My name is Anton D. Buttigieg and I have been working as a Web & Software Specialist with the deVere Group for the past two and a half years. The initial tasks I was involved in were primarily related to the development of a number of company web sites and web applicatons. One of the major issues we had at the beginning was to select a good package of components to facilitate our web sites’ design process and make the interface of each site as rich and user-friendly as possible. Given these requirements and the condition that we wanted to develop on the ASP.NET platform, we tried out a multitude of products, be they open-source, trials or shareware. After numerous tests and prototypes we developed in our lab, we opted for the Karamasoft UISuite.
Amongst the UISuite, we mostly used the following products:
The UltimateSearch component keeps evolving. We had very satisfactory results with it. Of particular benefit was how it can be easily extended to accomodate other features. We developed our own in-house programs to maximize this component’s usage, such as the programming of .ashx handlers to index dynamically generated content from our databases. This list of dynamic pages is then merged with another list of static web site content into a single xml file, as illustrated in Figure 1. This merge process is carried out through an in-house parser that scans our web sites and selects the relevant static pages to index.
The XML file is then easily parsed by the UltimateSearch component by setting the necessary configuration parameters in the UltimateSearch.config file. We have a scheduled task that triggers the generation of the xml file, that runs at periodic intervals. The modification of this xml file in turn triggers another application that has a file dependency watcher, with the latter application launching the Administration tool in a browser to kick off a full or partial indexing process by passing a query string parameter.
Figure 1 - All content to be indexed, whether static or dynamic, is merged into a single xml file
All this boils down to having the indexing process being automically triggered upon a content change in the xml file listing the site pages to index. We had suggested the introduction of this ‘query string parameter’ feature to the Karamasoft support team last September. The response time by the Karamasoft team was impressive in that this feature was built within one month of us bringing up the suggestion. The integration of the final search component in our web site is as displayed in Figure 2 below.
The UltimateMenu component has been a great asset, most notably because it is highly customizable. The design is controlled through style sheets and xml files that can be easily configured through the UltimateMenu designer, a very useful helper tool that comes with the component itself. A host of menu samples with a variety of designs are provided to start you off. The menus we designed always worked perfectly well on Internet Explorer since the UltimateMenu component’s inception. We had some initial hiccups with Firefox but for the most part these were tackled and resolved successfully after liaising with the Karamasoft Support Center. We only have some minor issues with certain features not being rendered perfectly well on Firefox, such as sub-menu transition effects, and a particular thingy that concerned how a site menu is rendered on Google Chrome.
The Ultimate Editor is used extensively in a Content Management System that we built locally. It facilitates the uploading and publication of new content into our web sites. The seamless conversion of content from plain text to HTML allows for a very simple and effective manner by which to store and distribute content across multiple sites on the fly. The Ultimate Calendar has also been of great help with perfect rendering on any browser and highly customizable parameters.
We were really impressed with the excellent value-for-money provided by the UISuite, a feeling that is so uncommon in today’s technology avid world, where over-production of low quality software modules for each imaginable business area, in as little time as possible, is the norm. The most significant benefits of using the UISuite and the salient qualities of our relationship with Karamasoft that we wish to highlight are:
1. Rich feature set: The feature list that accompanies each product is second to none. All features are clearly identified in the live online demos, with a sample provided for each.
2. Documentation: Over the years, the documentation has been extended considerably with tutorials, quickies and APIs.
Figure 2 – Integration of UltimateSearch into our main company web site at www.devere-group.com
3. Customization and extensibility: The products in the suite can be customized very easily and tailored to a company’s particular needs. The extensive use of style sheets and xml descriptors that can be easily modified is a great asset.
4. Additional tools: Additional tools, including configuration and administration tools, are available to complement the products and facilitate their usage. An example that quickly comes to mind is the UltimateMenuDesigner tool that complements the UltimateMenu component and provides an easy-to-use interface for the creation and design of powerful menus.
5. Code examples/samples: Various code samples and examples are provided; particular mention must be made of the model examples that come with the UltimateSearch and the UltimateMenu. These components are replete with samples and test applications that make it easy to incorporate the products within one’s programming environment.
6. Support: We really have to thank Karamasoft for their impeccable support. Issues we raised were immediately tackled by the Karamasoft team, who found the time to go through the code samples that we sent them and tried them out in their test environment.
7. Enhancements: We put forward various feature suggestions and enhancements that could be integrated within the product suite. Many of the ideas we suggested were studied by the Karamasoft development team and developed in little time. They were also made available without any additional license fees.
