Web Applications

Industrial Programming Case Study – Glasgow Watersports

Prior to Xyroh, Andy was the founder of dotUK (A software development firm based out of Yarm and Stockton on Tees here in the North East),  again specialising as a developer in mobile apps, web applications and desktop software for a number of business clients – this is one of those portfolio case studies for an industrial programming project

Industrial Programming

Industrial Programming is a term reserved for the programming of industrial equipment, pumps, valves, etc to control and monitor any number of simplex or complex scenarios. In many small business scenarios the distinction is being blurred with the advent of ‘Internet of Things’ products such as Hue Lights, Ring doorbells, Tado home heating automation etc – the concept however is the same, you turn things on and off.

In this case we are using a combination of a web and mobile based dashboard to turn on and off the paddle sports course pumps as required, the dashboards being the visible, more traditional development side, but the industrial programming being what happens behind the scenes to interface with the pump infrastructure.

Project Summary

The Glasgow Watersports project is a multi phased industrial programming project that will ultimately empower the user to control and administer the canoe course pumps and lighting from mobile devices, and place site bookings over the web.

The core control system part of the project allows for programmatic control of the sites pump, lighting, and klaxon systems using the industry standard Modbus protocol. This is being offered in conjunction with Retroflo, a North East based Electrical Contractors and bringing on board their expertise in industrial process control.

Glasgow Watersports Industrial Programming Dashboard

The full flow of the development will commence with a web based booking system provided by dotUK, end user bookings are then pushed privately to the Glasgow Watersports site where the onsite infrastructure will allow users to access their booking and the control systems via any wifi enabled device.

Local users can then control the pump output (strength of water flow) on demand in accordance with the abilities and expectations of their group.

A full remit of expected industrial safety, and health and safety best practices are of course in place but this investment allows the end user, through dotUK’s software development expertise, to bring control and a more beneficial user experience to the end user.

Release 1.0 of XyrohLib,

Release 1.0 of XyrohLib, our multi platform C# interface to a number of common crash reporting and logging services;

– Log file recycles at 1MB or at a customisable int (bytes) value, eg

– Can get full log file path back from Lib

https://github.com/Xyroh/…

The case for ‘App Watcher’

App Watcher is a new service (actually that’s a fib, it’s been around more than 3 years, so that’s not a good start!), it’s a new ‘public’ service I offer that anyone can sign up to. So who is it for, what does it do, and what do you get for your £25.00 a month.

So who is it for? Anyone who has a website, eCommerce store, cloud app, mobile app backend or any other publicly available web based endpoint – so that’s all of us then! More importantly this should be something you depend upon, a revenue stream or application without which your business will struggle to operate. Within that it’s geared more towards the SME sector who don’t have dedicated, fully skilled IT and developer support on hand 24/7 – that combination is where App Watcher is of value.

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What does it do? Well on it’s own it merely monitors, it checks periodically to make sure that the monitored web service is up and responding – and then let’s you know if anything looks amiss – normally by email and / or SMS. Additionally we also keep an eye on the related domain name and any attached SSL Certificate to warn you when they are likely to expire so you can mitigate downtime before it happens – however none of that is particularly new, if all you want is monitors and alerts then there are great services already out there such as Pingdom for one that will look after.

So our justification, is the worst case scenario, we offer peace of mind that there will be real, dedicated, independent human support available – and already investigating – should your monitored web site, app or presence go down unexpectedly. As soon as is practical we will manually investigate, diagnose, and provide a report back letting you know exactly where the problem lies, and give you and indication as to who to speak to to get it resolved – and remain accessible until it’s back.

Consider the scenario, you’ve commissioned an e-commerce store a few years back, they person on staff familiar with the details is has since left, but the store is up and running, earning you money, and all is good – until the day it stops. What’s wrong, and how do you fix it?

  • Has the domain name expired? Ex employee registered a few domains – always good to keep control of your domains and not leave it to the hosting company, but who did he register them with? Have we paid the bill.
  • Who is it hosted with, possibly the developer you originally contracted, but you don’t have much to deal with her now as the site is all done, and chances are she set that up with a third party anyway, or even a reseller – will they act on out instructions, or was the hosting with the domain name company?
  • Or could it be the SSL Cert, vague memory of our IT firm setting something up, or was that for the mail server – I forget.
  • Where to start, and who do you trust, no one likes admitting an error so are the answers you’re getting back ones you can trust?

