Announcing frevvo 7.2

form-workflowToday we’re happy to announce the general release of frevvo 7.2. Cloud customers were automatically upgraded on April 29. On-Premise availability is coming up shortly – subscribe to Release Announcements for the precise date. This release also includes upgrades to the Database Connector.

We know that frevvo is powerful software but there’s also a learning curve. frevvo 7.2 is the first in a series of updates this year focused on making it easier to use.

Visual Rule Builder

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One of the main areas customers tell us about is Rules. They’re really really powerful and many customers love the flexibility of being able to write JavaScript code and create very complex, dynamic behavior. But, they can be hard to use. Enter the Visual Rule Builder. Using it, you can create many rules visually rather than writing JavaScript. Read more in this blog article and find detailed documentation here. We’re excited about this new capability and expect improvements over multiple releases to make it easier and increasingly capable of replacing JavaScript-based rules.

This release also includes some security enhancements – e.g. user ids no longer appear in URLs and are replaced by opaque UUIDs – and other under-the-hood improvements needed for future ease-of-use improvements.

Database Connector

The DB Connector is one of the most widely used connectors – customers have created all kinds of integrations with their SQL databases. Most of the improvements made in this release are fairly technical and we won’t go into details here. See the Release Notes for reasons to upgrade. We’ve also made several under-the-hood improvements so we can make this oft-used connector easier to use and as point-and-click as possible. We’ll detail those in future blog posts.

We’re excited about this release and several upcoming ones. The focus is squarely on updating and making so many of the good things we do easier to use.

 

Using Control Templates

When designing forms and workflows, there are some common use cases that come up very frequently. Some of these have associated business rules. Control Templates provide a mechanism for building these once and re-using them many times. Let’s take a look at an example and see how you can use it. You can try these templates by clicking on this link and download the form here if you want to view them in detail.

Automatically set today’s date

Purchase Order, Employee On-Boarding, Expense Report, Leave Approval and many other forms have a date control that should be automatically set to today’s date. Instead of making the user type it in, we can just set it up automatically with a trivial business rule:

if (form.load) {
if (tDate.value.length === 0) {
tDate.value = frevvo.currentDate();
}
}

Easy enough. Now, let’s turn it into a reusable control template.

Step 1: Put the Date control in a Panel and give it a nice user-friendly name like Current Date Panel. You can publish just the control but it’s necessary to put it into a panel so that the associated rules get carried along.

datePanel

Panel with a User-Friendly Name

Step 2: Drag the Panel into the Custom palette. Hover the mouse over the header of the custom palette area while dragging. The header and drag icon will change and you can drop the control into the palette.

customPalette

Drag/Drop into Custom Palette

Step 3: When you drop it in, a wizard appears. Enter any desired tags, a description and make sure you check the box next to the rule. The read-only box will automatically get checked. The tags can be used later by other designers to find the published custom control. The read-only box prevents changes to certain properties that could cause the associated rule to fail. Then click Submit and Voila! You have a published custom control.

publish

Publish Wizard

 

How can another designer use it?

It’s simple. In the Form Designer, open the Custom Palette and click the Search link. In the wizard that shows up, you can view all published custom controls or enter a string and click the Search Controls button to narrow the list by tag. When you find the control you want, check the box next to it and click Finish.

searchCustom

Find Published Templates

The control will appear in your Custom Palette from now on every time you open the Form Designer. To use it, simply drag & drop it from the Custom Palette into your form. The layout and behavior will be preserved. In this example, the date will automatically initialize to the current date.

The example form above also contains templates for calculating a sub-total and grand total for line items in a Table and for initializing controls automatically with the currently logged-in user’s information (e.g. First Name, Last Name). You can download the form by clicking on this link to view the controls and associated rules. We’ll discuss these examples in a separate how-to article.

 

 

La Cité College chooses frevvo for student applications integrated with Salesforce, DocuShare and Oracle.

Deeply rooted in the National Capital Region and Eastern Ontario for over a quarter of a century, La Cité is the largest French-speaking applied arts and technology College in Ontario.

lacite1

1200+ registration forms have already been submitted electronically with a 24/7 service offering. Students save time since they no longer have to stand in line for registration. Instead of lining up, they simply complete the process on their smartphones.

