Jonar delivers revolutionary new ERP with stellar UX

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Canadian ERP vendor moves from FoxPro to Servoy to build revolutionary new solution 

Jonar has been making enterprise resource planning software (ERPs) for the Canadian garment and textile industry since 1986. Following a recent change of management, the company reviewed its customers’ needs and long-term road map. Jonar wanted to design ERP software that provides a stellar user experience (UX) and removes user frustration.

Challenge

For Jonar, the only way to make ERPs better was to create a brand-new product that was nonthreatening, uncluttered and easy to use. The company conducted in-depth research into skeuomorphism, saliency and context-based design to conceive a flawlessly functional solution with a clean interface and minimal training requirements.

Having honed its vision for a revolutionary new ERP, Jonar needed an integrated development environment (IDE) to enable that vision. Jonar was sensitive to vendor lock-in and diverging interests. FoxPro, Jonar’s previous programming tool, had been deprecated by Microsoft.

Requirements for a new rapid application development platform included:

  • The capacity to accelerate development and implement Jonar’s vision
  • A solid framework (with components such as an audit trail, a security module, database abstraction, etc.) to build the features and UX
  • A vendor with aligned interests and a complementary long-term road map

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Solution

Jonar tested multiple IDEs, which tended to fit into two categories: they either performed tasks well but scaled poorly or they offered the required horsepower but lacked a flexible enough tool set to execute Jonar’s vision. Only two products could deliver on both fronts.

Ultimately, Jonar chose Servoy because:

  • It is written in Java, which is less susceptible to vendor lock-in
  • It offered the best intersection between scalability and tool set
  • It had a history of successfully converting development from FoxPro

Additionally, as a company Servoy:

  • Offers a transparent pricing model that is suited to Jonar’s evolving needs
  • Is sizeable and financially stable
  • Cares about its customers’ success, can be relied on and is willing to work with Jonar over the long term

Jonar found Servoy easy to learn thanks to its use of a 4GL. For example, Jonar’s UX design team is made up of designers—not software engineers—yet they were able to work on fine-tuning user interface details after only a day and a half of training.

The first six months of the project consisted of rapid prototyping using the Servoy platform. Jonar’s engineering team relied on the framework to cut development time. Servoy suggested other time-saving devices such as a scrum methodology, a high-fidelity collaborative mock-up tool and test-driven development.

“Servoy recommended that we build 80% of what we wanted and then work on improving it, instead of chasing a theoretically perfect model,” comments Jon Ruby, Managing Director of Jonar. “They saved us from falling into a rabbit hole that might have wasted years.”

As the Jonar team grew more proficient, it removed optional framework components to further optimize performance. As soon as clients were willing to pay for the new ERP, a soft launch ensued. A backlog of potential customers soon developed.

“Servoy gave us a springboard to develop our product,” reports Ruby. “It normally takes six to nine years to build an ERP from scratch. With Servoy, we did it in a little over two years and with a much smaller team. By vastly accelerating the speed to market, Servoy helped us slash our development costs.”

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Results

“Clients love the new user experience,” notes Ruby. “Previously, we approached two or three leads per month, of which 50% would convert within six months. Now, 20 potential customers contact us every month, of which 80% sign up immediately. The sales team hasn’t made a single cold call since the new ERP launched.”

Jonar has expanded its customer base from Canadian only to clients all over the world. The company is also reaching new industries, thanks to its highly flexible ERP. Customers look for software that is specific to their business. Jonar is able to customize its product in a matter of minutes and offer clients exactly what they want. The company has successfully demonstrated that ERPs can be powerful and simple to use if they are well-designed.

That Jonar’s trailblazing new solution was built using Servoy should be credit enough. However, Ruby has equal praise for the support his company received. “Bouncing ideas off the Servoy team was invaluable,” he says. “A conversation would turn into a milestone from which the project would accelerate further still. I also agree with the direction they are taking with successive versions of the Servoy platform, based on customer feedback. They understand that our success is their success. They take us seriously and treat us like partners.”

EuroCloud event: Show your Cloud

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EuroCloud is organizing the event ‘Show your Cloud’ on a regular basis. This time Servoy is hosting the event and a couple of Servoy customers will be presenting about their Cloud experiences. We invite you to join this 2 hour event at our new offices in Amsterdam.

