Performance


z4OK, so yes, I did go a little mad the other weekend.  I’ve hankered for a roadster for many years and this little beauty presented itself and I took the leap. She’s garaged and only comes out at the weekends. However, that does not matter because she puts a smile on my face whilst she’s standing still as well as when I behind the wheel, feeding that 2.5 litre straight six and pushing her on through some sweeping bends.

Whilst modern she retains some glorious traditional lines, she looks fast when she’s standing still and when you open her up she’s as responsive as you like and she just flies.

OpenInsight 10 (OI10), for many of us has been a project that has seen the interface chance considerably. Whilst hugely functional, the old desktop interface was looking aged and not overly intuitive for new users. For experienced developers, the interface required a fair amount of clicking down through layers to achieve things or, at best you needed to know the shortcut keys. OI10 delivers a brand-new interface that is way more intuitive to use. There is no more clicking down through layers, so much more is right there in the interface or one click away and so, so much more has been exposed in the way of new controls, properties and more.

Whilst the O4W interface is still pretty new, it’s early releases were based around a two-column approach but OI10 opens up an array of new possibilities with multi-column design and drag and drop development.

I’ve played with the latter Alpha releases and I’m now getting more and more into the beta to convert my personally written contact manager that I use on a daily basis at RevSoft. I’m fast learning that OI10 all adds up to an easier to use interface with productivity gains to be found everywhere. I cannot believe how much code I can now remove from my forms by just setting one simple property in the Property Panel – that’s usually a case of inserting a single value (numeric or text), or making a picklist selection or toggling a property. OI10 is making our application developer easier than ever and introducing standards that will no doubt deliver better applications through consistency, stability and refined code.

So, the interface enhancements are nice, the O4W design options are more powerful but people still want better performance and on more than one occasion recently I’ve had discussions about indexing large files.

At conference last year, Bob spoke about the way that the conversion tools will optimise your tables. It is still work in progress but Revelation are mastering the dark art of balancing file-sizes with thresholds and a whole load of things that I really don’t understand. Bob’s also worked on caching things and using memory better and Andrew at Sprezzatura continues to explore ways to better configure the system for Linear Hash and find performance gains.

Some people don’t think that Revelation are taking performance seriously and listening to their customer base. I know for a fact that this is not the case. You only have to sit in the car with Mike on the way back from a User Group meeting to know that he personally takes customer needs and requested extremely seriously. On more than one occasion (in fact on many occasions) I’ve been driving him across the UK and he’s bashing away on his keyboard like it’s going to give up on him in the next ten minutes. We get to our destination and he shows me an example of something a client has suggested or requested and with a big smile on his face, he tells me that I can let my client know that it’s in the next release – subject to testing and quality control of course. It’s the little details like this that have kept me loyal to Revelation for the last 20 years, in a sales role that would normally have seen half a dozen sales people come and go.

Like the motorcar currently sitting in my garage just a few feet away from me, OpenInsight is maturing into one of IT’s classics which continues to deliver on the needs of the modern application developer. Not only does it look good and it’s wonderful to work with, hidden under the hood are a number of highly sought-after enhancements that are set to deliver some of those performance gains that the OpenInsight community have been asking for.

Just yesterday, after yet another call with a client looking at index performance on files with 500,000 plus rows, Andrew told me about some more of Bob’s enhancements to OpenInsight. Well, I just had to get some highlights from the man himself and, as a teaser, this is his reply:

“I have re-written index builds and updates. The high points are:

  • Rebuild uses in-memory hashtables and removes 64k workarounds which were in the legacy build.
  • Rebuild all for a table rebuilds all indexes in one pass, rather than individual passes
  • Update_Index is rewritten so that there is less contention on the root of the index. I made changes to SI.MFS as well.

