e-grou released a new web-based document management system
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
E-grou is an online document management and workflow collaboration service. The service provides customers with a secure and configurable vault for checking in and out documents according to each user´s access rights; controlling document life cycle information; controlling document versions; managing mail and email records; participating in ad-hoc and structured workflows.
Our customers are companies from a wide spectrum of businesses, particularly architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC); product design and development; industry; services; and public administration. To respond to the needs of so different customers, the vault is easily configurable without requiring any programming. Customers can configure the e-grou vault remotely by specifying users, user groups, attributes, document types, projects, folder tree views, and workflows according to their needs using out-of-the-box tools and friendly windows-like forms.
E-grou’s customers needed to remotely but safely upload and download documents , ensuring that each document is uploaded, visualized, edited, and approved only by users with proper access rights to it. Furthermore, customers developing project-oriented activities, such as AEC companies, need to have access rights and users, refined per project.
For our customers version control and traceability is a big concern. Using the wrong version of a document can cost quite a lot. In addition, it is a major concern to them to approve some document types, such as proposals, purchasing orders, and technical reports before sending them to customers and suppliers.
The customers also push for flexible, intuitive, and friendly presentation of information. Users from administrative, technical, and commercial areas look and search for information from different perspectives and e-grou must satisfy those needs. Compatibility with different web browsers was also an important requirement.
Most of e-grou’s customers are familiar with the windows Graphical User Interface (GUI) and it was important to develop a UI with the same look and feel of a Windows application. Intuitive data presentation and a Windows-like GUI would help cut down on customers’ training effort and resistance to change.
In addition, ease of configuration was a major issue for customers that are usually looking for a solution that is flexible and adaptable to their information model needs, without the need for any programming effort and long deployment times, both leading to large investment costs and slow return on investment. These requirements demanded for out-of-the-box tools and an ease of use user interface to configure them.
The company’s first product, the e-grou Enterprise Edition, targeted customers preferring to have the document management and workflow solution hosted in-house. Initially the e-grou Enterprise Edition supported only a Windows client.
The pressure for a Web client was on the rise and there was no doubt at e-grou that this Web client should have a GUI as similar as possible to the Windows client user interface since customers may indifferently use one or the other client. This web client is now the same as the Web client available to access the e-grou Professional Edition service.
E-grou started the web client development using asp.net. After a considerable development effort, the development team found out that it was a time consuming task to develop the web client with a windows-like GUI and similar functionalities. In addition, they realized that performance was becoming an issue, especially when the bandwidth was limited, as in construction areas with poor signal strengths. Still development continued for over a year and ended-up with a graphically poor user interface, lacking some basic functionality, and performing quite slowly.
It was time for a major decision. Should the company continue this line of development and reinforce the team or should it consider throwing away all the asp.net code and starting it all over? In order to continue the user interface development with the standard web development tools the team was using, more resources were needed and obviously more time, to improve skills & web knowledge.
E-grou finally decided to halt development and look for tools that could make a difference in productivity and ease of use. Among those, the team came across Visual WebGui (VWG) anddecided to evaluate it. The team then started porting the web client to Visual WebGui to get a feeling for ease of use, functionality, performance, graphical aspect and was pretty impressed with it. All aspects that we valued were fully satisfied even with the free version. “With Visual WebGui we ported our previous web client in just a couple of months with additional functionality, better performance, and looking much better from the graphical point of view.” Said José Santos
Using Visual WebGui enabled the development team to reach and even surpass the original application requirements of usability, performance, and security. With Visual WebGui the e-grou Web client became very similar to itsWindows client, both presenting to users the information quite intuitively. In addition, users now feel quite familiar with the navigation methods supported by the web client, contributing to reduce training and deployment time and costs.
Moreover, Visual WebGui presented e-grou development team with a tool that supported the development of a fully functional application very easily, particularly in regards to converting from a windows application. It also provided e-grou developers with a very intuitive migration path, from windows applications to an Internet based application, by allowing similar methods and familiar user interfaces. "Choosing VWG reduced significantly the development effort and skills required to create a windows-like web user interface,” concluded José Santos.
Additionally, the new features available from the new version of the Visual WebGui framework “will allow us to comply with our Customers GUI preferences. By supporting different “flavors” for the user interface, VWG enables our application and gives users the ability to select a Macintosh, a Windows, or a Linux-like GUI for their web client,” stated José Santos.
Sending drawing for email/routing
Uploading a document into the vault
Approving document for release
Sending mail for internal routing dispatch
Creating a document search
Configuring the document type Technical Report
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.