All posts tagged: IBM

Apex and First Tennessee Bank to present at IBM Interconnect 2017

Apex Process Consultants is proud to present at IBM Interconnect with First Tennessee Bank. Please see below for the session description.

Rapidly Enhancing an Enterprise Services Layer with IBM BPM and ODM at First Tennessee Bank

First Tennessee Bank (FTB) and Apex Process Consultants have implemented a system-guided process to assist the customer service representative in completing the online banking enrollment process. By leveraging IBM BPM and Apex Coach Views, the solution was developed, tested and ready for production in under five weeks. The ability to develop the solution in such a short time provided an extremely quick ROI. FTB is now leveraging both BPM and IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM) to enhance its enterprise service bus by providing both guided process and decision management across the enterprise. In the latest enhancements, business decisions in ODM provide an early warning mechanism for the bank’s deposit system to detect potential fraud.

Logistics

Come see the First Tennessee Bank presentation at InterConnect 2017 to learning more.
Session:  HBP-2208
Time: Mon, 20-Mar 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM
Place:  Mandalay Bay South, Level 2 – Mandalay Bay Ballroom I

erikafulkApex and First Tennessee Bank to present at IBM Interconnect 2017
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Technology – What we imagined vs What we got

Have you seen those posters from the 1930’s – “The World of Tomorrow” –

smartphone

Flying cars, time travel, the fridge that orders it’s own groceries. Some things we’ve surpassed and somethings we’re still working on. Thanks to Apple, FaceTiming isn’t as cumbersome as this illustration. I grew up watching The Jetsons, assuming we’d have flying cars and travel tubes.

But there is no helicopter in my garage. I do keep a phone in my pocket that connects to the internet and therefor the answer to any question I ever have. It’s still costly and time consuming to travel from Detroit to New York or LA. But video chats have cut out the need to travel to for business and makes keeping in touch with friends easier.

I went to Florida a few years back, and stayed with friends of friends, it turned out that everyone in the neighborhood I was staying in worked at Walt Disney World. We were given free passes and went. Over in Tomorrowland, where everything is what we imagined the future would be like when Disney World opened in 1971, (spoiler alert) a talking trashcan rolled over to us and started talking “Hello pretty ladies!” “Are you done with your beverages, please dispose of them here” and it’s “mouth” would open and reveal a trashcan. Knowing we had friends who worked in Tomorrowland, we were surprised that we didn’t see someone in that trashcan. Then we noticed that a guy we knew, was standing around with his hands in his sweatshirt pocket. He was controlling the trashcan from a remote control in his pocket, he had an earbud in and was taking and listening front the trashcan.

Not to date myself too much, but this was before Apple had released it’s iPhone, and I was stunned, even then, that the best we could do in the world of tomorrow was a remote controlled microphone.

Fast forward a few years later, I had discovered a new to me photographer and was researching him. His name is Bill Jay, his website is, and was, dated, but I loved reading everything on there. And then I found his list of published works. I had purchased his book Men Like Me. I loved everything about it, and it spoke to me and what I was doing in college then. Then looking through the list of books I saw this one – Sun in the Blood of the Cat… Well, I thought, that doesn’t sound like a normal title for a book with this description “An anthology of essays on 19th and 20th century photography”.

Here’s where technology and art meet and where my love for Bill Jay became one that will never end. “after installing voice recognition software into his computer, Jay spoke into his computer: ‘I would like to produce a collection of articles called Something Photographic, a seemingly bland phrase but nevertheless one which sounds rather jaunty.’ As Jay sat back and watched, the computer typed: ‘I would like to produce a collection of articles called sun in the blood of the cat…’ Jay looked at that sentence and said to himself: ‘Yes, I would!'”

Here I sit today trying to typing a mass of stories into one seemingly cohesive story. I often think of Bill Jay sitting in a bright office, talking into a big microphone watching his computer screen not type in what he’s saying, I remember my dad had software similar, and once I tried to write a paper for school with it, but after it not being able to figure out my name, I quit.

I think of how today, I will spend 30 minutes talking to Siri, trying to make that technology work for me instead of just opening a browser and typing in my search. Here’s a search I tried for “Do you have to dry pasta noodles before you cook them?”

