Blog Updates

Check out the latest updates from EnGraph Software

ParaPlan Desktop v4.1.617.11125

17 June

Today we released an update to our desktop software. The highlights of this version include support for viewing signatures captured in ParaPlan Mobile for iOS and dramatic speed improvements in Scheduling Canvas.

We found some bottlenecks and bugs in Scheduling Canvas. We sped up how it refreshes in the background and made it much smarter about only refreshing data that actually changed.

Right-clicking on a trip and clicking “View Trip Stream” will provide a detailed chain of custody for a trip, including the client signature from ParaPlan Mobile for iOS.

We made some changes to Billing to better handle past due balance calculations.

We made some client-requested manifest and report changes.

We fixed some grammatical issues (“1 trips” – how embarrassing).

We are also pushing out updates to other products today:

ParaPlan Mobile is getting signature capture.

ParaPlan Server allows trips to be changed when in progress on Mentor Rangers and smarter Zonar connections.

ParaPlan REST had a bunch of code rewritten that is going to allow for huge speed improvements in the future.

ParaPlan Mobile for iOS version 1.2

14 June

ParaPlan Mobile for iOS has been updated to version 1.2. The highlights of this version are Signature Capture and smarter confirmations. We are holding this for release until Monday, June 17th to allow time for driver training.

Signature Capture

Many of our clients are funded by programs that require drivers to collect signatures from a passenger at the end of the trip. This can be a tedious process that required office staff to scan or fax these signatures to the funding source. Now the signatures are collected directly on the driver’s iPhone or iPad and are instantly available to the office staff where they can compile a report and electronically deliver the signatures. This saves time, saves paper and is another win in the battle against printers.

Arrive and Perform events

Version 1.1 only had a single event when performing a pick up or a drop off of a client. It is useful to know how long a driver had to wait from when they got to the pick up location and when they were able to get the client fully loaded on the vehicle. This helps tell a more complete story about the life cycle of a trip and also helps the office staff know which client might need a longer Dwell Time in ParaPlan. With that in mind, the life cycle of a trip from a driver’s perspective looks like this:

  • Driver arrives at pick up location. Driver swipes the stop on the iPad and clicks “I’ve arrived at pick up”. This sends an event back to the office that contains GPS point, odometer reading and timestamp. On the iPad, the trip turns blue.
  • The client is on the bus and ready to go. Driver swipes on the stop and clicks “Client is on board”. This sends another event and the stop turns grey.
  • Driver arrives at drop off location. Driver swipes on the drop off stop and clicks “I’ve arrived at drop off”. This sends another event to the office and the stop turns blue.
  • The passenger will signed on the iPad. The signature (along with an event) will be sent back to the office. The passenger will automatically be marked as dropped off and a drop off event will be sent to the office. The stop will turn grey.
  • If the passenger signature is not required, the driver will swipe on the stop and click “Client has been dropped off”.

Smarter Confirmations

Each time a driver performs an action, it provides an audio and visual confirmation. We found that requiring the driver to push “OK” on every confirmation message added too much friction to the experience. We changed it so the first 10 confirmations will display a visual dialog that will require the driver to push “OK” to dismiss it. After that, the status bar will change colors momentarily and display a confirmation. When a user has to push “OK” all the time, they get in the habit of dismissing all dialogs without reading them. They can miss important information because they get too many alerts. This will help prevent this from happening to our users.

Extended permissions

There is now a “Can call client” permission that prevents drivers from being able to directly call a client’s phone number. Also, the “View other vehicles” restriction applies to other driver’s manifests and other driver’s GPS locations.

Other improvements

We also added smarter background GPS mode and geofencing.

The badge icon is now smarter and will always display the number of stops a driver has yet to perform in a day.

Turn-by-turn directions have been added to the long press menu from the manifest screen. Press and hold on a stop to view the long press menu.

We hope you enjoy using version 1.2! 

Here are the changes from version 1.1.

