "Open in New Tab".

The Question List
Question ListThe Question List displays the latest 100 questions, with some important information, from the specified list. Clicking a question in the list will load it in the Question Viewer (see below).

If a list contains more than 100 questions, page selectors will display at the bottom of the list.

If the loaded list is either your "Participated" or "Monitored", checkboxes will be shown to the left of each question. These are there so you can remove them permanently to keep each of these lists maintainable. When one of these lists is shown, 2 new menu items will be added to the "Tools" menu – one for checking questions, another to remove the checked questions.

You can also remove selected questions from the question list by using the Tools > Clear Selected Questions item. Multiple questions can be selected by right-clicking the first question, then holding down the SHIFT or CTRL key and left-clicking further questions. Note that if you refresh this list, the questions you removed will re-appear.

You can also enable the automatic checking of new comments posted to individual question from the Question List. Simply right-click the appropriate question and select "Check for New Comments". You'll then see in the "info" column the status of the checking. QuickEE will then check the question every 5 seconds and if there are new comments, the back color of the question will change and a sound will be heard. To stop checking for new comments, right-click the question again and select "Stop Checking for New Comments". Note, you can only "monitor" 5 questions at a time with this method. Attempting to add more questions will remove older ones from the list (text on the Statusbar will inform you of which question was removed).

The following icons will also display which shows the status of the question…
 
Expert – The last comment was made by an Expert
Asker – The last comment was made by the asker
Admin – The last comment was made by a Badger (Admin, Mod, ZAPE, etc.)
Neglected – The question is designated "Neglected", which attracts bonus points for the experts who answer them.
These icons are the same as those found in the Experts Zone.

To view a question, click it.

The Question Viewer
Question ViewerThe Question Viewer displays the selected question with most functions that are available on Experts Exchange, with several others that will be useful for many experts.

The following are the features available on Experts Exchange….
 
Request Attention – When you need to contact the moderators for whatever reason, click this link and fill in the reason in the dialog which will appear. Once you submit the Request for Attention, a new request will be posted in the Community Support zone, which is monitored by the Moderator team.
Monitor/Stop Monitoring – When you post a comment to a question, you are automatically monitoring a question, meaning you will receive notification of new comments. You can also manually monitor a question by clicking the "Monitor" link. If you are already monitoring a question, the link will read "Stop Monitoring", which will then do exactly what it says.
Other features not available on Experts Exchange are…

Open in Browser – Will open the question in your default browser.
Refresh – Will refresh the question in QuickEE
Copy to Clipboard – You can easily copy directly to your clipboard the question or comment links. To copy the questions URL, click the ID located at the top of the window. Links directly to comments can be copied by clicking the ID’s in the appropriate comment. Other items you can copy to the clipboard are member names (click the hash beside the appropriate member name) or code snippets (click the "Copy Code" link below the appropriate code snippet).
Collapse Comments – You can collapse comments to display only the comment header by clicking the "-" button to the left of the appropriate comment header. Comments can then be expanded by clicking the "+" button.
There are also checkboxes in each comment header, but at this time they do not have any function.

The Comment Area
Comment AreaThe comment area located below all question comments is where you enter your reply to post a new comment. It allows you to apply basic formatting (bold, italic, underline and links), but it is not a Rich Text Editor. Any formatting you apply will be shown as raw HTML. Because raw HTML is posted to EE, if you need to post HTML code, it is recommended you use the Code Snippet feature, or escape the HTML by selecting it then clicking the "HTML" button.

The Comment area provides a built-in spell checker. Click the Spell Check button to initiate.

To add a code snippet to your comment, click the "Code" link below the Comment area. Note that there are also links for attaching files and images, but at this stage these functions are not available.

To make the Comment Area larger, click the "Expand" link, located at the bottom-right of the text area.

Once you are happy with your comment, you can click the "Preview" button to see how it looks with the rich text applied, or you can submit you comment immediately by clicking the "Submit" button.

The Question Viewer will also show you if there is a Close Request current on the question. This will be displayed directly below the question body. When a Close Request is current, an "Object" button will be available alongside the "Submit" button. Use this "Object" button when you have a valid objection to the intended closure.

 

Checking for new Questions

One of the main features of QuickEE, and the reason many experts use it, is it can notify you of new questions asked on Experts Exchange. There are two options available when checking for new questions – Favourites or All Zones. Favourites will notify you of any question asked in any of your favourite zones. All Zones will notify you off all questions asked, with the exception of those question posted in the Community Support zones.
New Question CheckingTo begin checking for new questions, double-click the "New Questions" category in the List Selector, then double-click the desired item (Favourites or All Zones). QuickEE will then return the last 100 questions which match the selected type. The icon of the selected type will change to a green clock icon and status messages will be shown in the status bar. From here on, QuickEE will check for new questions periodically (as set in Options) and give you notification when a question matches the specified criteria.

To end the checking process, simply double click the active node (with the green clock icon) in the list selector. Alternatively, you can double-click the status message in the status bar.
 