…”

I don’t fully understand indexing but Bob tells me that the current system has to make numerous passes. One test that he undertook had to make six passes through a system with 500,000 rows. His greatly refined solution now makes just one pass through 500,000 rows, rather than having to work through 3,000,000 rows. He therefore has a very high level of confidence that the rebuild process work well and performance gains will be experienced across the board. I don’t have the figures, but he tells me that the 500,000 row rebuild was much faster and that’s good enough for me.

Other enhancements include a brand new update process that makes use of multiple sessions updating many tables at the same time. This has proven to be robust and fast during internal testing and we look forward to hearing the results obtained by our beta testers in the real world and running against real databases with hundreds of thousands or millions of rows.

I’m looking forward to getting out in the Z4 with Joanna, putting the convertible roof down and enjoying the wind in our hair. In the same way, I’m looking forward to working with the fresh looking OpenInsight toolset, modernising my applications and sharing this new gem of a toolset with the wider MultiValue community and the application development community in general.

We now have a fully integrated, highly functional toolset that is easy to use, powerful and fast. I can’t wait for the official OI10 release and to hear what Mike, Carl, Bob and the team have in the pipeline for OI11.

It’s going to be a great ride for the foreseeable future.

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On the Road


SpectrumLogoLargeRevelation Software will be presenting at the International Spectrum 2017 Conference and Exhibition which will be held between the 1st May 1st and 4th May 2017 at Litchfield Park, AZ.

OpenInsight 10: The Most Modern MV Development Tool
You’re probably familiar with OpenInsight from Revelation Software, the MV development tool and database that was written for the Windows world. What you haven’t seen is OpenInsight 10 – completely rewritten from the base code up, it has a new, industry standard IDE for desktop Apps, a new web-based design platform for browser-based design, and as always our connectors to all the MV databases, cloud-based databases, and SQL.

In his presentation, Mike Ruane, President and CEO of Revelation Software will give a real-time demonstration of some of the features of OpenInsight 10, answering questions, and showing modules of specific interest to the audience. Attendees will be able to Download an evaluation version of the product.

Click HERE for more information.

DBTA – MV Vendors Look to the Role of MV in the Future


1P7A8552Database Trends and Applications have just published a new article that looks at the role of MultiValue technologies in the future.

Author Stephanie Simone, talks to six of the key leaders in the MultiValue community to get their viewpoint on the future of our great technologies into the future.

Here is what Mike Ruane, President and CEO, Revelation Software had to say on the subject.

“At Revelation Software, we are incorporating features, capabilities, and integrations into OpenInsight (our MultiValue database development environment) to address the challenges of evolving data environments.

We are providing MV developers with a browser-based rapid application development tool that lets them generate responsive forms, reports, and dashboards, and we are supporting the “develop once and deploy to the desktop, tablet, or a mobile device” design philosophy.

With a development environment that tightly integrates with the Git source code management system, we offer an environment that allows for collaborative development teams as well as source code management.

Moreover, our database development environment seamlessly integrates with cloud databases. Building applications that utilize NoSQL cloud-based data storage allows us to support large numbers of concurrent users, deliver highly responsive experiences to a globally distributed base of users, provide high availability, and also handle semi-structured and unstructured data.

Enhancing usability, OpenInsight offers a development user interface within MV that is similar to what developers outside the MV world are accustomed to, provides a database environment that utilizes industry-standard AES encryption and policies, and enables end users who work with MV data stores to view their data in today’s BYOD world.”

Your can view the entire article on DBTA’s website here.

Nice way to start the week


Network ErrorWhen starting a brand new week, with new challenges and goals, there is nothing better than opening your email, clearing out the spam (and I get ‘a lot’) and finding a really nice positive message from a client.

This morning was one of those days.

The Universal Driver (UD) 5.x was originally only planned for release with OpenInsight 10, but because of customer needs Revelation decided to roll it back to support OpenInsight 9.4 and we now have customers upgrading their sites for the brand new reconnect (failover) and Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) capabilities.

