Xperia Overhauls GUI in ERP System with looksoftware Tools
September 25, 2012 Alex Woodie
Xperia Solutions has updated its IBM i-based ERP application for small and medium sized businesses. Earlier this year, the company delivered Xpressiv, a new version of its Comprehensiv software that features a new GUI designed to streamline user interaction. The new GUI was developed using re:new, a looksoftware screen modernization product for IBM i applications.
Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Xperia develops software used by SMBs in the apparel and soft goods industries. The company, which formerly went by the name Online Data Systems, counts some well-known companies as customers of its COBOL-based suite of supply chain planning, production management, and customer relationship management applications, including OshKosh B’Gosh, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Converse.
Xperia had already moved beyond the 5250 interface with Comprehensiv, but its first-generation GUI didn’t work like today’s latest Web apps, and was starting to look stale to its customers and its prospects. “We were criticized for the lack of navigation in our solution,” said Gina Bauer, vice president of sales and marketing for Xperia, in a recent webcast posted on the looksoftware website.
The company set out to find a way to refresh the look and feel of the software. A complete rewrite was not really an option, as the company has invested decades of work and millions of dollars in its COBOL application, and had refined the functionality needed by customers in its industrial niche to a fine point.
The company looked at re:new, a product sold by looksoftware that makes heavy use of Microsoft .NET and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) development tools from look partner Surround Technologies. Re:new combines elements of Surround Tech’s Accelerator framework, which provides the programming libraries to develop Windows- and Web-based front-ends written in WPF and Silverlight to IBM i business logic, with looksoftware’s collection of thick, thin, and mobile clients and its soarchitect.
That all sounds well and good, but David Bauer, senior vice president of new development for Xperia, was unsure if it was a good fit. “I came from the IBM i world. I was a bit skeptical about .NET,” he says in the webinar.
The uneasiness turned out to be unfounded, as the GUI modernization project has turned into a success for both Xperia and looksoftware. “We’re really proud with what we’ve been able to do with the product and are seeing customers lining up and prospects turning their heads,” Gina Bauer says. “This new product is allowing our customers to get back to focusing on the functionality we provide rather than focusing on the look.”
The re:new-ed interface delivers the Xperia functionality through an Outlook-like interface, which is a product of the Surround Tech libraries. The new fat-client interface is a composite of previous screens, and is designed to allow users to get to the functionality they need in a much quicker and more direct fashion. If they need to, the users can still access the 5250 screens within the new Xpressiv client.
“It is important for us to continue to enhance, modernize and integrate our applications to support the IBM i server, and enhance accessibility to desktop applications,” Xperia president Gene Bonett says in a press release.
Xperia is selling the software to new customers and working to upgrade existing customers. When it launched the new software, it said it expects all of its customers will be upgraded to Xpressiv within 12 to 18 months.