BCD Slings a New C#-Based GUI with Catapult 7.0
May 20, 2008 Alex Woodie
System i (formally Power Systems server) users who venture upon Business Computer Design Int’l‘s beta for Catapult version 7.0 may be surprised to find a slick new graphical user interface (GUI) written in Microsoft‘s latest .NET language, C#, has been added the product. In addition to heightened ease-of-use brought by the new GUI, Catapult 7.0’s behind-the-scenes component has been beefed up to make spool file processing much faster.
Catapult is a client/server application that includes an i OS (formerly i5/OS) component that monitors spool file output queues and other sources of reports and printed output, and a Windows PC component that handles the bulk of the work, including splitting spool files, applying graphical overlays, distributing reports, managing distribution lists, and logging activities. The software can be deployed with other BCD products, including Nexus Portal, EZ-Pickin’s, Spool-Explorer, WebSmart, and ProGen Plus.
Both the client and server components were updated with version 7.0, which is currently in beta tests. The most striking new feature of Catapult 7.0 is the client GUI, which was written in C# to give it that ultra-modern Windows look and feel. But the changes in the Catapult client go beyond the surface and actually improve the functions.
One of these improvements resides in the Grab Rule Editor, a commonly used part of the Catapult client that’s used to customize the product’s function and set defaults for which libraries Catapult will look in for spool files, how the spool files will be distributed, and in what file format. With version 7.0, BCD has overhauled the Grab Rule Editor to improve the process flow and make it easier to identify the many customizable options that users have.
Another area of improvement is in the Catapult Poller, the core engine driving the Catapult client’s searching, formatting, and distribution activities. According to BCD, the Poller has been rewritten from the ground up for version 7.0, and as a result, the Poller is faster and more flexible to boot. For example, multiple Poller instances can run simultaneously in different environments, BCD says. Handling of cache and temporary files has also been improved, as have printing and faxing support.
Users will see a big improvement when it comes to Catapult’s performance. According to BCD, benchmark tests on a System i Model 520 show that Catapult 7.0 was able to accomplish in one minute and 46 seconds what it previously would have taken Catapult 6.0 about 42 minutes to accomplish, a 23x performance increase.
Hopefully, the 2.5 personnel-years of investment that BCD and its development partner, ExcelSystems Software Development, put into Catapult 7.0 will pay off. “We were able to improve the quality of the software from the lowest to highest levels,” says Duncan Kenzie, president of ExcelSystems. “Now Catapult will perform optimally with current and forthcoming i5/OS and modern Windows environments.”
Catapult 7.0 is expected to be generally available soon. When it does become available, Catapult licenses will range from $4,250 to $10,500, a slight increase from previous releases. To participate in the beta, check out www.bcdsoftware.com.