Blogs

Thoughts on Smart Watches

Apple introduced their iWatch this month and Apple Luvvies are predicting mass shortages across the world. This is pure hype, don't believe it. We are a technology company and do not know a single person or company who has bought one.

The tech press love the concept of a smart watch and have been writing in general positive things about this. I did pop into the Apple store to take a test drive and it looks and feels nice, but would I buy one? No!

The reason I would not buy a smart watch from any vendor today is because of these reasons:

  • The watch is not independent - it needs to be tethered to your phone
  • There is nothing that important in my life that I need constant updates to my wrist watch
  • My fingers are man-size
  • I am not an Apple fan Boi - I prefer open systems, not closed and expensive proprietary tech
  • I already have a watch which I use to tell the time, for other stuff I have other devices
  • Battery life is going to be a problem
  • The price is higher than a good rolex

Sorry, but I think that smart watches are not here to stay en-mass and much like the recent demise of Sky 3D TV, is a passing fad I'm afraid.

If you have bought one, please drop me a line and let me know how you like it?

Onwards and Upwards

Our big news this month is that we are pre-announcing the formal release of our TriSys Apex and TriSys 2015 products on Tuesday 30th June 2015.

We have a new landing page designed as an introduction to the new Apex release and this will allow customers to sign-up and register their interest in using the service when it is launched.

In summary, TriSys 2015 is the next version of our Windows desktop and smart-client enterprise recruitment CRM (customer relationship management) system. Our current production version is 10 however from this year onwards, all releases will carry the year as the version number. Full details of this release can be found here. TriSys Apex is a completely new recruitment CRM product designed specifically for recruitment agencies using any type of device such as tablets and phones or desktop or laptop computers where the web browser or installed app is the preferred mechanism of accessing cloud data services. Full details of this release can be found here.

Our goals are to give our existing and new customers more choice of how to deploy and access their recruitment technology. From June 30th, you will be able to use TriSys on any of the following devices:

  • Desktop Computer/PC: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Mac O/S, Linux
  • Server: Windows 2003, 2008, 2012
  • Laptop: Chromebook, Windows, Mac O/S
  • Tablet: iPad (iOS), any Android tablet, Microsoft Surface or any Windows notebook, Apple Macbook (Pro+Air)
  • Phones: iPhone (iOS), any Android phone, Windows Phone 8+
  • Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Spartan, Opera

Existing V10 customers will also be able to upgrade to TriSys 2015 or Apex at no additional cost i.e. these additional software capabilities are available free of charge for existing customers. You will also be able to use both V10, 2015 and Apex at the same time, choosing the most appropriate app for your current device.

Whether you are an on-premise (you host your own IT infrastructure) or an on-demand (we host your IT systems in the cloud) recruiter, TriSys supplies or will supply, a truly cross-platform suite of recruitment CRM apps which you can use on any of your devices wherever you are located.

Our web site will also be completely revamped on 30th June so please come back and visit on this date.

Project Apex in 2015

The TriSys Apex initiative was conceived in order to 'Webify Everything' at TriSys.

It has been a massive R&D project resulting in our production ready Web API and TriSys for Websites, plus a host of additional products and services in development.

The current focus of the Apex team comprising many developers from around the world, is preparing our new web site, web browser and mobile products for release together with our new TriSys 2015 desktop product in Q2 2015.

We are excited to be able to share with you a selection of screen shots from both popular web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer), tablets and phones:

TriSys Apex 2015 is truly ground-breaking and will have functionality specifically designed for todays recruiter.

We will be announcing the availability of this product/service in our March 2015 newsletter on 31st March 2015. In order to get access, please follow us on twitter or subscribe to our newsletter.

Announcing TriSys 2015

We are delighted to pre-announce our forthcoming release of TriSys expected in Q2 2015. This will be our eleventh version of TriSys recruitment software which maintains our record of bringing a new version to market every two years since our debut at the Recruitment '94 exhibition.

Due to the rapidly increasing rate of innovation in the technology sector, and the TriSys applications' ability to self-update, we will also be moving to a more frequent release cycle. This will allow us to push business critical enhancements to our customers, greatly enhancing their capacity to supply great service to their clients and candidates.

Many new features will be added to TriSys which build upon the innovations we have progressively built into our current version 10 including our new Web API, SDK, mobile toolkits, TriSys for web sites, document library, image/photo capture, booking sheet, internationalisation and many more.

