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Improvements to create Invoice workflow

22 January

ParaPlan has a fully functional billing system. We can create invoices either for a client or for a single funding source with multiple clients. We also handle payments, pre-payments, over-payments and under-payments. Today our interface for creating invoices got a little bit easier to use.

InvoiceScreen

 

#1 – Window starts at the top

This window grows vertically as invoices get populated. We watched our users move the window to the top of the screen time and time again to see all the information on the screen. Now, the window starts at the top of the user’s display.

#2 – Smarter billable trips finder

The panel now displays the client name or program name for this invoice. The expander is also auto-expanded after the client or program is selected.

#3 – Sortable headers

The labels are now clickable and will sort the list accordingly. Click once to sort ascending. Click again to sort in descending order. The label turns bold when it is being sorted. Green means sorting ascending. Red means the list is being sorted in descending order.

These changes are currently going through internal testing. It will be released in the next update.

Display Program Billed amount in ParaPlan iOS

07 January

ParaPlan for iOS has a trip detail screen that shows extra information about a trip when the driver clicks a stop on their eManifest. A key piece of information is how much the rider needs to pay to get on the bus. Sometimes, the driver needs to know how much the program will be billed for this trip. Now that is possible.

In ParaPlan Desktop, click All Elements, then Admin to load system preferences. Check the box labeled “Display Program Billed and Co-Pay on eManifest.”

IOSProgramBilled 3

 

Now, when the drivers look at the detail screen, the will see the amount the rider needs to pay to get on the bus, and in parentheses, the amount that the program will be billed.

IPhoneProgramBilled

How to add a user for ParaPlan for iOS

14 October

ParaPlan Mobile for iOS is our complimentary mobile app for iPhones and iPads. Drivers log onto the mobile device and their trips are automatically downloaded. As they perform their trips, the timestamps and odometers are automatically uploaded to dispatch computers running ParaPlan Desktop.

Now with 3rd party access, funding source stakeholders and clients can view GPS locations of the vehicles performing their trips on their personal iPhones or iPads.

Here is how ParaPlan users are granted iOS permission.

  1. In ParaPlan, click All Elements > Users > New User.
  2. Fill out the name and username, then grant ParaPlan desktop permissions.
     Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 31 42 AM
  3. Create password
    1. Leave existing password blank
    2. Enter new password twice
    3. Click Change password
      Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 33 41 AM 
       
  4. Click Apply Changes (ParaPlan username should now be populated in title bar and Save button should be disabled)
     Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 34 21 AM
  5. Expand Convert for iOS
    • To Add driver:
      1. Click Collect GPS if GPS data should be collected.
      2. Click Can view GPS tab if they can see other driver’s location.
      3. Enter REST endpoint provided by EnGraph.
      4. Select Driver name from drop down list.
      5. Click Can Schedule Trips if they can change a trips assigned route (including trips assigned to other drivers).
      6. Click Can Call clients if they can have easy access to directly contacting clients.
      7. Click Create Global account.
         Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 8 40 46 AM
    • To add 3rd party program administrator
      1. Click Collect GPS if GPS data should be collected (usually not).
      2. Click Can view GPS tab if they can see driver’s locations (only for the programs they are allowed to see).
      3. Enter REST endpoint provided by EnGraph.
      4. Check all the programs they can see trip and GPS details for.
      5. Check can request trips if they can directly request a trip (coming soon).
      6. Check can view Client details if they can also see additional information about a client including their future trips (only for the programs they are allowed to see).
      7. Click Create Global Account.
         Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 9 05 16 AM
    • To add 3rd party Client access
      1. Check Collect GPS if GPS data should be collected (usually not).
      2. Check Can view GPS tab if they can see the vehicle that is coming to perform their trip.
      3. Select the client’s name from the drop down list.
      4. Check Can request trips if they can directly request a trip (coming soon).
      5. Click Create Global Account.
         Screen Shot 2013 10 14 at 9 09 29 AM

ParaPlan Desktop update v4.1.621.11131

21 June

78c0004e91d753a658fa8190626c3be9

 

It is bug fix Friday here at EnGraph Software. We pushed out an update earlier in the week that had some blazing fast improvements to how Scheduling Canvas worked. There were a few oversights on our end and this release will help address those.

Building a new date would cause certain trips to become flagged for sending to MDTs. Drivers were getting wrong trips and too many trips. This has been resolved.

If somebody else cancelled or no-showed a trip, it was showing up in the Unscheduled bin on your computer instead of in the Cancellation bin. This is now going to the correct bin.

If you added a fill-in trip, not all the information that was just entered was being displayed in the Scheduling Canvas. The data was actually there and now it shows up as expected.

If you accidentally clicked “add fill-in”, but closed it before making any changes, you’d expect that trip to go away as it had always done in the past. Well, it wasn’t. It was hanging around and cluttering up your screen and making a few people thinking they had gone crazy. It will now go away and you can have your clean Scheduling Canvas and your sanity back.

As always, the update will install automatically.

 

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.

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.

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

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.