Archive for ‘February, 2012’

A couple of weeks ago a Polish TV crew interviewed our very own Marcin Wojcieshowski and he made an appearance on the TVN show “Uwaga: Zawodocy”.
You can view the programme by following this link.

Marcin makes his appearance 6:44 from the end of the clip. Of course everything is in Polish, but luckily the words “Skype”, “Email” and “Steve Jobs” are the same in Polish as they are in English. Bonus points for Marcin for the shameless plugs of a couple of our software products and for displaying the Union flag in his home office.

The TV show Uwaga: Zawodowcy translates as “Warning: Professionals” is a magazine show which focusses on sensational news stories. I think this episode was about technologists working in Poland and the impact of proposed anti-piracy legislation. Marcin was contacted by a University friend who knows someone who works on the show. The show originaly aired on the 10th of February but is still available online.

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Author: Paul Saunders

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Conduce Software’s Paul Saunders will be presenting at Aviation Week’s MRO Europe Conference in Amsterdam on the 11th of October 2012. The three day conference from the 9th to the 11th of October features presentations and discussions on some of the hot topics affecting the aviation repair and maintenance industry. Paul will be presenting on the subject of mobile data acquisition within a session titled “E-Solutions for Aircraft MRO”.

Please visit the Aviation Week website to find out more about the MRO Europe Conference and to view the latest agenda.

You can find details of all of our forthcoming speaking appearances and view content from our most recent talks on our presentations page. Please contact us if you wish to book one of our team to speak at your event.

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A couple of week’s back we had our very first Hackday at Conduce Software where we attempted to build a software product in a single day. We built an app called “Defexx” which is designed to capture aircraft cabin defects on an iPad and synchronise with a central web server with a view to integrating with an airline’s ETL, MRO or ERP systems. We did a running commentary of the day on our blog and this created a bit of a buzz on the aviation MRO community. Since then we’ve been really busy polishing the app and showing it to various interested parties.

The story of our hackday was picked up by Aviation Week magazine and they ran an article on their weekly Turnround Time blog.

You can view the article here.

We were also contacted by a number of airlines, pilots and even software vendors requesting a beta copy of the app. Last week a number of invites went out to join the beta testing team. We’ve taken a number of enquiries about the app from a couple of airlines and have also demoed it a couple of times too. One software vendor has spoken to us about running a hackday for them to help them build a proof of concept application.

The Defexx app has moved on slightly as well. We’ve added the feature to attach images to a defect. This is done via the device camera for iPad2s and via the photo library for the original iPads which do not have a built in camera.

There’s a bit more polishing needed over the next couple of weeks before we launch on the app store, but we have a fully working app which we can demonstrate right now. Please contact us if you would like to find out more about our cabin defects app “Defexx” or if you would like an invite to trial the beta version.

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Last year Conduce Software was commissioned by Thomas Cook Airlines to design and develop a bespoke iPad app for their flight crew. The app was intended to be deployed to iPads used by all 600+ Thomas Cook pilots and be used for data acquisition replacing a series of paper forms. Dozens of types of forms may be filled out by pilots on every single flight depending on incidents and occurrences that occur on that sector. Thomas Cook wanted to trial filling in these forms on a simple to use iPad app thereby replacing the paper forms and the convoluted process of getting that data back to base and entered onto centralised systems.

The new app allows the user to capture all data whilst in the air and then send that data back to base once the aircraft is on the ground. The data is sent either via email or integrated directly with Thomas Cook’s safety management systems. The app was delivered for trial just before Christmas 2011 whilst the iPad devices were still being deployed to pilots. Nearly all pilots have received their iPads now and the app which is known simply as “Thomas Cook Forms” has been installed on all of the devices and is starting to be used. The app is expected to improve productivity of pilots and safety management staff and to enhance safety data quality and allow prompt actions for safety occurrences.

Future versions of the app will include additional forms and can even be adapted for other areas of the business such as for maintenance engineers and for cabin crew. Please contact us if you would like to find out how a bespoke application developed by Conduce Software may improve productivity in your company.

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We’re having a HACKDAY at Conduce Software today. We’re attempting to build a software product from scratch in a single day. You can follow our progress throughout the day here.

UPDATE 08:22
So we’ve decided we’re going to do an aviation iPad app. We had discussed over the last week or so about building an app to capture Mandatory Occurence Reports (MORs) and send them to the CAA. This was pretty straight forward and useful as all airlines and operators in theory use the same format document as prescribed by their Nation Aviation Authority. However over the past couple of days we’ve had other thoughts as the MOR has lots of fields. We’ve been thinking about doing a Cabin Defects app instead as everyone needs one of those, cabin crew are starting to get iPads deployed to them and the data requirements are pretty light weight. I had some design ideas this morning whilst shaving and have already commited those to the white board. The guys are working on setting up a development server, so whilst they do that I’m cracking on with the wireframes. (Paul)