About the deVere Group
The deVere Group is the world’s largest firm of independent financial advisers. We help international investors and expatriates find financial services products that suit their medium to long term requirements for insurance, investments, savings and pensions. With in excess of US $7 billion of funds under administration and management, the deVere Group has more than fifty thousand clients in over a hundred countries. Our independence and ability to offer financial products that are tailor-made to fit an individual’s needs are behind our success. As a result we now have offices in over forty countries. You can find us in Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, London, Mexico, Moscow, Shanghai, Tokyo and Zurich, amongst others. Please visit www.devere-group.com for more information about the deVere Group.
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My name is Dave Hayward, and I have been providing technical consulting to a non-profit organization that was struggling with their web technology, and recommended a solution to their issues and needs. I recommended the use of ASP.NET and a re-development of their site so they could move to another provider and take better control of their web content. They asked me to undertake the development, and I accepted the challenge.
The challenge was to convert an existing HTML only web site into a data-driven site that could be managed by health-care professionals who had experience with using web sites, but not managing them, or editing their content. They wanted to be able to use MS Word as their authoring tool, and to search uploaded documents and presentations, post their meeting agendas and minutes and update documents that changed often throughout the year. They wanted to manage their membership list and control access to the site based on that list. They want to be able to change the content of any page on the site without needing the services of an HTML savvy word-smith.
Although not an initial requirement, the customer’s needs have grown in complexity to include on-line ordering of memberships and other services, a job board, automatic RSS news feeds from their bulletin board postings and a discussion forum with unread message tracking.
The need for sophistication in the features of the site, supported by robust controls and sub-systems grew quickly as the customer realized that all the ideas and dreams they had for their web site were now becoming a reality. Looking for a way to facilitate these needs became a necessity.
One of the most difficult and compelling requirements was to allow members to use their word processor to author content, and then transfer that to the site through the authoring and administrative tools. To do this, a sophisticated HTML editor was needed that could be dropped into the page without a lot of complexity and restructuring.
The search for such a product resulted in a short list of potential candidates. In truth, it was a short lived competition. There were some attractive aspects to most candidates’ products, but one company’s product stood out from the pack right away. Karamasoft’s UltimateEditor quickly rose above the others. One facility that helped make examining the product much faster and easier was Karamasoft’s Live Demo, which showcases their products with functional examples, which demonstrate the features, and even show the code and configuration used to enable them. The freely downloadable demonstration version and support forum showed that this company produced high quality robust products, and supported them once they were deployed.
My investigation of Karamasoft’s product line led to my decision to use multiple components, so I opted to license the full UISuite. I discovered that the products not only performed as promised, but they unexpectedly solved problems I was having in trying to support users on non-Microsoft web browsers, and operating systems.
Part of the project design was to use the same web pages for content display and content editing. Ultimate Editor allows for simple switching between a mode that provides a content administrator with a complete editing environment and one that provides a regular member a way of viewing the content, with buttons for copying and printing. With UltimateEditor there are only one or two lines of code needed to switch between these two modes based on the user’s Role.
In addition to using UltimateEditor in many pages on the site, the UltimateMenu was used not just for its support of other browsers, but because of its versatility in choosing one of the fifteen or more pre-packaged styles, or more by rolling your own.
The UltimatePanel is used in an ever growing number of places on the site due to the need to conserve screen space and the flexible configuration options. The user persistence feature was an unexpected bonus that the users appreciate.
The UltimateSpell control was one the user didn’t think they could use. They have a lot of jargon in their postings, and thought the spell checker would just annoy them. When they discovered it supported Custom Dictionaries, they decided it was a great idea.
The UltimatePanel and UltimateTabStrip were a perfect solution on a User Profile page that scrolled off the screen. The tabs are easy to set up and the configurable look and behavior make it a powerful and easy to use tool.
UltimateAjax is used to periodically refresh the discussion forum pages, so the users can see new posts appear on the page automatically without a complex mechanism being built to implement the feature. It also delivers ‘wait’ prompts to avoid user confusion.
The UltimateSearch control is used to allow the members to search through the large amount of technical documents and presentations stored on the site. They can not only search PDF, PowerPoint and MS Word documents, but they can also locate content posted by users on the web pages using UltimateEditor. This is an enormously powerful and useful feature that can be added quickly to a web site.
In the ten months I have been using Karamasoft’s products, I have had only two occasions to post questions to the support forum. On both occasions, my posts were answered within an hour or two, and the issues were resolved within a day.