We are also pushing out updates to other products today:

ParaPlan Desktop got a faster Scheduling Canvas and support for viewing signatures captured by our iOS app.

ParaPlan Server allows trips to be changed when in progress on Mentor Rangers and smarter Zonar connections.

ParaPlan REST had a bunch of code rewritten that is going to allow for huge speed improvements in the future.

How to install telnet on Windows 7

06 June

Putty

Telnet has been around since, well longer than any EnGraph employees have been alive. However, it is still very handy to determine if a client computer can talk to specific server on a specific port. We use it mostly to determine if there is a network rule blocking our access to SQL server. The syntax is simple – “telnet someIP 1433”

Sadly, it is not installed by default on Windows 7 and adding it via Control Panel takes way too many clicks. 

Thankfully, there is the Package Manager and hat tip to TechNet for the one-line installation of Telnet.

Click Start + R on the keyboard (or Start button, type run), then type the following into the prompt and press enter to install Telnet:

cmd /k pkgmgr /iu:”TelnetClient”

 

Prompt to install telnet using pkgmgr

ParaPlan Desktop update v4.1.531.11090

31 May

We release a small, out-of-band update today. Version 4.1.531.11090 and 4.1.531.11089 for the stable and beta releases respectively. The release will download and update automatically on your computer as described here.

We added some client requested changes to manifests and added an option to the Statistical Report to include extra riders when calculating passenger miles and time.

The previous update was v4.1.530.11080.

ParaPlan Desktop update v4.1.530.11080

30 May

Access2Care logo

 

We released version 4.1.530.11080 of ParaPlan Desktop this morning. It will download and install automatically on your computer as outlined in our update process.

The biggest new feature is that we now support the importing of Access2Care files. Our import process will automatically generate trips and clients from the CSV file provided to you from Access2Care.

We also upgraded to v3 of the Google Geocoding API.

We added new sidebar searches for All Clients and All Active Clients. As these are not widely used, they exist only in favorites. To enable, click Favorites, then Add/Edit Favorites and add these new searches to your sidebar.

Speaking of favorites, we cleaned that up and made it easier to navigate.

Several other bug fixes, small improvements and client manifests have also been added.

What’s next?

The next version of our iOS app has the ability to capture client signatures and record additional timestamps and odometer collections (PUArrive, PUPerform, DOArrive, DOPerform), so we are adding support to see that additional information inside of ParaPlan. We have always just supported one timestamp per pick up and one timestamp per drop off, so we are adding support for these additional data points in a way that doesn’t crowd our existing screens.

This will be a fairly short development cycle as most of the work is done and the rest is testing database changes. Expect a new version in the next couple of weeks. Those that are beta users will see an update as early as next week.

iPhone users have fat fingers

24 May

Undo in ios

 

Boy it sure feels like that sometimes! I’m constantly hitting the wrong button on my iPhone. There are so many different ways to interact with the iPhone. All the pinch-to-zoom, double-tap and swipe-to-delete features are great, but it can be really frustrating when you accidentally push the wrong button.

We built ParaPlan Mobile with forgiveness in mind. Every screen has an Undo button that is easily within reach. If you swiped to perform a stop, swipe one more time and you will see an Undo button. Same thing goes for long-pressing on a stop as well as performing actions from the Stop Detail screen.

If you are not a ParaPlan Mobile user, please try it for free. Download it from the App Store and click “Use Demo Mode” when you see the login screen.

Signature capture in ParaPlan Mobile for iOS

23 May

Many of our clients have contracts that require drivers to capture a signature when the ride has been completed. Logisticare is one example of a broker that collects rider signatures. We have added this functionality to ParaPlan Mobile for iOS and drivers will be able to electronically collect signatures directly on their iPhones or iPads. The signature will be uploaded and be immediately available inside of ParaPlan Desktop. Here is a screenshot of the signature collection on the iPad.

