Crescendo upgrade highlights 2006-2009
Crescendo Upgrade Highlights 2006-2009
Efficiency Partners is constantly applying design and programming effort to improve its core Crescendo software, which serves as the foundation for each of its customers’ unique systems. Below are just a few highlights among many system-wide improvements that have been made during the past four years.
It is important to point out that many of the improvements, while undetectable to the average user, have been made to our EP development tools, which allow our technicians to develop specialized software applications more quickly and effectively.
1. View screen interface improvements
In 2004 we thoroughly revamped our system’s user interface, including all menus and entry screens. However the widely used “view” screens remained in their original, more primitive form. We’ve now updated the view screens as well to include the updated look & feel as well as spreadsheet-style data grids and action buttons. This fits more data on the screen and allows for more targeted drill-down and better screen printouts.
2. View screen overlay changes
Formerly, any change to a view screen required programmer customization of that screen, leading to more maintenance effort. Now, we’ve enabled the same unique “overlay” technology for view screens as exists for menus and input screens. This gives our customers nearly total control over the specific information that displays in the view screens, without ever changing the underlying program.
3. Universal screen capacity flexibility
One very recent but powerful improvement has been to allow user control over the size (i.e. the number of available rows and columns) individually for each screen in the system. Historically, the amount of information that displayed on the screen was limited to a 80 x 24 grid. Now every screen, including menus, input screens, views and applications (on-screen living reports) can be set to any larger size up to 160 x 60. This increases by as much as 500% the amount of information that can be displayed on any single screen, and blows the lid of off traditional limitations in screen real estate.
4. Application overlay changes
Among the most useful of Crescendo’s user interface options are its applications (aka “living reports”). EP has now extended its overlay user customization technology to this interface as well. This allows nearly every aspect of an application to be tailored specifically for the needs of the business, without impacting the integrity of the underlying program. Allowable changes include screen sizing, column displays, colors, running totals, screen refresh rates, add, delete or secure action buttons, etc. This allows for maximum system customization without hindering the ability to apply future upgrades.
5. Application performance improvement for long data lists
Applications are far superior to traditional printed reports in that they integrate editing and decision making, and furnish a dynamic, real-time view of the database. One limitation that has historically hindered their ability to replace traditional reports completely was that performance was substantially compromised with longer reports in excess of 5,000 rows of data. EP has now shattered this barrier, utilizing temporary file space for paging in much the same way that operating systems use the hard drive as “virtual memory”. Now application screens offer good performance for any length report, permitting every traditional “dead” report to be replaced by a living one.
6. System architecture simplification
Crescendo was originally organized within the multivalue database environment with a separate program area for each of Crescendo’s twenty five modules. As ongoing integration efforts multiplied the number of “neural pathways” between the modules, the functional boundaries evaporated, leaving a more cohesive, fluid and monolithic system. The original segregated structure became a hindrance in this environment, so EP has eliminated the unnecessary original “scaffolding” and created a single program area for all system code. This simplification enhances installations, maintenance, modifications and upgrades, and gives the entire system a smaller, sleeker footprint.
7. Pre-field code snippets
Crescendo morphs to fit the unique business workflows of each customer organization. One of the ways it does this is by allowing for “snap-in” business rules to be applied as needed to virtually every crack and crevice in the system. EP has opened yet another opportunity for business rule snap-ins in the form of “pre-field” code snippets. This is code that executes just prior to the cursor being positioned at any given field, enhancing the ability to perform more intelligent defaulting as well as field-by-field security.
8. Application grid edit, display and printing updates
Without question, since the dawn of the computer age, the “spreadsheet” has been the most useful, enduring format for the presentation and manipulation of data. Even in printed formats, there is something clean, organized and reassuring about gridlines that cordon off data cells. Crescendo has fully embraced this universal data exchange medium in a variety of ways. A large number of business functions have been converted to the aforementioned “application” screens, which combine the power of spreadsheet presentation with button-based one-click decision execution. The application spreadsheet presentation environment has been enhanced dramatically in the latest Crescendo release. In addition, all Crescendo detail screens, which have since 2004 been presented in spreadsheet grid format, have now also been endowed with a new grid-style edit capability which makes for lightning fast global revisions of particular data fields. All grid displays can now be output as a hard copy in tabular format replete with gridlines for organized presentations. Simple grid display utilities have been developed as well to facilitate the quick deployment of snap-in info displays in any screen.
9. Web integration
Since the internet explosion, page-at-a-time browsers such as internet explorer have emerged as a universal interface for connecting to information resources in the “cloud”. Crescendo-driven companies can now leverage this worldwide technology to provide data display and update access to vendors, customers, outside salespeople and even traveling employees who connect via a web browser from anywhere in the world. EP has developed a simple yet reliable and efficient web portal to the Crescendo multivalue database that allows any desired information to be securely fed as web content to a browser and then safely updated to Crescendo. This technology can have explosive impact for improvements in efficiency, accuracy and convenience for vendors, customers and your own staff.
10. Level II internet-based credit card processing
A few years back, the credit companies instituted new security guidelines for business-to-business merchant transactions, offering more attractive processing rates in exchange for “level II” compliance. At the same time, EP’s chosen processor, Heartland Payment Systems, developed its own internet-based point-of-sale gateway to allow for the elimination of old-school dialup credit card approvals. EP worked with Heartland’s developers to produce its own software interface to this new gateway, which resulted in dramatically faster, more secure approvals in conjunction with more attractive processing rates. EP’s customers have been able to save thousands each year in credit card fees while simultaneously increasing transaction speed as a result.
11. Emailed or Web-accessible business documents in HTML or PDF
EP has created system-wide integrated support for the production and transmission of all business documents such as quotes, order acknowledgements, invoices, pricing inquiries and purchase orders in the emailed format of your choice. The HTML format allows for minimum file sizes, integrated graphics and direct business form presentation from a web portal. The PDF format is also popular for transmitting multi-page documents as a universally accessible email attachment. The emailed HTML format can be employed to allow your trading partners to acknowledge PO’s, pay invoices, or accept quotes by filling out a simple embedded form on your business document and then clicking an embedded submit button. The information is seamlessly and directly updated through the web portal to your Crescendo system, and your vendor or customer never has to leave his Outlook email screen!
12. Direct control of Windows from within Crescendo
The multivalued database environment (e.g. mvBASE) runs as an application in the Windows operating system environment. In its native form, the multivalue database offers limited access and connectivity to basic Windows functions. EP has developed a piece of software called mvWIS (multivalue Windows Information Server) that places direct control over a wide variety of Windows O/S functions in the hands of a Crescendo programmer or program user. At last count, mvWIS supported over three dozen Windows task execution, file and folder system, device access and internet-based communications functions that put the world (and the world wide web) at the feet of the Crescendo-powered enterprise.