OPTANO 6.0 with Web Client – behind the scenes

OPTANO 6.0, and thus the brand new Web Client, is due for release soon. We talked about this in an interview with the developers, Dr. Jörg Wiese and Alexander Thörner, who were only too glad to answer our questions.

Good morning Jörg, good morning Alexander! Thanks for finding the time to answer a few questions about the new release. OPTANO 6.0 will come with a Web Client. This is the first time in a release. What will this mean for users?

Alexander: Good morning! Well, above all it will mean that users don’t have to install anything anymore and they don’t have to worry about certain rights not being available on the target system. You simply call the URL and then you can make a start. This means you have much faster and easier access than you do with the Rich Client.

Jörg: Not only that, you can also call up scenarios and views directly. So you can just give a colleague the URL of a scenario who can then look at the scenario with you.

Where did the idea of an additional Web Client come from? What advantages does it have compared with the desktop application?

Alexander: Several of our customers had asked about it. Access is much easier than with a Rich Client which needs to be installed beforehand.
Jörg: And our customers’ IT departments were also very interested in the idea. Installing software in companies is often an obstacle. This obstacle doesn’t apply to the Web Client. We’ve also used this new development to revise our user guidance and design and we’re more than happy with the result.

How long have you been developing it?

Jörg: We started with the initial concepts and chose the technology we wanted for it in Janary 2020. Then we really got started with the first sprint in April that same year. From then on there were nearly always 7 team members working on the development.

The OPTANO Web Client was implemented using ASP.NET Core, Orleans and other libraries in Blazor WebAssembly.

The development in an entirely new environment was surely a challenge. From a technical viewpoint, what was the hardest nut you had to crack and how did you manage it?

Alexander: As a web-frontend, one of the most crucial requirements is that it responds fast and efficiently. It must not take a long time to load. That’s why we had to rebbuild the loading of data. However, if you rebuild the loading of data, especially if you load and display just parts of the data, operations like sorting, grouping and filtering, which are actually standard functions – will naturally become really complex all of a sudden. We had to dig deeply into the code in the library we were using until we worked out how we could best get around the problem. Solving that was a significant milestone.

As developers you are bound to have a feature which you are particularly proud of or that you think is especially cool. Have you got a favorite feature on the Web Client and if so, why?

Jörg:  My favorite feature as a developer is definitely the adaptable code generation! It allows you to make exciting adjustments in projects. We can now install new views for customers very easily which can then be generated automatically. What’s more you can also make adjustments when setting up the application.

Alexander: I think it’s totally cool that it’s now easier to search or filter in the navigation bar.

The first version of Web Client is being released with OPTANO 6.0. Its scope of performance will continue to grow. Can you give us a  preview of the next levels?

Jörg: We have a list of features which we’d like to implement. At the moment we’re in the discovery phase and prioritizing. We’ll be talking to our consultants about which features are important for our customers.
Alexander: One example that comes to mind is extending the import of data to include edit mode, but also the rapid generation of pivots  – that you can close the gap to the Rich Client with several features.

 So far you’ve only presented the Web Client internally but even so, what was the response like?
Jörg: Yippee! (laughs)
Alexander: It met with a really positive response all round. The new design appealed to many because it’s more modern and – if I may say so – cooler. It’s a kind of dark theme, that’s really something.

Are there any light themes or will OPTANO remain dark in the Web?
Jörg:  There is also a light alternative or sample styles but naturally everything is all quite adaptable – in theory it can be customized to suit individual customers’ needs, if desired. This is on the agenda but we haven’t implemented it yet.

There’s not long to go until the Web Client is released. What’s the first thing you’ll both be doing after that?
Alexander: Blow our trumpets and celebrate! The final steps in development always involve a lot of quality control and tying up loose ends. But once it’s released we’ll no doubt celebrate it in the team.

 Jörg, Alexander, it was a pleasure talking to you, thank you! Have a good day!

The release trumpet is a long-standing tradition at OPTANO. Whenever a new version is released, all the developers blow their release trumpets to celebrate.

Also interesting…