Document Composition (i.e. generating docs) will be done within the cloud in a browser based SIMS but at present we do not know which is the most popular output formats - Google Docs support Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF 1.2) , Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office 365 also support this format, so we are likely to target the underlying common format for publications unless there is a strong feeling that there is a better option.
In terms of document storage once the documents have been composed in SIMS, we would expect to write them to a URL based destination - and we will include a basic document repository in a future SIMS just like we do in SIMS.net - the question is whether O365/GDocs will attain sufficient penetration into schools for us to consider making that document repository a user option - i.e. that they will likely already have their own O365/GDocs repository ?
Echoing what @CAM said a little, I think a major focus should be on making any new system as open as possible. This means not relying on browser plugins (which in turn could limit the end user to which browser they can use), using open document formats, ensuring cross browser compatibility.
When schools buy your system, their only concern should be can your system provide the features as advertised. Whether they are using MS Office or Libre Office, Windows, Linux or Mac shouldn't matter - your system should "just work" regardless.
It would be easy to target a Windows environment using IE with MS Office installed (as 99% of educational software today does) but that's not what's best for your customers. In terms of benefits to yourselves in developing a system as proposed above is that you can push the fact that, unlike many other MIS, yours will work in any environment. This means that if schools want to run a Linux network with Libre Office (or similar) and take advantage of the huge savings they could make, they can without concern that their MIS, one of the most important pieces of software in school, will cause them issues.
TL;DR - please, take this opportunity to break away from the heavy reliance on MS products that is so prevalent in education - think of the money schools could potentially save in the current financial climate
Last edited by LosOjos; 12th February 2014 at 03:38 PM.
In a nutshell, that is also our philosophy. In the past we have interfaced with Microsoft products simply because they were the product ranges our customers most bought and were present in their schools - but in the Cloud world customers have a larger choice of broadly comparable and compatible products, and I was trying to fish out whether the community had a opinion of whether there was a general move by schools to online-only products like O365 and Google Docs, or whether they still predominantly looked for a desktop document authoring product. It would be actually substantially more difficult for us to interface with a locally installed application than their cloudy brethern.
zag (12th February 2014)
What would be nice is if the net does go down, the externally co-hosted system would server the external clients, be they staff, students, parents etc.
At the moment as school is priority, and always will be, we get more uptime by having things in house.
I hoped we could have O365 and sync it to onsite exchange but that proved to be too difficult to setup, if not impossible at the time we looked. Getting access to a basic sharepoint page on it was snails pace though the rest of it worked okay-ish.
So it would and does affect any cloud based system. My circumstances are quite unique, but the problem could well be the same for any school with poor connectivity.
I like local cloud. I don't need you to host it, just redesign it to work cross browser, easily. As Phil reminded me at BETT i like apps. So given a choice, i want apps apps apps, the UI is the best. By all means build it to work in a browser with a mobile view, but you can't beat a dedicated device specific app. Even microsoft now have RDP apps, so it takes advantage of the device gestures.
For docs, i would suggest that you need to allow for a school to do everything in house, or at least within the SIMS environment, but make it easy to port to another system, be that O365, GApps etc. So no randomly named folders full of encrypted files.
Actually, do this for all aspects, if you're building a whole new set of tables from the ground up, it will inherently be much cleaner and more adaptable anyway.
Bearing in mind, you can now have office documents through O365, and even hotmail lets you see them online and edit i think, they are pushing for cloud. I don't think people will have much choice soon.
Isn't the latest flavour of office cloudy anyway?
You've got to find a way to separate the generation of data to how it's then displayed and formatted. The XML reports out of lesson monitor are a good example of this. Much better than having to push them into Excel or Word via macros and CSV. It's a PITA to make your own XSL and do something different with the data, but at least it's possible.
If the system is built to work with an open standard, then it's not going to cost the user to fit in with that, if they then choose to use a different in-house system, it should be relatively easy to port shouldn't it?
Off topic but I love my introduced term of Cloudy... it is very British!
Well it looks pretty official - they're calling it SIMS8, bit disappointed that the marketing guys didn't get involve, they always come up with some weird name.
Job post is up:
- Senior Developer SIMS8 - UK - England - Bedfordshire UK - England - Bedfordshire NA
In other news appears Capita hosted uses VMWARE:
- Hosted Services Engineer - Bedford - UK - England - Bedfordshire UK - England - Bedfordshire NA
...and the hope of SIMS MSI rests on whoever gets this job:
- Software Engineer (.NET; C#, TFS) - UK - England - Bedfordshire UK - England - Bedfordshire NA
Gotta love a bit of dumpster diving in the job ads
matt40k (6th March 2014)
I just hope that they take the time to remove a lot of the inconsistencies we see across SIMS.NET during the update.
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