Catch-up with Mike Ruane and all things Revelation
Following the release of OpenInsight 10.0.7, Elkie Holland of Prospectus IT Recruitment thought it would be a good opportunity to have a quick catch-up with Mike Ruane, President and CEO of Revelation Software. Here it is:
ELKIE: You’ve been quiet in the market recently. I originally thought you were spending too much time enjoying the railways and holidays, BUT it would seem this is not the case… am I right ?
MIKE: LOL! The railroad work reminds me of when I used to work as a carpenter, and is a way to solve different problems using different tools. When not driving spikes or driving trains, I have been working hard on the OpenInsight 10 releases, along with the rest of the team.
ELKIE: I hear there was just a new release of OpenInsight 10.0.7?
MIKE: Correct. Full release was early September, 2019. Meanwhile, we already have a list of features for 10.0.8. It really is a process of continuous improvement.
ELKIE: It is said that OI 10.0.7 incorporates a lot of customer-requested enhancements. What are these?
MIKE: We’ve added a lot of high-precision mathematical functionality, defaulting to 32 decimal places, but more if the user wants. We also added tremendous optimizations to our selects when using OpenInsight as a front-end to either D3 or QM data stores. In our Editor, for example, we have the ability to insert pre-written blocks of code, where we prompt the developer for parameters to change. We had some requests to make changes to some of the functionality, to add some more “from the Factory” code (Developers have the ability to add their own customizable blocks), and to change some display options. All of these enhancements were direct results of user requests, and are included in 10.0.7.
ELKIE: Any other enhancements?
MIKE: Sure – we added a lot of optimizations to our internal select processor, making them faster, and setting ourselves up for future improvements. We’ve created some new templates in O4W (OpenInsight for the Web) so that developers can get a quick start on creating new browser-based forms. We’ve made some changes to options in our user password policies, to reflect changing standards and ideas for user security. In each release of OpenInsight we include a change log, listing bug fixes and enhancements. The change log for 10.0.7 is nine pages long – users can check it out to see all the updates.
ELKIE: Out of interest, I hear that OI 10 is very different from OI 8 and OI 9. Can you mention some of the differences?
MIKE: OpenInsight 10 was, from a development point of view, a nearly complete rewrite of the development tools, while ensuring that any system written in prior releases of OpenInsight would work as they were constructed. We made sure all of our data structures supported the structures of earlier versions of OpenInsight, and then extended them for all the new functionality and features in OpenInsight 10. We then began to expose many of the features in the product that weren’t so much hidden, but that required code to make use of. We’ve made a concerted effort to make as much of the OpenInsight Development process as low-code, or in many cases, as no-code, as possible. This includes controls and functionality on screens, as well as processing.
ELKIE: I hear there is also a new module being tested for OpenInsight WORKS. Can you tell me about this?
MIKE: For our users and developers still using OpenInsight 9, we’re working on a report conversion tool. For years we’ve had a tool called, oddly enough, the Report Builder. It worked well and made nice columnar reports, but users expect more out of a report nowadays. We didn’t port it to OpenInsight 10.
We also have a Banded Report Writer in OpenInsight since version 8, and we’ve ported that to OpenInsight 10. So, to give the users in earlier a head start, we’re working on a development tool in OpenInsight 9 that will convert Report Builder Reports to Banded Report Writer reports. So users, and developers, can get ideas on the changes they can make, if any, in the new reporting tool.
ELKIE: Out of interest, how do you get to know what customers want as enhancements?
MIKE: Our customers are not shy about telling us what they want or expect the product to do. We have a Suggestion Box section on our website, and ideas get posted there. We have an issue tracker as well, where bugs can be reported and assigned to a developer, and updates can be posted on the status of the issue. This allows our developers to let us know what they want, and we can decide if we feel that we can make their suggestions work in the products. And of course, one-on-one communications. Developers will call, or email, or at our conferences or User Group meetings, tell us what they’re thinking.
ELKIE: Hmmm, any plans for a UK User Group Session this year, then?
MIKE: A UK RUG depends on, of course, whether folks would come down to a central location for a few hours and see what we’re doing with the product. Recently, it seems as though customers and developers would rather watch or participate in a webinar, but if Martyn Phillips says I should head on over, I will.
ELKIE: So, what’s next for OpenInsight, and for Revelation?
MIKE: Hopefully, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing, and doing it better. We’re starting to see a number of our developers approaching retirement age, and we want to make sure that their customers and companies are in a position to keep operating and up to date with our latest offerings. We will continue to make sure we run on the latest platforms and operating systems that our customers use. For example, for OpenInsight 10.0.8, we’ll be including the OpenJDK as a part of our Java solution, because Oracle has changed the licensing model for their JRE. We’ll probably have another Conference in 2020, focusing on OpenInsight training, so that our developers can make the most of the product. And we don’t know what we don’t know, but we’ll react to it. Like a sailing friend of mine says, "we can’t change the wind, but we can adjust our sails". We’ll do everything we can to ensure the continued success of our customers, and their customers.
ELKIE: Thank you to Mike Ruane, CEO of Revelation Software, for his time and participation in this Q&A.