SRP Resource Sites – Right Tool for the Right Job

SRP has long advocated a philosophy of “right tool for the right job” when building software applications. It was the driving force that moved us to develop our very first ActiveX control for OpenInsight. Continuing along this path has resulted in the development of several useful controls and utilities. This effort has allowed us to produce some fantastic software applications for our clients – using the very best that OpenInsight has to offer while integrating technology that goes beyond OpenInsight’s boundaries. Therefore, it was only natural that we should follow this same philosophy when it comes to our own online resources.

For several years, our wiki site has been a valuable resource of product information and technical help. Over time it seemed like a good idea to extend the site for other purposes: news releases, technical articles, discussion forum, and general repository for various bits of Revelation-specific information such as BASIC+ reference material and past conference presentations. So, what is the problem?

Simply put, we outgrew the foundation of our wiki platform. Because it was based upon the tried and true MediaWiki package, it was somewhat limited to normal wiki functionality. In order to provide non-standard features, we were required to use third-party plugins. Unfortunately, these were often buggy and unsupported. The ongoing challenges of keeping the original wiki site afloat led to the realization that we needed to retire the wiki site in its present design and carefully consider how we could better serve our customers and colleagues. We concluded that this would be best achieved by breaking apart our online resources into separate sites. Each site would implement the technology platform that was best suited to its purpose.

In a sense, this idea was piloted in 2013 when we launched the SRP Update, our official blog site (which, of course, you are now reading!) While this project was not trivial, it was the easiest to implement. Since then, we have been very busy doing research into best of breed technologies to use for our discussion forum, product information portal, and our technical resource sites. This was a daunting task. The R&D alone was a full-time project, but the effort to convert thousands of wiki pages and related plugin content was a massive effort and one that we could not turn-over as quickly as we would like.

Nevertheless, last year we silently began to roll out new SRP resource sites. Through selective word of mouth we invited customers to start visiting them, kicking the tires, and giving us feedback. By the end of the year we were convinced that all of our new sites were ready for prime-time and we went live. We announced this, but only through the SRP newsletter (which is known as the SRP Review) and our social media portals. It was only after receiving emails from confused customers we came to realize that not everyone who visits our sites were subscribers to our newsletter. Lesson learned.

So, by way of publicizing through our blog, we are repeating the announcement of new SRP resource sites:

  • SRP Wiki – Yes, the wiki lives, but on a new platform. This is now based on Confluence. While the site is now dedicated to only technical resources, we believe you will find it to be a richer experience, with superb content searching, and better organized than the original wiki.
  • SRP Products – This is the new home for product descriptions and links to download the latest release of any product.
  • SRP Forum – Our new discussion forum which is based on Vanilla Forums. This follows the same pattern as the old forum in that there are categories dedicated to specific products. Our new platform provides WYSIWYG editing, drag-and-drop image support, and subscription based email notification.
  • SRP Update – Nothing new here. I am just listing this here because it is rightfully a member of our family of online resources intended to improve the quality of services we provide to our customers.

Two final comments on this topic. First, old bookmarks will likely not work. We apologize for any inconveniences our new sites will cause in this area. Second, the aforementioned SRP Review Newsletter is officially retired. We introduced this communications vehicle at a time when we considered the blog site to be limited to technical articles. We have concluded that the two channels really overlap one another and therefore it makes more sense to consolidate to just the blog.

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