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This is where we come in, we’re independent so no vested interest in anything other than being truthful and honest. We also have years of experience, we know where to look, what to test, and how to come to a quick, accurate conclusion – and more importantly communicate that to you in ways that are useful, relevant, and helpful to pointing you in the direction of the resolution to your woes.

We’ll also provide you with a written report to use for your records, or to forward on upstream to any interested parties to help you bypass their first line support and give hard facts to the engineers that can resolve it, after all we’ve done the detective work for them.

All that, an insurance if you will, from just £25.00 per month, and no risk to you as no minimum term, you can cancel when you wish. To signup our see the options just head over to our signup page to get started or if you have any questions just drop us a message via help@xyroh.com.

Look forward to having you onboard.

What Is a PHP File?

What Is a PHP File? – Original article at Tutsplus

PHP is a server-side scripting language which is mostly used to build web-based applications. These may range from a very simple blog website to a full-fledged eCommerce website for selling products online. In fact, PHP is one of the most popular server-side scripting languages, with a very healthy market share.

For those that like to geek out, or just understand what’s going on under the scenes, the above link is a really good breakdown on how PHP (the server aside scripting language I use for a lot of my development projects) work.

Andy Flisher is a Web Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.

Arcus Platform version 3.0 updates

Busy start to 2020 for the Askaris Arcus platform, big version 3.0 release translating both the portal and offline tablet interfaces into the end users native language, which will be huge for our client’s Brazilian, Norwegian and other global Operations.

Up next will be a multi-year improvement to the Dropped Object inspection framework, and further translation improvements – including a self learning multi language translation process – this will allow reports to be carried out in a a native language and then proof read and translated into multiple additional languages – another huge time saver.

The Arcus platform is used predominantly in the OIl and Gas sector to facilitate audited regulatory inspections, but as a full Asset Management suite it has uses in many other sectors.

#assetmanagement #inspectionsoftware #askaris #arcus

Find out more at – https://askaris.com/

Jacksons Law Livetrack – Case Management

Prior to Xyroh, Andy was the founder of dotUK (A software development firm based out of Yarm and Stockton on Tees here in the North East), again specialising as a developer in mobile apps, web applications and desktop software for a number of business clients – this is one of those portfolio case studies

Summary

Jacksons Law is a major North East law firm that advises both commercial and private clients and practices across all core areas of law. Their need was for a central information management portal that they could use to update and share information securely with clients with regards the progress of cases

Technical

Client Jacksons Law LLP – Major North East based Law Firm

Platforms Web

Technologies PHP, CSS, JQuery, Javascript, MySQL, Document Management

Development Web Development

Case Study

Jacksons Law practice law in a wide variety of practice areas and as such the individual needs, or specialisations of case management in one practice area can differ widely from those of another. In addition Jacksons have a wide variety of clients all of whom have a range of individual case and account reporting expectations, the challenge for dotUK was to present a solution that could encompass all needs, yet remain simple and manageable.

With Jacksons operating out of multiple sites, and to alleviate information security issues of allowing external users into their infrastructure it was decided that a web based system would be the most cost effective and simplistic to deploy and mange. In addition it would allow us to operate a mobile optimised interface for end client users that operate on site and on the road.

The system was built with a concept of case ‘Systems’ where a System mapped generally to a specific area of legal practise, eg Personal Injury, Conveyancing, Employment Law etc, in this way we could apply system specific modules to the cases within and

hence extend the specific functionality. This also allowed us to extend Systems for use by key clients, offering an enhanced branding experience for key client end users, enhanced and client specific reports and metrics, and internally SLA highlighting to ensure contractual targets were met.

The overall concept was however kept simple, allowing Jacksons staff to create cases within their permitted systems, allocating cases to end clients and updating cases with notes, attach documents, and report key milestones. In addition modules that allowed the client to keep track of running costs, and report on costs on a cost centre basis were created. External access is managed fully by Jacksons, with a hierarchy of client user permissions that allow data access to be restricted in a granular manner to department heads or end users as required.

The system is accessed over SSL as an industry standard, and is hosted on dotUK’s own Cloud hosting infrastructure here in the North East that allows use to offer high availability, fault tolerance, non interruptive snapshot backups and clustering options based on the clients requirements.