Having used all but two of the controls in the UISuite, I can say that my expectations for quality, ease of use, flexibility and technical support have been exceeded. I can also say that my customers think I have exceeded their expectations by providing quality, functionality, reliability and flexibility that has exceeded their own expectations. When it is time for me to renew my license, I will not hesitate to do so.
About GMCC Software
GMCC Software has been in operation since 2000, and develops a number of products for the 3D graphics market as well as contract development in a variety of markets and applications. As the owner of GMCC Software, I have thirty years of experience developing commercial software products in telecommunications, business productivity and graphics art markets. If you would like more information, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at www.gmccsoft.com.
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My name is Lon Weekly, and my company is Tri-Lakes Marketing. After selling my dental software company
in 2000, I had a 5 year non-compete agreement that kept me out of that
industry. But, once the time was up, I was chomping at the bit to get back
involved. I have been a Basic/Visual Basic programmer for over thirty years
and continue to develop desktop apps for customers. Two years ago, I was
quite fortunate to get involved with KSB Dental, Inc. which is actually an
off-shoot of my old company. I re-did their website and started developing
add-on products for their main package.
Most recently, we decided to expand the website capabilities to include
on-line supply ordering, software downloads and access to product-specific
information for our users. As is usually the case, the project was bigger
and more demanding than the available time to work on it. I knew that I had
to make everything easy to update and maintain, as well as easy for our
users to navigate. The biggest hurdle was to incorporate a shopping cart
capability into the site, without it looking like an add-on.
When you combine the facts that I had never created any active server pages
(using Master pages and css), never done any ecommerce and had only a small
amount of time to get this project done, I needed all the help I could get.
I bought a lot of books on various topics, watched tutorial downloads and
Googled everything in-between. Slowly, I got the basic site functioning,
but it didn't have much pizazz. I found a good shopping cart
component that got me rolling on that end, but it took me so
much time to get it working, that I had less and less time for aesthetics.
I still wanted to make it look nicer and have more capabilities.
One of the key areas that I struggled with was site navigation. I spent
days poring over different ways to do it, but couldn't really reach a
desirable result. I only had a fews days left to get that phase of the
project ready. During one of my Google searches, which led me to a forum,
someone mentioned Karamasoft UltimateMenu. I clicked the link, and took a
look at the demos. I saw more than I could have hoped for and even got some
ideas I'd never even thought of. I figured anything this good would have
to cost a lot, but I was amazed at the reasonable price. I figured it would
be worth every penny to get a nice looking menu system and be able to move
on with other parts of the project, so I went to the order screen.
Then, a great thing happened: I saw all the other components and the
UISuite package. I was intrigued, so I went through all of the
demos. I started seeing things I could do to the site and realized this
could be what saved me. This happened to be right around Christmas and
playing with this stuff was like opening presents! I ordered the UI
Suite and was ready to dig in.
Now for the best part: support. The download and install went smoothly, but
I had some problems migrating my new menu pages to the production site.
Karamasoft Support Team helped track down what the conflicts were, and I actually made it on
time for the customer "show and tell". Maybe the only problem with the UI
Suite is that it can do so much, I kept wanting to change things (lol). I
got to looking at UltimatePanel, and realized that they would be a better
fit for my menus. So I switched and even placed an UltimateSearch on one
of the panel groups. Throughout every step of the way, I have been able to
post my questions on the user forums, and without fail have been able to
resolve my problems with Karamasoft's help. Unlike some other companies
which either never respond or tell you "it's your problem, they can't
duplicate it", Karamasoft Support Team seems to always come up with the answer!
The demo programs are a real life-saver, too. Almost anything I want to do
has already been done in a demo, so I can see how to do it.
Not only do these products perform individually as advertised, they play
very nicely together. As a result, I have now been able to incorporate
UltimateMenus (now replaced with UltimatePanel) for site navigation,
UltimatePanel for Marquee ads and teasers, UltimateEditor for content
creation by the customer, UltimateTabstrip with UltimateEditor windows for product
detail display, and am starting to utilize UltimateAjax for a nicer user
made the whole site dynamic for the users to create their own content with
UltimateEditor and save to the database.
UltimateSpell is a built-in part of UltimateEditor and UltimateSearch. Future plans
call for the use of UltimateEmail for communications with our users, and
UltimateCalendar for scheduling training. We will have a lot of pdf's for
the users to read, so I plan to use UltimateSearch on those.