UPDATE 08:29
I’ve posted an update on Twitter using the #ConduceHackDay hashtag. Follow our progress throughout the day with the #ConduceHackDay hashtag. (Paul)

UPDATE 08:42
So we’ve discussed our ideas and have definitely concluded that we are going to a defects app. Please post any ideas, suggestions or requirements in the comments below. (Paul)

UPDATE 09:03
We’re using Backpack to organise ourselves today. I’ve created a Backpack page and have added a couple of lists and have started to upload any reference documents we have. (Paul)

UPDATE 09:15
I’ve just made our Backpack page publically visible. You can see read-only live updates to it here:
https://conducedotnet.backpackit.com/pub/2732804-hackday-defects-app

UPDATE 09:18
The read-only view of the Backpack page is pretty lame (sorry)

UPDATE 09:26
The project name and therefore the likely product name is “DEFEXX”

UPDATE 09:29
The virtual development server is set-up, has had SQL installed and is ready to go on Amazon EC2 (Marcin)

UPDATE 10:06
Datebase Design – Everyone agrees that we are only going to use 2 digit ATA chapter numbers but need to allow scope to expand to more digits at some point in the future. So the field is created as an nvarchar(11) to allow for 8 charcaters and 3 dashes. However nobody is comfortable with 11 digits in a field so it gets expanded to 16. The database name is “Defexx” and currently has 3 tables: CabinDefect, Account & User. (Paul)

UPDATE 10:26
Coffee Time

UPDATE 10:35
Coffee break finished. Its suddenly all very quiet as everyone is now working on the tasks we set ourselves. Marcin is building the app, Mark is working on the web app and I’m putting together the various design assets. Wayne is doing a couple of support tasks but is chipping in with advice and suggestions and will be getting his hands dirty a bit later. I’ve just created a photo album on our Facebook page here: HackDay Album

UPDATE 11:06
Ola has joined the team and is going to build the web services we need to connect the iPad app with the database and therefore the web app.

UPDATE 11:12
We need some license free images to use in the app. We need three photos for the iPad homepage, one of a cabin interior, one to represent a queue of completed defects to be sent and one for settings (a spanner or something similar). We have some holding images for now, but if you have some suitable photos that you’d like to be used in our app then please let me know. (Paul)

UPDATE 11:57
I’m off to Sainsbury’s for vital sustenance for the team. Requests for doughnuts as it is Fat Thursday in Poland.

UPDATE 12:38

We’ve got a working build of the iPad app. Very basic, but it renders the data structure in the form. In other news lunch has arrived (Marcin)

UPDATE 13:09
During lunch I’ve selected the icons we’re going to use in the web app. I’m using the lovely Default Icons from http://www.defaulticon.com/
Here’s an enlarged version of the “My User Settings” button. (Paul)

UPDATE 13:57
The app is coming along nicely now with the cabin defects form UI, functional design, microcopy and rendering completed. Marcin is working on the code to allow some of the context associated with defect rectification and deferral to work as required. Ola has completed the database access webservice. Next is the XML to send form the iPad to the server. Mark is asking for more icons but otherwise is very quiet which usually is a good sign things are happening as planned.

UPDATE 14:09
XML is now being successfully passed from the iPad to the server. Minor problems with incorrect time format but easily fixed (Marcin)

UPDATE 14:36
Now working on the iPad app homepage. The tile images are all prepared and scaled to the correct size & format. Mark is still very quiet! (Paul)

UPDATE 15:20
We have the beginnings of a logo (Paul)

UPDATE 16:12
iPad icons in all sizes and formats done (Paul)

UPDATE 16:16
The web app is coming along nicely. I’m not sure how this has happened but we have made something very monochrome looking with black, white and grey being the dominant colours in the web app, the logos and the iPad app. I like it! Its very utilitarian and modern looking but Wayne urges caution that it doesn’t have a detrimental affect on colour blind users and people with impaired vision. Some screenshots coming up shortly. (Paul)

UPDATE 16:26
Here’s the completed wireframe done exactly to scale with the final images and icons in place. The only change in the final app will the font used on the tile labels.

UPDATE 16:39
Success! We are successfully transmitting Defect data from the iPad app to the server and are able to view from the web app. Video evidence is available and will be online soonish. We are all feeling rather smug about it. Time for a celebratory can of Coke. (other Cola drinks are available)

UPDATE 16:48
I’ve uploaded the video to my Vimeo account. You will be able to see it in about half an hour here. I’m also about to upload it to our Facebook page. We’re going to open up the web app to anyone who wants to take a look. We’re creating a test user with read-only access now. Also we are happy to let volunteers trial the iPad app which will be available shortly. Please let me know if you want a beta invite.
The web app login is here: http://cgl.cabindefects.com/
Stand by for login credentials.

