It’s not what he meant. He didn’t really hate the cloud
A potential customer vented his dislike of “the Cloud”, saying “it’s just a server in a data centre instead of in your office”. Technically he is right. It is often even less than that and often mis-sold. It might be a shared conventional server. It might also be a massive environment like Amazon Web Services.
At its best it is a cloud based application that you don’t have to host. It is backed up. It has redundancy built in. It is auto-scaleable and uses content delivery network. It is accessible from a browser from anywhere. Local installation or maintenance is unnecessary. Web apps can connect to other systems using web services. I the customer’s dislike of the misuse of important technological or scientific names for cheap marketing. It spoils it for the very clever people who bring us these major advances. It spoils it for us when we try to convey the importance of being able to maintain content in one part of the world and use it in another. We connect applications using the cloud.
We have built a web app, Geni-Sys, that uses the best of cloud technology. In our day to day development most of what we do is made possible using cloud based services. The way we deploy updates and distribute large images for print, which could not be done without the cloud. We could not connect data sources and applications. We now use common data interchange methodologies like JSON and XML that connect different applications, technologies and platforms that was impossible before. Services we use include GIThub, AWS (Amazon web services), FAYE messaging. Some of the most successful companies have been built using the technology, including Salesforce, Basecamp from 37 Signals and of course GIThub. The customer was complaining about the misuse of the term but may not realise how much of what we do from day to day depends on it.
Today we have deployed some important enhancements to Geni-Sys page automation. A simple drag and drop process lets users change the position of a group of products on a page without access to dtp. Users can now auto-paginate a DataChannel (collection of grouped products) and then quickly review the layout and adjust in on screen without the need for DTP skills or software. Any modifications made are automatically transferred to InDesign or Quark XPress the next time the page is published.
Users can also change the look of a product group and the space it takes on a page by selecting a group template from a drop down. The system automatically paginates with full control over back fill or knock on.
We have also deployed new tools to configure complex product tables where simple rows and columns are insufficient to present the products in their clearest form, which will please those with complex technical products. The tables format can be defined in Geni-Sys and the correct table format will be built in InDesign or Quark XPress, automatically.
Lockside has just completed a flagship project of rationalisation and cost reduction of Newbury News group’s web presence. The task involved updating and rationalising the main web site – newburytoday.co.uk, which is an exceptionally busy WordPress site that had been built some years ago and expanded to a level that required bigger and bigger servers to maintain an acceptable performance. It became clear that adding more horsepower was not the answer and in-depth performance analysis was needed. The project was completed on time and the server performance has exceeded expectations. Each of the website meets a particular need in the greater Newbury area, helping residents to find information they need and keeping in touch with daily events in this burgeoning community.
Lockside delivered a new web application for DriveRight at “THE WORLD’S LEADING FAIR OF THE TYRE INDUSTRY”. The application allows users to find wheel and tyre information gathered from worldwide data sources managed by DriveRight. The development schedule was really tight with co-ordination and project management split between New Zealand and UK. The co-operation was amazing and we much delivered much more that originally planned.
Cromwell is Europe’s leading independent supplier of maintenance, repair and operations type products, offering the widest choice to all industries, professions and trades. They have a stockholding in excess of £50M spread throughout the world. 54 UK branches offer a Trade Counter/Collection Service and a daily delivery to local Industry.
Lockside is working with Cromwell to implement Geni-Sys to supplement in-house systems developed by Cromwell’s development team.
The marketing department is responsible for multi-channel marketing of hundreds of thousands of products via catalogues ranging from 10s of pages to the main 2000 page catalogue, produced in different versions and languages. The web site is a vital channel and carries products that are not in catalogues and vice versa.
Managing such a vast range, of sometimes highly technical products, needs a system that can manage multiple channels, multiple languages, product specifications, images, attachments, prices and much more besides. It also has to work with other systems such as ERP and web shops.
Critical to the project, and the reason Lockside was chosen is to automate much of the production of catalogue pages. The work flow involves product selection, image attachment, grouping of products in to families together with their images and building pages in Quark XPress.
Lockside delivered a new web application for DriveRight at “THE WORLD’S LEADING FAIR OF THE TYRE INDUSTRY”. The application allows users to find wheel and tyre information gathered from worldwide data sources managed by DriveRight. The development schedule was really tight with co-ordination and project management split between New Zealand, UK and Bulgaria. The co-operation was amazing and we delivered much more that originally planned.
Catalogue production used to take us a good 18-20 weeks – including a lot of late nights – from starting product selection through to sending the completed artwork to the printers. Thankfully that all changed when we opted to automate our catalogue production with the implementation of Catalog’nTime.
It changed the way we worked for the better, without imposing any creative restrictions. It now only takes us 8-10 weeks to complete a catalogue and that’s with a smaller team of people working on it.
Catalog’nTime software builds catalogue pages using Quark XPress or InDesign and uses product data stored in your SQL database, which has helped to reduce the risk of errors as we’re using database driven content directly.
The software is designed to manage large numbers of products for eventual display in a catalogue, on a website or both. . It achieves this by allowing you to create group templates that you then apply to whatever groups of products you wish.
The Quark/InDesign attributes are defined in these group templates, which allows tasks such as image placement, box lines, backgrounds, font and colour selection to be automated.
It wasn’t always plain sailing but luckily there’s a great support team to mither, as well as online support, video tuition and a manual.
Lockside is excellent at innovating and coming up with solutions for data layout. In the past five years we haven’t come against a problem they can’t solve and I would have no hesitation recommending Lockside or Catalogue’nTime. Promed has been working with Catalog’nTime since 2007. We chose the package because we wanted a system which was flexible enough to handle all our data and still speed up the laborious process of creating a bespoke catalogue spread by spread. Lockside provided the levels of support we needed. Catalogue production used to be a seriously time intensive process and now, not only have we increased the number of catalogue pages, we have also reduced the layout and turnaround time from approximately four months down to six weeks.
Lockside Software Successfully Launches Tyre Safety Website in New Zealand
Government bodies and other tyre safety enterprises commissioned Lockside Software, who are based in Newbury, to create a website for ‘Tyre Awareness’ Week in New Zealand – www.tyresafety.org.nz
Peter Ritchie, Managing Director of Lockside Software said “New Zealand doesn’t seem so far away after doing this project.
Using a combination of Basecamp, which is a web based project management software and Skype, the whole operation has gone quite smoothly.
End to end, the project took six weeks and given the number of organisations involved and the tricky bits like the need to incorporate a competition onto the website, the entire process has surpassed expectations.
Like most website build projects it was a moving feast and a lot of the time was spent either changing or enhancing what had initially been decided.
While some may see it as a little strange to be building a website for a client on the other side of the world, it actually worked really well because they tested and commented during their working day and we then fixed and amended during our working day.
Luckily, there’s an hour or so cross over and this is where a Skype call often resolved any queries either parties had.
We’re actually finding that our business is becoming much more international, both in terms of those we work for and those who work for us.
After a while you stop thinking of jobs as overseas and treat them all the same. In fact, the tyre safety website came hot on the tail of a German one we’d been working on in seven different languages!”