Evolution of an ID System – Part 5

The fifth overhaul of the ID Systems is higlighted by the public release of Terian ID Creator (Terian IDC) in June 2014.

Terian ID Creator Feature Set

With the initial project starting in 2011, Terian IDC was designed from the ground up to overcome the short comings of previous ID Systems, the biggest improvements being speed and additional Card Printing Application Support.

2011 – Present – Delphi / MS SQL Server / InDesign:

Similarly to the changes introduced in the previous ID System overhaul, Terian IDC utilises:

  • MS SQL Server for the database backend
  • Adobe Indesign for the Card Printing Application
  • Delphi as the development platform

Improved development techniques provided a fundamental change to the underlying code of Terian IDC compared to previous ID Systems, this fundamental change ensures the application remains responsive irrespective of capacity.

Previous ID Systems started to slow down during configuration processes when more card types were added, this is no longer an issue with Terian IDC.

Progress Gauge from Old ID System

Slow Progress Gauges are a thing of the past.

Improvements to the code, have also allowed support for additional Card Printing Applications to be easily incorporated. In the past four years 7 new versions of Indesign have been released by Adobe (CS5.5 to CC 2015). Support for all these versions can be added to Terian IDC with no major overhauls required.

Updates to Older Systems:

Uni ID System Logon Dialog

One system that has not been replaced by Terian IDC, is the University ID System, this is due to a substantial amount of customised and proprietary code that is incorporated into it to provide the functionality required for that client. Some aspects however, have been updated to incorporate features used within Terian IDC.

Image Capture Update:

Earlier this year the image capture functionality was updated to the system utilised within Terian IDC (an upgrade from the Video For Windows platform to DirectShow). This update provided not only additional hardware support, but also improved capture resolution compatibility.

Card Printing Subsystem Update:

More recently the underlying Card Printing Application subsystem was migrated to the one utilised by Terian IDC, which provides a more user friendly experience for configuring form types.

Uni ID System Form Type Configuration Dialog

Old Form Type Configuration Experience

New Uni ID System Form Type Configuration Dialog

New Form Type Configuration Experience

These changes allow the Uni ID System to continue to be a viable product more than a decade after it first entered development in 2004.

The Good:

By continuing to utilise the frameworks and backend systems selected previously a solid base has been set for Terian IDC to improve upon. This allows us to maintain the good points from previous decisions while working towards improvements to avoid any bad points. The biggest improvement has come from the underling change to coding techniques for storing and accessing configuration data, avoiding system delays the previous ID Systems were afflicted by during configuration processes.

Other obvious improvements are related to the user experience, and user interface with a more modern design implemented. Simple improvements to the interface which may not have been common 10 years ago, but are standard expectations these days allow the operator to be more efficient and in turn enable the system to work faster.

The Bad:

Cancelled Cloud Illustration Image

Over the past 4-5 years there has been a massive uptake of cloud based services with many organisations moving much of their core infrastructure to the cloud. Previously organisations might have had local servers and local copies of their software, now it is not uncommon for software to be based in the cloud and offered as a service.

Microsoft as one of the larger cloud vendors demonstrates with Office 365 how organisations are no longer tied to having their productivity suites installed locally, instead enjoying the benefits of accessing their software in the cloud through a web browser or thin client.

Locally we have seen how software vendors have been shaken up by competitors introducing cloud based solutions to market such as the case with accounting software vendors MYOB and Xero. MYOB was late to join the cloud based bandwagon and Xero gained a considerable market share in that area, with MYOB initially struggling to play catchup.

Phone Laptop and Tablet Image

The explosion in the use of powerful mobile hardware platforms in conjunction with cloud based solutions often means organisations not only demonstrate an acceptance of cloud based solutions but demonstrate a preference for them in some cases.

In its current evolution Terian IDC does not provide a cloud based solution, and is incompatible with other platforms commonly utilised as workstations. Lack of a cloud based solution and dependence on Windows limits the reach of Terian IDC, with Windows desktop market share being hugely affected by the uptake of other platforms.

The Ugly:

Depending on perspective the issue outlined in The Bad potentially could also highlight the Ugly. Otherwise there are no outstanding ugly issues.

The Future, what it holds:

Potential directions for future development have been highlighted in the issues outlined above, however these issues do not take into account other business decisions and information. The viability of the product would need to be tested to ensure the increased development expenditure for cloud or multi-platform support is worth it.

I guess we will only know for 100% accuracy in time when we can look back with all the answers.

About Anthony Dowling

Founder Sjones Limited, focusing on developing ID and Security Card Solutions. Long time Delphi Developer. @AntDowling
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