Caliach Vision ERP Getting Started Tutorial
Caliach Vision is a generic manufacturing ERP software system. Generic because it is not specifically tailored to one particular industry or manufacturing sector. It can be adapted for use in many different types of manufacturing environment, from chemicals to electronic assembly and from sports cars to perfumes. There are certain industries that need specific software but they are in the minority. Most manufacturing business have the same basic administrative processes and it is rare that an industry is so special in the way it operates that it cannot comfortably use the generic structures and functions of Caliach Vision.
However, different industries have different needs and Caliach Vision provides for this with numerous preferences, settings, options and custom capabilities that control program behaviour or add to it. Many of the choices available would be set up when the program is first installed but many can be switched on when your need arises.
This tutorial section is an introduction to the functionality in Caliach Vision that makes it so flexible in the way it can be used.
Company details is the first port of call when starting out. It is in here that you tell the system all about your business and other operational settings.
System Preferences control both the display of information and the collection of data. The example illustrated in Fig. 9.1 shows various switches for parts.
Both company details and system preferences are part of a single set of rules and values that apply to the entire datafile operation.
System, Group and User Settings
A further set of rules and values apply at a user level and this is combined with the access and security arrangements for the system. You can have any number of users set up who can log into the data, subject of course to the licensed concurrent user limit. Each user can belong to any number of Groups. These Groups are typically used to afford menu access privileges, so for example you may have a Sales group, a Purchase group, etc. If a user is set to belong to two or more groups she will be granted the privileges of both. Furthermore, her privileges can be enhanced, or reduced, at a user-level.
At each of the Group and User levels, and additionally at a System level there are what we call Settings. You will see these if you now operate File -- System Manager -- Privileges and Settings ?. If you select either Group, User or System tab panes, you will see inside a further tab pane section of the window that contains all the settings for a selected group or user or the system ?.
Some settings only exist at the user level but most can be set at each of the three levels. They apply in a hierarchical manner, so that all users have the System settings, then any group membership will lead to those group settings being added, or overwritten, and finally the users settings are added or overwritten. Some settings, such as Custom Reports, Custom Features and Options are additive, the others overwrite the higher level values. By way of example let us look at the ScratchPads, and we should start at the System level, so click on System on the upper tab pane and then the ScratchPads inside tab pane.
The column data for the four ScratchPads can be customised here to suit the different needs of each user. At the upper left there is a dropdown list of the four ScratchPads and below that the list of available data fields that can be used. In the case of Customers and Suppliers this also includes address and contact data. The list on the right is a list of the fields and associated headings that make up the ScratchPad design.
To add a field, simply drag it from the field list and drop it onto the design list. To delete a field from the design list, click on it and press the Del key on your keyboard. If you want to change a position of a column, drag-and-drop within the design list. The standard field descriptions, by default, go in as the headings and it is a good idea to shorten these so a sensible heading text applies. To do this, double-click on the line and then you can edit the heading text within the list.
Note that the justification of the column; left, right or centre, is determined automatically from the fields data type. A number field is always justified right, for example. So it is not a good idea to have the last column a number field because it ends up well off to the right.
You can also add calculated columns, for example an sales price in a foreign currency, or the 7th to 12th characters of the part number which may be useful so that you can sort by this then select a group of parts for reporting purposes. Calculations can be extremely complex involving the full power of a rich set of functions, but this is getting beyond the scope of this tutorial.
Typically, you design a system-level standard ScratchPad which every user has and then make a tailored ScratchPad at a user or group level for special needs.
Options can be thought of as program switches or controls in a similar fashion to system preferences but as they are part of the settings system they abide by the settings hierarchical nature. There are over 130 options and each has a name with a potential value. Some, because of what they do, can only be set at a system level so apply to the operation of the program for everyone.
Options control the behaviour of the program and are commonly used to implement industry-specific needs, or at least some feature or behaviour that someone in the past as needed.
The Options tab pane contains a single large text field in which options can be entered followed by an equals (=) character followed by an appropriate value. At the bottom left of the tab pane is a Options List button which opens a window containing all the options appropriate to the setting level ?. Each has a short description of what it does. You can drag-and-drop option lines onto the options text field to save typing.
Options can also exist at a License and Terminal level ?. License options apply to all datafiles used under your software license and Terminal options apply to a particular Caliach Vision installation and so the computer being used.
A user can change their own settings by using File -- Preferences -- User Settings, if they have privileges to do so.
