Friday, March 14, 2008

Almost the end of Beta

We are getting very close to DashBook version 1 now, with today's beta release. While we may put out another beta before the end, this one has the last of major feature changes.

The brunt of effort in this beta was in the reporting area, where we have massive change. First and foremost is the transformation in the report viewing process. In earlier versions, one would choose a particular report, perhaps interact with a window of questions (parameters), and then see the report which could be printed. In this version, choosing the Reports toolbar icon or All Reports from the menu brings one to a listing of reports just as the toolbar did before. However, in this new version, each time a report name on the left side of the screen is clicked, the report automatically draws on the right side of the screen. As one changes the parameters above the report, the report automatically redraws to reflect those choices. The difference in user experience is amazing!

The reports have also undergone major change in presentation, using stylesheets to add needed character. In addition, many reports now have additional parameters such as start and stop date ranges, along with customization switches to turn aspects of the reports on and off. Many of our report additions and adjustments were based on the feedback from the publishers in our beta program, so we are very thankful to all our critics. To round out our complete package, a few utilitarian reports for printing envelopes and labels have also been added. With the addition and completion of reports, we have included more hyperlinks within the input areas of the program, such as the ability to print an invoice and envelope directly from an order.

Now that we have completed the major changes to the reports, we have finished the major enhancements to DashBook itself. We will be making a few corrections and refinements in the reports as well as other areas, but the feature set is now complete.

Along with the program code changes, this beta updates our help documentation system, so that discovering how to use DashBook has never been easier. Most areas of the program are now linked such that hitting the F1 key will bring up the help section for that screen. There are a few more screens needing documentation, and due to all of the modifications in the program, the help will undergo a lot of revision this month to synchronize with the final released version.

All of these improvements will soon be packaged together as our premier product – DashBook version 1. We are excited about releasing this product to assist all of the book publishers who have needed a tool that catered to their business. As we will soon begin work on our next version, we look forward to many more suggestions for improvement and new capabilities.