The Power of CAS: Part III
A solid user interface is crucial to every software tool. If the user interface, or UI, is not esthetically pleasing, or user friendly, the audience won’t enjoy the software as much and the quality of the product will be viewed as subpar. The Accenture CAS system not only has a very rich and complex programming structure in the background, but it also contains a very sophisticated UI as well. If domains, entities, basic data objects, and views are the foundation of the house that is Accenture CAS, the User Interface forms the roof. This entry will discuss four major UI types as well as the tools used in conjunction with them.
The first UI Type we will discuss is the Tab Page. Tab Pages are viewed in almost every user interface in the Accenture CAS system. Each tab page is comprised mainly of two types of structures. The first is a group and the second is a grid. The group is used to display or enter data for an individual row; grids are primarily used to display multiple rows of data.
Groups save and load data from one table’s row in the database. This can be obtained by using either a cdo or a view. The use of a view can be more complex because by their nature, views usually return more than one row. The view must have conditions that result in a result of one row if they are to be effectively used in conjunction with groups.
Grids are meant to display one or more rows of information. Views become very important in accomplishing this task. By creating a grid based off a view, all of the results of the view will be displayed in the grid.
The second User Interface Type we will discuss is a detail. Details are essentially containers holding a group of tabs that displays in the application. Details allow the user to navigate and view several tab pages and save data as needed. Without this container, tab pages could not be viewed. This gives the user an interface that is familiar to internet browsers. Notice that this customer detail has several tabs that can be traversed through.
What makes details impressive is that the developer can set what users can view and edit tabs. This is made possible by edit and access rights. These edit and access rights or EA rights will set editing and visibility based on the users roles conditions being met. EA rights are established by adding principles to a grid. The principles will fire off in the order they were added, resulting in various edit and access rights being set for various users.
Details all have a reference to a User Interface group, or definition called a Detail Context that allows it to be opened. There are several ways to open the detail, but generally one of two scenarios occurs. The detail is either opened in the application menu, which looks strikingly similar to a start menu or by loading from an Overview.
Overviews are the next User Interface Type we will discuss. Overviews give the user the ability to select a profile to search for specific data needed to either open a detail or select data while using a Wizard. At first site, an overview will look similar to a tab page with a grid positioned inside it, but it contains much more. Profiles are uesd to load up a specifici set of data for searching. Each Overview must contain at least one profile and will contain three main features: Searches, Quick Searches, and Sortings. By looking at the creation of a new customer we can see how these features work.
Searches are used to narrow the result set of each profile by entering criteria such as Ids, Valid Dates, and Names. Notice in the screenshot above that there are three grayed out criteria entries in the general search box. These represent the quick search. This allows users to just type in what they are searching for as opposed to entering them into the search box of that particular criteria. Finally, the Quicksort is used to Order the searche’s result set.
The final User Interface type we will talk about is a wizard. Wizards are used in conjunction with creating new records or data or when adding rows to existing data. This can be seen when users create Visits. A visit, or call is one of the more prominent features in Accenture CAS. It is a means for users to track store visits, phone calls, sickness and even vacation data. When the user creates a call, a wizard will be shown.
Notice that the wizard gives the user a choice of what type of call they will make.It also has a link to an overview for choosing customers. Once data has been chosen and the user presses finish, the data will be transferred from the wizard to the new call. This is done by sending the data through and “operation call.” An Operation Call can be used in several situations. For example, when the “New Call” is pressed, the Operation Call for the wizard is executed, and it loads the wizard data. Once the wizard is complete, an operation call for creating the Call is executed and the data is sent from the wizard to the call.
The Accenture CAS system uses Visual Studio and Silverlight to provide users with what resembles common system interfaces. CAS contains a rich and complex backend that gives developers the tools needed to provide clients with a system of tracking and storing data. Accenture CAS is built from the ground up with a solid foundation of objects with several ways to deeply customize the application, displaying the data through the top layer of the system, the User Interface. Together these elements provide the user and clients with a great tool that can help maximize their company’s full potential.