"Mobile Computing", "Data Encryption", "Rain?, In Vegas?", "Wow, that food was awesome!"
These were just some of the comments heard during the 2011 Revelation Software Users' Conference, held October 4 - 7, 2011 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over three days, the attendees were given the chance to choose from sixteen different training sessions in two tracks, including OpenInsight for Web (O4W) training.
The conference started on Tuesday evening October 4th with a cocktail reception. It was here that the attendees were able to meet each other, relax, and catch up on each other's happenings. It was mentioned by more than one attendee that the Revelation Conference has more of a feel of a family reunion than a boring business meeting.
Wednesday morning began with Welcoming Remarks from Mike Ruane, President and CEO of Revelation Software. Mike welcomed the attendees and reviewed some of what had happened with the company since the last Conference, including the sale of ten thousand new seats in that time period. He then went on to discuss plans for Revelation Software's future, including the Cloud, mobile devices, Windows 8, and a 64-bit version of OpenInsight.
Next up were two sessions, one covering OpenInsight's new "Banded Report Writer (BRW)" by Mike Ruane, and "A Practical System Administrator's Guide to OpenInsight" by Jared Bratu, also of Revelation Software. The BRW presentation demonstrated how the new report writer worked, and showcased its ability to create graphs, use images, and join reports and sub-reports. Jared's presentation focused on some of the tasks and procedures that a Network Administrator needs to know to make his or her life easier when supporting a Revelation-based system.
Next up were a pair of talks from Alexander Holliday on UTF-8 and salient points on working with multi-byte character sets, and one from Aaron Kaplan of Sprezzatura on writing MFS's and BFS's which are low-level filing systems.
After a tasty lunch break (and truly, the food during the Conference was excellent!), Mike Ruane spoke yet again, this time demonstrating and explaining many of the changes and improvements that are to be included in the new OpenInsight v9.3. Version 9.3 is currently in beta release and has over 1,000 items changed or added. Main features mentioned were the new Banded Report Writer, Mobile Extensions to O4W, and Data Encryption at Rest.
An OpenInsight user, Jody Summers of Clinical Data Management, gave a presentation of how their company has been using O4W for their eTraumaBase application. It was exciting to see what users in the community are doing with O4W, and it appeared that other attendees received a clear understanding of the web toolkit's capabilities. At the same time, Don Bakke of SRP Computer Solutions was giving a presentation on "Form Design Tips and Techniques", and what should and should not be done when building the User Interface.
After a quick break with ice cream and coffee, the final sessions of the day began. Bob Carten of Revelation Software demonstrated OpenInsight's .Net integration tools, and how they can best be utilized by developers for users. Concurrently, Kevin Fournier of SRP Computer Solutions continued with the "Art and Science of Form Design", giving developers more tips and techniques on good GUI design practices.
The Conference Vendor Fair was held that evening, with a buffet dinner and open bar. The group of exhibitors - Harvest Software, VSI Technologies, Winwin Solutions, Sprezzatura, iTMS, Harmony Solutions and Revelation Software - were exhibiting their products and services, offering valuable tech tips, and conversing with the attendees.
After a fast night's sleep the Conference continued with Bob Catalano and Bryan Shumsky of Revelation Software starting the first of a two-part session on OpenInsight for Web (O4W). In this three hour session, Bob and Bryan walked the attendees through the use of the various Wizards in O4W, and showed how to create data entry and inquiry forms, searches, reports, dashboards, and menus.
What should also be mentioned is that during the entire Conference a number of attendees were tweeting (to Twitter) updates of each session. First and foremost amongst these individuals was Martyn Phillips of RevSoft UK, who was updating the hashtag "#mdprevcon" every few minutes with highlights of the Conference.
After a delicious lunch, the sessions began with Bob Carten discussing OpenInsight's new Data Encryption at Rest (DER). Based upon industry standards and practices, DER allows the information in a volume, file, or fields to be encrypted while on disk, and not just while in transport. In the concurrent session, Carl Pates of Sprezzatura discussed using the Cloud as a data store for Revelation-based applications. The next sessions had Andrew McAuley of Sprezzatura discussing animations and special effects within OpenInsight systems, while Sean FitzSimons of Revelation Software discussed and demonstrated the use of the "Commuter Module Generator" and various other programming tools to increase developer productivity in OpenInsight.
The attendees then enjoyed a quick movie-themed break with popcorn and candy, and then went back into the final two presentations of the day. Don Bakke of SRP gave his final presentation, showing how the use of a framework can greatly increase a developer's productivity. Opposite Don's presentation was Stefano Cavaglieri of Fonoteca Nazionale Svizzera. Stefano is in charge of a website where users can search, watch, and listen to the sound archives for the country of Switzerland. The site is very impressive, but even more astounding is that everything on the site is driven and controlled by OpenInsight.
Later that evening, the Dinner event was held in a room set up in equal parts of buffet, dinner tables, and a mix of poker, roulette, blackjack, and craps tables. Without using any of their (or their employers) money, the Conference attendees had a chance to learn, and then try their hand at the various games of chance. Competition became cutthroat, especially at the Texas Hold'em table, where at the last hand of the evening it appeared to come down to a face off. Martyn Phillips of Sprezzatura was up against Kevin Fournier of SRP, with both of them going all in. Martyn had a great hand and Kevin a better one. But before he could sweep up the chips, Jody Summers laid down his cards, and won the hand in a stunning upset. It was a most entertaining evening, and fun was had by all.
Friday morning dawned warm and sunny, in contrast to a number of the previous days where we had cool, rainy spells. Friday morning's session was the second of the two-part O4W training, covering the O4W programming interface, or the O4W API. Bryan Shumsky, using some clever visual aids, showed and taught the attendees how to use the API's to create new forms, reports, and menus. The API's let a developer create much richer and more complicated forms than the standard Wizard's create, and Bryan's real-world experience and techniques will certainly assist developers as they begin to create their own browser-based applications.
Finally, Mike Ruane took the podium one more time to deliver his closing remarks. After discussing his favorite parts of the Conference, focusing specifically on the person-to-person contact that can only be had at such an event, he displayed some photos of the Conference, and then drew the prize winner from the Vendor Fair contest. A brand new Blu-Ray and wireless player was won by Frank Tomeo of SRP Computer Solutions. Mike then thanked the attendees and the Revelation staff who had worked so hard during the Conference. He outlined his plans to have another Conference, given enough interest by the attendees, sometime in early 2013, while noting that 2012 will be the 30th anniversary of Revelations' founding as a company. The venue for the next Conference has not been decided yet, but will be announced as soon as it is known.
This was probably the most informative Conference to date and held to it's theme, "Knowledge is Power, take your seat for learning". A number of the attendees stated that they had not known there were so many features included and benefits from OpenInsight version 9.3, and were planning their upgrades. Several OpenInsight developers, excited by what they saw in the 9.3 release, asked to join the beta program, so that they could begin working with the BRW and O4W Mobile extensions. All in all, a good time was had by all. We hope to see you at our next Conference in 2013, or a Road Show in your area in 2012.
Click HERE to view a slide show of the 2011 Conference