Expect to see major new enhancements designed to take advantage of the increasing power of both desktop and mobile devices, a new range of add-ins, tighter integration with social media and job board ecosystems. You can also directly import data from your legacy recruitment software directly into TriSys, saving you time and money.

TriSys 2015 will be completely backwards compatible with our current version allowing customers to run both versions side by side with a fully automated database migration elminating upgrade costs.

Microsoft will release Windows 10 this year and we already have TriSys running on a beta version of this platform, but wish to ensure that TriSys 2015 is optimised for all supported windows versions 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 2008, 2012.

Further details and access to pre-release versions will be made available to selected customers in the coming months.

You can get started today by installing the free trial of our current version 10.

Don't Let Technology Eat Your Time and Rule Your Life

As we arrive at the festive season, and we are all thinking less about work and more about friends and family, and perhaps those less fortunate than ourselves, please give a little thought to what I am about to say.

Simply ask yourself how much time you have spent in 2014 watching on-line video, texting, listening to music, taking selfies, snap-chatting, playing games, reading tweets, discussing random irrelevances on facebook, composing pointless e-mails, chasing dead leads on LinkedIn, downloading apps on your phone, learning stuff you didn't need to know (and now cannot remember any of it anyway), and probably a whole load of other 'time-sink' activities which did not actually help your effectiveness either from a business perspective, or even socially.

Did you just 'exist' during these wasted hours - I'm guessing it is more than hours - probably days if not weeks of lost time which you could have spent doing or planning something either more enjoyable or more constructive.

If this point of view resonates with you, then don't be alarmed. You have been a victim of 'techno-gobble' where technological gadgets increasingly gobble up your time and fool your brain into thinking it is busy, whilst what is actually happening is that you are becoming (or have become) addicted to being a modern 21st century consumer.

21st century consumers are now spending more time on-line than their parents generation watched TV, often twice as much or more. The previous TV-obsessed 'couch-potato' generation were often criticised for wasting their own lives by watching other people live theirs. This is so true of many 21st century consumers, although the content is more varied, faster moving and arguably more interesting, often interactive, with so much more choice.

There are health issues here too. Sitting at a desk during work time, and then sitting somewhere else in leisure time consuming content, is also going to impact your health, even if you don't sucumb to the habit of grazing whilst you consume, play or share content.

Do not let this situation get worse. Restrict your social technology and entertainment activities to a specified number of minutes per hour, or hours per day. Allocate time - your precious time - to achieving what you want to achieve in life by being pro-active, not re-active to whatever trends seem to be popular with your friends or colleagues or the media.

They used to say that being good at snooker was a sign of a mis-spent youth. In other words, dedicating 10,000 hours of practice at the expense of an education was acceptable to certain sportsmen who had 'a gift'. 

Think about the potential 10,000 hours you may lose by letting technology consume your time and attention. Could you not put those hours to good use and excel at something in life, which you enjoy, for which you and your friends and family will be really proud someday?

Don't succumb to wasting time being an entertainment obsessed consumer; spend your time creating or being part of something you enjoy which will make you proud of using your valuable time wisely.

Web App Development IDE

Visual Studio 2013 is not very clever when used to open a web site containing our Apex single page application HTML, CSS, JSON, Javascript etc.. It seems to try and launch a 'localhost' type of environment and because our source code files are cloud hosted, this takes minutes to just even load the project. Then it periodically just hangs momentarily even editing simple files.

What's a dev to do? Well, I looked at alternative IDE's (integrated development environments) to test the market. This article is recommended reading as it highlights alternative IDE's such as Netbeans, Eclipse, Komodo, Notepad++ and WebStorm. They all are very good and in many cases superior to VS, however there is one aspect which turned out to be critical. This is that we still use Visual Source Safe (VSS) internally. Although this has been superceded by Team Foundation Server at Microsoft, we have so much code in VSS tied to automated build scripts, and do not think that TFS will not add further complications to our control and build processes. For a small ISV, why spend extra cash fixing what already works?

Visual Studio 2013 defaults to TFS, however we were able to change that and point at VSS for seamless source code check-in/out and diff analysis. No other IDE seems to support VSS. Maybe I am missing something, but no google help on this.

So, we wanted a straight single page application (SPA) which does not rely upon ASP.Net, C# or VB.Net or the .Net Framework. Unfortunately VS 2013 does not provide such a simple project. We had to settle on an empty ASP.Net project and then drag in all our existing code folders which works recursively thank heavens, and then set the index.html as the start page.