SiriSo between Bill Jay trying to write a book through words in 2001 and my failed attempt at knowledge of dried pasta noodles, technology has come a long way in 14 years, but not nearly as far as I would have thought it would have advanced. And now you’ve read this far and wondered why I bring all this up, well, here’s why –

In the 1980’s application modeling software was called CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering). The thing was, a number of companies developed products where you could build a model of an application (like you can in BPM), but those products generated code, such as RPG or COBOL.  If you needed to create functionality beyond what the model could handle, you had to modify the generated code.

The problem was, once you modified the generated code, the model was no longer complete, and if you generated the code again you would lose the modifications you made. The dream was to have a tool that could handle the full round trip between modeling and modifications keeping full integrity.
The dream was never realized in those CASE tools. Many people would model an application, modify the code, and then never go back to the model. It was a one way trip. What everybody wanted was a round trip.
And then finally, BPM! Ultimately this problem was solved by making the model fully extensible with whatever customizations you need to make. You never look at the under-the-covers generated code. You can do everything from within the model or with your extensions to the model (typically for example, with Javascript or calls to external services).
And of course BPM isn’t perfect yet. But you can get a lot farther now than you could with CASE. With the advances that Apex is making with ACV2, our new Firebase Integration Toolkit and with partners like IBM and vLegaci, we’ll get you on the road to success faster than you can reprogram that remote controlled trashcan you found.
erikafulkTechnology – What we imagined vs What we got
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Cordova

Providing access to business processes from mobile devices is critical in today’s fast-paced corporate world. In fact, many companies are moving toward a “mobile first” strategy when building applications. The traditional approach to meeting the mobile need has been to develop mobile applications using platform-specific native code. This leads to inefficient development practices entailing duplication of effort to support a variety of devices and platforms, as well as cultivating skill in multiple programming languages. Apache Cordova is an open source mobile development framework that streamlines and simplifies building of mobile applications that target multiple platforms.

Cordova is a set of device APIs that enables the developer to build mobile applications that can take advantage of native device features using web technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript). Writing applications with the Cordova APIs doesn’t require knowledge of native code such as Java or Objective-C and enables companies to develop mobile applications in a much more cost-effective manner.  These hybrid mobile applications run locally on the device using the device’s browser engine and use the Cordova APIs to access device functions such as the camera or accelerometer. There are also third-party plugins available to use in Cordova applications to further extend the API functionality. If a plugin isn’t available for a device platform, it can be written using native code; this doesn’t completely eliminate the need for skill in native code, but it does isolate it to just development of plugins.

Since the Cordova JavaScript APIs are consistent across multiple device platforms, the applications can be ported to other platforms with only minimal changes. Because Cordova applications run on the mobile device, access to them can be provided through an app store. JavaScript frameworks such as jQuery Mobile, Dojo Mobile, Sencha Touch and Kendo UI can be easily integrated with Cordova applications to provide a robust set of widgets that will enhance the usability and appearance of hybrid mobile applications.

Hybrid mobile applications are more versatile than native apps in that they are cross-platform. Mobile apps have two advantages over mobile web apps:  they can access device APIs, and they are usable when the device is offline. One limitation of hybrid apps as compared to native apps is that their graphics performance won’t be as fast since the app runs in a container, but this is not a substantial consideration for the majority of business applications.

Apache Cordova development can be performed using IDEs such as Eclipse and Xcode. Use of the Cordova framework has also been integrated into IDEs from major companies. IBM adopted the use of Cordova in their Worklight product which makes use of Cordova to build hybrid mobile applications.  Microsoft announced on May 12, 2014 at their TechEd conference that they’re planning to add support for Apache Cordova to Visual Studio. Telerik’s AppBuilder solution also makes use of Cordova.