Signature collection on iPad

Version 1.1 of ParaPlan now available in the App Store

22 May

Download on the App Store Badge US UK 135x40

 

 

 

ParaPlan Mobile for iOS is the best complimentary driver paratransit or NEMT (Non-Emergency Medical Transportation) app for iPhone or iPad. It seamlessly connects to the ParaPlan database to allow drivers to see their digital manifest. Changes made in the field are reflected on the dispatchers screen in a matter of seconds. 

We recently updated the version to 1.1. Here are the new features available.

Demo mode – Test the app and see exactly how well it will fit in your operation.

iPad love – All screens take advantage of bigger iPad screen. Also many smaller screens are displayed as popovers or form sheets.

Reminders – Get notified 30 minutes before a stop to make sure you leave on time. Or schedule a notification to make sure you remember to mark the stop as performed. Or both. Schedule multiple notifications up to 24 hours in advance of a stop. Any stop that has a reminder gets a neat little badge on the manifest screen.

Navigation – Click Get Directions on any place to launch Maps to get turn-by-turn directions. Choose in settings which mapping provider to use.

Badge icons – Your front screen will show how many stops are left on your manifest.

Swipe to perform – Swiping left or right on a stop will reveal the most likely action for that stop. Either Arrive, Perform or Undo (we all make mistakes).

Geofencing – This saves your battery life if you haven’t moved in a while.

Sounds – Click sounds, confirmation sounds, notification sounds. All the audio feedback you desire. Unless that’s not your sort of thing, then you can turn them all off.

Confirmation alerts – Those can now be turned off as well.

Pull to refresh – All screens have the standard Apple pull to refresh tear drop.

Lots of other polishing, tinkering and bug fixing. Our developers and testers worked really hard on this update. We really hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

2013 05 05 20 13 41

2013 05 06 16 28 37

2013 05 07 07 12 34

2013 05 05 20 05 40

2013 05 05 20 04 21

How updates work in ParaPlan

09 May

Launching application with ClickOnce

 

We use a technology called ClickOnce to keep all of our clients up-to-date on the latest version of ParaPlan Desktop. ClickOnce enables our software to install over the internet and perform background updates over the internet. ParaPlan automatically checks for updates and install them in the background while the user continues to perform their tasks in ParaPlan. The next time the user starts using ParaPlan, they will be using the newer version. We have the ability to let the user know they need to update in the case of a major update that impacts the database. Most cases, the user doesn’t even know the update has been applied. We find this provides a level of continuity with the software experience that users appreciate.

We also don’t check for updates until AFTER they have started working. We feel that people open our software to get stuff done and the last thing they want to concern themselves with is downloading and installing a new update when they have work to do!

Manually initiate an update

Sidebar about

 

A user can always check the About screen to see the current version of the software and the date the software was released. Launching this screen will also perform a manual check for updates. If an update was found, it will display that to the user and let them know when they need to restart.

Lifecycle of an update

We develop our Windows software using Microsoft Visual Studio. We use a product called Team Foundation Server (TFS) to manage all of our builds. Here is the entire lifecycle of an update.

  1. A new feature is added to ParaPlan in Visual Studio.
  2. The feature is checked into our internal testing queue.
  3. Manual and automatic tests (unit tests) are performed.
  4. If all the tests pass, the feature is checked into the release branch of TFS.
  5. TFS compiles the new feature into ParaPlan and runs another set of automatic tests.
  6. If those tests pass, TFS builds a .application with the new feature and places it on software.engraph.com.
  7. On each client’s computer, ParaPlan will check software.engraph.com for a new version of the .application file every four hours.
  8. If a new version is found, ParaPlan will download the new feature and install it while the user is still working in ParaPlan.
  9. If the new feature is very important, ParaPlan will alert the user and instruct them to restart ParaPlan.
  10. If it was not a crucial update, the user will continue to work in the old version. The next time they restart, they will have the new version.

From a development standpoint, the process is completely automated outside of the manual testing process. This allows us to push out frequent updates and support a large number of clients.

From a user’s standpoint, their experience is contiguous as they receive new updates. We can push out frequent updates without the user having their workflow interrupted.