April 2012


In This Newsletter

AVAproject Fusion Simplifies the Process of Selecting an Accounting System

AVAproject & AVAproject Fusion 2012: AVAware.com Hits Record Downloads!

Cloud Computing: Keep Your Data in the Clouds – and Your Head Out of Them!

Updated Catalog: de La Fontaine

AVAproject Tip: ‘Splitting’ and ‘Combining’ Rows

Catalog Updates

 U.S. Price Books:

  • Adams Rite
  • Hager
  • Rixson
  • Steelcraft

 Canadian Price Books:

  • Schlage ES
  • Vision

AVAproject Fusion Simplifies the Process of Selecting an Accounting System

One of the most difficult and challenging decisions any company needs to make is their choice of accounting system. Since the only thing more time-consuming than implementing a new system is having to change platforms later on, it’s important to make a choice that suits your operation well and does not limit your options in the future.

AVAware has always maintained the position that no single accounting package could possibly serve every customer effectively. Needs vary from distributor to distributor as individual customers focus on different product offerings and simply run their businesses differently. One of the most important decisions a company must make is their choice of accounting platform. In an ideal situation, one would select a package that accommodates all their current needs while still allowing for a measure of future growth. At the same time, “over buying” or selecting an accounting system that is too robust or complicated will lead to needless costs, excessive training time and a cumbersome day-to-day routine.

It was for this reason that AVAware developed AVAproject Fusion; a powerful data reporting and integration tool that allows users to select the accounting platform this is ideal for their operation. The benefits to this approach don’t end there however. The task of selecting a system becomes even more complicated when faced with having to

integrate it with other business-critical applications (such as AVAproject). Quite often the entire process of selecting software for an operation is immobilized because of concerns that the various applications won’t “talk” together. Once again, Fusion puts an end to this classic dilemma. Users can proceed with implementation of the front-end application, knowing that they won’t be restricting their ability to choose an accounting solution after the fact.

In fact, one can take this concept even further. It’s not uncommon for business to migrate from one accounting platform to another. Sometimes they realize they haven’t made the best choice and sometimes they simply outgrow their existing system.

The worst possible situation is to be forced to select new front-end applications as well because they are tied to the specific accounting system. Suddenly one isn’t just buying a new accounting program, they’re turning their entire business on its ear. AVAproject Fusion allows distributors to maintain their investment in their

detailing and estimating applications even if they find themselves in the unenviable position of having to select a new accounting platform. Instead of having to replace their entire front-end, one simply needs to add the additional Fusion component for the new accounting system.

This level of modular integration has been thus far unheard of in the architectural openings industry; quite honestly, it’s a very new concept that hasn’t been seen by the software industry in general. In most circumstances, transitioning to a new accounting platform means a period of extreme adjustment for the entire company; AVAproject Fusion seeks to put an end to that. In fact, users of the detailing and estimating system need not even know that a change is occurring on the accounting side.

AVAproject Fusion provides a unique and truly innovative approach to accounting integration by allowing users to select the platform that suits them the best while ensuring that they are able to preserve their software investments long into the future.

AVAproject & AVAproject Fusion 2012:
AVAware.com Hits Record Downloads!

In last month’s AVAwire, we announced the availability of the first AVAproject 2012 release. Normally that means an initial group of early adopters download the new version on the day it’s announced while others wait patiently to see how everyone else likes it before they jump into the pool.

This year, we were pleasantly surprised at the number of people that dove in right away. A large number of these upgrades were driven by early

adopters of the new AVAproject Fusion; the 2012 version of AVAproject features several enhancements designed to leverage the advanced features of Fusion. On the heels of these two software releases, the download count at AVAware.com hit an all-time high in the month of March.

We would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to all our customers for their comments and feedback about the new releases. As a result of that

feedback, we’ve already made several refinements to some of the new features and added many more to our list for the next release. Please keep the creative ideas coming. It’s these valuable insights that help us to grow the product and keep it relevant to an ever evolving industry.

A finalized version of the ‘2012-R1’ release is scheduled to go online at the beginning of May. Come and get it!

Cloud Computing: Keep Your Data in the Clouds – and Your Head Out of Them!

In last month’s AVAwire, we discussed the growing trend in cloud computing and all the benefits that come with it. As groundbreaking as this technology is, it’s not without its pitfalls. We would be remiss if we didn’t also point out some items of concern.

There is no doubt that cloud computing is one of the most revolutionary concepts to hit the software industry since the invention of the hard drive. Many companies have embraced “cloud” or “off-site data storage” providers as being their alternative to a life of screwing servers into racks. The upfront benefits to off-site data storage a certainly enticing; instead of investing in all that expensive server hardware and the people to maintain it, let the cloud provider take care of all of that. For multi-location companies, the benefits are even greater; instead of configuring complex wide-area networks and VPNs between locations, one can simply access a shared cloud from anywhere.

This is all true. No doubt about it. The cloud is definitely the way to go… all aboard! Wait.

As beautiful as any cloud looks, they usually come with a little rain.

Before we all throw our servers into the bin and begin uploading our companies’ wealth of intellectual assets into the cloudy heavens, perhaps we should take a closer look. Although we use the term “cloud”, that’s obviously not where our data is going. Instead of being safely housed in a server in our back rooms, our precious data is now “safely” being stored in servers in someone else’s back room. This is an important thing to keep in mind. We often hear people say that one should consider anything they post on the internet as being defacto “public”. Why then is everyone so ready to believe that cloud storage is safe, secure and beyond the reach of prying eyes?