Last week, I supplied a key for Aaron to upgrade one of Sprezzatura’s clients who are upgrading their UD 4.x licenses and their UDH 4.x to the UD 5.0.0.4 for VSS and failover.  On checking my email this morning I found the following email, the client’s name has been removed for confidentiality reasons.

“Just to let you guys know, Company is installing the UD5 on their main servers and we’re just in the middle of basic testing now.  Initial impressions from Company are:

  1. With encryption, it seems faster than the UD Heavy.
  2. They dropped server connection for 10 seconds and it stayed connected.
  3. They like the look of the new UD manager over the old one.

All in all, everyone there seems really impressed with it so far.   Good job guys.”

Like I said, it is always nice to come into the office and receive nice positive statements from clients (end users) who are feeling the benefits of what Revelation do.

OI10 delays, an insider’s perspective!!


didyouknowoi10It looks like the “When will OpenInsight 10 (OI10) be available?” question is getting some more interest again and I have had a few people ask me about the release on my return to the UK.  Yes we are all itching to take advantage of the new version, after all it does look like a huge ground breaking release and this was even more evident at the conference, but my personal opinion is that the wait will be more than worthwhile.

Why?  Quite simply because I believe that, whilst OI10 development continues at a pace, Revelation are still listening to their client base and that they have the balance about right.  I could jump straight into one or two of the distractions undertaken for some of my clients here in the UK, but before we look at those, let’s take a step back by a few days and to Mike Ruane’s opening presentation.

Mike opened the conference with his usual state of the company and future direction, it sets the tone for the whole event and settles everyone into the conference.  This year, Mike directly acknowledged that the OI10 project is behind schedule, we all know that, we might not like it, but it is a fact and in my mind for some good reasons.  One of his slides included the following bullet points:

  • Limited Resources
    Revelation is a small company of like-minded people and developers with a passion for delivering tools that deliver on their client’s needs at a reasonable cost.  I guess that Mike could sell out to one of the big, but we would quickly lose our competitive edge as everything becomes more ‘standard’, we would lose our ability as customers to talk to the top decision makers or to have Revelation work as our partner to quickly address a business need that helps us to land that big customer.  I guess that we could double the development staff and double the license fees, but I think that Revelation have things about right, so I’d not want anything to change on that front.

    I could think of many more reasons why I would not want to change this side of things, but you get the picture.
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  • Scope Creep
    Developers like to embrace and work on the next ‘fun thing’ but I don’t believe that this is the case at Revelation.  Mike runs a tight ship and I know that Bob Catalano also keeps a wary eye on the project’s progress.  Where the project has allowed some scope creep, it has been for good reason and often to address Revelation’s customer needs.  I’ll touch on that below using some my situations.
    .
  • Changes of Direction
    As everyone will know, any lengthy development project will change direction during its life.  You can scope and document every last detail, but the IT industry continues to change at an alarming pace.  Revelation’s needs change, their customers’ needs change, our end user’s needs change.  In addition, the technologies that Revelation and their customers work with have changed and the team have had to wait for some of those changes to come on-line for them to be exploited through the OI10 project.

    Throughout this massive project which has seen every part of the toolset and  millions of lines of code touched in some way, Revelation have understandably had to constantly review, consider and change direction at times.
    .

  • Dead Ends
    The above changes in direction have also had to occur when some dead ends have been reached.  This becomes hugely frustrating for everyone concerned, especially when it becomes evident that a well-conceived plan has to be dropped or re-thought because a brick wall is reached and a way round needs to be found.  As we all know, this is a normal hazard that we all have the deal with in software development but the stronger team rise above this and power on through another direction.  I believe that what we saw at this conference, shows that Revelation are doing just that.
    .
  • Parts more difficult than we thought
    Hey, we all have great ideas and then sit back and think why did I begin this.  I have a great idea for delivering an OI training resource for OI10, but the more I look into what I need to do, just at the preparation stage, the more I wonder whether it would have been easier to have kept quiet and leave it for someone else.  This is not the ethos at Revelation and I have learned that the team, and Revelation customers, are often ready to make the tough decisions and take on the difficult paths to create better products, better applications and better solutions for our customers, even if it does mean that things take slightly longer to deliver.

