‘The History of UA Business Software – Part 1‘ talked about how UA went from an idea to a product with thousands of users all over the world in only a few short years.
The product grew from a basic accounting application to include many ERP modules all of which could be customized for the user because the product shipped with source code provided.
From a customer perspective this was an ideal situation but every software developer knows that customized software is the nemesis of new product releases. No matter what product you are customizing, you always run the risk of having your customizations break or become obsolete when the software manufacturer releases a new version. Rather than accepting this as a fact of life, the early developers of the UA product decided to come up with a new and unique approach to this age old problem.
Advanced Software and UA has always been 100% based on Microsoft technologies and best practices. This is true today as Verticalive – the new owner of UA Business Software – goes to market with the UA Business Cloud. Any products that are developed are always ‘with the grain’ in terms of the way Microsoft products and platforms behave. With this approach in mind, the early developers of UA came up with something called the Application Wizard to address the problem of maintaining customizations.
In looking at the many custom solutions the various customers and partners had developed, the UA team saw that a pattern emerged. Object-oriented development was an emerging best practice at this point and so it made sense to look at the solutions in this way.
At the lowest level of each solution is an object. An object might be a customer, a supplier, an invoice or any other ‘noun’ in the solution. Each object has its own set of properties (name, address, date, etc) and most of the functionality associated with an object (add, edit, update, delete) is an action or object ‘method’.
Objects, and actions that involve objects, are typically grouped together in a logical manner. I.e. Customer related actions are usually grouped together in a menu, as are Supplier actions, Invoice actions, etc. And these menus are usually further rolled up into higher level menus like Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, etc.
These higher level menus are called Modules and a Solution is comprised of one or more Modules.
The software developer could capture everything associated with a solution – including the customizations – within the Application Wizard. Once in the Application Wizard, the solution was available to the developers of UA for provision of upgrades in a structured manner. Memorializing the solution in the Application Wizard also allowed those customizing the software to simply turn on or off new features.
When the UA Business Cloud launches on June 6, 2014 the Application Wizard will now be called the Verticalive Design Studio (VDS). The VDS will enable creation and deployment of solutions using the the same approach that was used in UA. You can check out the teaser video below and let us know what you think!
Be on the look out for our next blog post! We will be talking about how we transitioned UA Business Software to a new UI and focused on the Cloud.