Caliach Vision is a program written in a very advanced object-based rapid application development program called Omnis Studio. With every licensed installation, but not with the demonstration, a full design-capable license of Omnis Studio is provided. With this you can expand the power of the standard program by adding your own reports. In fact we go much further than that, we provide in open source form copies of every one of the more than 350 standard report designs so that you can use them as a starting point to designing your own.
All the necessary tools are provided to create, modify, extend, manage and then deploy custom reports to all users that may need to use them. A comprehensive Change Management System ? ensures that your customisation is seamlessly integrated into the normal standard program and can migrate simply from one version to the next. This substantially avoids the cost of system enhancement from one version to another so you can easily take advantage of new features and improvements as and when they are released.
Once you have designed a custom report and deployed it to all working copies of Caliach Vision, you will then need to tell the system where the report is to be used and by whom. This is achieved in the Custom Reports tab pane of the Settings. Any reports in Caliach Vision can be either substituted by, or supplemented with one or more custom designs.
So for example you may have a number of different Invoice designs for different circumstances. In this case when a user prints an invoice, she will be prompted by the program to choose which design to use. A case in point would be one design to be used when printed on headed stationary, and one for sending in PDF attachment to an email which would need full company details and maybe a logo graphic.
The demonstration program has no customisation capabilities, so we cannot go further here into how the process works. However, suffice it to say that after no more than a day of training, most reasonably competent individuals can master straight-forward report customisation. Fig. 9.6 illustrates some of the properties of a report field, as seen in the design environment.
Custom Features and Plug-Ins
Reports can sometimes have their limitations. In some situations the program seeks out and analyses data before printing the report and in those cases where you want to customise the analysis a simple custom report is insufficient. There are also occasions where you may want a complex report drawing from multiple sources of data which means that a customised standard report will not do. In such situations, a report can be produced from a Custom Feature. A custom feature is essentially just a window designed for a purpose that can be opened from the User menu on the main menu bar. Such custom features have to be registered in the Custom Features tab pane of the Settings in a similar way to Custom Reports.
In the demonstration program, operate User -- Demonstration -- Demonstration Custom Window. That will open a simple example with a button that displays a message. Not very useful, but in fact that button could have done just about anything!
In fact there are a number of Custom Features built-in to the standard program so could be set up by you in the settings. Operate File -- Preferences -- User Settings, click on the Custom Features tab and then click into the first line of the list. Enter Calculators in the Section column, then wOptBushCalculator in the window class column. Type this exactly with the same upper and lower case characters, then tab and the title will be entered for you. Save the settings. Now have a look at the User menu and you should see an extra Calculator group and a menu item for Bushing Weight Calculator.
Custom Features can add pretty much any functionality to Caliach Vision. The opening of the window can install menus, connect to other data sources, operate internet activities, the list is endless!
It does not end with Custom Features either. Caliach Vision can be extended also by plug-ins. A plug-in is a complete library of functionality that is placed in the PlugIns folder within the Caliach Vision installation. After you log in to a Caliach Vision any libraries in that folder are automatically opened. Depending on the design, additional menus would be added to the menu bar through which you could interface with its functionality. This approach is most useful where you want to add substantial additional functionality that is best maintained in a self-contained programming unit. For example, if you had a substantial rental service as part of your business model, a suite of appropriate functions looking after the rental side of the business could be developed and deployed as a plug-in.
Custom Code Hooks
All the above forms of customisation are in effect additions to the standard Caliach Vision program workings. However, sometimes what may be needed is to intercept the normal standard program flow to effect some custom activity. Caliach Vision provides for this with a program object that in effect provides specific hooks into the standard program flow. We call this oCustom1 hooks.
This sort of customisation fits perfectly into the Change Management System and permits you to carry out many types of custom activity within the main flow of the program. Often such hooks can trigger the opening of additional customisation at an appropriate point in the normal working of the program. This method suitably isolates your customisation while permitting its smooth interface with the program.
This is particularly useful when you need to collect extra data during normal transactions. For example, if you work in Jewellery, you often need to record the exact weight of items as well as the normal quantity during stock transactions. Multiple units of measure stock management becomes possible using oCustom1 hook customisation.
We have briefly reviewed here the flexibility of the Caliach Vision system to accommodate most business needs, regardless of how special they are. In the following section of the tutorial, we will look at how the system is best implemented in a business and what tools are provided to make this as painless as possible.