Despite the delays, these decisions have and will ensure that Revelation deliver more features that were originally planned and most of those are customer driven needs.  Most of the team had to wait for the bulk of OI10 to be built by Mike Ruane and Carl Pates so that they could use the tools to build their parts of the new product.  In taking this approach, the whole Revelation development team are now actively developing in OI10 and thereby testing the toolset at a real world development level, even before we are into an ‘official’ beta program.  This can only lead to a more robust and successful toolset for us all.  In addition, as OI10 comes together and the project progresses towards its conclusion, the team are running into fewer and fewer dead ends and the project is finding a much more clearly defined end point – certainly a lot clearer than 12 months ago.

When I talk to people about the OI10 project and the delays, people often cite the scope creep as the main point of their frustration.  “Lock those requests out of the project and press on”, I hear people say, “Keep sight of what is important and don’t get distracted”.  Good points, but in Revelation’s world we have clients that need solid solutions that support an ever changing world.  I therefore think that it is worthwhile to pick up on some of my personal stories that have impacted the OI10 project and I’m sure that Richard Bright in New Zealand and Bob Catalano in the US will have stories from their own regions.

Many of my customers have recently spoken to me about performance.  Here in Europe, it is all about performance these days with companies investing heavily in new hardware, bigger and better environments and some pretty exotic set-ups at that.  We have seen virtualisation take off big time, the cloud become ever more important and tighter security needs hit the headlines.  Revelation could have ignored these things and kept to the original plan, but I’m pleased to say that all of the above challenges have been embraced and they will make for a much ‘MUCH’ better OI10 in the long run.  I especially enjoyed Bryan Shumsky’s presentation about ‘OI10 and O4W User Management Changes’ in which he showed the new user management module in OI10 and how things like Stamford standards can be easily and quickly implemented, another thing that some of my customers have been asking for more recently, especially those working with web based solutions.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, below are just a few examples of how Revelation have supported me and my clients here in Europe during the OI10 project and which will have inevitably pushed back the development time somewhat:

  • The UD 5.x delivers the ability to use VSS for backups, support fail-over for network issues and also the ability to recover the UD from a system failure.  The UD 5.x was originally only planned for release with OI10 but I have needed to deliver these benefits to a few of my customers who are running OI 9.4 and Revelation took the decision to take time out of OI10 development to roll the UD5.x back to support the currently shipping 9.4 release.  To better support one of my clients, Bob Carten is taking more time out to further enhance the UD5 – something that I am grateful for, but also sorry that it will introduce another week or so of delayed OI10 development.
    .
  • During the early stages of the OI10 project, one of my clients had a huge O4W opportunity and I ended up taking a large amount of Bryan Shumsky’s time away from developing the new OI10 features into O4W.  This began with helping me to deliver a proof of concept, then to support OpenID and to get the toolset through some industry leading penetration testing.  The end result was more than just a much better, stronger and more secure product, it has resulted in securing two (and shortly three) of the biggest names on the internet as users of Revelation’s technologies.

    These enhancements were not factored into the original design specs but Revelation took time out to support my client and to deliver more functionality into the O4W tools. This has directly enabled us all to benefit from that and the knowledge that we have some major blue chip internet company users relaying on our technology.
    .

  • Several of my clients have hounded me for more performance in recent times.  This has resulted in several of those people making the move from 7.x and 8.x to 9.4 and the UD 4.7, but more than that, Revelation has taken time out of the OI10 project to help us to better profile clients systems and to identify causes of performance degradation and to deliver performance benefits.  I’d also like to personally thank Andrew McAuley (Sprezzatura) for putting in many hours with regards to profiling some of the systems and to helping to move my clients forward and to work with Bob Carten on this complex topic. Bob Carten’s work now continues as part of the OI10 project, but it has already resulted in table profiling tools, system optimisation tools and huge code reviews to remove bottle necks and to better optimise OI10 code.