Although still in development, I have been able to accomplish my original
goals thanks mostly to Karamasoft. My shopping cart has a nice look and
feel thanks to the use of UISuite components throughout. My customer can
create their own page content with the editor which keeps me from having to
re-do pages all the time. We are actually going to have a lot more
capabilities than we had originally planned.
I don't think I can say enough about Karamasoft. Karamasoft produces incredible software,
sells it at a reasonable price, and most of all, backs it up with fantastic support.
Their support forums are a great
resource. Personally, it has been worth much more than I paid. Even if you
only use two or three of the components, UISuite is the way to go. Just like
in my case, I was looking for one thing and ended up with several great
components that I am using.
In this day and age, most software companies just don't have the whole
package like Karamasoft: Quality, Value and Support. I have and will
continue to recommend UISuite to anybody for their web development
About My Company
I do contract programming in VB.Net and ASP.Net. I have developed entire
dental practice management packages, real-time stock option trading software
and even boat dock design and pricing software. I would be happy to share
anything I have learned during this project with anyone interested. You can
email me at email@example.com or post your question in the user forums.
I check them almost everyday.
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truelogic introduced its dedicated communications technology to the market over five years ago. A process of continuous improvement has made it one of the most simple to use, yet feature rich communications platforms in the world, used around the world.
The team at truelogic has worked with leading companies at the highest level for several years, using web based technology to expedite not only email and SMS campaigns, but also print and press advertising.
Our knowledge of this technology is our core competency and the backbone of everything we do.
After having used other online editors in our products, as well as developing our own we needed to find a solution that provided increased functionality and cross browser support, while still enabling us to customize the editor to our unique needs.
One of the key items we needed to find in an editor was the ability to customize and enhance the editor so that it not only worked within our product, but did not require users to re-learn or change habits based on what they had previously used in our product.
We researched all the major online editors, putting each one through a series of tests aimed to discover usability issues and functionality shortcomings. One editor stood out about the rest… and after having worked with Karamasoft's UltimateSpell component we decided to go with that editor... UltimateEditor.
During our initial integration of UltimateEditor into our flagship product campaignlogic, we had a number of challenges to overcome, least of which being the need to separate the editor canvas from the toolbar as seen in the below screen capture.
We expected that when we contacted Karamasoft support about some of our needs and unique issues with integration we would be told that it was not possible… Imagine our surprise, when as a result of our request Karamasoft released an update to their UltimateEditor which enabled us to do what we needed.
It did not stop there, 12 months after going live with UltimateEditor we needed to change the way the editor handled CSS and HTML, again Karamasoft were able to accommodate our needs with another updated version of their excellent product.
Of course, a product like UltimateEditor’s ability to be customized is one thing, how works for the end user is really where it matters. UltimateEditor is fast loading and offers the user the most accurate reflection of offline editors such as Microsoft Word which they are familiar with.
Out of the box UltimateEditor is a fantastic editor, our need to customize it is driven largely by the fact we implemented it into an existing product that is used around the world, by more than 100,000 users ranging from home users, to some of the largest organizations in the world.
UltimateEditor has not only met and exceeded our expectations, but those of our end users as well!
We are a software company, focused on delivering market leading software to enable companies to streamline and take control of their marketing. With clients located around the world, we continue to refine and enhance our products based on their feedback and our vision. www.truelogic.com.au
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Hello I'm Charles King, our company is FundTrack® Software. We have been designing software for the nonprofit community for over ten years. Until recently we have always built what is sometimes called traditional software, in short meaning that it is not directly available over the Internet. We had designed and built some small web based applications using the original asp (active server pages) technology. When Microsoft® released the .NET framework we decided to try our hand at the new ASP.NET. And that is how this project was born.
We decided that it was time to rebuild our flagship product, PhilanthrAppeal®. In order for the nonprofit community to benefit most from this project it had to be built using ASP.NET and had to draw its data from SQL Server 2005. We wanted the application to be as easy to use as possible and to have a consistent look. This part was accomplished in a fairly straightforward fashion, using Master Pages, CSS, and some great Icons from VirtualLNK. Next we wanted the application to provide a rich user experience, so we added AJAX 1.0 to the project. Using AJAX means that we could provide the user with a more responsive and robust feeling when using the application.
A key element for the application was being able to do mail merge. There were two types of mail merge we needed, Email and USPS mail. The USPS mail merge part was easy, just have a user export an Excel or XML file to their local PC and use Microsoft Word® or some other word processing program, to do the merge. However, for the Email merge part of the project we thought we would need to create an in house tool. Before taking on that undesirable task we decided to see if there was a third party tool available with this functionality. We looked at several HTML editors that are used mainly for content management projects. At first we were discouraged by the amount of code that would need to be written in order to make the HTML editors do what we wanted. We kept looking.
