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    The Best of “Both-and” Worlds

    How the AdvantageCS Development Team Optimizes Contrasting Styles

    I am, by temperament, indecisive.  Wishy-washy. Equivocating. I embrace both-and-ism rather than either-or-ism. It gets me in trouble at times. 

    My wife is similarly afflicted. She and I joke that our family motto is, “Indecision: the key to flexibility.” It’s impossible to plan vacations.  “Scotland would be fun,” but so would Tuscany. Or France. Or Spain. We end up enjoying the tried and true cottage-on-a-lake-with-friends we have been visiting for 30 years.

    At times, though, both-and-ism is exactly what is called for.  Here are three examples from my role leading on the software development teams.

    Openers AND Closers

    Some software developers love to start new projects, even when it’s unclear how big the project …



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    QA Q & A

    New Initiatives in Advantage Quality Assurance

    Eva Weissman recently became the QA Team Leader here at AdvantageCS and brings a wealth of experience to her new role. Her expertise is not limited to quality assurance---she is adept at analyzing processes and workflows and instituting efficiency measures at many levels. Through a series of questions from eVantage, Eva describes her approach, the initiatives she has put in place and her future plans for QA.

    How do you describe your new role at AdvantageCS in quality assurance testing?

    I lead a team of analysts that is responsible for quality assurance. We focus on three main areas: software modifications, regression testing, and process improvements. With regard to software modifications, we develop test plans, do the actual …



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    New Features Coming 1st Quarter 2016

    These Advantage features are either available now or will be soon. Contact your Advantage account manager for more information.

    MST210 - Consolidated Processes, Plus Additional Process Changes: In a major enhancement to Advantage, five separate processes (CIR210, PRO205, AMB210, CEM210, RPS205) have been eliminated and replaced by a single across-module process, MST210. This centralized financial posting process strategy not only consolidates module order processing, but also allows the A/R associated with orders to be posted within the same process. You will need to continue to run ARP210 and ARP230 for standalone debits and credits, but the debits and credits associated with orders now flow through the centralized posting step. Besides MST210, Advantage offers other new posting …



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    Staying Out of (Technical) Debt  

    A topic that you might hear software engineers discussing from time to time is technical debt. From the name, you can already guess it is something undesirable. To hear the developers talk, any software that has been around more than a few months has it. Software that has too much of it can’t survive. It becomes buggy, unmaintainable, and irrelevant.

    But just what is technical debt? How does software get into it and how do you get out of it? Or avoid as much of it as you can?

    There are many different kinds of technical debt but here is a straightforward example. Software code is often organized into methods or functions that implement some piece of functionality. Simple applications may have hundreds of methods. Sophisticated enterprise-level software may have over a hundred thousand …



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    Advantage Software: Multiple ARPCAR Applications

    The ARPCAR view allows you to add payment by selecting an invoice with an amount remaining. By setting the ARP option DFPAYAMT to “Y” (available at 2014r1), the payment amount will default in based on the invoice’s amount due. With this option set to Y, you can also select multiple invoices and enter one payment to be applied across them. The steps involved are as follows:

    Set the ARP option DFPAYAMT to Y.

    From the ARPCAR list frame, select multiple invoices via keyboard controls (usually shift + click to select multiple invoices, ctrl + click to select a range of invoices).

    Invoke the Add Payment action, which will bring up a payment dialog box with the total amount due from the selected invoices defaulted in as the payment amount. The payment amount is open so it can be adjusted. …



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    Here’s To a Successful and Productive 2016!

    How AdvantageCS Can Help Make That Happen For You

    All of us at AdvantageCS would like to wish you a happy and prosperous new year. For many people, the start of a new year is a good time to assess their current situation and also to look ahead to set new goals. At AdvantageCS, we're doing that on a regular basis as it relates to many aspects of our company and in particular to the software and services that we offer. 

    To ensure that we continue to offer you the industry-leading software solution to meet all your needs in the ever-changing digital fulfillment marketplace, we make substantial investments in our software every year. One of our goals is to deliver more innovative solutions and services to Advantage clients that help you to grow revenue, reduce cost, and increase customer …



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    How To Always Know What's New in Advantage

    Stay up to date with Automatic Notification of Continuous Update Features

    What do these seemingly unrelated Advantage features have in common?

    A right-click action at all Advantage list frames to copy the value of any currently displayed column to your clipboard.

    The addition of data entry scripts for agreement orders and maintenance, whether using the Fast Entry or the dedicated agreement view.

    The consolidation of all select set setup in Advantage under the single Selection view.

    If you answered “they’ve all entered the product within the past four calendar months,” you would be correct!

    Advantage development, which has always been fast and furious, has become even more so with the introduction of the continuous update track within the past year. How can you keep up on …



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    Bug Extinction – Automated Testing Using Frameworks in Advantage

    “What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” 

    -Conan, the Barbarian

    As software engineers, we find ourselves fighting a war against an enemy of our own creation. An enemy armed with complexity, obscurity, and redundancy. From a fortified position in legacy code it charges forth using our past compromises as a battle cry. Like the Hydra, software development can work against us: each problem we fix with a cutting change can sometimes spawn more bugs. What is an engineer to do in the face of such odds?

    Creating bug-free software can happen in one of two ways. Write no bugs, which given the complexity and breadth of Advantage is impossible, or find the bugs that are created and fix them. To this end, bug …



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    Advantage Contact Center: Introducing Customer Service Workflows

    Some time ago, a project was begun here at ACS to consolidate various customer service views. The result is called the Advantage Contact Center.

    Contact Center introduces a new feature called Customer Service Workflows, which are guided customer service transactions. Each Advantage customer service workflow guides a customer service rep through a set of phases. The Advantage user interface can be customized based on workflow scripts, which determine the phases of the workflow, the fields available for data entry and the defaulting of transaction values. At the conclusion of the workflow, a customer note is created to log the call outcome.

    Here’s an example of one such workflow:

    A customer calls to inquire about a premium which hasn’t arrived yet.

    The first phase in the workflow …



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    Advantage Software: Cider Update! (Long Overdue)

    Wow, it has been a while since we provided an update on Cider. If you need a refresher, you can read my previous posts here and here. In short, Cider is our fully integrated eCommerce platform. So, what have we been up to? A lot! First and foremost, Cider is live! It was made available earlier this year with the 2015 annual release of Advantage. We continue to be hard at work with client implementations, modifications, and R&D.

    There are currently three clients live on Cider.

    Jerry Baker - Jerry Baker's store offers high-quality home and health products while allowing customers to mix-and-match bundled offerings.

    Palm Coast Data - The primary focus here was targeted self-service landing pages for subscribers served through email notifications.

    Ogden Publications - Ogden employs a …



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