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Build it and they won’t necessarily come

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By Erika Halloran

“So, I deployed this awesome thing, and everyone just logged on and started using it immediately.”
                             -said no one, ever.
 
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of supporting a number of software and application projects through to completion.  The project leaders spent countless hours fine-tuning their implementation, and creating what they envisioned as a perfect solution for their users. 
A carefully constructed paragraph was sent via email or added to a monthly newsletter, letting the users know that it was ready.  “Great news!  The implementation is done and our new application is ready.  Just log on!”

Then they wait. 


And they wait.
As it turns out, a successful deployment does not end when the software is configured.  Guess what…  the users don’t care.  Yes, I said it.  Users don’t care.

If I’ve learned anything during my years in the software world, it’s that no one cares... until they care.  And then it’s “urgent!” And when it’s “urgent,” the users are not amused by the exciting images you’ve placed on the home page.  They’re not interested in pretty slideshows, useful RSS feeds, better cataloging or the different ways you can search and retrieve content.
The key to all successful product launches is adoption, and the most successful deployments are almost always accompanied by thoughtful and carefully executed marketing campaigns.  But you’re thinking, “I’m a researcher, not a marketer.”  Well, I’ve got news for you.  You are both.  If you want people to get excited, you need to create excitement.  These days, people are faced with so much noise that they will (perhaps unintentionally) ignore your great news – no matter how great it is.

So don’t stop at “we are now live.”  Get excited.  Name your application.  Create a campaign.  Send them a gift.  Run a contest.  Play a game.  Give them an incentive.   Heck, bribe them to log on!  You will not be sorry, and neither will they.

 

 

... And One Family

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By Warren Ganz

A few posts ago we wrote about "one team, one company." I'd like to extend that post and add: one family.

I have worked in various capacities in software engineering groups for most – if not all – of my career. Typically this has meant sitting behind an iron wall, removed from the reality of the day-to-day operations of the company. Everything I was told was filtered and/or secondhand. At the time, this seemed like a good thing because it kept me focused and isolated from the "noise." But now, I know better.

Here at Inmagic, we’ve been rethinking this strategy, and development has become more involved in the everyday support activities as well as client implementations. When asked to assist with support and services, most engineers would have the reaction that you would expect. (Think jaws dropping and eyes bulging…) But at Inmagic, it was embraced. Why? Because we are family. We work together every day. We respect and trust each other as you would your own brother or sister. We are in this together.

The engineering team has been working with our support and implementations teams for a while now. And what do I have to report? Success! Nothing can replace getting into the trenches, being on those front lines. We are now seeing first-hand the good things, the pain points, and everything in between. And being engineers, we solve problems – so we immediately began working toward solutions. Some examples in Presto include: 
  1. Functionality for downloading content types, value lists and categories to XML quickly and easily from the UI
  2. An entire "branding" section in Application Settings that will surely continue to grow
  3. The ability to view system log files from the UI
  4. Capability to put the system in a “down for maintenance” mode
  5. And many more...

What makes these features different is they are there for support and implementations, not necessarily the end user. They are there to make the teams’ jobs easier and more efficient. These items would have never gone into the product if we hadn't embraced our new strategy.

We are one team, one company, one family. And it shows.

Introducing Presto…for DB/Textworks!

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By Kipo Saysongkham

Here’s a little story

Circa 1969... a few propeller heads get together and string yarn between two computers to create the Internet. This paves the way for the World Wide Web some 19 years later. By the time the Web is functional, Inmagic has thousands of customers building very sophisticated databases (aka textbases) on their desktops using DB/Textworks. As the Web gains traction, organizations quickly realize its importance – as does Inmagic. For our DB/Textworks users, the Web appears to be the perfect environment to easily and quickly share all of the content that has been amassed over the years. In 1997, WebPublisher is released and information seekers rejoice.

WebPublisher was ahead of its time. The ability to take a database and publish it to the Web without having to use any of the Web languages was a huge achievement. And our customers have done some really amazing things with the product.

But…

Our users have found themselves with less time and resources to build out applications on WebPublisher, while at the same time facing a higher demand for Web-based functionality. As an example, one of our long-time customers wanted to give users the ability to add records to a cart and email it to peers. Though that sounds easy enough – and can be done with WebPublisher – it requires writing code.