UPDATE 17:00
OK so the web app is ready for visitors. You can access here:
http://cgl.cabindefects.com/
Login credentials are user name: “test” password: “test”
This is a read-only account so don’t worry about breaking anything.
Let us know what you think! (Paul)

UPDATE 17:17
UTC conversion testing is difficult when you are in the UTC timezone (Marcin)

UPDATE 17:19
Vimeo have finished converting the video. Here it is:



UPDATE 17:30

There are a couple of people logging in to the web app using the test account we set up. Please let us know what you think. I just had Kristin Majcher from Aviation Week magazine retweet me and I think she’s going to feature us on their blog. Lots of tidying up to do now and get the iPad app looking nice.

UPDATE 18:29

OK that’s it for tonight. I think that was a fantastic success. We have a working set of apps that all talk to each other. With a bit of polishing we have a fully demonstrable solution for cabin defects. Thanks for all the hard work from the team and thanks for following. I’ll post additional details and fallout from the day tomorrow. (Paul)

FINAL UPDATE 19:14
Marcin has finished off the app for tonight. There’s a bit of a polish and tidy up required before we can submit to the app store, but it is 95% done for version 1.
Here are a couple of screenshots of the home screen and the defect form. Good night all and thanks again for following. Please contact us if you would like more information about our new Cabin Defects app “Defexx” or if you wish to know more about how iPads can be used in your organisation.

Here’s the completed iPad app home screen above and the defect form below.

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Last month I was asked by our friends at Aircraft Commerce for my opinions on paperless aircraft maintenance and why I thought more airlines and MROs weren’t doing it. The technology is simple enough, but there are few approved cases of electronic signatures signing off maintenance and releasing an aircraft to service.
The article was published in the latest copy of Aircraft Commerce magazine issue number 79. Here’s a scanned copy: Aircraft Commerce Issue 79 – Technology for SFDC & paperless maintenance

Click the link or the image above to download a scanned copy of the article.
Some of our friends from InfoTrust, Rusada and Aerosoft were also mentioned. A veritable who’s who of aviation MRO software experts. My mention is on page 50.

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Airline Purchasing & Maintenance Expo Presentation

Author: Paul Saunders

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This afternoon I made a promotional presentation for our new iPad app YBoard. Here it is:

It pretty quickly got 300+ views and attracted the attention of the lovely Slideshare Community Manager Kit Seeborg who dropped me a line to say she was going to feature it on the Slideshare front page. Yay!

Fingers crossed it raises the profile of YBoard.

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One question that comes up frequently when I am presenting on the subject of iPads in Aviation is how much to budget for lost, stolen or damaged iPads. I’m probably the worst person to consult on this subject having dropped and smashed my own iPad within days of purchasing it. Of course having a protective case will help to reduce damage, but this won’t prevent loss or theft. The best figure I have previously been able to give people who asked the question about attrition rates is 20%.

This number is based on a value budgeted by one of our airline clients. They had an replacement rate of 10% per annum for company mobile phones, so they simply doubled that for the larger, “thief magnet” iPad. However I was chatting to our client yesterday who had some surprising statistics to share with me. In their first four months since deploying 610 iPads to pilots they have replaced 2 devices having been dropped and damaged, 1 due to theft and 1 having being lost. Scaling that up for the first year that is less than a 2% attrition rate. However we did agree that once the iPad 3 is launched then we should expect a few more pilots to drop or lose their current iPad 2 devices.

What rates of loss, damage and theft is your organisation experiencing or budgeting for? Let me know in the comments below. Please contact us to find out how we can help you build your business case and strategy for deploying iPads in your business.

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One thing that we have found with developing mobile and tablet apps for clients is that some of the more traditional ways of developing software are not really appropriate. You will commonly find with legacy enterprise software that hours and hours of project time is spent documenting requirements and writing specifications before a single line of code is developed. This normally isn’t the case when it comes to developing for iPad or iPhone, because more often than not the client isn’t 100% sure of what they want, mainly because they are not familiar with what is possible, what is practical and what might represent a good return on investment.

That’s why we like to prototype apps using wireframes. It doesn’t take long to convert the clients’ stream of thoughts into a set of diagrams of how the app might look and hang together. We like to use Balsamiq Mockups. The good thing about Balsamiq is that it has a whimsical sketchy look and feel which we like because you can immediately see it is only a sketch. Some mockups applications make the wireframe look too real and can give the client the wrong idea about how far progressed you are with the project. With a Balsamiq wireframe it is obvious that you are only demonstrating a conceptual drawing. It is very quick and simple to sit down with the client and show them the wireframe and even make tweaks to the design during the discussion.

Here’s a wireframe I knocked up for our friend Michael Denis to help him discuss a proof of concept with his colleagues.

Once you have got your basic design agreed those wireframes can be easily converted into a prototype app so that the concept can be further investigated and tested before you get on with the coding. Here’s the same wireframe converted to a protype app.

We use Realizer to make our prototypes. If you do a thorough job of the prototyping this helps a client to approve a business case and allows you to thrash out features and functions without having to spend an age on writing a spec that nobody likes to read anyway.

Please contact us if you would like us to discuss what Conduce Software can do to help with your iPad and iPhone development requirements.

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