So now we have an ASP.Net web application which does not need or use ASP.Net. This is a drag, but not a major problem. What about debugging support? So we ran it and got an error where IIS 8 complained about .json files. Although we set the .json mime type in IIS manager, it seems VS2013 ignores that and requires a web.config change. Luckily the solution was documented here.

Running our SPA application using Internet Explorer as the default browser now allows full debugging of the project javascript (JS), without having to use the browser integrated debuggers. This is another major benefit of using VS2013. Interestingly, no JS debugging is available when using alternative default browsers when running the debugger. You can even edit-and-continue, but of course also have to refresh your browser to accept source code changes.

We also get full intellisense on our javascript object hierarchies which helps Apex developers fully utilise the framework.

We will now be able to utilise separate worldwide teams to develop Apex using a single IDE with an integrated source code control system, javascript framework intellisense and debugging which promotes a more structured approach for QA and rollout allowing greater scalability in our development efforts.

TriSys Web API Browser Compatibility, JQuery, CORS, XDR

TriSys partners and developers building business applications with the TriSys Web API should take note of the following advisory:

We have put in a lot of work to make the TriSys Web API as powerful, extensible, efficient and secure as possible. To achieve this however we have to let go of supporting legacy browsers which are not compatible due to well accepted inadequacies in their respective designs.

You are not able to use the TriSys Web API from Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6, 7, 8 or 9 for these reasons:

  • No support for CORS - this is the cross origin resource sharing, which allows web sites to be hosted on separate domains from their data and other services.
  • No support for the industry standard XMLHTTPRequest (XHR) asynchronous mechanism. Instead, IE 6, 7, 8, 9 use their own variant called XDomainRequest which has been deprecated in IE 10.
  • IE 6, 7, 8, and 9 do not support XHR2 CORS. It is not possible to make generalized cross-domain requests in these browsers.
  • IE 8, 9 support an ActiveX control called XDomainRequest that only allows limited cross-domain requests compared to XHR2 CORS.
  • jQuery does not include XDomainRequest support because there are numerous and serious limitations to XDR (external data representation).
  • XDomainRequest does not support complex JSON objects or secure custom headers which are essential design features of the TriSys Web API.
  • XDomainRequest allows only intranet zone i.e. on-premise as opposed to geographically dispersed on-demand such as TriSys global services.
  • JQuery 2.0 and other third party open source offerings is not going to support legacy IE.

You are able however to fully utilise the TriSys Web API from the following:

  • HTML5 compliant web browsers, including:
    • Internet Explorer 10, 11
    • Firefox
    • Chrome
    • Safari
    • Opera
  • All modern tablets, including:
    • iPad
    • Android
    • Windows RT
  • All modern phones, including:
    • iPhone
    • Android
    • Windows Phone
    • Blackberry

If you are a web designer or programmer utilsing the TriSys Web API, please contact us for further information, or visit the API at api.trisys.co.uk

 

Web Frameworks

Many of our customers and partners are web designers and developers, and use TriSys technologies to construct web sites, job boards and mobile applications.

All of these people will have come into contact with web frameworks which is a tool, or style, for constructing web sites by solving one or more problems which would otherwise have to be hand-crafted. A framework is generally an excellent idea as it allows much of the lower level detail to be abstracted away to let the developer/designer focus on actual content or presentation and manipulation of data.

There are a host of popular web frameworks such as jquery, sencha, kendoui, bootstrap, angular. ember, backbone, knockout, meteor, ionic, cappuccino, spine, qooxdoo, eyeballs to name just a few.

Should you use a web framework?

Just this week, google announced version 2.0 of Angular.js and this met with a very strong reaction from the community. It seems that we expect web framework designers to get it right first time and provide continual backward compatibility to preserve our existing and historic code bases. Is this unreasonable?

At TriSys, we have always used frameworks as they are now known. Historically, these would have been called 'components' and indeed all TriSys software is built using third party components from vendors such as Microsoft, DevExpress, Telerik, Infragistics etc..

More recently the concept of a component has been augmented with services such as those TriSys utilises from Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc..

Does TriSys use web frameworks?

Absolutely, but with great care. We also build our own responsive frameworks to solve the unique challenges our customers face. Sometimes our frameworks are built, or indeed inspired, by web frameworks from other vendors. This is an active and vibrant community where innovation is the only constant. Currently we are utilising KendoUI, Bootstrap and JQuery, and constructed our Apex framework to deliver the client-side functionality of Web API cloud data binding to provide feature rich recruitment technology to our customers.