For more information, or to discuss case management or end user self service solutions tailored to your industry requirements please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

IPL – Quote Management and CRM System Case Study

Prior to Xyroh, Andy was the founder of dotUK (A software development firm based out of Yarm and Stockton on Tees here in the North East), again specialising as a developer in mobile apps, web applications and desktop software for a number of business clients – this is one of those portfolio case studies

Summary

International Procurement, a Stockton on Tees (North East) based supplier of severe service isolation solutions, needed a means to better automate and streamline their already complex request, quote, supply and invoicing workflow,

Technical

Client International Procurement – Critical & Severe Service Isolation Solutions

Platforms Web, Web Services, Kashflow

Technologies PHP, CSS, JQuery, Javascript, MySQL, REST API, JSON, Kashflow, SOAP

Development Web Development, Web Services Integration, Kashflow Integration

Case Study

The IPL sales process workflow is complicated by the very precise specification and requirements attached to each and every order, often a customer enquiry for a product will be met with a variety of options from a supplier, may have to meet complex supply requirements (including lengthy import, export and trade embargos), and even build to order solutions.

With that in mind, dotUK built, upon their in-house web services framework, a cloud based software solution that runs in the web browser, and is accessible both internally, to allowed users on the road or in home working environments, and to mobile and smartphone devices over the web, bespoke to IPL’s requirements.

The summary workflow required was in essence;

• Record Enquiry

• Manage Supplier requests (with quote and attached document management) to fulfil the enquiry

• Freeform Quote Generation (Multiple Quotes and Variations)

• Quote to Order process

• Supplier Purchase Order generation to fulfil the client order

• Invoice generation, and customer management to the web based Kashflow accounts software

Where document generation was required we standardised on PDF as a consistent, non-editable output format, and the system automatically maintains copies of the last generated version (eg for quotes), and also maintains an archived history of prior versions.  The system also allows for management of archived records, repeat ordering, and reporting on sales and overdue enquiries.

The Kashflow accounts software integration, also web based, through it’s own SOAP based API meant that simple requests such as pushing invoices into their accounts software moved from being a one line requirement, with traditionally a costly, time consuming and frustrating integration phase, became as simple as it should be.  A custom written Kashflow module was written as an extension to our web services framework that integrated seamlessly, and allowed us to continue using the same methods for data exchange and document generation.  Something that wouldn’t have been possible with traditional desktop based accountancy packages

Christmas Cards for Schools Clustered Print Generation

Prior to Xyroh, Andy was the founder of dotUK (A software development firm based out of Yarm and Stockton on Tees here in the North East), again specialising as a developer in mobile apps, web applications and desktop software for a number of business clients – this is one of those portfolio case studies

Summary

Christmas Cards for Schools based in Middlesbrough here in the North East, part of Fundraising Creations, offer Fundraising solutions for Schools, their primary product being the production of bespoke printed and customised Christmas Card packs personalised with the pupils name, class and of course their own drawing. Having been responsible for the production of in excess of 1.1 million cards in the Christmas 2013 season efficiency and scalability are high priorities

Technical

Client Christmas Cards for Schools Ltd – Middlesbrough based School Fundraising

Platforms Linux, Web, WebServices,

Technologies PHP, Perl, CSS, Jquery, MySQL, REST, ImageMagick, Apache, Clustering

Development Web Development, Web Services Integration, Synchronisation

Case Study

To understand the scale and requirements to create, print and distribute in excess of 1million Christmas Cards in a 3 month period each year it’s probably beneficial to understand the workflow required, and the stages at which dotUK have been able to build out and scale, thus adding capacity each year.

• Participating Schools are sent Artwork kits

• Kits are returned and the drawings are scanned, grouped, and filed into our Web Based storage system

• School batches are processed within our processing cluster leading to the creation of digital print ready personalised images (1 Per child)

• Print ready images are synchronised to the print partner who takes responsibility for print and distribution, feeding back status to the storage system dashboard.

Due to the system being highly seasonal dotUK have built a bespoke hosting infrastructure that offers a cost effective, but highly scalable hosting solution. Services that are required year around are separated from the seasonal processing cluster, thus offering a base line cost for the majority of the year. The processing cluster is build in such a manner, that additional processing nodes can be added at 15minute deployment windows, and will automatically join in the pool of processing power, but can be removed when surplus thus reducing hosting and running costs that are unwarranted.

