Today we’re starting a new endeavor in the Xaml teams at Telerik to bring a new demo application your way. The application that we have in mind is a Customer Relationship Management (better known as CRM) solution intended to help a fictional sales person through the trials and tribulations of his day-to-day experience. Now keep in mind, we’re not looking to make an application that gets sold under the Telerik banner, rather this is an exercise to see how UX, design, architecture, and our team of eight can work together to produce and explain a brand new demo featuring some the RadControls for Silverlight and OpenAccess ORM. Plus at the end of it all you’ll have the full source code available for download, so if you really love what we did, pick up a few licenses of the Ultimate Collection to provide you with the tools we are using and use it as a base to extend upon.
(UX Concept for a CRM - neat, right?)
One of the unique things about how we’re approaching this new CRM demo is just how our team is set up. In our main office (in a galaxy far, far away) we have two User Experience (UX) experts, two front-end developers (the folks who work the magic into our samples and demos), and two developers. In my local office we’ve got myself, a Developer Evangelist, and one of my colleagues, a Brand Manager. In other words, people who understand the user (UX), understand the code (devs), can combine these into a cohesive, working application (front-end), and to explain and market this (Evangelism + Marketing), all for the benefit of our customers.
(Phone, Email, Office Communicator, and TeamPulse - essential collaboration tools!)
What would any good project be without some goals to achieve? First and foremost this is a new exercise in cross-team collaboration and how we’re presenting the process and story for our customers. This of course will be captured in hilarious anecdotes, unexpected cut-and-pastes from emails that go back and forth, and of course utilizing TeamPulse to co-ordinate tasks as Evangelism and Marketing get to start working in development sprints instead of our usual “Can it be done by tomorrow?” type schedule. This will help everyone to stay in sync and ensure that at any given point each person on the team knows where the other seven are with various stories and tasks.
Moving beyond this we also want to explore just what the workflow looks like when working in this type of setup. Thanks to the technology and tooling, Silverlight is the perfect candidate for a split between UX/design and development since we can handle everything via binding and viewmodels, allowing design and development to take place at the same time. All along we will be sure to highlight the different considerations as far as UX, architecture, and controls used (not-so-subtle hint- these will be future posts in this series!) are concerned. At the end of this process we’ll have given you the chance to see just how a LOB application can be put together using the Silverlight platform, from concept through delivery, and just how Telerik tools help to make this happen.
Of course we’re starting with Silverlight for a variety of reasons. First and foremost we’ve got a control suite known across the industry for reliability, innovation, and a host of controls to cover nearly any LOB scenario, so using RadControls for Silverlight is a no-brainer for any Silverlight application you are developing. We also just so happened to release the Metro theme for both RadControls for Silverlight and RadControls for WPF, allowing us to make a truly modern looking application with controls styled and ready to go. Oddly enough the product that we are all using to stay in sync with one another, TeamPulse, is built using our Silverlight tools, so we’ve got a proof-of-concept and agile project management in one. That covers platform, tools, and collaboration, which leaves us with data – since a CRM without data wouldn’t make much sense. OpenAccess will provide us with everything we need in an enterprise-grade ORM, allowing us to focus on our application instead of the plumbing to move data back and forth. And od course, any serious LOB application requires some testing, so Test Studio rounds out of technologies to provide easy to use yet powerful testing for our SL application.
(RadControls for Silverlight, OpenAccess ORM, TeamPulse, and Test Studio - Your Silverlight LOB Toolkit)
The Next Episode
Where do we go from here? Any good project starts with some exploration into UX, looking to discover just what the needs of the end user will be before writing a line or code or even opening up Visual Studio (or Blend, in their case!), so we’re going to go deep into the minds of a couple of our UX experts and see just how they would approach an application like a CRM. Once we have a better understanding of the needs that the end user has we can then begin on some design and architecture work, eventually leading to that first line of code being written. So grab yourself some trials of the above four suites so you'll be able to see first-hand just what we're going to be using and stay tuned!
Evan Hutnick works as a Developer Evangelist for Telerik specializing in Silverlight and WPF in addition to being a Microsoft MVP for Silverlight. After years as a development enthusiast in .Net technologies, he has been able to excel in XAML development helping to provide samples and expertise in these cutting edge technologies. You can find him on Twitter @EvanHutnick.