Web-Based, Cloud-Friendly Self-Service Portal
In late 2013, Armentor spoke about the system’s challenges to Ian Ayers, principal at Configment, a consultancy based in Charlottesville, VA, which had already completed other Web projects for the school using Drupal.
Ayers says he immediately saw that Drupal, a popular open-source content management framework, was not suitable for the type of workflows and functionality Tulane needed. And, he says, he instantly began to envision a solution for Tulane using Progress Rollbase. “We had worked on a wide range of projects for small business organizations and startups using Progress Rollbase and we were confident of the capabilities it provided,” says Ayers.
“The way Rollbase gives me the ability to rapidly prototype with the client is totally awesome,” he adds. Using Rollbase, the design process and the build process can start almost simultaneously, making it possible to work directly with clients and end users at the earliest stage of development, according to Ayers. “I don’t have to waste time doing screen mockups because I can demo almost immediately, so it is even faster than typical agile web development,” says Ayers.
Working with Armentor to understand the dimensions of the project, Ayers says he was able to showcase a demo within 12 hours. “That would be impossible if done natively with Drupal – it would have taken a minimum of weeks,” Ayers notes. The bottom line: with Progress Rollbase, says Ayers, he shaved 50% off the cost of the project.
Initially, Armentor says, he had planned to continue storing files for users. Instead, though, the site is now set up to work seamlessly with cloud-based services. “Interfacing in this way gives the users more control over their files and it also means they can continue working until their files are actually scheduled to print,” explains Armentor. The solution even permits users to schedule print jobs and check on the status of jobs via a mobile device.
Since first setting up the portal, Configment has updated the application with new modules to control plotters and computer-numerical-control (CNC) machining operations—for generating 3D models. “Even though the CNC process has a somewhat different workflow, thanks to Rollbase, instead of having to start from scratch we could clone portions of our original work and simply modify it to handle this,” says Ayers.
“It was nice to know that Configment didn’t have to build from scratch when we needed something new and fast,” adds Armentor.