Program
ERP in the Cloud?
Globis delivers an ERP that is completely cloud based. In a brief overview they will share how they made that transformation successfully. And how it was to move from on premises to Cloud based.
Secure in the Cloud?
STB, a Dutch software company, will demonstrate how you can easily and securely authenticate in the cloud. Using face recognition and fingerprint scanning users can seamlessly login to cloud based software.
Managing Wholesales/E-Commerce and Projects in the Cloud?
Newbase will share their experience delivering a cloud Wholesales/E-Commerce and Job Costing management platform. What’s it like to have hundreds of users on a single multi-tenant and multi-lingual platform?
When
december 10, 4 pm
16:00 Registration in restaurant Coffeemania (in the same building)
16:30 Presentations & Discussions
18:00 Drinks & Networking
Where
Servoy, Fred. Roeskestraat 97c
1076 EC Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Voice: +31 33 455 9877
Register here. Free entry after registration.

Servoy Gold Sponsor EMEA PUG

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We are proud to announce that we are a gold sponsor at the EMEA PUG (Progress User Group Europe conference) in Copenhagen on November 4-6. We will be speaking about modernizing Progress applications. Join us if you are interested in creating a modern User Experience for your Progress application with very little effort.

We will also be exhibiting in the sponsor area, if you would like to meet us or to learn more just step by our booth. We’re also handing out some nice goodies if you drop by!

More information about EMEA PUG

Learn more about modernizing your Progress applications with our UX first HTML5 platform

Why technical debt is key to building better software

Debt.  What does it evoke for you?debt

Greece begging on its knees for another bailout? The Everest-size mountain of the United States national debt? The horror of losing your home and car to creditors?

Most people think debt is bad. But that’s not always true.

Properly managed, technical debt is a hallmark of optimal software development.

It is something everyone ought to be familiar with.

The tug-of-war between features and maintenance

At the heart of every software publisher, there is a conflict between the need for new features to sell and the need to make sure the software works.

If you’ve been working for some time, you’ve probably come across two types of companies.

In a commercially dominated firm, the sales team sells tomorrow’s features and the engineering team is playing catch-up. As code maintenance falls behind, quality deteriorates, exposing the product to performance, scalability or security issues.

In a technically focused company, everyone dreams of creating the next Facebook. The engineering team won’t release the software until it meets lofty technical goals. With no product to sell, the company risks running out of money before its first release.

Thankfully, it is possible to find a happy medium. And this is where technical debt comes into play.

The mechanism of technical debt in agile development

Agile methods consist of short sprints that produce working software to show customers.

In a sprint of, say, a couple of weeks, there isn’t time to introduce new features and tie up all the loose ends. Corners must be cut.

Technical debt is the concerted decision to cut those corners and the documented number of “story points” required to fix the software.

For example, the sales team may ask to include a new feature in the next sprint in order to win a customer. The engineering team responds by building the feature in a fraction of the time it requires.

Once the new customer is on board, the engineering team can spend time rewriting the feature correctly and repaying the technical debt.

Conversely, the engineering team may devote an entire sprint to repaying accumulated debt to avoid serious issues down the line.

Because the consequences of ignoring the debt are clearly explained in the sprint backlog, the sales team can accept the absence of new features in the current release cycle.

As we can see, technical debt is flexible and constantly evolving. Small amounts of debt are accepted in the current sprint and eliminated in the next.

It’s up to the company to decide how to allocate development time. For example, 40% may be invested in new features, 20% in customer-specific requirements and the balance to repay technical debt.

Benefits of technical debt

Technical debt acknowledges the company’s need to satisfy customers. It also encourages the engineering team to explain in layman’s terms the reasons why the debt should be repaid.

Instead of a tug-of-war between conflicting interests, technical debt brings transparency and consensus to the software development process.

The engineering team gains in respect—and job satisfaction—because others in the company see the value of its work.

How about you?

Are you familiar with technical debt? Do you think it could help your company work better?

Let us know in the comments below.

How to Magically Create a Killer UI for Your OpenEdge Application

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You dream of connecting with powerfully engaged users.

People who are excited by your OpenEdge application – and show it.

But first you must create a new HTML5 and native mobile user experience for your existing OpenEdge application.

If you can’t think of an easy way to do this, you’re not alone. Other companies have tried to modernize their OpenEdge application UI – and failed. Until now.

Too slow, too expensive, too risky

The OpenEdge technology has enabled you to create the features your users love.What OpenEdge has traditionally been lacking is a seamless integration with modern webframeworks such as Kendo UI or AngularJS – or even .NET. A major hurdle is that web UIs are stateless environments.

One work around would be to tweak the existing code to accommodate the stateless UI.

Unfortunately, this creates a bloated application that is too slow to use.