La Cité serves a diverse population from students and faculty to a large student body. Students, in particular, prefer to use their mobile phones for almost everything. Yet most of La Cité’s forms and applications were paper or PDF documents that had to be printed out, hand-filled and signed. They didn’t integrate with databases, DocuShare (their document management system) or salesforce.com (CRM).

That means students filling out long forms by hand and standing in long lines to register, internal employees scanning and indexing paper forms and a tedious, inefficient overall experience.

Students love the built-in mobile support. Now that the forms are compatible with devices, 60% of responses have come in on mobile.

La Cité decided that they needed to improve services to students and staff. They selected frevvo Live Forms and, in a matter of months, they’ve replaced several paper/PDF forms with electronic ones. They’re available 24/7, work automatically on mobile devices, and integrate with DocuShare, Oracle and salesforce.com. frevvo forms also work in multiple languages including French, which is the dominant language on La Cité’s campus. Data is pre-populated, frevvo’s build-in validation ensures fewer errors, documents are automatically stored in DocuShare and salesforce and students are no longer standing in line.

Co-Op applications, which used to be paper are now electronic. As a result, the number of applications has gone up from about 10 in previous years to over 70.

The results have been impressive and La Cité plans to roll out several additional forms and workflows in the coming months.

Click here to read the Case Study and contact us if you’d like more information or to sign up for a free 30 day trial.

4 weeks vs 1 year? Really?

Building it themselves would be out of reach – we’re talking hundreds of thousands of $ and a year of time. With frevvo, it’s up and running in just a few weeks.

automation

Complex forms & workflows are really hard to program by hand

It started out as a casual conversation at lunch. But, I was so surprised at the answers I couldn’t believe my ears. Check out the little Q&A below with Courtney Bernard, one of our Customer Success whizzes.

FB (Frevvo Blog): What do you do at frevvo?
CB (Courtney Bernard): I wear a few hats in the Customer Success area. Obviously, some client services but I also do some training & customer support. I also do some of the voice overs for frevvo’s videos.

FB: This recent project, what’s it all about?
CB: It’s a customer in real estate (Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty). They sell real estate. But, before selling any property, it must first be listed – an MLS listing. That means filling out tons of paperwork – anyone who’s sold a house is probably familiar with this. You have to fill out literally dozens of forms, sign in a bunch of places, write in the same info over and over again, correct mistakes etc. It’s painful.

For our customer, obviously, speeding up the listing process is a good thing. They wanted to turn everything into an electronic form/workflow. No more mistakes, duplicate typing or signing, save tons of time.

FB: Ok, so what’d you do?
CB: We did it for them.

FB: Just like that?
CB: Well, no. This is an MLS listing. It’s huge. I’d guess there were 350 maybe 400 fields at least. And, it’s really complex. Many fields depend on others. For example, some fields are part of one type of listing others are not. Choose an option in one field and a bunch of other fields may be affected. We needed to generate a nicely formatted PDF. And, the entire form must work on a mobile device (usually a tablet) since associates are typically out in the field. So, it wasn’t easy to do.

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FB: Put that in a bit of context for us. If I wanted to hire someone to build this, how long would it take?
CB: Well, it’s a guess since I haven’t estimated it but I’d say easily 4-6 man-months for development and about the same for QA. Then there’s PDF generation and mobile. Do you really want it to look good on a tablet? That takes work and lots of time. So, somewhere between 9 to 15 months is probably a good bet. Of course, that’s if it works at all. The complexity is high so there’s a definite risk that it’ll fail.

[Spoiler: This is the part where I couldn’t believe my ears.]
FB: How long did it take you?
CB: Well, they did some of the testing work. It took us about 80 hours (2 weeks) in total. Assuming they spent about as long, we’re talking about 4-6 weeks total.

FB: WHAT? 4 weeks vs 1 year? Seriously?
CB: Yes seriously. I mean the 4-6 weeks of work was spread out over 4 months (holidays, other projects, delays etc) so 4-6 weeks is the actual time we spent.

FB: How the heck is that even possible?
CB: I know. It’s crazy. frevvo is incredibly good at making these large, complex business forms usable. If you had a simple 1-page form with 10 fields, the difference wouldn’t be so drastic. But, as complexity rises, the # of fields increase, dynamic behavior, business rules, PDF, mobile etc. come into play, the cost of building rises dramatically. That’s where frevvo really shines. It’s amazing how easy it is.

