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OpenInsight makes full use of the potential of the MultiValue model and provides developers and users with features that support and encourage the use of attributes having a list of values, rather than all attributes having a single value.
Normally in databases application developers can only store one value in one column/row combination but if developers can have 'MultiValues' it means that a column can accept multiple values, with no limit to how many values there are.
This concept is better explained through an example; In the case of an address a Revelation developer can drop the multiple address lines (Address Line 1, Address Line 2, Address line 3) and simply use one MultiValue column simply called 'Address' and this can contain any number of address rows, usually entered into a table on the screen.
In the same way, a developer can drop individual prompts for contact numbers, and provide the user with associated MultiValue columns, being Contact type (phone, fax, cell, etc.) and then the actual contact number, followed by an extension if required. This can be further refined to include family member's contact numbers, where there is no business benefit to creating an entire unique record for the family members, normally required by the Relational model. This could result in unnecessary disk space being used and additional wasted time for the user to enter and save the additional records.
How many times do you have to make your data fit the application that you are using? How often do you run out of characters when entering someone's name or an address into a software solution? In most application development systems, the developer needs to pre-allocate memory to fields and this often results in fixed length fields being imposed on users.
In the OpenInsight world this is not normally an issue. When the database is defined a preferred field size is defined, but when this is exceeded the system simply ignores the limit and continues to allow the user to add characters, as data is removed from the system OpenInsight automatically resizes the field memory allocation to efficiently manage the system.
One of OpenInsight's greatest strengths is that almost the whole of the product is built in OpenInsight itself and it consists mostly of data. This provides developers and power users of bespoke or customised solutions with the facility to tweak (develop) their live system while it is in use. These changes can then be immediately made available to users working on the system, all without disruption to those users use of the application.
However, the real power comes into play when a software house is contracted to write a bespoke solution, or a client driven enhancement to a packaged solution. The requirements can be taken and quickly built into the system. They are then presented to the client and in many cases things can be modified 'there and then' to reach 100% customer satisfaction and benefit from the system every time.
For developers supplying solutions to clients, this means that a much higher level of customer satisfaction can be achieved through their personal input into the final look and feel. Imagine the scenario where you have just received your new application, but a couple of the prompts are in illogical places and you could use a couple of extra menu items. Sit down with your developer and within minutes you can have exactly what you want, where you want it.
"Most companies never get the last little 10% of benefit from their systems because they were so locked into designing the application up front. Once it is delivered, any rework is really expensive. But with Revelation, you can build a prototype and then refine and modify it with the client without major rework to get that last 10% comfort level."
Jim Butler, OpenInsight Developer.
One of the key reasons why people use OpenInsight is for its ability to help them to maintain their competitive edge. This is achieved in many ways, but mostly through faster application development times, leading to a faster route to market with less skilled staff.
Very often we hear of Revelation VARs with only a couple of software developers competing against organisations with 10 or more specialist staff producing the same results. Furthermore, through a more streamlined multi-disciplined team Revelation's VARs are able to quickly address business needs through their software and get the results out to users before their competition.
This results in end-users benefiting from the enhancements more quickly and at a lower cost as the Revelation VARs total overhead in salaries is often much lower.
If you could do more for your clients, than your competition, without inflating your costs and then deliver that value faster than your competition, benefitting you both - would you let your competition know how you manage to maintain your competitive edge?
In addition, it also enables Revelation VARs to undertake and deliver projects that would normally be considered unviable using more mainstream products. For instance a national NHS project was completed for around 100,000.00 (GBP) whereas another system the client was considering for the task cost over a million. Elsewhere, another Revelation VAR was approach to undertake a pilot project for a government agency and delivered a working pilot for less than 150,000 (GBP), whereas their competitors declined to even bid for the work.
"We had to build the entire call centre and television studio management system, and we had to do it in six weeks, just me and one other programmer. The only application environment that could handle it in the timeframe available was from Revelation."
Kyle Amadio, PowerForce for Retails Systems.
