From time to time we have solicited feedback from users on what they would like to improve about the software. The most common request from the past 15-20 years has been to simplify the user interface and allow users to enter orders faster. The problem was that the workflow in the system was so fundamental to the user interface that an entire rewrite would be required to accomplish that. In the Spring of 2016 we started a project to do just that.
To better understand the logic behind the current interface, it may make sense to revisit the evolution of the VISCO user interface. The original system was written in the early 90’s in a DOS based green screen system that was entirely keyboard driven (Remember Oregon Trail?). In the year 2000 we decided to do our first rewrite and had to decide if we wanted to go to a Windows user interface or skip that generation and go directly to the web.
Fortunately, we made the decision to go directly to the web but our development staff at the time was primarily familiar with working in the DOS environment and learning how to code in the new web environment. The resulting product was exactly as one might expect, a DOS system moved to the web. The problem was that it still looked like a DOS system. We realized pretty quickly that the marketability of a web based system that looked like a DOS system was limited so we brought in outside help in the form of web based UI developers to assist in softening the design and bring it up to current standards. In 2003 we rewrote the interface again with the help of this outside group and produced what was used from 2003-2020. The software was beautiful for the time and took advantage of everything the web had to offer for back office applications.
Although ERP software does not move as fast as direct to consumer application development, the industry still moves fast. We did everything we could with the existing software to remain relevant including integrating with multiple third party applications, unprecedented customizability and an ever expanding feature set. Inevitably over those 17 years, the system began to look dated. It happened so slowly that it was like the story of the frog in the pot of boiling water, it felt great for a while, then it felt fine, then it felt a little dated until finally you start comparing the interface to new software and it starts to hurt.
When we decided to make the investment in the UI rewrite we did so with the intention of having the project completed in 12-18 months. Considering the size of the project, we could have expected some miscalculation, but after a failed attempt with an “up and coming” code base language, we scrapped the first rewrite and switched gears in 2018. With renewed focus we committed to leveraging our extensive SQL knowledge. Then, in collaboration with outside consultants and development groups, we designed, developed and delivered interface improvements based on our experiences with customers over the last 15 years