FB: Jameson’s must have been pleased?
CB: Without question. They’re reasonably big but not huge. Building it themselves would be out of reach – we’re talking 100s of thousands of $ and a year of time. frevvo puts the benefits of this kind of automation in the hands of companies like Jameson Sotheby’s who realistically wouldn’t have access to it otherwise. That’s huge!

FB: And, what else do you do when you’re not helping customers succeed?
CB: Read, listen to podcasts, ride horses, go hiking, play with my son, watch Downton Abbey and root for my beloved New England Patriots.

There you have it folks! A single form that would have likely cost $100s of K completed in a matter of weeks and far far lower cost with frevvo. And that doesn’t even take into account the productivity benefits that will accrue for years to come.

Read the Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty Case Study. Highly automated organizations get 5X more done and save up to 80% of costs compared to those who are still using paper/email based processes. Why not try frevvo yourself? Contact us now for more information.

Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty chooses frevvo to automate MLS listings

Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty is the exclusive Chicago and North Shore affiliate of the Sotheby’s International Realty global network. Jameson’s has a 30-year-old reputation for integrity, honesty and results in the Greater Chicagoland area.
jamesons
The company sells real estate. They want to get listings out as soon as possible and provide their associates with a great user experience. Unfortunately, listing a property is a time-consuming process involving many paper forms, lots of data, and multiple signatures.

They chose Live Forms to automate the process and eliminate paper, collect data electronically, sign on any device and expedite listings.

Read the Case Study.

Highly automated organizations get 5X more done and save up to 80% of costs compared to those who are still using paper/email based processes. Why not try frevvo yourself? Contact us now for more information.

Unsuck the Enterprise

PeopleFirst

There’s something strangely appealing about trying to make enterprise software not universally despised. I guess I believe in a utopian vision where enterprise software is useful, usable, and (gasp!) enjoyable.

– Rian van der Merwe in a great post about Enterprise UX.

I came across this article a while back and it really hits home for me. There’s no doubt about it. Enterprise UX sucks mainly because it’s practically impossible for enterprise developers, who are usually under extreme pressure, to prioritize sexy screens and fast page load times. The result is a terrible user experience and dissatisfied users.

Similarly, blindly following the latest paradigm like mobile first also leads to a terrible user experience e.g. Windows 8 on a desktop computer.

Prioritize how people use applications

That’s exactly at the core of what we do – People First Design. Customers use frevvo to create enterprise applications like Employee On-Boarding and Purchase Requisitions. The designer is typically not a professional developer but a business engineer. For our product, that means:

Let the business engineers design forms and flows to meet business requirements. We’ll take care of providing the natural user experience everywhere.

Great looking, highly usable enterprise applications don’t have to take too long and cost too much. It’s not easy to do (even Amazon and Google don’t always get it right in spite of their vast resources). We’ve invested tons of effort in this area. From the obvious things like responsive layouts and mobile aware controls to a host of smaller details like slightly bigger buttons/controls that are much more usable on touch screens and decorators that provide extra quality, we’ve done the work to make sure that your users will get a beautiful and enjoyable UX.

We’ll continue to invest more so you don’t have to worry about it. We’d love to hear from you. Contact us for more information.

Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty chooses frevvo to automate MLS listings

Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty (part of Sotheby’s International) is a leading Central and South Texas real estate firm with about 250 associates and listings in 90 Texas counties.

kuper

The company sells real estate. Unfortunately, in order to list a property for sale, a lot of information must be collected about the property and the sellers. It’s used in MLS systems, on legal documents that require signatures (e.g. disclosures), and back office processes such as marketing materials that must be reviewed by listing agents. It’s a tedious, time-consuming and unnecessarily costly process.

They chose frevvo Live Forms to automate the process, eliminate paper and improve efficiency because:

  • It provides agents and customers with a fantastic user experience on all devices. Sellers will no longer need to sign and initial a dozen or more documents.
  • frevvo’s built-in validation and business rules dramatically reduce errors, corrections and duplicate data entry.
  • Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty expects to get listings out sooner, free up agents’ time and reduce costs.

Read the Case Study and try frevvo free for 30 days and see for yourself how you can stop printing, signing and scanning for routine approvals.