Blogs

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.

Our HTML5 Browser Access to RDP now has Copy and Paste

 

I did a blog on our HTML5 Browser Access to RDP See:- HTML5-Browser-Access-to-RDP 
and one of the feedback we received was there is no Copy and Paste facility between the PC and the Desktop. 


Our new HTML5 access now has the ability to copy and paste to the desktop.

You can grab a document locally and drag the document to the web browser and drop it into the desktop.

You can then go to "Start", "Computer" and you will see a new drive called "Storage"





You can open the storage drive and grab your file from the storage location and drop into your desktop.

To copy from the desktop to your local PC, copy a file from the desktop to the "Storage" drive, and select the "Cloud" Icon.

This is the temporary "Clipboard" for the desktop. 


Either select the file you wish to download, or select the "Download" Icon



When you log off, the clipboard and storage will empty.

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.

www.webPC.co.uk

Our new WebPC brand is now live. - www.webpc.co.uk





What is WebPC I hear you ask, well ....

The Web PC is your own personal computer running in the cloud, and is available through
your web browser from any device.

It is designed to be a virtual replacement of your local desktop PC, saving you the cost of
upgrading hardware and licensed software.
You can connect your Web PC to your favourite cloud data provider and run all your favourite
windows applications from anywhere.

Lower your IT Spend and have no more up-front costs by replacing capital infrastructure expenses with low variable costs that scale with your business. No need to plan ahead and wait for servers to be built
and individually configured, you can have as many preconfigured servers instantly available and
fully scalable whenever you need them.

With Pay-As-You-Go computing, you can Instantly deploy new applications and scale up or down,
depending on your current work load or demand, and you only pay for what you use.

How does this differ from the TriSys remote desktop ?

Application installation is unrestricted, so you can have your own personalised desktop and have this
backed up to ensure that if anything goes wrong, then everthing that you have installed will still be there.

You can set up a default desktop, configured exactly as you want it, then mass deploy the desktop to other employees.

Full scalability means that you can have your desktop configured as an average PC power today, then have the exact same desktop configured as a multi core server tomorrow for high data or number crunching, and scale back down when complete only paying for what you use at that scalbility level.


Have a look at our new service at:- www.webpc.co.uk

Don’t see anything that fits with your needs?

Then call us and we can discuss and provide any bespoke configurations to meet your specifications.


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 ;-).

E-Mail Marketing

CRM systems typically ignore the importance of marketing, in particular e-mail marketing. Many CRM vendors such as SalesForce, Microsoft and Oracle rely upon the third party ecosystem such as ConstantContact and MailChimp to supply add-ons which suffer from two major drawbacks:

  • Cost - users have to pay more to get e-mail marketing functionality
  • Island of Information Syndrome - the marketing data has to be exported and imported shredding your data everywhere

TriSys does not expect its customers to pay more for e-mail marketing, or have to resort to the inconvenience of moving data out into these islands.

We therefore provide, at no extra cost, a fully functional industrial strength marketing engine built right into TriSys Version 10.

TriSys customers are able to do the following using our application:

  • Import data from e-mail marketing agencies in spreadsheet format - for example XLS
  • Assign attributes/skills to all imported data to track the success of the marketing campaign
  • Create full template-driven e-mail marketing campaigns using Actions
  • Generate e-mail templates in .DOCX format merging ANY field from the TriSys database
  • Include in-line images, hyperlinks, tables, headers, footers, fonts - everything that Word can do
  • Create highly personalised e-mails using TO or via BCC as desired
  • Conduct sophisticated smart searching using the tags assigned to imported contacts
  • Preview the generated e-mail merge in the TriSys action
  • Specify note/history and scheduled follow-up tasks to be merged/generated and linked to contacts
  • Assign attributes/skills to all generated action tasks
  • Send via Outlook with or without confirmation dialogue or for large bulk, send directly via SMTP to G-Mail, Office 365 etc..
  • Capture all recipient clicks and record which link was clicked, by who and at what time
  • Allow recipients to opt-out of future e-mails to comply with data protection and e-mail marketing legislation
  • Provide a comprehensive anayisys of e-mail marketing campaigns using our built in business intelligence engine
  • Cross reference all future business transactions against the success of historic marketing campaigns
  • Keep ALL customer related data in one place at all times, like any modern CRM system should

Please take a test drive of our smart client to see this in action and try it for yourself.

