Observations from a Technologist

This post is really more of a diary entry noting some personal observations of things which are of interest in July 2014.

First of all, a great thank you to the team here at TriSys in Cambridge. We have been ultra-busy during the last quarter, moving offices and coping well with the significant increase in demand of our services. James is really flying now managing the full development and maintenance teams involved in TriSys' desktop applications. Joanne is coping admirally with the challenges involved in project managing numerous, global delivery projects we are now running concurrently. Peter is as robust as ever, working closely with our global infrastructure partners in continuing to deliver a reliable and industrial strength recruitment service, whilst running the ever-expanding help desk team. Alex is doing a great job designing web solutions using our new CMS and Web API. Jack and Wendy are both getting through an enormous amount of sales related work, and Sue is doing a splendid job dealing with our social media output for marketing. A warm welcome to Francisco who has joined the team in Cambridge this month.

Secondly, thanks to all of our customers, new and old, who are further investing heavily in TriSys' products & services.

Our products and services are very competitively priced, for a variety of reasons. We operate a profitable business at TriSys, and this requires us to balance out our workloads to accomodate multiple concurrent work items, which I believe we do very well considering the complexity of the systems we support and procure. We welcome feedback from customers who may disagree.

We have ploughed ahead with our R&D efforts during this month with both our CMS, Web and Mobile products benefitting from the investments we have made in the Apex framework, SDK and API. We have significantly more world-wide expertise in web technologies such as HTML, CSS & JavaScript, and these will stand us in good stead to cope with the changing universe of computer software as it continues to 'eat the world'

I will update you with further details on all our exciting new products and services in due course. 

TriSys Web 2014

TriSys Web is a client and candidate web browser portal to allow candidates to search for jobs, and apply on-line, and for clients to maintain their own vacancies, search for candidates and arrange interviews. Where web timesheets are deployed, candidates can enter their timesheets and clients can authorise these.

The first version of TriSys Web was written in the 1990's using common gateway interface (CGI) protocols. Subsequent versions used web classes, active server pages and then ASP.Net in 2000 - 14 years ago. TriSys defined its own web browser framework called Ideometrix to provide an abstraction over the complexities of ASP.Net and make TriSys Web more desktop-like in both usability and for TriSys and partner developers. 

Much has changed since those early days. Many of the original design goals are still very relative today, however many are consigned to the legacy category and are less important today than back then.

The 2014 version of TriSys Web is nearing completion and has the following characteristics:

  • Platform agnostic - TriSys Web runs on any server (or client) platform and is not dependent upon any Microsoft software.
  • It can be deployed on Linux, or any cloud based operating system, or any desktop or mobile device operating system such as Mac OS or iOS or Android.
  • It does not rely or use ASP.Net or any other server side framework or special services.
  • Because of its non-reliance on resource hungry server based 3rd party application servers, it is much more efficient and scalable.
  • Clear separation of presentation logic, business logic and data-bound access and storage. This allows for greater functionality, easier maintenance and greater scalability.
  • Full integration on-the-fly with popular content management solutions (CMS) from a variety of vendors. This allows TriSys Web components to be simply dropped-in to existing web sites.
  • Open Source - the code to TriSys Web will be available on Github and can be re-used by any of our partners.
  • Partner-friendly implementation - it can easily be used by our web design focused partners to bring full interactivity to agency web sites.
  • Adherance to industry standards such as HTML/CSS/JQuery/Javascript/JSON for client side.
  • Uses the highly secure and sophisticated TriSys Web API which provides highly concurrent and powerful cloud data services integrated with TriSys cloud components such as active directory, SQL Server, massive data storage, application business logic etc..
  • Uses the TriSys Apex framework which is a modern replacement for the legacy ASP.Net-centric Ideometrix framework. Apex is entirely written in Javascript and utilises sophisticated data-binding using the TriSys meta-database used throughout TriSys desktop recruitment software applications.
  • Apex data binding to popular data oriented 3rd party client-side widgets such as KendoUI, JQuery Widgets or twitter Bootstrap.
  • Generates white-labelled recruitment agency native mobile apps providing TriSys customers with their own iOS/Android/Windows Phone mobile apps which can be used for customer engagement and operational management of jobs, timesheets, payments, invoicing etc..
  • A range of new features such as job alerts, social network integration, job board posting and application management, 3rd party cloud application integration (e.g. SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP, Oracle etc..)

In summary, TriSys Web has undergone a complete re-write, and is now a modern recruitment agency job portal framework which can be easily deployed inside existing web sites.

Here is a screenshot of the prototype showcase currently in development:

Please keep and eye out for the full release later this summer.

20 Year Anniversary

During the early 90's, the IT contract market was booming and I was approached by one of my preferred recruitment agencies to supply them with a modern, cost effective recruitment management system to help them cope with the demands of both their customers and candidates. The concept of TriSys was born.

On 5th May 1994, Technical Recruitment Industry Systems Ltd was officially registered with Companies House and began life designing and building software for recruitment agencies. 