By no means should this be considered a claim to having knowledge of illicit activity, but the fact remains that data storage providers warehouse data in ‘data centers’. People work in data centers. Curious and often financially motivated people work in data centers,

and they have access to data they are responsible for maintaining. Period. Anyone who’s worked in a government office or a financial institution knows how much personal data is available at each employee’s fingertips. We’ve all read stories in the news about employees at video stores ‘leaking’ public figures’ rental histories to the press, etc. The fact of the matter is that the moment your data leaves your machines, it’s out of your control.

Many will argue that much of this risk can be mitigated by using private encryption keys. True, but without launching into an entirely different debate let’s all simply acknowledge that no measure of security has ever been proven perfect. That having been said, before committing all your company’s valuable data to the care of a third party, it’s important to consider what the ultimate impact of that data being made public would be to your company.

In addition to security, the other issue is that of reliability and accessibility. Just like any other utility provider, when your cloud service goes down you’re out of luck. If you’re used your trusty I.T. staff to keep your network functional and your employees working in the event of failures, those days are over. Just like any other utility provider, when your cloud service goes down the only answer you’re likely to get is “we’re working on it”.

Seriously, data centers serve a lot of customers. You individual concerns are not going to mean a lot to a company the size of Microsoft or Amazon – no matter how important it is to have that bid in on time. The entire computer industry was taken by surprise when Microsoft’s new cloud-based service “Office 365” went down on February 29th dues to a leap year bug of all things. Their entire user base was unable to access their email or office documents until they got the matter sorted out. Generally speaking, these providers do a good job, but the fact of

the matter is that your data, and as such, the operation of your business, is out of your hands.

For these reasons, there are a couple considerations one should keep in mind when contemplating any off-site solution. First and foremost, consider the stability and reputation of the company you’re entrusting with your data. Ask yourself if you would trust that company to safe-guard your most valuable assets.

Second, and most importantly, don’t rely on any storage solution (cloud-based otherwise) as your only one. As wonderful and accessible as the cloud is, keep far away from any solution that does not allow you to maintain an up-to-date and current local copy of every piece of data your company owns. It’s your data after all, take good care of it.

Don’t take this small dose of reality to mean a condemnation of all things cloud-like; in fact, cloud-based computing is truly every bit a revolutionary as it appears. We just want our valued customers to approach any new technological implementation with their eyes wide open and (we had to say it) their heads out of the clouds.

Updated Catalog: de La Fontaine

At the request of several AVAproject users, AVAware has recently updated the de La Fontaine Hollow Metal catalog to the most recent release in our current format.

Located in Sherbrook, Quebec, de La Fontaine is a family-run, Canadian hollow metal manufacturer and one of the earliest catalogs offered in the AVAware catalog library.

The new version of the de La Fontaine catalog will be available at the beginning of May. AVAproject users interested in subscribing to the de La Fontaine catalog can contact us at support@avaware.com, call us directly, or download the catalog order form from our website.

For more information about de La Fontaine products, please visit their website at: www.delafontaine.com

AVAproject Tip: Back to Basics - ‘Splitting’ and ‘Combining’ Rows

Over the past two years, we’ve featured many AVAproject tips ranging from the simple to the obscure. In this “Back to Basics” series, we’re going to re-examine some of the oldest and most popular and tools and how they can save hours in the detailing and estimating process.

AVAproject’s Openings Schedule is built from the ground up for speed and ease of entry. Column sequence can be manipulated to suit the individual needs and tastes of every estimator, and those layouts can be saved as ‘View Styles’ for easy retrieval later.

When estimating a job, the essential components are speed and accuracy. As part of this phase, data describing certain aspects of an opening can be omitted as it does not affect the final price of the project. The most obvious examples are ‘Opening Numbers’ and ‘Handing’.

When entering openings into the schedule, AVAproject will automatically count openings (either listed or in ranges) and fill in the quantity. Once again, however, one may opt to omit this information and simply enter the quantities directly as shown. In fact, there is no real need to separate individual openings at all; openings can be “bulked” on a single line item as long as they are identical in every respect that affects their price.

Qty totals are automatically counted using the Opening Number(s) data

Please note, the handings for all these openings were simply entered as “LH”. The actual handings won’t affect the price of the job and can be filled in as part of the “detailing” process should the job be awarded.

When the time does come to detail the openings, it will become necessary to identify all the unique aspects of the various openings. By highlighting any or all of the rows in the Openings Schedule and right-clicking to access the context menu, an option to “Split individual openings” is displayed.

The 'Split Individual Openings' item in the context menu

As its name implies, ‘splitting’ the openings results in each individual opening being placed on its own line of the Openings Schedule. At this point, it’s a simple matter to go through and fill in the details of the individual openings.

Openings "split" into individual Openings Schedule rows

In the following example, the ‘handings’ were filled in for the various openings.

Handing data specified for each Opening

Even after the openings are split, they can still be re-combined just as easily. To do so, simply highlight the rows, right-click in the row header and select “Combine Identical Openings”. Upon doing so, the openings will be re-arranged based on identical features.

The 'Combine Identical Openings' item in the context menu

The result of 'Combine Identical Openings'

Note: The ‘splitting’ and ‘combining’ tools are especially useful when used in combination with the sorting features offered the opening schedule. Once openings are split apart, they can be sorted based on any one or group of attributes and detailed in groups instead of individually.

We welcome any questions, comments or suggestions about any topic mentioned in this edition of AVAwire. Please visit our website for more information, or contact us directly at (416) 239-9099.