    Some of these tools have been rolled back for use with OI 9.4 and a show of hands at the conference confirmed the importance of Bob’s tools and how the OI9.4 community is already using those tools to the benefit of everyone.

    In addition, I know that every last inch of OI code if being reviewed by the team.  For example, .NET naturally introduces some performance issues for us in OI and several of my customers have commented on the same. Like me, they often hark back to the good old days when OpenInsight was totally self-contained.  It is not necessarily common knowledge, but I know that Carl is working hard to remove those dependencies as much as possible and this can only be a VERY good think in my book.

I am hugely grateful to my colleagues at Revelation for all the work that they are doing on OI10, but more for taking time out of this huge project to hear the needs of my clients and to deliver enhancements and functionality to help them to move forward today!  As we all drifted away from the conference, it was heartening to hear the positive comments about the new features coming in OI10 and how that will benefit developers and end users.  However, as I prepared for the long journey home, it was very disheartening to hear people refer back to those missed delivery projections.  We all work in the business of delivering software and this comes with the territory.

Mike took it on the chin and posted the words When, when, when in his presentation.

The question that I think we should all be asking is How, how, how.

How can we use the alpha to better prepare ourselves, How can we put OI10 to good use when it is available and How can it be used to benefit our existing clients and help us to attract new business.

With over 3,000,000 lines of code touched, every part of the OI10 toolset being reviewed and enhanced for performance, functionality and more, there are inevitably going to be some unforeseen delays.  Personally, I’d rather wait a few extra months and have the toolset that I can take to my clients with pride and to know that they can go on to continue to deliver some market leading solutions that are stable, robust and which more than meet the needs for their clients.

My take on this topic – I hope that Mike, Carl and the team continue to build the toolset we all need regardless of the time needed to deliver this properly and, at the same time, they continue to listen to the needs of our clients at both OI10 and OI9.4 levels.  It will be worth the wait in the end and I’m looking forward to growing the community based on more intuitive, more functional and more easy to use tools for the modern application developer.

Windows 8.0


Just a heads up for those of you that missed this one slipping under the radar, Microsoft will be dropping support for Windows 8.0 from today.

I don’t see this affecting OpenInsight users too much and we still have people currently moving away from Windows XP to Windows 7, but it is worth noting that Windows 8.0 now joins the growing list of recent (ish) operating systems that are not actively supported by the manufacturer.

This obviously poses questions for those of us installing application and whether we wish to support these older operating systems with our OI applications.  We often don’t have a choice, but I personally remind my clients that their chosen operating system is not supported by the manufacturer and that could have a unforeseen negative knock-on something down the line and that they need to acknowledge this and make appropriate provision.

This change makes those of you who are settled on Windows 8.0, windows 7 and earlier a little vulnerable.  As such, my advice is therefore to maintain current supported operating systems for business applications and other mission critical systems – but I too have to live in the real world.

I would however, recommend that those of you who are on older operating systems take a look at Windows 8.1 which should be good until January 2018 (see the link below), or better still, explore Windows 10.

FWIW – On a personal note, I recently blew my Windows 7 Home operating system away and took my machine back to factory condition installing Windows 7 home afresh.  I then upgraded to Windows 10 using the free upgrade and then I used a key to take that up to Windows 10 Pro.  Bad mistake, I got hit with the start menu bar critical error problem and it’s horrible and with no sign of any solution to the issue.  Some of my colleagues installed Windows 10 fresh onto their machines and they have been fine.  I reinstalled Windows 10 and everything ‘seems’ be to OK for the moment – but please be warned if you are planning on upgrading from earlier operating systems.  My advice would be to run a full Windows 10 install.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/gp/lifecycle-windows81-faq