The first version of TriSys debuted at the Recruitment '94 exhibition at the Barbican in London in October 1994 and was the worlds first windows recruitment software application - competing head to head with 'green-screen' dumb terminal and very expensive legacy systems from the 80's.

20 Years later to this day, and one name change later, TriSys Business Software remains at the forefront of recruitment technology, having poineered the packaged windows recruitment software market, SQL Server adoption and laterly cloud computing over a decade ago.

As we begin our third decade in business, we have numerous exciting products and services to announce this year, and we look forward to bring these to market soon.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we have now completed an extensive upgrade of our global cloud computing network, providing faster and more powerful remote desktops to our existing customers, as well as a multimedia video and a press release thanking our customers for their business over the last 20 years.

All Things Web

Almost everything that TriSys is developing or integrating with these days has some kind of web component, whether it is a cloud database service, cloud storage, e-mail sync, social networks, job boards, open source code repositories and even cloud accounting software.

This is proof that almost everything new in technology is targetting the web - in particular the mobile web, or those products making use of web services.

Luckily we embarked on our webification of TriSys technology over 14 years ago with the launch of the first version of TriSys Web in 2000 as a client/candidate jobs oriented portal for recruitment agencies.

Now, as we approach our official 20th birthday on 5th May 2014, we have reliable and scalable industrial strength internet services delivering true business benefit to our customers all around the world.

Our latest R&D projects are being developed with a web-first approach, targetting multiple devices including phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, servers and TV. The days of desktop windows dominating the technology landscape are gone. Even Microsoft has this month released its Office for iPad, and announced that its new SQL Server 2014 is the most widely tested release yet - having been used in production on its SQL Azure cloud service with over 1 million databases.

Expect numerous exciting product/services announcements from us in the forthcoming months.

Version 10 Adoption

As more and more customers adopt the TriSys Version 10 platform, we often get asked questions about why software vendors such as TriSys Business Software, drop a small number of older, legacy features from their newer products. The following information may help answer that question:

TriSys continually invests significant R&D in bringing new versions to the recruitment software market. As the world changes, legacy features which were popular or useful in a previous technological era will be sacrificed for newer, more contemporary and valuable features. All of our work integrating with web services, social networks, job boards and CV services reflect the fact that TriSys is no longer an isolated departmental CRM system, rather it is part of a growing and powerful recruiting ecosystem which is accessible from a range of devices, not just a PC.

Version 10 is a new product which carries forward all of the design and usability principles of previous iterations, but has been re-written to take advantage of both modern and future computing platforms, both on-premise and on-demand. In particular, we have replaced our legacy and proprietary forms designers and programming languages with those which are industry standard and best of breed. Our software development kit is the only SDK in the recruitment software industry to build recruitment forms, actions and workflow, and our web application programming interface is the only API in the industry to offer access to TriSys for third party web and mobile designers.

Our latest roadmap is published here:

TriSys will never stop innovating or listening to both customers, partners, business leaders and worldwide technology industries to engineer and deliver the best contemporary recruiting system in the market for the immediate and future benefit of our customers.

We are delighted that you are with us on this journey.

Microsoft in 2014 and Beyond

On 4th February Satya Nadella was appointed as the new CEO of Microsoft, replacing Steve Ballmer who was with Microsoft since the 1970's after being a Harvard dorm friend of the undergraduate Bill Gates.

Steve Ballmer was seen by many as an under-performing CEO, however the revenues streams and share price of Microsoft during his time as CEO remained strong, despite some very poor strategic mistakes leading to loss of ground to both Apple and Google.

Satya is a 20 year Microsoft veteran, was born in India, has recently been in charge of the cloud and enterprise groups, and is married with three children. He has wisely chosen to convince Bill Gates to spend one day per week working with Microsoft to help shape its future.

Microsoft faces some enormous challenges in the coming years. It has to deal with aftermath of the Windows 8 debacle in which versions of windows were released which did not run most windows programs (Surface/RT), and the much hated 'metro' interface (Microsoft wants us to call this 'modern' but this seems laughable given that it will soon be history).

Microsoft continues to lag behind Apple iOS and Google Android in the mobile operating system wars, and it's purchase of Nokia has come under recent scrutiny now that some Nokia mobile phones are going to run Google's Android operating system. This is a kick in the teeth for the Windows Phone teams.

With the 'death of the PC' being predicted by many commentators, Microsoft has to balance its existing revenue streams from Windows which drive sales of many other products such as Office, Exchange, Sharepoint etc.. Microsoft has already announced much cheaper embedded versions of windows for small devices, but I feel that they will have to effectively sacrifice this revenue in order to make Android less attractive for device manufacturers.

TriSys will continue to utilise the Microsoft technology stack, whilst of course embracing other platforms as the market continues to thrive. Microsoft needs however to re-engage with its army of partners and developers and greatly improve its communications and strategic direction which have both been very detrimental to partners over the last couple of years.

Good luck Mr Nadella.

Project Apex in 2014

It has been a while since we blogged about our Project Apex initiative to effectively 'Webify Everything' at TriSys.

