Looking Ahead into 2018
In case you missed it, 2017 has come and gone. We ended one of our busiest years on record and our workload does not appear to be slowing down. Our adventures involved several interesting projects, but the most fascinating commonality among them was the high demand for integration work. Three major enterprise clients introduced requirements to connect OpenInsight to SQL databases. Other projects had us building bridges to Microsoft Office applications via OLE Automation, writing interfaces to ESRI GIS solutions, and increased work with web services (much of this will be shared through upcoming blog articles). We are eagerly anticipating the journey ahead in 2018. To help you share in our excitement, we would like to provide a preview of various exciting developments within the company and within our labs.
Our first significant news of 2018 is a major event that includes a promotion. This month Kevin Fournier celebrates his 15th year with SRP. This is a great milestone and we look forward to many more years of Kevin’s fabulous contributions to our product development. In fact, we are so committed to keeping his magical talents, we have promoted him to Chief Technology Officer. In his new position, Kevin will continue to lead the company’s mission to utilize a “best of breed” approach toward application development. Furthermore, he will have greater input and direction over the company’s R&D endeavors. Finally, he will directly oversee all non-OpenInsight project development. We have some great technology already mapped out for the upcoming years and we can’t think of a better person to lead us down this path than Kevin.
SRP Products and OpenInsight 10
Undoubtedly most of our community is eager to see OpenInsight 10 (aka OIX) come off the assembly line. Conversations with our colleagues and customers usually include a question about OpenInsight 10 and how it will work with our products. One of the more interesting developments with OpenInsight 10 are Revelation Software’s intent to release the 64-bit version sooner rather than later (which had been the original plan). While this good news for Revelation, it created an unexpected challenge for us and our customers who rely upon our (32-bit only) products.
As far as we know, a 32-bit version of OpenInsight 10 will be released along with the 64-bit version. We fully expect our current products to continue to work just fine in this version. The unexpected shift in the 64-bit release schedule prompted us to begin actively working on 64-bit ports of both SRP Utilities and SRP ActiveX Controls. They are slow coming because it takes time to carefully port over ten years of development that could safely assume a 32-bit environment. Every line must be scoured to check for implicit conversions from memory addresses to fixed 32-bit data types, which is the most common issue when upgrading. Additionally, we must manually upgrade many third-party codebases that do not have a 64-bit edition immediately available.
We sincerely thank you for choosing SRP products and want to assure you that our products will follow you into the future of OpenInsight.
SRP Products and You
While significant effort is being put into supporting 64-bit, we continue to improve the products in our catalog. If there is a single word that encompasses the core philosophy of everything we do, it is productivity. Our software enables work flow and data management to be efficient, intuitive, and accurate. All of these are essential ingredients for any software system designed to make businesses more productive. This same philosophy governs the direction and the design of our popular developer tools. Here is a sampler plate of what is currently cooking in our labs…
SRP FrameWorks and HTTP Framework
Both of our flagship products have received major upgrades, but due to the ongoing development of each product we have not had the time to advertise them properly. A comprehensive review of each product will appear in upcoming articles but we’ll share some of the highlights now.
SRP FrameWorks is now at version 16.0.13 and introduces some very significant changes. First, the primary MDI Frame is no longer sporting the old menu and button toolbar. In keeping with modern application UI design, we have replaced these with the SRP Ribbon control. To help in the management of the Ribbon control, we have introduced the Ribbon Manager. This tool uses drag-n-drop convenience enabling developers to add tabs, groups, and commands easily when building their desired look and feel. Security and user management have been revamped. The old system would only allow users to be members of a single security group. This approach required that each security group provide everything that a user would need access to. We have now made security more flexible by replacing security groups with security profiles. Users can now be members of one or more profiles. This makes it very easy for security to be designed around specific work groups, modules, or roles. Security profiles stack nicely, allowing a user to have the privileges of all associated profiles. There is much more to announce with SRP FrameWorks 16…but we’ll save this for later once we finish our formal documentation.
SRP HTTP Framework version 3.0.0 was released early last year, but it has also received some recent updates that are well worth mentioning. By popular demand, we now ship a sample database table with an associated web service with the product. The web service provides full CRUD (create, read, update, delete) functionality, giving the developer a ready-to-use template for creating new web services. Another feature that we’ve been asked to provide is a way to handle web services that get aborted due to runtime errors (i.e., similar to what INET_ABORTED does). We are happy to report the availability of the HTTP_Aborted_Service. Finally, our logging feature has been completely overhauled to be more informative. The names of the log files are keyed to date, time, type, and the OpenEngine Process ID. The contents of each report are richer and better formatted. Navigate over to the What’s New page for more information about all the latest enhancements to the SRP HTTP Framework.
The SRP Editor is officially at version 2.9.1, but version 3.0.0 will soon be released. Simply put, no other code and record editor comes close to making a developer as productive as the SRP Editor. Our latest version can now interrogate the form associated to an event commuter module. This means developers can remain in their code and begin creating event handlers without having to switch back to the Form Designer to see which controls exist. The SRP Editor already knows about these controls and becomes aware of new controls whenever the form is compiled! Of course, this would only be half as useful if the SRP Editor didn’t know which events exist for each control so we made sure that this information is also immediately available.
Due to the intense effort required to convert our utilities to 64-bit, we are also taking the opportunity to refactor and improve the codebase during this process. In order to be assured that we will not break existing code, we have employed unit testing. Of course, unit testing is not built into OpenInsight…until now. The next release of the SRP Editor will include an entire unit testing framework. Writing and testing code in OpenInsight has just reached a new level.
Many developers currently use the Auto Text feature to store code snippets. This will remain, but the SRP Editor will soon introduce code templates. Code templates will enable developers to quickly create skeleton code optimized for event commuters, service modules, unit tests, or even custom templates.
Quite often, words alone fail to illustrate the merit of our products. There is so much to share, but it can be challenging to convey this without writing a novel. Therefore, this year we plan to create video demonstrations and tutorials.
SRP Cloud Services
It has been very gratifying to see how much the Revelation community uses and relies upon our cloud services. Unfortunately, we have had a few outages lately and this has caused you (and us) to lose access to those service at times. We are pleased to report that we are taking steps to improve various areas of our public facing services. We are already taking action and have begun to relocate the two most active services, SRP Wiki and SRP Forum, to a new cloud hosting environment. This will provide a more stable and faster connection to these services. As these systems go online in their new home, we will continue to migrate other services as well.
Much of what we do and who we are continues to be based on the strength and support of the Revelation community. For that, we want to begin 2018 with a note of sincere gratitude. We look forward to strengthening our existing partnerships, developing new ones, and helping one another be successful in our beloved profession.