To maintain maximum data integrity, control, and compliance in excess of UK Data Protection requirements, the hosting cluster and processing engine is a bespoke, privately hosted solution provided, hosted, and monitored by dotUK

Depending on the solution offered to the school the workflow may include digital samples that are offered initially to the school prior to order, but ultimately school co-ordinators enter their school order quantities online through their own access portal, which triggers the print cluster and sync services to push final orders to the print partner.

In addition to the core card generation workflow, we also generate supplementary personalised products, and fully automate other ancillary services such as billing, marketing / kit requests and the ability for parents to view online samples prior to order

Stockton’s Big Challenge Active Travel Portal – Case Study

Prior to Xyroh, Andy was the founder of dotUK (A software development firm based out of Yarm and Stockton on Tees here in the North East), again specialising as a developer in mobile apps, web applications and desktop software for a number of business clients – this is one of those portfolio case studies

Summary

Stockton’s Big Challenge is a web based community competition initially funded by Stockton on Tees Borough Council, NHS Stockton on Tees, the Big Lottery and Sustrans. The aim is to build awareness of Active travel and encourage a healthier lifestyle across Stockton by encouraging people to walk or cycle to work.

Technical

Client: Sustrans / Stockton Active Travel

Platforms: Web, Web Services,

Technologies: PHP, CSS, JQuery, Javascript, MySQL, Animation, Charting

Development: Web Development, Web Reporting, Jquery Animation

Case Study

Stockton’s Big Challenge was pitched as lottery funded concept aimed at encouraging local (Stockton on Tees Borough) Employees, and Employers alike to ditch the car and cycle or walk to work, in essence embrace ‘Active Travel’ and enjoy a fitter healthier lifestyle – all through the power of competitions

The competition premise was simple, each and every time you under took ‘Active Travel’ you logged in to the site, recorded the date, distance, time, and reason for travel. These journeys were then logged and your cumulative total displayed in terms of miles travelled, calories used, kg of fat burnt, kg of CO2 saved, and Parmo’s!

For those not local to Teesside the Parmo is a regional delicacy of note (http://en.wikipedia.org/w…) which through it’s ingredients of cheese, béchamel sauce, and being deep fried has a ridiculously high calorie count!

The Parmo Calculator was the welcomed challenge in the development as the concept was that we would allow site users to visualise their journey in terms of Parmo’s dropping to a plate, the shock factor being the tiny fraction of a Parmo that most journey’s equated to. We also made the calculator available as a stand alone tool that visitors could play with and drum up publicity. It worked, gaining the challenge and dotUK local coverage in local press, radio interviews, and even linked to and referenced by the Wikipedia article above.

The competition itself was broken down to allow businesses of different sizes to also compete by entering teams of employees (the cumulative score of their employees being totalled), as well as the individual completion. All user journeys, their ‘Parmo Counts’ and a dynamically generated report of miles walked / cycled over time was available in the individual users portfolios.

From an administration point of view, all aspect of the system were run form a secure web based control panel, this covers both user management, flagging ‘suspect’ journey logs, content management, and competition and winner management. The competitions were designed to be run time and time again between specific date ranges so we built tools that allow new competitions to be defined and journeys automatically entered between the relevant dates. Some winners prizes were also drawn at random so we created tools that allowed winners to be picker honestly.

When a competition is active the real-time statistics are published to both a widget on the home page and also to a dedicated live results page showing the scoreboard in terms of individuals and employers in the region. To further motivate year on year competition the historical archives of past competition results are permanently available and automatically generated.

Wrapped around the competition element of the site is the content management system. Near all content on the site it controlled through our own build web based content management system. Each page on the front end consists of one or more content blocks and the output content of those blocks is created by the administrator using the WYSIWG (What You See Is What You Get) editor.

This means that the administrator does not need to know, or have any real understanding of HTML or web scripting languages, they can simply type as if it were a regular word processor and format text style, colour, size and alignment with ease. In addition we created a web based media manager which allowed the simple upload of images to be embedded in the content thus allowing for the simple creation of visually rich, engaging content for their community.

Content wise these tools allowed them to manage 20+ pages of unique content instantly on demand, and engaging users beyond the competition. Content included local events, Bike maintenance tips, links to local resources and cycle path maps, the Sustrans Cycle network journey planner and much, much more.

