I have to say, time flies. It’s already been a year since I presented to you our virtual training options for Instant Developer. This academic year has given us a chance to build up some experience and collect feedback and suggestions that we’d like to use to further improve the service.

The classes have proven to be the best way to approach InDe and also to learn more about it, especially thanks to the added value of interaction with the teacher.

Many people have stressed how useful the recordings are, but others have reported some trouble in consulting them “given that each video contains an entire lesson and it’s hard to quickly find which point in the recording to review.” That’s why the lesson recordings will be replaced by a set of short tutorial videos, each one on a specific subject about the program, and lasting 5 to 10 minutes.

Another important change is that upcoming classes will be held for just a week, in four lessons of 120 minutes each, and they will be more frequent so it will be simpler to participate.

The price for each student will vary from a maximum of $349 (or € 249) to a minimum of $269 (or € 169) per person based on the number purchased, to make it easier for more people to attend. Signing up for courses will become easier too: starting in September, simply access the help desk to sign up on your own or for your colleagues for the course you want, directly through Pro Gamma’s e-commerce.

The following course subjects will be offered:

  • Basic CourseWeb applications and the basics of Document Orientation (InDe’s OOP)
  • Report Course- Traditional reports, in preview and dynamic interfaces
  • Mobile CourseOffline mobile applications, synchronization, native shell

Are you ready to head back to school?

  •    Definitely! I'm already planning to attend the upcoming courses.
  •    It's great, but the course I want isn't there (please tell us in a comment what you'd like to see).
  •    I don't believe that online courses are effective. Only a teacher in a classroom can make a difference.

Image: mbeo.

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As already reported by Andrea, one of the main new features of version 13.1 is integration with Salesforce, the cloud-based CRM tool for sales force management, customer service, support, and help desk. Now, integrating this Customer Relationship Management tool into your applications is very simple.

A special wizard allows you to authenticate on Salesforce and create classes in your project that correspond to the entities exposed by the service. The import wizard makes it easy to read and save data, because you can simply treat the imported classes as normal Document Oriented classes, using them in master queries of panels. Then you only have to create the application to perform the necessary web calls to service, sending the CRUD operations initiated by the user.

But it doesn’t stop at Salesforce, because with the same wizard – available in the menu under Tools-Web API Importer – you can integrate a generic RESTful service into your project. And even in this case managing the data for the service is as simple as calling the usual Document Orientation functions:

If you have a Salesforce account and want to try this new feature, you can find more information in the WebApi Guide.

With version 13.1 we integrated Salesforce, and the next step will be support to another popular ERP system that I’m sure will be useful for many people, but I’d like to leave you with an additional thought: the Web API that simplifies integrating these services into your Instant Developer projects also simplifies integrating applications made with InDe into other services, including exposing your own Web APIs.

Are you interested in integrating Salesforce in your applications?

  •    Definitely, in fact we've already implemented Salesforce integration.
  •    Very interested, and we want to integrate it in our applications as soon as possible.
  •    For now we don't use it, but we're thinking of adopting it in the future.
  •    I'm not interested in Salesforce.

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June has come and gone, and as promised, it’s time once again to talk about Instant Developer technical support. However, this time I want to go beyond just presenting performance indicators. I’d like to dig a little deeper and look at the real value underlying user feedback.

Since the start of the second quarter, the average grade rose from 4.24 to 4.28, and the percentage of sessions receiving a grade rose from 55% to 64%. Now, if we only looked at the numbers, it would be like saying “well, we’ve managed to complete the thankless task of technical support”. But that’s not the case. Technical support should not be viewed as a thankless task to be avoided if possible, but as an important resource for innovating and improving the product. I’d like to use today’s post to share what I’ve learned from your feedback.

To better understand where improvement is needed, I broke down the average grades by type of session:

  • 4.32 for support requests.
  • 3.93 for bug reports.
  • 4.78 for internal error reports.
  • 5 for consulting services.

It’s clear that bug reports have the lowest average grade, which is perhaps to be expected, but I was surprised when I broke the figure down by outcomes:

  • 2 for bug reports closed because the error could not be reproduced.
  • 3.30 for bug reports closed because the problem was due to improper use of InDe.
  • 4.35 for bug reports closed with a workaround provided.

This data shows that the weak point is related to non-reproducible bugs. To find out more, I contacted most users who gave a grade, and it turns out that the negative factor was the perception that the discussion was closed, not the inability to reproduce the problem.