Another approach is to redo the backend. But this is no small task if you have to recode it by hand. It can amount to thousands of man-hours of work. The cost, risk, and releasedelays of a complete rewrite are prohibitive for most companies.

What does it take to deliver the ultimate user experience?

How can you create that killer OpenEdge UI that users can enjoy on their web browsers, tablets and smartphones? This should not be too much to ask in 2015.

Several ISVs approached Servoy with this question. So we put our thinking caps on and developed a stateful application server that seamlessly integrates the OpenEdge backend with Kendo UI, Bootstrap or with the solution of your choice. We’ve included a toolset of frameworks–based on best industry practices and fully maintained–so you can select the navigation, security features, or multi-tenancy of your new user interface.

We don’t think you should have to learn HTML, C++ or Java either; so the only language you need to know is JavaScript. And you can connect to the ABL layer without having to rewrite. The Servoy platform uses a familiar Rapid Application Development environment that is quick and easy to learn.

This way, you can design your new user interface according to user needs and desired experience, not architecture or database requirements. Your UX team can become integral part of the development process and has the freedom to create the perfect user experience.

Ten times faster

You can even accurately estimate the time and costs involved in modernizing your OpenEdge application, minimize the risk, and generate productivity gains that are tenfold compared with other methods.

Can you create your killer OpenEdge application UI with Servoy? Have a look at our webinar on this subject and let us know what you think.

Servoy featured in Dutch publications AG and Informatie

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In an article about Cloud Computing Servoy was featured as a company that runs entirely in the cloud. At Servoy we have no on premise software but run everything in the Cloud. Here is a brief listing of our most used applications:

– Servoy CRM. Our internal crm system that manages all our client communications, sales and more. Obviously built on Servoy
– Atlassian Jira. For issue tracking and more.
– Google Apps. For email, documents, calendaring
– Skype. For communication
– GotoMeeting. For online presentations and meetings

Download the original articles courtesy of Automatiserings Gids and Informatie. Articles are in Dutch.

Automatiserings Gids

Informatie article

What made Reflecta choose Servoy as frontend for Progress?

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In terms of the functionality of our software and our knowledge, our company currently provides the most superior offering in this market. In terms of user interface we saw opportunities to improve our offering and strengthen our position in the market. Since our current development environment didn’t allow us to create more modern and operating system independent UI’s, we started to look for alternatives that would be future proof. In our selection process, we not only qualified based on features and benefits of the platform, but also on the company behind it. After careful consideration we chose Servoy. From our first interactions we have been impressed with the organization itself and its development platform. The Servoy platform complies entirely with our demands around creating modern user interfaces. It has to support multiple platforms such as Windows, OS X, Linux and mobile devices, and has to give us the option to deliver our application in a SaaS based way. After a successful Proof of Concept any doubts we had were eliminated, leading us to select Servoy as our future platform. We are currently in the first phase of our development strategy and we are 100% convinced that we will be able to realize our vision of becoming the absolute market leader in the fashion, shoe and sports industry.

Are You Ready for a Web Browser-Based IDE?

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Admit it. You’re skeptical.

Is a cloud-hosted integrated development environment really possible?

Sure, you’ve seen applications such as MS Office—and even your favorite games—move to the web. But those applications are run-of-the-mill.

An IDE, on the other hand, is a complex tool. Is a browser-based IDE even advisable? You can’t help wondering …

The web reinvents itself

Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen the web transform itself beyond recognition, moving from static HTML pages to web 2.0 and now HTML5. Today, even highly interactive applications are web-based, with Google’s Chrome OS playing a significant role in shaping the web.

The web’s dramatic development traces back to several key technological shifts. First, virtualization has commoditized the IT landscape, initially on premises, and now on the cloud. Second, cheap cloud-based computing coupled with affordable high-speed Internet connections has made the widespread use of web applications possible.

In turn, web applications have brought low costs, interoperability, and ease of integration. Each web application operates as a service, seamlessly communicating with other web applications via APIs. Users have been quick to embrace web apps, caring little what lies behind a service as long as it runs.

Mobile applications are now becoming the interface of choice for the general public. It will soon be the case for businesses. Increased CPU power allows today’s mobile devices to run sophisticated web apps, rapidly turning native applications into a thing of the past.

Browser-based development is already happening

If accessing services through a browser has become the new norm, should you be surprised to see it applied to software development?

You’re probably already using a browser-based case system, as well as virtual machines to test and demo your software. You may be storing your source code in GitHub, the popular web-based repository. You likely run unit testing in a hosted environment, whether on Azure, Amazon, SoftLayer or on any other standardized environment (J2EE/node.js/LAMP). You may even use JSFiddle in a browser to test your JavaScript code.