Since the last blog post and subsequent update in 2013, the worldwide economy has picked up further and the recruitment industry is also beginning to grow once again. This adds additional fuel to Project Apex and coupled with the maturation of the TriSys Web API, this means that the Apex technology is on-schedule for release in H1 2014.

The current status of the project is that our designers have now built the new user interface to use a flat theme popular in current web and mobile software applications. Our back-end cloud developers have almost completed the Web API which provides full CRUD (create, read, update, delete) programmatic, secure, cross platform and firewall friendly access to the TriSys SQL Server, file system and e-mail stores. Our web developers have chosen bootstrap as the basis for the web/mobile SDK (software development kit) to build the cloud-connected RAD (rapid application development) methodology we are using for all internal and customer facing products and services.

The net result of all this development over the last 24 months can now be revealed as a sneak peek in this screenshot:

This is very much an alpha release as of January 2014, but over the coming weeks we expect to be able to invite existing cloud customers on-line with their 'phablet' devices and increase their effectiveness now that we are well into the Post-PC era of business computing.

Q4 2013 and beyond

The last quarter of 2013 has proved to be very important for both TriSys and the Recruitment Industry.

After a gradual decline since the 2008 global financial meltdown, the worldwide recruitment industry has seen high growth reaching its peak over these last 3 months. This is great news for TriSys and its customers.

Well done to all the recruitment agencies who have stuck it out over the last few years.

As a result of this increase in demand for our customers services, we too have been in demand by those recruitment agencies who are now investing in their future recruitment technologies. We are most grateful for your ongoing business.

TriSys' marketing has lapsed over the last couple of months whilst we plan for 2014 and of course deal with the increased business opportunities that have come our way.

We have re-engineered, or are currently re-engineering, many of our existing products and services, and this will significantly increase our portfolio in 2014 where we will be releasing the following:

  • Fully functional cross platform cloud based Web API
  • Upgrades to the TriSys Mobile suite of products for phones and tablets
  • SDK support for Visual Studio 2013 and Windows 8.1
  • Full support for SQL Server 2014
  • 64-bit Native versions of TriSys for Windows Server using .Net 4.5.1
  • Release of Starter Edition to complement our Enterprise offerings
  • Upgrade of TriSys Web technology under our 'Apex' umbrella

We are very excited about 2014 and what we can do for our customers.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Microsoft buys Nokia Mobile Phone Unit

Today marks a new era in the computing industry. The worlds largest software company has purchased the mobile phone unit of Nokia for £4.6bn. 32,000 Nokia employees will transfer to Microsoft in 2014 including of course the Nokia CEO Stephen Elop who used to be a Microsoft executive up until 2010, and stills lives with his family in Redmond Washington, the home of Microsoft.

With existing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer due to retire in 2014, this latest aquisition positions Stephen Elop as a front runner to replace him.

Microsoft will now go head to head in terms of software/hardware for mobile devices with Apple. Google bought Motorola mobile last year and they will also be competing in this space. Where does this leave Samsung, LG and the other manufacturers? And what about Blackberry - surely someone must gobble them up?

Microsoft can now redefine the mobile market, rather than continue fighting, and losing, in the existing battlefield - they can change the goalposts.

Here is one way they could do it..

Strike a deal with telecoms companies i.e. Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone, O2 etc.. to allow Microsoft customers to purchase SIM bundled working phones directly from Microsoft's web site. When the phone arrives, the customer simply turns it on and it works - they can top up the balance (having paid for 1 month up front) at any time - true pay as you go.

This will eradicate the complexity, inconvenience and cost for customers and therefore drive down the price that Microsoft can sell their phones at. The price point for this phone should be around £100. Customers can buy a high end smart phone on-line, with no hassle.

This will redefine the market, attract new young customers and relegate expensive phones from Apple, Samsung etc.. to a smaller market share.

There are many more opportunities to engage with younger people, such as making a single Nokia XBox device which can be connected to the home TV and wireless controllers to multi-play, but unplugged and popped in the pocket/handbag to use as a phone.

Over to you Microsoft.

TriSys Mobile: Version 2.0

With development of the full read-write TriSys Web API now underway, the mobile team has been working on an upgrade to our existing mobile app suite currently available in the Apple App Store, Google Play, Blackberry World and Windows Store.

Of course, they insisted that they had a new device to test out the latest cool features of Android Jelly Bean, preferably one which was more of a mini-tablet than our existing collection of full tablet iPads and iPhone/Galaxy phones.

As we love gadgets, our CEO caved in and agreed to purchase a new Google nexus 7, provided we threw in the new Google Chromecast into the mix. We can now therefore stream HD YouTube [TriSys] movies from the nexus 7 directly onto the wall mounted office HDMI TV.

Here is a picture of the current TriSys Mobile V2 running on a nexus 7:

We are not giving too much away here as we expect the released app to adopt a more 'flat UI' theme in keeping with current contemporary trends, so please stay tuned to learn about the expected release dates (multiple app stores ;-).