Revelation enjoys a niche within the application development market, in which Revelation's developers have built a community based on 'everyone succeeding' and from this several leading experts have emerged. Whether, developers are one of these leading experts, a developer, or power-user new to OpenInsight, there are hundreds of people wanting to offer their help, as they were helped before, all in the interest of breeding success within the community.
To enable this sense of community to flourish, back in 1996 Revelation were one of the first software companies to publish an open, public threaded discussion forum for its developers and in doing so created a virtual global community for the sharing of information and the exchange of ideas regarding all aspects of application development and deployment using Revelation's products.
Without question, Revelation based systems stand the test of time. Many Revelation VARs have systems that have evolved over the last two decades and support many millions of rows of data. Throughout this time, technology changes in hardware, software and also communications have been relentless, but Revelation have provided support for the majority of these changes This has enabledRevelation's VARs and end-users to exploit those with the best business benefit where data driven solutions are concerned.
How many of your other software vendors have a proven track record spanning the last decade, let alone the best part of three decades?
Existing end-users often want to find out more about the underlying technology of their packaged solution and this interest is often born from the reliability of systems built using OpenInsight. Not only are they usually well designed and developed, but through OpenInsight less code is required to build the solutions and many tasks such as record locking, memory allocation, interacting with the data, etc. are all handled through the system without bespoke code.
With fewer lines of bespoke code in the system,
there is less opportunity for the system to fail through fewer failure points.
Revelation based systems have proven time and again that they are ultra scalable. Many systems created under DOS with only a handful of users have evolved into Windows applications with hundreds of licensed users and over the web, companies now enable their systems to interact with millions of users daily. Furthermore, these systems have evolved without the need for complex and costly system rewrites that often result in retraining and testing overheads for organisations running the solutions.
Revelation drives down the cost of ownership through providing technologies that enable developers to create systems that are often a case of setting up the system and forgetting all about them. Clearly support agreements are recommended for those instances where something does break, but in the main, Revelation systems usually only require a morning or afternoon a month of general database administration and it is no surprise that Revelation take calls from people who have been running a solution for several years without needing to ask for help at all, many of which have since lost contact with the original system author.
This means that end-users no longer need to invest in costly database administration staff and cover costly periods of system downtime. Furthermore, the user experience is enhanced through availability, generating more acceptance and trust in the systems across the organisation.
"On the subject of a scalability and performance test, no performance impact is closer to the truth. Timings were different at most by 1/100th of a second between 250 and 850 users worth of background noise."
Mark Marsh, Senior OpenInsight System Architect
Revelation's commitment to its clients does not stop with the organisation that pays the bill, typically the VAR. Whether it is disaster recovery solutions for 24x7 operating systems, or an event that results in the VAR ceasing trading, or for some other legitimate reason the VAR is unable to assist an end-user, Revelation have a safety net to ensure that the end-user can continue to run their business software, within the application license of course.
Revelation is committed to the availability and success of every Revelation based system however and wherever supplied.
Through Revelation's Universal Driver Heavy (UDH), users can ensure that their valuable data is always available regardless of the seriousness of a system failure. For instance in the event of a disc or machine failure, a warning email is sent and the system can be switched over to a secondary server with an up to the minute copy of the data, the users continue to use the system unhindered whilst the issue is resolved. Once repaired, the server is bought back online and the journalled transactions are replayed to the backup data server.
Furthermore, for systems working 24x7x365 the UDH enables 'real point in time' backups to be taken without any of the issues associated with open file backup software or interruption in user access to the system.
In addition to product related solutions, Revelation also has both informal agreements that VARs can extend to their clients and also more formal, escrow style, agreements for larger clients. These agreements do not simply cater for the provision of source code for the end-user to muddle through with. Both agreements provide end-users with access to top line support in the case of a loss of system situation and a service to set up a business relationship with a new technical resource as required. The escrow agreement goes further in providing a release mechanism for source code and technical resource to maintain that code going forward.
"Protecting an organisations investment in their data is of paramount importance when considering a data driven software purchase. Through products like the UDH, backed by well conceived disaster recovery plans, it is a pleasure to discuss these difficult issues with our VARs and end- users"
Martyn Phillips, Revelation Software Limited