And the similarities between the Web world and the fashion industry are just uncanny. Things seem to go from hip and hot one day to passé in a blink of an eye. One of the early adopters of WebPublisher had been successfully pushing a handful of databases to its site for years. However, updating the site and retiring such “unfashionable” features as animated gifs was not as simple as it could be. We started to lament, “If only WebPublisher had the latest out-of-the-box Web features and a more modern user interface (UI), If only there was a simpler way...”


 And Presto for DB/Textworks was born.

If you are like the thousands of customers that love DB/Textworks and WebPublisher, but wish that WebPublisher had more capabilities out-of-the-box, then Presto for DB/Textworks is for you. Here are just a few of the exciting new features you’ll find:

·        Improved simple search box 
One of the biggest challenges with WebPublisher is that it natively searches one textbase at a time. While this is great if you are publishing one textbase, it becomes a challenge when you are pushing out two or 200. This easy-to-use, yet very powerful search box allows a user to search across all of the textbases that they have access to. And, with the enhanced security of Presto for DB/Textworks, users only have access to the fields, records, and textbases for which they’ve been permissioned.

·        UI enhancements and homepages
Presto for DB/Textworks helps alleviate some of the need for second-tier knowledge of HTML and other Web languages, and features a new homepage concept. Homepages are completely configurable, easy-to-use and incorporate some of the latest Web technologies. For example, Presto for DB/Textworks has a “slideshow” widget that lets you create and display slideshows without using JavaScript. It is one of many widgets you can use to create a dynamic and engaging landing page without programming. You can even customize different homepages for different audiences.

Another UI development that has early users buzzing is records displays and layouts. Records can be displayed and collated not only by textbase and record type, but also automatically sorted by relevance. Or you can determine sort order for each textbase. There's even a feature for the auto-creation of thumbnails of images and PDFs. If you have PDFs in your textbases, Presto for DB/Textworks will auto-generate a thumbnail of the first page. And that’s just the beginning.
 
·        Enhanced security
There is a ton to say about this feature, but here’s the high level: you now have the ability to lock down and permission every aspect of your textbase and application – fields, records, reports, screens, homepages, application controls…the list goes on. The best part is you don't need to be a security expert in order to do this; we have provided an easy-to-use interface to administer security.
 
·        Content collections for data categorization
WebPublisher is a wonderful search tool, but search is only one way to engage users. To improve the end-user experience and encourage self-sufficiency, Presto for DB/Textworks allows you to build browsable directories, which we call content collections or taxonomies.
 
·        Alerting capabilities
Simple search, advance search, and browsable collections are all great ways for your users to find records in your textbases, but they require users to pull the information themselves. Now there’s a way for the application to push relevant content to users. The alerting capability gives individual users the ability to create customized alerts and notifications delivered via their choice of email or an RSS feed. If you don't want all users to create alerts, you can use the enhanced security to determine which users have alert access.
 
·        Ability to act on content
Once users find the content they are looking for, you can decide how they can use the records they find. All “act on content” capabilities can be individually permissioned to a group of users. Here are a few examples of permissioned capabilities:
    • Place items in the infocart to be acted on later.
    • Print, email or download to various formats such as XML, HTML and even PDF.
·        Social capabilities: commenting, rating, tagging, voting
Just because you add a social channel to your site doesn't necessarily mean that you’d like every comment, rating, vote, etc., to be published. We created the idea of a “social volume knob” for controlling not only who can provide feedback, but what social piece will be available for each textbase. And if you don’t want a social channel at all, the individual pieces can be turned on/off.
 
·        Usage metrics and event capturing
One of the biggest challenges with WebPublisher is that it provides no feedback. The administrator had no idea how, or even if, the application was utilized across the organization. Presto for DB/Textworks addresses this in spades. The product captures and reports on the following examples of usage events:
    • Who logged in;
    • Which records users looked at and if they were emailed, printed, or downloaded;
    • Who commented, rated, tagged or voted (if social capabilities are turned on); and
    • Which search terms were used, including misspelled words.
My enthusiasm for Presto for DB/Textworks clearly runneth over, and I’ve taken up more than my allotted blogging space, so I’ll stop.

 But there’s so much more to say… if you’d like to learn more, please contact us at 781-938-4444 or send us a message at sales@inmagic.com. We’re also holding a product roadmap webinar on Tuesday, January 15, during which Phil Green and Dave Golan will be on hand to answer any questions and go into more detail on the exciting capabilities of Presto for DB/Textworks. Register here!

 

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