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Published March 28th, 2016

 

The Director's Corner

A summary of this newsletter and the reasons we created it.

By Dave Smith

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the SSDT newsletter.  As we continue to push frequent releases and draw closer to release candidate stage (see Matt’s article below) keeping in constant contact with you will become more important. We hope this publication is one means by which we can keep you better informed. 

By now I hope each of you have had an opportunity to see or experience the second preview release of both USAS and USPS and have seen what the future of state software will look like. We are excited about many of the modern features our redesigned software provides. We will detail some of these features, particularly those “under the hood” (such as rules and custom fields), in subsequent issues. There is a lot of power built into the new software that may not be immediately apparent.  All of this was done with an eye on the long term to meet both the immediate and future needs of our user community.

Our current focus is to recreate the functionality of the classic state software packages. Once this is done we have many ideas about where to go next, but we will look to you to guide us and help make state software what you want it to be.  

If you have questions or comments about the preview releases, this newsletter or anything else the SSDT does please send us a message at ssdt-feedback@nwoca.org.

 

Redesigning The Future

An explanation of our release plan and timelines.

 By Matt Calmes

We realize the state software redesign project timelines have not been communicated to the user community effectively and as a result are not well understood. This article is an effort to alleviate this confusion.

First of all the most common question we receive is: “When will it be done?” Our answer is usually: “That depends on your definition of done.”  We don’t give this answer because we are strict adherents to the Socratic Method, because we love being aloof or simply fancy a career in politics. No, we give this answer because it is relevant to the discussion.

As software developers it is not our job to tell you when the software is done. The software is not really done until you say it is and are willing to back that assertion up by using it in production. The point at which this is true can and almost certainly will vary from customer to customer.  

The classic software acquired a glut of features over its 30+ year history. We believe many of these features are used by a very small subset of schools and in some cases maybe not at all. As a result we have committed to supporting the core functionality of the classic software, but we do not plan to recreate every single feature verbatim. We will add these minor features back in, as user feedback dictates, during the release process. There are also several new features in the software, which have improved its usability, opened it up to future expansion and in some cases replaced broad swaths of these classic features.

Before we go any further let’s define some important terms that are needed to understand our release timeline.

Preview Release – A release that we know is not complete, but has reached a major milestone in terms of functionality and requires user feedback. We know these releases have pieces of functionality missing and contain bugs.  

Release Candidate At this stage we believe that the minimum set of classic features that make USAS and USPS what they are have been completed. We have implemented all mandatory features, eliminated all known bugs and believe this release can be used in production. Our users will then evaluate the release candidate and confirm or reject this assertion.

Production Release – Once a subset of our user community accepts a release candidate and begins using it in production we enter the coveted production release stage. However, depending on your individual requirements the first production release may not meet your definition of “done”. User feedback continues throughout this stage and each subsequent production release adds more features.

So, as you can see from the definitions above user feedback is very important at each stage in the release process. You can also probably deduce that we are using the proverbial “carrot over the stick” and expect different schools to convert at different times.

Ok, so now you probably still want to know one thing…when’s it going to be done? First off let me say we do not expect to reach production release status on July, 1st 2016. There has been some miscommunication from other entities to that effect and we have been contacted by some people who are under that impression.

We are currently in the preview release stage. USAS and USPS have both released two preview releases at the time of writing with more on the way shortly. These preview releases have generated a decent amount of user feedback, though we would be happy for more volume in this area. We use this feedback along with our own internal backlog to direct our efforts and work toward the release candidate stage. Based on our current trajectory we estimate reaching release candidate this summer.

After that the estimates get a little fuzzy as when we reach production release status is entirely in the hands of the user community and based on their feedback. We believe it is possible that the first production releases for some of the smaller schools (particularly community schools) could be as early as the fall.

I hope that helps to detail where we’re at and what our projected timelines look like. If you have any questions concerning this article, the software or anything else related to the SSDT please contact us at ssdt-feedback@nwoca.org

 

The New and Exciting World of the USXS Redesigns

A sneak peek of what you will see in the applications.

 By Lori Miller


The USXS-R redesign is well underway and we wanted to share with you what you can expect to see when you access the websites.

USPS-R

When logging into the payroll web application you will see the following :

These menu options may change based on each individuals permissions.

 

 

Each Menu contains options that are listed alphabetically.

 


USAS-R

When logging into the accounting web application you will see the  following .

These menu options may change based on each individuals permissions.

 

 

Each Menu contains options that are listed alphabetically.

 

There is currently documentation for both the USPS and USAS applications and this is on the SSDT WIKI page and can be found at the following links:

We have also started creating videos for the USPS and USAS applications and they can be found on our SSDT You Tube page which is located at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/user/ssdtohio                                        

                          

Grid Functionality in USXS Redesigns

An explanation on how the grid works.

 By Michelle Drewes


 

Many of the USXS-R menu options are displayed in a grid format in order for the user to query existing data.   You can customize the grid columns by adding/removing columns using the “More” icon.  Using your mouse, you can drag columns left to right, changing the order of how they appear on the grid.  You can also sort within each column by clicking on the column, sorting them in ascending or descending order.  Sorting multiple columns is available as well by holding down SHIFT and clicking on the successive columns.  Grid results are "lazy-loaded", meaning you can scroll down through all of the data and it gets loaded as you go. This means there is no limit on maximum records that can be returned, and no "page numbers" to deal with to see your results. Clicking on a row in the grid displays a highlighted view of the record you are on.

You are able to filter grid results via the "filter row" which is directly under the column header descriptions.  For alphanumeric columns, use % as a wildcard. Use booleans such as <, >, =, etc) to filter numeric columns.  In addition, the advanced query icon    allows querying against virtually any field related to the type of data being queried. The advanced queries can be saved and recalled later, and are also available as filters in the Report menu.

In order to view a specific record, click on .  To edit a record, click on and to delete a record, click on .  A short video on how the grid works can be seen on our SSDT YouTube Channel.

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