Then we found Karamasoft and their UISuite of tools. The suite included an HTML editor (UltimateEditor) and a tool they call UltimateEmail. With these two tools combined we were able to add the Email merging functionality to our project, in a very short time and without writing very much code at all. Most of the code we needed could be found on the Karamasoft website live demo area.
Our experience with Karamasoft has been great from the very beginning. Downloading the UISuite and installing it was very easy. We ran into a couple of small issues along the way that were quickly addressed by the support team. Then we found that we needed to be able provided our users with a process beyond the normal sending email and merging to a custom HTML document. We needed to let the user merge an email to a different document, possibly for each email being sent. We presented this problem to the Karamasoft support team, and in no time at all they had added the ability we needed to the UltimateEmail tool and sent us a new build of the tool for testing. It worked great and we were on our way again. Karamasoft continues to help us and we are looking at how we might incorporate some the other great tools from the UISuite into this and other projects we will be working on.
This project is on going and will continue to evolve. As long as we have the support of Karamasoft and their great UI Suite of tools we think the project will be a great success. It's not often these days that you can find a company of any kind that provides a quality product and that will stand behind that product with great support. Our hats are off to Karamasoft.
If you have questions or would like to find out more about our products or service, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.fundtracksoftware.com.
Our Mission at FundTrack Software
"To develop and deliver comprehensive, quality software at competitive prices to nonprofits in pursuit of an enhanced quality of life and environment"
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My name is Simon Gould and I work for Q2 Solutions in Brisbane, Australia. I have been here for over 3 years and have worked on a variety of interesting projects. We have 2 main projects that are used worldwide called M1/ESCAP and ConnX.
M1/ESCAP is a maintenance/housekeeping application that helps hotel owners/managers easily and efficiently manage their hotels. This has been combined with a central data collection and reporting website to enable corporate managers to oversee all hotels under their control.
ConnX is a detailed and large scale HR system.
Upon starting at Q2 Solutions, I was put onto the ConnX project. At this stage we were currently using Karamasoft’s UltimatePanel (v1.2) and I found it to be very easy to use.
Around the start of 2007 we decided to perform a major refurbishment to ConnX. We upgraded from ASP 1.1 to ASP 2.0, introduced the use of Themes and MasterPages, standardized all pages in a consistent layout and implemented many new features using the AJAX framework and the AJAX Toolkit controls. We also reviewed the method we would use for site navigation and, after looking at many alternatives, we all agreed that UltimateMenu (v3.2) would be perfect for our needs. And with our past positive experience with Karamasoft’s products and the cheap price, we had no problems at all with this choice.
I was put in charge of the look and feel of new design and worked heavily with UltimateMenu to get it performing exactly how we wanted it to. I was pleasantly surprised with the ease and flexibility in which I was able to customize UltimateMenu to suit our needs. It looks good, it responds well and it loads fast. Everything we needed was already there and easily utilized.
Once or twice we have come across a situation where we could not do something we wished to do. A quick forum post and an email or 2 and we were back on track with no time lost at all. The Karamasoft support centre is extremely quick to reply to all queries and give clear and useful responses. We were all quite surprised at the speedy response as we are used to a delay due to the fact we are in Australia and most companies we communicate with are on the other side of the planet and fast asleep.
Recently we came across an issue in Firefox regarding UltimateMenu conflicting with another 3rd party control we were using. We found that the UltimateMenu worked perfectly in Firefox but as soon as we had a page with UltimateMenu and this other control, UltimateMenu would not render correctly (lost it’s CSS) and would not function correctly (all menu items opened on very left of page). I posted a question about this on the Karamasoft forum and within hours I got a reply asking for a sample. I put together a quick simple sample showing the issue and again within hours they came back with the exact problem as well as updated script files fix the issue. Upon trying their new files, all the issues I had were remedied.
We here at Q2 Solutions, myself in particular, are very pleased with every aspect of Karamasoft and their products. Their support is quick and clear, and has always solved our minor issues in no time.
We will gladly continue to use Karamasoft’s UltimateMenu for a long time to come. We will also be looking closely at the other Karamasoft products to see what else can be used to enhance our software. I have had a quick look myself and feel there may be many products available that would greatly improve the look and feel of our software.
For more information on Q2 Solutions and ConnX, visit www.q2solutions.com.au or phone +61 7 3368 2623.
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