March 2016 Newsletter
As this is the inaugural m-Power Customer newsletter, let me welcome you to this publication. The purpose of this quarterly newsletter is to be able to reach out to you with timely information, such as upcoming m-Power updates, recent documentation postings, and other exciting m-Power related news.
Our team is constantly working on ways to improve the m-Power platform to give you and your users the best possible experience. It is my sincere goal that you are kept “in the know” to what we are up to and how our efforts can translate into your continued success.
To that point, I’d like to cover some of the notable features to expect with our next release of m-Power, currently scheduled for March 17th, 2016.
The purpose of this enhancement is to allow developers, from novices to experts, to be able to write their own complex business rules directly within the m-Power interface, without having to “code”. The possibilities here are endless, but I will share two implementations that could be used at many customer locations.
You have built a process that allows a manager to, via a maintenance application, note whether an employees’ expenses have been approved. If the manager marks, “Yes”, then an email should be sent to Payroll for final approval. If “No”, then an email should be sent to the employee with remarks to correct and resend.
The Business Rules Designer allows the developer to pass the value the user entered into a Conditional statement. Based on that value, the developer controls which Task Group is executed.
You have a program that requires a user to enter a start and end date. You want to add validation to ensure the end date occurs at least 3 days after the start date.
The Business Rules Designer lets the developer write her own External Object, all within m-Power, passing in both dates. S/he would then have the ability to compare the dates as necessary, and throw the necessary errors, where applicable.
In both situations above, the desired outcome could be achieved without this enhancement. However, such solutions would require a developer to write their own Java, Java Script, or SQL to accomplish this. Of course, these two examples just scratch the surface of what is possible.
This feature will be covered in a Webinar prior to this release. Please stay tuned for an upcoming Webinar that will walkthrough these examples in more detail! This Webinar is currently scheduled for March 10th (Thursday), at 1pm (Central)
Improved Messaging and Scheduled Tasks
Feedback we received from customers like you indicated that while Messaging and Scheduled Tasks is a popular feature, the UI for the various options is confusing. Worse, some customers indicated they were too confused to even attempt the feature. Our development group looked closely at this feedback and modified the workflow to address these concerns.
Messaging and Scheduled Tasks now utilize a task driven approach, similar to building m-Power applications. Developers will first decide what type of problem they are trying to resolve (Email a list of users, save a report to a server, update a record, etc…). From there, they will be shown a specific set of options that relate to the function they have requested.
Existing Tasks will continue to use the original UI. However, any newly created Tasks will use the enhanced UI. This was mainly due to backwards computability for existing tasks.
Improved Stylesheet and Theming
We realize that many m-Power customers are not CSS experts but would still like to modify the look of their base stylesheet. This enhancement is geared specifically at these customers. This feature will allow developers to use Sass to add variables/substitutions into their stylesheets, allowing for easier customization of their stylesheet. Customers who utilize the Sky theme will get the most advantage of this particular feature.
This feature was geared specifically for two groups of m-Power users:
- Organizations who want to control what data access is available to their developers
- Developers who commonly join the same databases resources together and/or apply the same record selections.
In summary, this feature gives system administrators the ability to join tables together at the Data Dictionary level, creating an object we are calling m-Power Data Views. Administrators can also apply record selections at this level, essentially locking users out of any necessary records.
For example, let’s say Cindy is an m-Power administrator for an organization that allows novice users to build applications. Cindy is concerned that these users won’t join common tables together correctly, despite constant education. Cindy can now automatically join these tables together for her novice users. Cindy wins because she no longer has to worry about developers improperly joining tables. Cindy’s users win because they no longer have to be bothered with the details of how to join resources together – everything they need has already been pre-packaged into one nice m-Power Data View.
Taking the example one step further, if Cindy only ever wants her users’ to report on Company 01, she can add that rule/record selection directly to the m-Power data view. This Data View record selection is applied automatically at the dictionary view and cannot be removed at the application level.
It is no secret that one feature most m-Power customers love is the ability to export their Retrievals and Reports to an Excel file. Owning to the fact that .xls is no longer supported by Microsoft and that is has a 65k record limit, m-Power will be depricating support for .xls. In its place, newly recreated Retrievals and Reports will begin outputting to an .xlsx format. If you plan on exporting a significant number of records, please sure you have maximized the memory configuration within your App server. m-Power continues to support .xlsx files via our multiple data uploading utilities.
Mask and Scramble Sensitive Data
When applications you develop involve sensitive data (Customer Numbers, Phone numbers, Social Security numbers), you may wish to hide part of this data from your end-user. Further, special considerations should be used when passing these values from one application to another as they can be observed within the URL in plain text.
This m-Power update contains two new features, mask and scramble, which will allow you to protect this sensitive data during both display and URL parameter usage. More information can be found in the brief video tutorial below:
Great Feature You May Have Missed
Each newsletter, I would like to highlight a past function that we have added to m-Power along the way that you might have missed. Features that we frequently use internally here at mrc will often be the subject of this section. Today, the Great Feature You May Have Missed is the Parent/Child Application Feature. Developers who frequently build solutions that require Parent/Child (also known as header/detail) structure will love the built in features that this functionality provides, such as:
- Automatic linking of application at run-time. Each parent record will include a link that allows users to view the Child information belonging to the Parent.
- The Child review screen will include a link to return to the Parent.
- Inclusion of Parent information on Child screens
- Auto-delete of Child records when Parent is deleted
- Auto-copy of Child records when Parent is copied
- Auto-Redirect to add new Child immediately upon creating Header
This video succinctly describes the functionality:
March 10th: Learn More about the Business Rules Designer Webinar
March 17th: (Tentative) m-Power Update Release Date
March 24th: (Tentative) m-Power Post Update Review Webinar
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