Thursday, July 28, 2016

Custom Reporting Changes

Why did we remove the option to add your own JRXML custom report?

Some users may have noticed that we recently removed the option to Add Report to the Custom Reports section. We use JRXML for custom reports in ampEducator. For those of you who have been using this feature this blog is for you and if you are just interested in having us build you a custom report please read on as well.

The purpose of the change to custom reporting in ampEducator is not to restrict the feature it is actually to allow our team to be able to continue to offer custom reports as an option for all clients at all. The reason many software providers do not offer custom reporting is because there is a huge hidden cost to custom reports (even the most simple ones).

We must continue to develop ampEducator to keep it relevant and secure for all our clients. The database changes required to do this eventually break all custom report queries and then we are asked to fix or investigate them. This means that we have to download the report, figure out what it is trying to do and then attempt to fix it. If we didn't create the report it is often impossible to do this without re-creating it from scratch. Multiply this times thousands of users around the world and you have an unmanageable process obviously.

So we were faced with a decision, either start charging for custom reports and take on the added complexity of supporting them or drop the option entirely. We believe that the custom reports are a good option for our schools and that you need them to run your operations. The solution was clear to us that we needed to keep them but we also didn't want our smaller schools to have to suffer the costs.

You now have 2 options to run custom reporting using ampEducator:

Option 1. Add to ampEducator 'Reports' $199 per Report. Our support team will build, install, support and maintain the report on an ongoing basis for you within ampEducator. The time to create reports on average is min. 1-2 hours and that is why each report costs $199. This is our team designing and installing the report for you based on some mockup or outline agreed to in advance.

Option 2. Run your own custom reports $99/month. Use our new DB Read-Only Add-on tool and connect with third party reporting software to build your own custom reporting outside of ampEducator. If you want your staff to build the reports they can do this instead. The additional $99/monthly cost is to cover supporting, managing (security, etc.) and increased bandwidth that this tool impacts on our operations.

Rather than a huge blanket increase to monthly fees to support custom reporting (which would have been much easier to do) we felt this option was a fair and sustainable alternative to everyone, especially for those schools who do not use custom reports at all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ongoing Updates

  • User Interface
  • Internationalization
  • Online Manual
  • API
Over the next couple of weeks we will be making some key changes to the user interface, adding multiple language support, completing the online user manual and API. All this work is being done simultaneously and we expect the changes to be completed by the end of September 2016.
User Interface
Our goal with the user interface is to improve usability by reducing the number of screens and clicks required for many tasks. We are also aiming to make the application work seamlessly across different platforms such as desktops, tablets and mobile phones. To achieve this we will be doing the following:
  • 2 Column Layout
    For desktops and tablets there is enough room to present information in 2 columns. This will increase the amount of information visible and decrease scrolling required.
  • Combine Multiple Screens
    Where possible we are going to combine multiple screens of information into a single screen. For example, in the student profile page you will now be able to see Profile, Events, Documents, Emails, Course etc.. all on a single page without having to load other screens. A menu on the right hand side of the screen will allow you to jump between sections.
  • Modal Windows
    The use of modal windows (pop-up windows) will be increase so that a separate screen load is not required for simple tasks (e.g. uploading documents, adding emails)
  • Background Saving
    All saves / updates in the application will be converted to saving in the background reducing the need to reload screens and saving substantial time.
  • Integrated Printing
    Most pages from within the application will be able to generate a reasonable printed page by simply printing directly from them. For example hitting print on a student profile page will let you get a hard copy of all their record.
  • Integrated Manual
    Links to relevant sections of the manual will be available from most pages.
Sample View of new UI Layout with menu along right hand side.

Internationalization
As we update the user interface we will also be putting in place the ability to use ampEducator in different languages and locales. Initially we will be adding support for French and Spanish with other languages to follow depending on the needs of institutions.

Online Manual
The online manual is now available here. We will be adding to it as work progresses throughout the application.

API
A full REST style API is also now available. For details please visit our API Page. The number of available calls will be increased as work progresses.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns please email us support@ampeducator.com.