Openbravo's User Experience Lab
GUI design, ERP Usability and Visual Design

Embed Timetric data-as-a-service in Openbravo 3

Friday, March 25, 2011

Imagine having access to over 3,000,000 statistics from official sources such as The World Bank and the Office for National Statistics that are always up-to-date. From Amazon cloud spot prices through Spanish unemployment figures to household internet access stats in Korea: It´s all publicly available on Timetric, a UK based Data-as-a-Service provider startup. Timetric aggregates the world's economic data from the best public sources and turns it into interactive charts.

These charts can give tremendous insight and help businesses make better decisions. But data alone is not enough: In these times of data obesity picking the appropriate sources, converting the incoming data into a digestible format and viewing it in the context of your internal data is as important as the data itself. Here is where the Openbravo 3 Workspace offers a solution. Workspace widgets let the user monitor internal as well as external data together in one place.

To embed the charts into Openbravo widgets you need to choose a chart on the Timetric site and click the embed button. Adjust the settings (key, design) if needed and then paste the html code in a User Defined HTML Widget on the Openbravo Workspace. The images below depict the steps to take.

FIG.1: Pick a data source on and click the Embed button

FIG.2: Adjust settings and copy the HTML code

FIG.3: Add a User Defined HTML Widget to your workspace

FIG.4: Paste the code in the User Defined HTML Widget. Set height accordingly.

FIG.5: The Timetric chart will now be displayed in the widget

FIG.6: Some more widgets. Notice how internal and external data meet at the Openbravo workspace.

You can create your own Timetric chart by simply uploading an Excel sheet and there is a REST-based API to allow interaction with other applications. It would be great if someone in our community were to build an Openbravo-Timetric connector. This would allow us to publish Openbravo ERP data as a chart anywhere on the web.

Sneak Peek of RC5 Productivity Boosters

Friday, March 11, 2011

You probably thought we are still recovering from our Openbravo 3, RC4 fiesta? Nope, we´ve been busy adding lots of cool stuff and are about to release RC5. Apart from stabilizing, increasing performance and fixing bugs, here are a few features that make RC5 a productivity booster.

Deep linking: copy a URL of the document you are looking at to your clipboard and share it with your colleague by email or IM. Super handy when you want someone to approve or review a document or for use in training or support. Tip: let the recipient paste the URL into the Quick Launch field of an active instance and the document will open as a new Openbravo tab in the active instance. Whop!

Recent Documents: a nice spin-off of deep linking is that Openbravo can now link to documents you have modified last. Also great for training or support purposes. Whoosh!

Smoother line entry: you can now keep on going while you create order lines. Just hit the enter key when you´re done with a line and Openbravo will create a new line below automatically. This also works when you´ve tabbed through to the last cell or hit the arrow down key. The context menu (right mouse click) also lets you insert, delete and undo changes. Ka-ching!

Keyboard shortcuts: make yourself familiar with them, because it will make you faster. You can now create an entire sales order using the keyboard only. Tak-tak-tak instead of click-click-click!

Date ranges: just click on a date column filter in the grid and set the range using human-friendly values such as "n days ago till today". Yay!

The devil is in the details and you will probably not even notice the other improvements to saving, closing, creating new forms and inserting new rows. This is how it should be: The less noise a GUI creates, the better it normally is. Sshhh!

Customize forms with the Form Builder

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Forms in transactional documents typically contain tons of fields. Looking at for example a sales invoice in our demo environment I count 18 fields, of which 10 are required (the yellow ones). Of those required fields, only two of them do not have a default value: Business Partner and Partner Address. Now, when you select a business partner, the address is automatically filled in.

This means that in this case, only ONE field needs undivided attention. The rest only needs to be verified in case the system was configured well. Some fields do not even need to be looked at in most cases, such as organization if you only work with one of them. The same goes for currency or even document number that should be correct by default when properly configured.

To reduce the cognitive load on our users we plan to simplify the default form layout by adding different fill colours, hiding read-only fields, increase the white space and apply a more logical order. In addition to that, we also would like to hide fields that are not important. For some fields it is easy to mark them as less relevant but for others, we cannot make this decision for you. That´s why we are thinking of creating a Form Builder that lets you choose which fields to show in pole position and which ones to tuck away in a collapsed section. In fact, this is similar functionality to what you already have in the new grids where you can show & hide and resize & order columns to your liking.

With the Form Builder, users now must be able to design their own form for each window type. Administrators can also design forms for other users, either per role or client. Changes are stored in the Application Dictionary.

I have produced a quick set of mockups to give you an idea. Let me know what you think, all ideas and feedback is welcome. React via Openbravo on Facebook, UX Labs on Forge or just drop your comments below the images.