Apache Cordova applications are your company’s best option for supporting multiple mobile platforms and leveraging web skills while maintaining a single code base with easy update distribution.

erikafulkCordova
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Elegant Integration of Coach Views and AngularJS

If you have ever created a Coach View, you understand that it’s more difficult to integrate the data and its visual representation than you’d like, and if you have not created any coach views, perhaps for this reason, now’s your chance!  For example, to create a “Are you sure you wish to assign this task to SOMEUSER?” message view, you require the following (or perhaps a strictly JavaScript implementation):

js js1

Some of you are thinking, “So? Easy peasy lemon squeezy!” while others may be thinking “This is my NIGHTMARE!!”  What if you could get away with the following:

js2

Boom goes the dynamite!  The text automatically updated! Now we’re talking in the realm of AngularJS and Coach View integration with the Apex Coach Views Toolkit.. 2!

“But Kyle! How do I make it show up nice and pretty?  Whenever I create something,  I always have to worry about configuration options for style, format, and the likes!”

ACV2 (Apex Coach Views 2) solves this issue by allowing you to simply add “columns” as a configuration option and you’re done!  Instantly fits perfectly into a responsive layout with Bootstrap CSS!  No extra time in CSS Hell.  (CSS and DOJO Hell are terms coined by Apex consultants before coach view toolkits existed)

Now that you’ve created a dynamic message for your application the client will be very impressed and you can call it a day; however, if you want to ensure a free dinner and drinks outing at the steakhouse by Wednesday night, you’ll have to take advantage of a few more AngularJS features.

Let’s try our hand at a basic Text control:

js3

The label for a view is now displayed with conditional visibility, and the input not only reflects updated local variable values but also sets the value with each keystroke.  Neato!

Now that we’ve seen interactions with Coach View bound data as well as options, let’s throw in Angular’s handy dandy ‘ng-change’ directive to show some love for the oft forgotten metadata.

js4 js5

Above we see two of our views exhibiting Bootstrap CSS automatically with the “columns” configuration option.  Due to ng-change, not only is our bound variable updated as we type, but the label is updated with each keystroke as well.  Coach Views + AngularJS + Apex Coach Views 2 = Less Script + More Power + tan(DELTA(time)/resources) <- I don’t even know what that means… and as Will Ferrell would say: “Nobody knows what it means, but it’s provocative!”

Naturally, using Custom HTML blocks is bested by ACV2 patterns for IBM BPM web file templates and Custom Builds, but those adventures are for upcoming posts.

erikafulkElegant Integration of Coach Views and AngularJS
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Apex Firebase Integration Toolkit – Why You Should Use It

The Apex Firebase Integration Toolkit is one of the newest products in the suite of Apex tools.  This toolkit contains a set of coach views and services that allow you to quickly integrate with Firebase and have access to real-time data within your application.  As amazing as this product is, you might be thinking, what in the world would I do with it?  Let’s walk through three scenarios where you might find it helpful to use within your IBM BPM application.

#1 – Real Time Collaboration – Collaboration on a task is common in the business world; however, with workers scattered around the globe, it’s not always easy to make happen online.  In traditional database ways, on-screen data can quickly become stale or require a manual “refresh” to display current data; having real time information to make business decisions is often a critical success factor for an application.  Using the coach views within the Firebase Integration toolkit, you’ll be able to open a connection to Firebase from your coach and any updates to the data (from any user) will be reflected on screen within seconds.

afi1

#2 – Proof of Concept – In a world where a “quick win pilot” is often the path to more funding for your project, you want to be up and running quickly with access to real data.  Screen mock-ups are good, but a running application with real-time data is better.  Firebase is a full backend, so you won’t need to install database servers or write SQL code to create and access your data.  Using coach views and services from the toolkit, you’ll be able to quickly connect your application to Firebase and have data stored and synced within minutes!

#3 – Build Consolidated Views of Data – Finding the most relevant data to display to your user doesn’t always come in a pretty package; often it’s dispersed across multiple tables, databases, and even systems.  Sometimes it’s necessary to bring all this data together into a single view, which can easily be set-up with Firebase.  Displaying task data and business data for a single entity can often be an impressive and helpful view to a business user wanting to see all the activity that has transpired for the entity.

afi2

These are three common scenarios where the Apex Firebase Integration toolkit will help you take your IBM BPM application to the next level.  As illustrated, the capabilities within Firebase combined with Apex Coach Views will help you present rich mash-ups of data to your user to help them work in a very collaborative way.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll build with it!

erikafulkApex Firebase Integration Toolkit – Why You Should Use It
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The Apex Suite – a package of productivity

