March 2004 Volume 8 Issue 2
OpenInsight – the Flexible Solution
Revelation Software makes things easy
by Robin Woodland
With the release of OpenInsight 7.0, Revelation Software is showing once again why its application development tools continue to attract new users while retaining the base the company has built since launching its first product in back in 1982. For developers, OpenInsight 7.0 offers enhanced features that make application building faster and easier than ever before, and end-users will appreciate the improved networking, data manipulation, and error handling – all of which adds up to greater security and even lower maintenance.
What is it about OpenInsight and Revelation Software's complete suite of application tools that has attracted over 1.5 million users around the world? Why do big-time outfits such as Major League Baseball Players Association, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and 3M Health Information Systems choose Revelation? And why do countless independent software developers use OpenInsight to build their applications? There are lots of reasons, of course. But if you ask OpenInsight's true believers to put it in a word, that word is flexibility.
Beverly Tinnell – CEO of Clinical Data Management, a major provider of trauma registry databases used by hospitals and emergency centers in the U.S. and around the world – puts it this way: "With other systems, you inevitably hit a wall that says 'You can't do that.' We never hit walls with Revelation products – we can always do what we want to do."
Revelation Software's President, Mike Ruane, explains that "We use a technology called MultiValue for the core of our database engine. This allows developers and users to store both simple and complex data in the same files, without a lot of programming changes. We can actually store more data in fewer files – and that's a real advantage for both developers and users."
Consider the challenge faced by Revelation user Counterpoint Systems, Inc., the world's leading source of contract management and royalty accounting solutions used by 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, MTV, and many others. "Royalty calculations are extremely complex," Ruane said. "There are thousands of different combinations of royalties you can put in a contract. And royalty calculations are just one component. When you add all the other data you need in the world of licensing, it gets extremely complex. That's why a company like Counterpoint appreciates OpenInsight. With our MultiValue technology, their database can contain unlimited amounts of text extracted from their royalty contracts."
The capabilities of Revelation products really becomes apparent when it's time to generate a report. FIRM Software is a maker of specialized record management applications for fire departments, and their software is built around OpenInsight. Jim Eagan, FIRM's founder and President, uses Revelation's reporting tools to impress prospective clients. "I'll say to them, 'Ask me a question – something about your data or your operation that you'd like to know, but that you can't find right now.' And then they'll ask me for a list of fire calls with unusual circumstances or something like that, and bang! The power to handle complex data quickly and easily lets me knock out a report for them right on the spot. And that usually makes the sale."
Ruane says another aspect of OpenInsight's flexibility is how easy it is to make changes to a database. "Say you have a medical database that tracks patient information. The government comes around and says 'Ok, now you have to track these ten additional pieces of information about every patient.' In OpenInsight, that's no problem. You just add however many fields you need and you're good to go. And that can happen transparently, with the system up and running. In the SQL world, you have to get everybody out of the database and shut it down. Then, after you've worked your way through all the changes, you can turn the database back on. But in the real world of the 24/7 enterprise, shutting down your database is not a great option."
OpenInsight also offers the flexibility to grow from a single-user system to one with hundreds of users without any program changes. "It's not unusual to build a specialized database for just one user," Ruane explained. "But then someone says 'We love this! Let's put it on the company server, so can have five users.' With OpenInsight, everything you need in the multi-user application is already built in. All you need to do is buy a five-user license. And once you've moved your application up to the network, you can just as easily deploy it on the Web. You might make some new screens in HTML or JAVA or whatever web design tool you choose, but you don't have to make any changes to your OpenInsight database."
OpenInsight will continue to inspire innovations in database application design as users realize that text is only one form of data that can be stored. "We can store any sort of data you can imagine in our database," says Ruane. "Photos, video, audio – you name it. For example, if you're writing a medical application, you can scan x-rays or any kind of printed document, such as a blood test. And once they're stored, they're encrypted so no unauthorized person can see them. We like to call it typeless data, which simply means we can store just about anything that's out there."
With that kind of flexibility, Revelation Software is sure to continue it's 20-year run of success.
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