In the future, we will use other vendors for sure. The web framework niche is going to get even bigger as the 'mobile web' increases in importance and apps become more sophisticated and connected.

You can expect TriSys to continue to be at the forefront of the leading egdes of software development.

Surface Pro 3 Review

Last week we took delivery of the latest Microsoft Surface tablet computer, the Pro 3. Our tablet has 8Gb RAM, runs an intel 64-bit processor, has half a terabyte hard disk and is WiFi only. It also has a pen for drawing stuff such as scrawling on OneNote. It runs Windows 8.1 Professional.

It did not come with Microsoft Office 2013 pre-installed as expected, but as Microsoft partners we were able to get this installed quickly. Installation of service packs took an hour or two before it was ready for real-use.

The first thing to say is that this is the best tablet I have ever used. This is because is it BOTH a tablet AND a laptop AND a desktop. I can touch operate any app, use the on-screen keyboard, dock my old Surface 1 keypad to it and type, or use the pen, or even plug in a USB wireless mouse adaptor and use that. It is lightening quick, and highly responsive.

Why is it better than the iPad you may ask? The answer is that I can run ANY windows program on my new windows tablet. I can choose from millions of legacy and modern windows apps, as well as those from the Windows Store - even those I bought or installed on other Windows 8 computers.

Unlike the original WinRT Surface, I can also run the .Net Framework which allows me to run our core TriSys desktop applications and get full programmatic access to our cloud services at Amazon, Google and Microsoft. This means that I can write powerful modern business software using Visual Studio and the TriSys SDK to design, build, debug, test and configure live line of business applications wherever I am in the world for any of our customers using my single device.

We have ordered the docking station which will allow us to plug into Gigabit cabled ethernet, a desk keyboard, multiple USB ports and multiple high definition monitors. All of our future 2014/15 computer purchases for staff will be the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 who can use their computer at work, home, or on a train/plane or even whilst being driven to work in a google car!

In summary, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has leap-frogged the competition and finally struck back at the iPad and Chromebook.

Windows 9 on the Horizon

The computing industry is awash with rumours about the demise of Windows 8 and its successor codenamed 'threshold'.

At TriSys. we have insider information about what is happening at Microsoft and the dynamics of the world of technology in particular business software, so hare are a couple of predictions of what will be in the preview of Windows 9 which will be made public next month.

First off, this is a realistic guess at what the desktop will look like:

You will see that the metro, or 'modern' tiled screen has completely disappeared as a full screen experience and has been minimised into the fully restored 'start' menu, appearing like a tall windows phone display giving access to live tiles.

The other expected innovation will be to allow these metro/modern apps to run in a proper resizable window - most non technical people must have been astonished when forced to run windows applications in full screen and find that they did not work, look or feel like windows applications.

Earlier this month, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about the company strategy with market analysts and did not even mention windows 8 - such is the ambarassment felt by Microsoft at Windows 8 and in fact the resignation of former CEO Steve Ballmer from the board of Microsoft this week, strongly indicates that the board, shareholders and senior employees would like to move on from the debacle of windows 8, hence the rapid release plans for its successor. Steve Ballmer is credited with successively raising the annual turnover of Microsoft during his tenure, however his 'be-like-apple' strategy and his denial that the iPhone/iPad products would revolutionise the technology industry was perhaps his biggest mistake. He has now bought a sports team - it's about baskets, baskets, baskets!

From a personal point of view, I do not hate windows 8, but it is harder to use with too many bugs and breaks too many products which run perfectly on windows 7. The biggest mistake in my opinion was the ill-conceived Windows RT which did not support traditional Win 32 applications and did not even provide the .Net Framework to run products written by ISV's using tools promoted by other divisions within Microsoft. This dismal failure of the first Surface tablet resulting in Microsoft writing off over half a billion dollars in over-stock is in large part due to the lack of compatibility with the tens of thousands of windows applications.

Commentators have noted that every +1 release of windows is always poorly received: Windows 95 - Good, Windows 98 - Bad, Windows 2000 - Good, Windows Me - Bad, Windows XP - Good, Windows Vista - Bad, Windows 7 - Good, Windows 8 - Bad. Let us hope that Windows 9 is indeed Good.


Archives
Search