The Apex suite of products is a package of productivity software designed to maximize your investment in IBM BPM platform.  The Apex suite helps your team stay agile by delivering a wide range of products that enable you to build rich front-end user interfaces along with the powerful back-end integration services. The following is a list of products included in the Apex suite:

 Apex Coach Views are designed to help you quickly deliver powerful coach screens that provide rich human interface to a large number of end-users.  Apex Coach Views enable non-programmers to easily build and package reusable coach views. Key features include:

  • A rich set of easy to configure controls that support a large range of data types.
  • A set of powerful Layout coach views that provide liquid layout supporting a large number of screens on various devices.
  • High performance grids that can be modeled easily using the drag-and-drop column views. Progressive loading of data via an Ajax service provides excellent performance on massive data sets.
  • Method and Event coach views help define behavior for coach views.

Apex Repository is designed to help you build a back-end database integration layer for your IBM BPM process applications. Key features include:

  • Manage Repository wizard uses pre-defined rules to allow you to create new database tables and views based on your IBM BPM business objects.
  • Configuration wizard maps business objects to tables. When underlying business objects or tables change, the configuration wizard identifies the required corresponding changes and allows you to accept or override each suggested change.
  • Apex Repository uses a full set of ready to use database integration services – no development required.
  • Apex Repository also includes a set of integration coach views that retrieve and manage data directly from the client – no Ajax services to build.

Apex Performance Tools help you monitor performance of your business processes. It collects and analyzes performance metrics at key milestones and identifies bottlenecks or performance improvement opportunities in your process applications. Apex performance tools are native IBM BPM tools that are easy to integrate into new or existing process applications and support:

  • Performance Monitoring and Reporting: True end-user response times are captured in database and monitored using the Monitor Performance administration service.
  • Performance Analysis – When you identify a performance issue, a rich stream of performance information is available for interactive drill-down analysis using the Analyze Performance administrator service.

Apex Firebase Integration toolkit includes a set of coach views and services that easily integrate with Firebase to build real-time applications. Firebase takes a NoSQL database and makes it available as a real-time backend service. Key features include:

  • Multiple users opening connection to same back-end Firebase can easily build real time apps. Updates to Firebase by one user are immediately pushed to all other users in real time and at any point all user data always stays in sync with Firebase.
  • Both client side and server side data binding is supported.
  • Allows aggregation of data sources by allowing you to set up a single view for different types of data items populated via different activities.
erikafulkThe Apex Suite – a package of productivity
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Apex Repository 3.0

Apex Process Consultants is pleased to announce the general availability of Apex Repository 3.0.  This release expands on the success of the original Apex Repository and offers new functionality designed to make the implementation and maintenance of a system of record faster and more efficient.  The goal of any agile development project is keep moving forward efficiently thorough each iteration. Maintaining the system of record and keeping it in sync with changing business objects can lead to delays, especially when specialized tools and skills are required.  The team at Apex Process Consultants understands this and Repository 3.0 will help your team stay agile and deliver more business value.

Repository_diagram

(click image for larger view)

This release of Apex Repository introduces a new configuration wizard that allows you to:

  • Map business objects to tables using rules-based defaults with manual overrides
  • Easily identify database updates based on changes to your business objects (and apply those changes to your database)
  • Implement primary and foreign keys
  • Bulk load and manage data using Excel

With this release, Apex Repository includes a full set of ready-to-use integration services (no development required!), as well as, a set of integration coach views that retrieve and manage data directly from the client (no Ajax services to build!).  You’ll be able to quickly define and maintain the relationship between business objects and the system of record database whether you have an existing database schema or need to create a new one from scratch.

For more details, please visit the Apex Repository page.

Contact Apex Process Consultants with any questions or to set-up a demo!

erikafulkApex Repository 3.0
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Gearing up for #IBMImpact 2014

Every December we have our holiday party. We all get together reflect a little on the past year. Mostly we just catch up with the people who live out of state or who have just been traveling and we don’t see very often.

Every January we start focusing on what’s up-and-coming in the technology world.