Efiling – Web Based Company Formation Software

Prior to Xyroh, Andy was the founder of dotUK (A software development firm based out of Yarm and Stockton on Tees here in the North East), again specialising as a developer in mobile apps, web applications and desktop software for a number of business clients – this is one of those portfolio case studies 

Summary

Efiling is an award winning online company formations software product that was originally developed by dotUK and had undertaken a number or significant revisions and expansions in the lifetime of the product

Technical

Client Efiling Ltd – Online Company Formations Software

Platforms Web, Web Services, Kashflow, XML Gateway

Technologies PHP, CSS, JQuery, Javascript, MySQL, REST API, JSON, Kashflow, SOAP, XML, Python

Development Web Development, Web Services Integration, Kashflow Integration, Companies House Integration

Case Study

The Efiling Web Based Companies House Software product was initially conceived with the core functional requirements of offering a web based medium through which instruction to the Companies House Gateway could be sent, on receipt of which the gateway would act upon those instructions. Examples of commands which could be instructed include;

  • Formation of a UK Company (Eg Ltd, Plc etc)
  • Add / Modify / Resign a Director
  • Add / Modify / Resign a Company Secretary
  • Articles of Association & Memorandum
  • Change Registered Office

Version 1 of the software, developed exclusively by dotUK was utilising the Companies House Email Gateway, this protocol mean that instructions were issued by embedding commands in the email message subject and the payload (data fields, attachments etc) were embedded in properly formatted email message body. Responses from the Gateway were equally sent via email to a dedicated mailbox which was polled and monitored at the Efiling end.

Efiling is a multi tenanted system, which means the core platform is used by a near unlimited number of brand owners / companies withcompany formation needs. To function in this way data security and segregation is paramount as under no circumstances can data ‘leak’ between tenants on the system, and we built robust practices and data references into place to ensure this never happened. It also added significantly to the complexity of the system as we then had to manage website templates, company names, Companies House account details, email addresses and domains to manage, in essence near every variable in the system had to be configurable on a per tenant basis.

Billing for orders was another challenge to be managed, end user payments were taken by credit card on order, however brand owners were split between pre-pay (An account with a preloaded positive balance of funds) and credit accounts (Accounts with a preset maximum negative balance according to their credit limit), so we built a complex accounting structure that allowed for both charging models, and of course all associated reporting, statements, and invoicing required. Pricing levels (Both to Efiling, and charged by tenants to their clients) was also configurable and changeable on demand.

As the product matured additional features were added, which included expanding the standard statutory Companies House product offerings to allow tenants to offer bespoke, bundled packages, which included their own value add services (eg Company Secretarial, Mail Room services, offline products such as bound articles, hard copies of certificates etc). These were managed on a per tenant basis so significant upgrades to the tenant administration tools were made, and also to Efiling’s own system administration tools which sat above the tenants as an overview.

Soon Companies House began the process of decommissioning the email gateway service, which worked well, but was limited in terms of speed of service due to the delays faced in email delivery, and introduced a new XML based gateway. This gateway is in essence a secure web service that listens real time for commands sent direct over https (secure web traffic) and using documented (mostly!) XML documents as the payload. The benefits this service offered were that responses to instruction delivery were often available instantly, and it allowed us the option to ‘poll’ the gateway periodically for updates as opposed to wait for an email to arrive. It also increased reliability as we were communicating direct with the gateway as opposed to the round robin route email can on occasion take. dotUK were heavily involved in this transition, and the opportunity was taken to significantly improve other areas of the system such as document generation and storage.

Unfortunately it became apparent as the project progressed that some areas of the new gateway functionality were incomplete, undocumented, or not tested which meant we were frustrated in our ability to communicate progress to the client. However we took steps to optimise our time as efficiently as possible and made sure that we managed the project fully, this included taking responsibility for liaising with Companies House direct (who’s hands were tied by their own third party development team) and on occasion direct with the gateway developers themselves. Ultimately we were able to build and conclude testing of instructions in parallel with Companies House as we moved towards the deadline for switch off of the old email service. This was a regulatory deadline and was immovable.

Since then we have also been involved in other third party integrations, such as feeding bank account application into the Barclays Business accounts service (again an XML based gateway) and integration with the Kashflow web based accounts software using their SOAP based API. The advantages of using Kashflow were that it meant tenant accounting transactions were ultimately delivered direct into their accounts package, new customers automatically created, invoices and credits posted, thus automating tenant admin processes, actually reducing the amount of functionality required within the Efiling Back End, and actually adding significant value to the proposition.

For more information about Efiling, or to enquire about licensing their web based company formation software technologies please visit www.efiling.co.uk