And this is perhaps understandable. Some might view the response to such reports as “the error could not be reproduced, so we are closing the request; if you want, you can open another one (in other words, it’s your problem)”, but that is not what we mean to say! What we are trying to say in these cases is “as of now, we have not been able to reproduce the error; can you open another request with more information or with a different project?”. We always prefer a continuous dialogue, but the fact that these tickets were being placed in closed status led to misunderstanding.

In response to this business intelligence exercise, I’ve decided to experiment with a change in the support procedure over the rest of the year: when a bug report is closed due to a non-reproducible error, to re-open it and provide additional information, the user will only need to reply via email with more information on how to reproduce it. If the results of this trial period are positive, we will implement the ability to perform this operation with a simple click from the response email.

My analysis has confirmed that there are two factors involved in improving both the product and our relationship with customers: being receptive to feedback and not being afraid to acknowledge and address it.

If I could give any advice to readers, it would be to do likewise.

Image: Steven Shorrock.

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One of the features that developers are often asked to include in web applications is the ability for users to write HTML-formatted text, for example to send an e-mail using the bold or italic modifiers. To do this, your application must contain an HTML editor.

With Instant Developer, it is very easy to include a WYSIWYG editor in your applications. Until version 13.0, the integrated tool was CKEditor, one of the most widely-used HTML editors on the web, but starting with version 13.1 you can also use an alternative editor.

We decided to develop our own editor to facilitate the customizations that many of our users have made to CKEditor, which required implementing plugins, an often complicated operation. Also, because the editor is integrated into the InDe framework, we have optimized editing and information exchange with the server.

I must say that when first asked to develop it, I immediately knew that it would require a very in-depth analysis and design, because a component like this is a very complex object. The starting point was to manage the functioning of editable IFrames and to standardize the functioning between the various browsers. When this was finished, we had to design and manage the toolbar with its commands and allow the commands to be sent also on the server side. The work was definitely very interesting.

The new features that simplify usage compared with CKEditor are the following:

  • You can specify from code which toolbar buttons to show or hide.
  • You can configure the list of colors to be used to set the background color or text color.
  • You can configure the list of fonts to be used.
  • You can insert an image, automatically loading it on the server. In this case, the OnFileUploaded event allows specifying where to copy it.
  • You can display a combo box with a list of tokens whose value will be automatically replaced with the text selected by the user or will be inserted at the position of the cursor.
  • You can command the editor from application code to control selection. You can also hide the entire editor toolbar and replace it with custom buttons.

But these are just some of the new features available. If you are interested, you can find the complete documentation in this chapter of the online reference.

Why not try it for yourself now? I would appreciate your feedback!

  •    Great, I can't wait to use it instead of the old editor!
  •    Interesting, but there are some CKEditor features I can't do without.
  •    For me, one editor is as good as any other.
  •    I don't use a WYSIWYG editor in my applications.

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Instant Developer 13.1 – another step

27.06.2014

It is with great pleasure that I write this article to announce the release of the new 13.1 version of Instant Developer. If the purpose of the version in March was to implement significant changes in terms of the overall product, in June our goal was to optimize and improve the product in response to [...]

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One language, many languages

20.06.2014

June 2nd was date of the much-anticipated Apple WWDC. I watched it in real-time and I was struck by some new things I’d like to share with you. For starters, the effort Apple has made to make the WebViews more powerful. Not only will they be activating Nitro, which will make hybrid web applications much [...]

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Tips & Tricks: Extend the Native Shell

13.06.2014

We’ve talked many times about the advantage of the hybrid architecture of apps made with Instant Developer, which because they are written in JavaScript can be used on all major mobile operating systems – iOS, Android and Windows8/RT – and for which the Native Shell provides functionalities that would otherwise be inaccessible, such as reading [...]

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Tips & Tricks: debugging an offline app

30.05.2014

In the world of mobile apps, usability and good operation are decisive for an application: when an app doesn’t work well the first time, we’re tempted to delete it and install another one, especially since we’re spoiled for choice. It’s clear that in a context like this one apps have to be tested directly on [...]

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More support for mobile apps

23.05.2014

Do you remember a few weeks ago I talked to you about the optimization for Android KitKat 4.4 for applications made with Instant Developer? It was an interesting improvement because thanks to the new web view and use of the web workers, applications are even faster and more fluid. But to be honest, I didn’t [...]

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Instant Cloud is here!

16.05.2014

We all know how complicated it is to put the web solutions we’ve developed into production: you have to sign a contract with a data center, choose your servers, hope you’ve bought the right ones, install them, and configure them one by one. You need special skills and lots of time. But now that’s all [...]

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