Friday, November 20, 2009

Dodeca Patent Progress

The thing that sets Dodeca apart from all of our competitors is architecture. We spent much time and effort looking at the problems potential customers were seeing with the products they were using. Based on what we learned, we engineered Dodeca to minimize or eliminate those issues. Our primary goal was to create a software product that would be so flexible and functional that we would rarely need to say no to even the most extraordinary user requests. Believe me, some of those requests can be very extraordinary! After man-years of work, I am glad to report that we have met this goal and increased ease of use.

Ease of use means different things to different people. For end users, ease of use means they can explore their data and get the information they need in very obvious ways with only the slightest bit of training. For administrators, it means they can configure the system easily and quickly deliver applications to their users. Finally, for IT departments, the deployment and on-going maintenance of an application must be painless.

One key feature of the Dodeca architecture is the modular design that allows us to very easily plug in new functionality. This modular concept runs deep within Dodeca. In fact, Essbase functionality in Dodeca is a plug-in module. The plug-in concept also allows customers to remove functionality from their distribution. For example, if a customer wants to use only relational databases with Dodeca, they can simply delete the Essbase module files in their deployment.

A second key design aspect of Dodeca is its metadata driven nature. Everything that can be configured within Dodeca is stored as metadata, in a relational database, on our server. When a piece of metadata is required at runtime, it is requested by the Dodeca client via web services and returned, as XML, over the network via HTTP. Metadata transmitted this way includes report definitions, spreadsheet templates, Essbase connection information and toolbars. Similarly, relational data and Essbase data, including outline information, is transmitted via web services.

The use of XML adds significant flexibility to Dodeca. As an added benefit, it makes in-place upgrades easy. We have customers with thousands of users who have upgraded their Dodeca version in about 15 minutes. XML also gives Dodeca flexibility on the Essbase side. A single version of Dodeca works with every version of Essbase from 6.5.3 to the latest; we even support multiple retrievals, from any supported version, into the same report.

The modular architecture and the metadata driven aspects of Dodeca also work together. Some customers and partners, such as greenEPM, have leveraged our modular architecture to build extended functionality on the Dodeca Framework. Extensions are built in Visual Studio using C# or VB.Net and packaged using XML descriptors. Custom modules in Dodeca are treated as metadata and are delivered to the client via web-services. We believe this is a unique aspect of our product and is the subject of one of our pending patents.

This week, we received notice from our Intellectual Property attorneys that our patent application has been published; it will be quite a while before it is rewarded. It was a large time investment to complete the patent application, but, hopefully we will be patent-holders in the near future.


Daniel Poon said...

I am so glad you're publishing much more about Dodeca which I am sure has been a hidden gem. Thanks alot! Sorry I haven't had the chance to play with it but I will make a commitment in the near future!

Tim Tow said...

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for the kind words.. I am working on the architecture series as I write this so stand by, there will be more!