The Member Tab

Member TabThe Member Tab displays your profile, along with your Member and Zone Ranks. You can use this tab to check up on your point totals and see how you compare with other experts.
 

Options

Options TabThe following options are available in QuickEE…

Display

MinimizeToNotifArea – When set to True, will minimize QuickEE to the notification area in Vista or Win 7, also known as the System Tray in XP, when you minimize QuickEE. To show QuickEE again, double click the QEE icon in the notification area.
QuestionPaneOrientation – QuickEE allows several view orientations for the question list and viewer. When set to "Right", the question viewer will display to the right of the question list. When set to "Bottom", the question viewer will be below the question list, and when set to "Off", the question viewer will not display at all. You can also change this setting from the View > Reading Pane main menu item.
Lists

Favourites – Click the "…" button besides this setting to display a dialog which allows you to edit your favourite zones.
Favourites EditorFilters – Click the "…" button besides this setting to display a dialog which lists your filters. To sync you filters with those set on EE, click the "Update List" button.
Filters and Saved Searches EditorSaved Searches – As with Filters.
Misc

NewQuestionInterval – Specifies the interval (in seconds) which the New Question checking routine checks EE for new Questions. Minimum value is 10 seconds.
Timeout - The number of seconds to wait before the web request times out. The default value is 10 seconds.
PlaySound – Specifies whether to play a sound when new questions arrive via the New Question checking routine.
SoundPath - If set to a valid path, will play specified sound file when new questions arrive. Valid only when the 'PlaySound' property is set to True. If an invalid or empty path is entered and the PlaySound property is True, QuickEE will play the Windows Exclamation sound, as set in System Sounds.
DateFormat - The format of the dates returned by Experts Exchange. The default format is "MM/dd/yy hh:mm tt".
ShowNotifications - Specifies whether to show notifications in the Taskbar when new questions are retrieved if the application is minimized and the MinimizeToNotifArea property is set to True.
ShowCommentsList - Specifies whether to show the list of Authors of each comment in the question.
Dictionary - Specifies which dictionary to use with the Spell Checker (English languages only)
UserDefinedTemplates - Your User Defined Templates. Click the '...' button to edit. See below for more information on your templates.
Proxy

Your proxy settings, as set in the Startup wizard.
Templates

Templates (set in UserDefinedTemplates) allow you to quickly and easily insert pre-written text into your comments (right-click in the comment area of the Question Viewer > Insert Template). To make it easier for you to maintain your templates, QuickEE allows you to create "Categories".

To add/edit/remove your templates, click the "…" button besides the "UserDefinedTemplates" setting in Options.
Template Editor

Getting Help and Reporting Bugs

While the major features are described above, it is understood that you may need additional help in using QuickEE. When you do, the preferred place to go is the current "QuickEE" thread in the Expert Input zone. The current one is here. Please also post any bugs you come across so I can fix them.

Alternatively, you can email me at the address in my profile.
27
Comment
17 Comments
 
LVL 50

Expert Comment

by:DanRollins
Well done!  And in case anyone forgets to thank you for the article and your work on QuickEE... Well,
Thanks from everybody!
0
 
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:younghv
Great Article!
This does a great job of not only explaining the basics of 'how to' use it, but the background on development was really interesting.
Thank you for that Article and especial thanks for all the work you've put into QuickEE.
0
 
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:lherrou
Got my YES vote!
0
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LVL 58

Expert Comment

by:tigermatt
vote++

Might be time for me to give QuickEE another go!
0
 
LVL 50

Expert Comment

by:Dave
bravo Wayne :)
0
 
LVL 5

Expert Comment

by:EscuroAnjo
A big thanks from me .. it's so useful for me :)
0
 
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:digitap
thanks for a fun new way of staying connected with EE!  your hard work is much appreciated.
0
 
LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:Dmitriy Ilyin
Exelent! Thanks!
0
 
LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:coreybryant
I installed the program but I was not able to enter any information into the fields.  When I said cancel, I received an error: AN unHandled Exception occurrent in QuickEE (v2.0.0.39)

I am using Windows 7 Ultimate.  I disabled nod32 just in case it was a firewall issue but that did not seem to work
0
 
LVL 48

Author Comment

by:Wayne Taylor (webtubbs)
coreybryant,

What fields are you referring to?

Wayne
0
 
LVL 8

Expert Comment

by:lomo74
very cool. thank you!
0
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Ioannis Paraskevopoulos
Hi,

Is this still available?

Giannis
0
 
LVL 48

Author Comment

by:Wayne Taylor (webtubbs)
No, sorry.
0
 
LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:nmiguel
Hi,

The download link it's working ?
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:_
Not any more.
QEE no longer works with since the site upgrades, and had been discontinued.

Several people have expressed an interest in taking over the project, but until they stop "tweaking" the site, there is not much sense in doing it. The "tweaks" just break QEE again.
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:_
bugger... no edit button in here.   : /
0
 
LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:Bernard S.
I presume this article should now have its title revised to tell at once that the program is outdated?
0

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