User m-Power-ment, Delivered with Dashboards
April 16, 2013 Alex Woodie
In the epic struggle between users and developers, there is a stream of thought among developers that anything they can do to get users out of their hair must be a good and decent thing. To that end, mrc last week unveiled a new feature called user-defined dashboards to its flagship Java Web app generator, m-Power.
Saving developers time and effort has been a goal of michaels, ross, and cole ever since the days when its 4GL environment, Productivity Series, was generating gobs of RPG for clients all over the world. But instead of outputting green-screen 5250 programs, today’s mrc generates Java-based Web applications, ranging from public e-commerce sites and mobile applications to internal business intelligence portals and dashboards.
m-Power’s numerous templates and wizards boost developers’ productivity, but it’s still up to the developer to deliver something that matches the needs of his users. That dynamic is starting to change with the introduction of user-defined dashboards, which puts more power in the hands of users, and which was unveiled at the COMMON conference in Austin, Texas, last week.
With user-defined dashboards, an m-Power user can pick and choose which graphical elements (such as charts, graphs, and tables) he will see on his dashboard. It also lets the user control how the elements are laid out on his screen.
Developers are still required to generate the individual graphs and metrics that make up a full dashboard. But instead of trying to guess the exact mix and placement of data and pictures that the user wants on his screen, this new feature lets the user make the final determination.
The new feature works by allowing a user to select from a list of pre-generated graphs and metrics. Using the mouse, the user drags his selection to its final location; the user is also able to resize the screen element with up and down buttons, and also through a nifty grid layout view.
Once the user has finished sculpting his new dashboard (or even multiple dashboards in a tabbed layout), he hits the “save” button. At any time, the user can revisit the dashboard and see how business is shaping up, and share his dashboards with others. m-Power uses real-time connections to databases–including DB2 for i, Oracle 11g, SQL Server, and others–ensuring that the graphs and metrics reflect the latest business transactions.
“This enhancement turns the traditional dashboard model on its head,” mrc’s manager of software development Tyler Wassell says in a press release. “It puts users in the driver’s seat, and eliminates the need for developers to create multiple dashboards. A single user-defined dashboard provides a completely customized view to each user.”
The new user-defined dashboard function is available in m-Power now. Mrc doesn’t use the traditional version/release naming system, and instead trickles out new features on a regular basis. Subscriptions to m-Power start at about $18,000 per year, while unlimited licenses are closer to $40,000. For more information, see www.mrc-productivity.com.