But when it comes to your integrated development environment and local development server, you feel those are different. Why?

Introducing the ultimate IDE

There are no good reasons why an IDE should not run in a browser, with a backend as a service. In fact, there are excellent reasons to switch as soon as technology makes it possible.

First, having a worry free and complete back end of your development environment will help you focus on what is really important: building great software that users love. Software development in a browser cuts ties with a specific machine, location, and time. It brings down the cost of the hardware and software you use and of its associated maintenance.

So prepare yourself for the inevitable. Get ready for your new, browser-based IDE!

PS:In case you are wondering: yes, Servoy is spending serious research in this area.

Servoy 8 Alpha

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Today we’re proud to announce the immediate availability of Servoy 8 alpha. Here’s the link to download it while you finish reading this post:
servoy.com/download

Servoy 8 is our biggest release since Servoy 1 was built. The new ng-client (next generation client) with a strong focus on deliver great UX enables software developers to deliver great applications using our established RAD capabilities.

When we started creating the roadmap after Servoy 7 was released we realized we needed to completely rethink our web client based on the new realities of today. While our web client technology was great we felt it was going to be outdated in a few years so we decided to start with a clean sheet of paper. This exercise helps to think out of the box and avoids trying to bolt or hack your existing technology stack. We tried to come up with a minimum list of capabilities the technology should have:
– responsive design
– great UX on smartphone, tablet and desktop
– cross browser
– retains RAD capabilities
– increased responsiveness
– secure

When we started with web client we built it on Apache Wicket, in it’s day the best framework to create powerful web applications. However as frameworks grow older and bolt on more and more features we needed something radically different. After extensive research we found that Angular was going to be the best fit. Read more about the background in the post from Jan Blok.

Servoy 8 is unique: it’s the only RAD platform to deliver great HTML5 apps quickly and without headaches. Servoy 8 will will make your users happy, and of course the developers as well!

Get started with Servoy 8 with this introduction overview: Servoy 8 introduction video and demo

The perfect storm

Looking back we found ourselves in the perfect storm over the last year developing Servoy v8. As our focus for Servoy v8 was primarily on user experience, we learned that great UX in modern web applications relies on responsive design.

Responsive design means the user interface adapts to the device dimensions. Such a UI will work across mobile and desktop. When approached correctly, this means a developer can build an application UI only once, to be usable for a range of devices and screen sizes.

But to combine responsive design with Rapid Application Development, is no small endeavor. There are quite some html page tools which facilitates responsive design. And while most of these tools deliver a page which is responsive, a page is not the same as an application having distinct, controllable parts.

One of the upcoming web frameworks, AngularJS turned out a perfect match with responsive design. It allows for pages to being modularized into parts called Web Components. And within a rapid application environment, components become easy to manipulate; these are extremely similar to the elements that we’ve already had for years.

Another feature AngularJS brings is two-way binding of JavaScript objects to page elements, which means for example, the content of a field is copied into a object of choice and back.

At the same time, a library called Bootstrap released its third version with makes responsive design really easy to setup. It divides every UI into a layout grid called 12-grid. Grid cells can be filled with any content. It makes a lot of sense to combine this responsive design with Web Components. The result is that everything, except for the grid definition and static HTML, is a Web Component.

Finally, to have optimal communication between browser and server, we leveraged another piece of html5 technology, Web Sockets.
Not only does this allow for better communication from browser to server, but also allows the server to actually talk to a webcomponent. We extended the two-way binding from AngularJS into three-way binding. This enables communication between WebComponents running in the browser and records/foundsets at the server.

As a result this brings extreme flexibility in several ways:

  • Any UX which can be expressed in HTML can now be used. (by making it a WebComponent)
  • Any helper/grid layout system like bootstrap can be utilized in order to get the best responsive design
  • Such a layout grid can be filled with WebComponents using WYSIWYG design.
    In short, an enterprise solution can now have the UX, which the modern user has come to expect, delivered in a rapid application environment.

For the first time in Servoy’s history, we succeeded to make Servoy’s codebase smaller, since all standard form elements are now delivered as WebComponents.
In fact, any WebComponents are now considered external to Servoy, which means you can actually replace or adapt the default elements shipping with Servoy like a field or button.

All our ideas for improving the UX capabilities of Servoy came together with the possibility to use maturing web technologies – a perfect storm.

The new flexibility and a ton of possibilities does put a huge smile on our faces, we are pretty sure it will work the same for you.

Jan Blok
CTO
Servoy