A Chat With the Team at Force 5, Inc.

We recently sat down with the architect team at Force 5, Inc.,www.force5solutions.com, to learn how they used Stylus Studio to drastically accelerate the development and testing of a new reporting module for their Gatekeeper product.




Ivan:Hi James, Rory, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.

Ivan: James, give us a brief high level pitch on Force 5 Solutions.

Rory: "Brief" will be a challenge for James.

Ivan, James: [laughing]

James: Force 5 designs and deploys solutions for enforcing compliance regulations including tracking personnel activities in highly secure environments, blending commercial software with custom application development and professional services.

Ivan: Fascinating! James, I know you cannot disclose your customer names, but can you tell us the sectors in which your technology gained more traction?

James: Energy is our primary sector; power utility companies face increasing pressure to follow very strict regulations for managing their business, which creates the requirements for a product like Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper is designed to replace the traditional method of logging entry and exit to a facility. Log data captured by Gatekeeper provides a real time view of workers entering and exiting an area. While this information is critical for compliance, it is also valuable to security and safety groups in the organization.

James: Unfortunately we live in very unsecured world, but too often we prefer to ignore the problem until tragedy strikes. Our approach is to intercept and correct these conditions before it is too late. The number of use cases for Gatekeeper continues to grow beyond the high profile deployments in the utility industry.

Ivan: Thanks James, now Rory let’s switch gears to technology; we are sure you are having a blast working with such a variety of platforms and standards.

Rory: Yes, it is really amazing, also very hectic. Large companies make use of sophisticated security models which are deployed on multiple platforms and devices from large servers to tablets and mobile phones. Installing new software in secure environments requires the involvement of many people who do not always agree. [laughing]

Ivan: … and how does your team handle this challenge?

Rory: We have adopted a light weight approach which is centered on modern web based architecture. We always strive to embrace industry standards which are well accepted by enterprise clients. These same standards must also be in the tools we use to develop our software and is one of the driving reasons we evaluated Stylus Studio.


Stylus Studio


Ivan: Tell us more about the reporting feature in Gatekeeper.

Rory: One day James came to my office and asked me: “We need a rock solid reporting feature in 3 weeks, can we do it?”

James: [laughing] … he is paraphrasing!

Ivan, Rory: [laughing]

Rory: One of our largest customers runs a system which builds the steps required to perform the maintenance and assigns the right crew to execute maintenance. It’s mandatory for the team to print the work order before leaving the office which contains the detailed steps needed to be followed to perform the maintenance and to verify each step and check it off as completed. This checklist contains instructions to make sure that equipment is safe before the crew starts to do the work and that they are performing the work on the right equipment.

The crews that perform the equipment maintenance have to cover a wide geographical area and these areas are sometimes very remote. Gatekeeper handles the logging and tracking of internal and external crews and equipment through a variety of Kiosks and mobile devices such as IPads, IPhones and Android tablets/phones. Gatekeeper uses sophisticated technology such as geo-fencing to ensure the crews are in the right location to perform the maintenance. Our customer wanted an additional feature to allow the crews to print and view these work orders at the remote locations from the Gatekeeper kiosks or a mobile device. This would allow the crews to get the most up to date work order since there might have been changes made to the process after the crew had left the office. The underpinnings of the work order were in XML.

So here is the requirement: we needed an easy way to print or display the work order with a flexible layout, directly in Gatekeeper without the need for additional software.


Stylus Studio


James: I did some research and Stylus Studio seemed to be a fit. We contacted the Stylus Studio technical team, which built a prototype for us in a day, using Stylus Studio with some open source runtimes and industry standards like XSL-FO and XSLT. On a side note, your Stylus team was great to work with and took time to understand our needs.

Rory: We took the prototype and after few days of tweaking we delivered a demo to the customer, exceeding their expectation.

Ivan: We love to hear that.

Rory: The one thing I really enjoyed in Stylus Studio is the “one tool” approach. If I need to perform a task which requires manipulating data, I can always count on it. No matter what the data format is or its origin, Stylus Studio XSLT editor, Flat File Converter and XQuery over relational capabilities cover all my needs.

Ivan: This was a fantastic Stylus Studio use case, thanks James and Rory for your time and sharing your story.



We hope you have enjoyed this interview. A big thanks to the Force 5 team.


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