Every February we have our Annual Kickoff Meeting. We all get together to talk about the business side of things. In December it’s all fun and games, but February is all business. We discuss what we did in the past year. And we talk about what goals we want to accomplish in the next 30, 60 and 90 days. We plan out how to make the current year more successful for us and our clients. We figure out how to use new technology in what we’re doing. The rest of February is spent implementing and planning the rest of the year, as well as working on all the client projects we have going on.

Since January we’ve been upgrading old products and adding new products and toolkits that will knock your socks off, and also streamline your business.

Have you checked out our Apex Coach Views 1.5 update?

Have you seen our Apex Repository page? There isn’t much there right now, but in the next few weeks we’ll be unveiling our new Apex Repository, with so many cool new features you’ll do anything to get it!

We’re also working on an amazing new product that we can’t tell you much about, yet… But we’ll be launching this new toolkit before IBM Impact. We’ll be at Impact in case you want to stop by and chat with us about this or any of our products/toolkits.

erikafulkGearing up for #IBMImpact 2014
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Apex Coach Views Release 1.5 Available

Apex is pleased to announce general availability of Apex Coach Views Release 1.5 that includes new capabilities described below.  This release contains 11 new views enhancing our data binding, layout and grid functionality.  Additionally, many views have been updated to support responsive mobile design and to improve page performance.  Check them out!

Enhanced Data Binding

  • A new Binding Coach View has been added to the toolkit to make it easier to work with server-side variables on the client.  Additionally, the @binding and @options capabilities make it easier to perform client-side logic when server-side variables change.

Dynamic Table

  • A set of coach views has been introduced to enable client-side editing of data in a grid presentation.  These views include Dynamic Table, Row, and Cell.  In prior versions of ACV, editing data in a grid format was accomplished by using a combination of Dynamic Section and field views.  The Dynamic Table and it’s related views simplify your design and allow you to implement this interface faster.

Client-side Data Manipulation on Lists

  • The new Calculate and Iterate views have been released to allow you to easily manipulate lists of data on the client.  These views are not visual in your design but have a wide range of use when needing to run client-side calculations or JavaScript operations on a list of items.

Grid Row Section

  • The Grid Row Section extends the library of Grid views by introducing a new interface for viewing additional details and editing an item within a Grid Row.  Multiple rows of data can be edited at a time with Grid Row Section and since the interface is inline, you won’t lose access to any data on your screen.

Grid Complex Row

  • The Grid Complex Row increases the amount of data that you can show in a Grid by allowing multiple lines of data per grid item.  By putting Grid Row views into a Grid Complex Row, you can expand the attributes shown for a single item and conditionally display Grid Rows making Grids more effective in narrow layouts.

Collapsible Sections

  • Several layout views have been updated to allow the section to be collapsible.  The Vertical, Horizontal, and Table Sections have all been enhanced to allow the contents of those sections to be collapsed or expanded on page load, and then be collapsed or expanded by the user clicking an icon.  Of course, the regular way of having the section always visible is still available too!

Responsive Mobile

  • Making corporate applications operate on mobile devices is increasingly a requirement for application developers.  In this release, certain coach views have been updated to enable better usability on mobile devices.  These include:
    • Horizontal Section – Introducing a “Wrap” config option, which dynamically adjusts the content of the section to fit a smaller mobile device.
    • Dynamic Section – Introducing an “Orientation” config option, which will allow the repeating section to repeat vertically or horizontally.
    • Tabs – Introducing a new layout option, “Accordion,” which will present your tabs in collapsible content panes.
    • Grid – Introducing a “Minimum Width” config option on columns, which allows you to specify the minimum width of the column before it is hidden on the grid.  Columns hide from right to left as the screen is made smaller.

Performance Improvements

  • Release 1.5 introduces the Template Loader and Template Wrapper coach views that allow sections of your application to be cached and loaded only when needed.  Packaging a portion of your coach into a Template Wrapper only takes minutes and can greatly improve the performance of your application.  Additionally, in 1.5, the coach view code has been repackaged into a JavaScript file cached on the client.  The result is a much smaller page size and additional improvements to performance.

We’ll be releasing video updates on these new features in the coming weeks, make sure to stay up-to-date with all of Apex’s new features!

erikafulkApex Coach Views Release 1.5 Available
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