Build Process

We have a very powerful automated build process internally to compile and publish successive releases of our software application and associated utilities and libraries. This has proven invaluable during both development and maintenance.

Any software application will spend 90% of its lifetime in maintenance i.e. only 10% of its lifetime will it be 'in development' which is always at the beginning of any software project. By automating the build process during this early phase, we have ensured that future releases are easy to build and therefore the software becomes easier to both maintain and deliver to customers.

Our automated build process uses a sophisticated workflow tool which does the following:

  • Retrieve latest checked-in versions of all source code
  • Compiles each library in correct order
  • Compile each component
  • Gather correct versions of re-distributable third party libraries
  • Compile full application as a downloadable smart client
  • Compile full application as a terminal services setup EXE
  • Distribute both applications to the web
  • Compile all industry specific libraries comprising industry business rules
  • Compile numerous customer specific libraries comprising customer business rules
  • Distribute all industry and customer specific libraries to the web
  • Compile customer specific ribbons
  • Publish customer specific ribbons and user interface libraries to the web
  • Send completion e-mail to development, support and some customer developers

Our current automated build time for all of the above comprising over 1 million lines of source code is around 12 minutes. We do this build on a quad-core Windows 7 machine with 8Gb RAM using Visual Studio 2010.

We also follow the Microsoft 'best practice' of building our software at least once a day so that we can always get an emergency release out quickly should a problem arise in the field.

Once our software is built, the application quickly auto-upgrades itself when started including taking responsibility for its own database upgrades and ancilliary file management. This approach was once considered the holy grail of enterprise software. Many enterprise software companies gave up and decided to build web browser applications just to skirt around this problem. Unfortunately for them, they lost so much functionality and productivity which TriSys still enjoys by using the WinForms paradigm.

At TriSys, we tackled this problem head-on, resulting is a fully cloud enabled application platform which installs and automatically upgrades native smart-client software onto customer computers for maximum usability, functionality, performance and responsiveness.

Windows 8.1 - 'Blue'

Microsoft has confirmed that the first major service pack to Windows 8 will be 8.1 or 'Blue' and will see the return of the START button to the bottom left of the desktop task bar. Currently you have to hover the mouse to bottom left corner of the desktop to get a thumbnail of the 'metro' tiled screen to popup.

The START button however will NOT display a popup menu like in Windows 7. Instead it will simply redirect the user back to the tiled metro screen where all application shortcuts are installed.

The second major change in 'blue' will be the option to boot straight into the desktop instead of booting into the tiled 'metro' or 'modern UI' as Microsoft wants us to officially refer to it.

This update will be released to partners in June 2013.

My take on this is that Microsoft simply got it wrong on a number of fronts:

  1. Most people running Windows are on PC's which are not touch enabled.
  2. Most new PC's sold in 2013 and in 2014 will not have touch screens, hence being 'all in' with touch was a mistake.
  3. Most people want compatibility between their favourite windows applications and the operating system.
  4. Software vendors do not have the time or money to re-write all apps specifically for touch.
  5. Microsoft did not provide the .Net run-time on Surface/Windows RT thus discouraging ISV's from developing apps for Windows 8.

TriSys has been a classic 'Microsoft Shop' for almost 20 years having originated in the world of Unix, however our patience has been severely tested of late given that Microsoft has changed direction on a number of fronts, including Windows detailed above. As a result, in future, we will be increasing the proportion of our R&D budget dedicated to non-Microsoft platforms (operating systems, browsers, databases, comms, devices). This will be good news for our customers who may be tempted towards touch devices in this now agreed 'Post-PC' era of computing.

HTML5 Browser Access to RDP

The latest standard of the hypertext markup language published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is called HTML5.

HTML5 has already been adopted as an industry standard by all popular modern web browsers such as Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

TriSys has now adopted HTML5 as a standard access mechanism to our remote desktop service.

This will be particularly appealing to customers who do not have a Windows PC such as an Apple Mac or perhaps an iOS or Android tablet such as an iPad or Nexus, who can from today, connect directly into their remote desktop without the use of any third party software.

This new technology is both convenient and inexpensive - it now comes as part of your monthly subscription, at no extra cost.

To start using this, simply click the "Connect via Windows Browser" link on the remote desktop page:

We have some example screenshots of this in action from these newly supported web browsers:

Apple Mac:

Chrome:

Firefox:

If you currently login to RDP using your desktop shortcut, you can continue to do so as this is unaffected by this new technology.

We hope you enjoy this new and convenient connection mechanism in future.


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