Thank you all for your generous support in helping Windward achieve official Microsoft Gold Application Developer status!
Gold is the highest competency level that Microsoft offers, and renewing this status offers great benefits not only to Windward as a company but to you as valued Windward customers.
Microsoft Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
One of the requirements before becoming a certified partner is to conduct an annual Microsoft Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSAT). More than 50 of our customers responded, and we were able to gain valuable insight into how you implement – and value – our products. Based on your responses we discovered the following:
We also received many suggestions for improvement (thank you!) in our product line as well as questions. We’re grateful for the feedback that you have provided in this survey and that you took the time to tell us how we can improve.
We recognize that there are always individuals who have less than positive experiences with Windward’s products. Several of the survey respondents detailed their specific concerns in the comments section, and we were able to address them directly when we had email addresses.
But there were some common questions, and for the benefit of everyone, I’ll take the remainder of this post to provide answers and insights. As some chose to take the survey anonymously, we felt this was the best way to get the answers out.
But first, a quick look at how we recertified and what our being a Microsoft gold partner will mean for you.
How We Became a Gold Certified Partner
Microsoft requires that gold-partner vendors do the following:
- Provide 5 impressive client references
- Conduct an annual Microsoft Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Survey
- Achieve either:
- 4 Technical Certifications by different individuals, or
- Meet rigorous testing by having your product pass the qualifying application test. Windward is certified for:
The program benefits allow us to better service our customers. We get:
- Access to Microsoft preview releases and specifications. Microsoft releases software at a fast pace and being a partner gives Windward access to the newest software months before it becomes available to the general public. This allows us to test and build against the latest Microsoft products to ensure that at release we are fully functioning. It also allows Windward to stay ahead of the curve when specifications like file formats change.
- Corroboration that Windward is always up-to-date. In order to achieve certification year after year, our products have to pass the rigorous testing of Microsoft’s latest products. This ensures that Windward software will always function with the most current environments.
- A direct line to Microsoft-certified engineers and support. Many of you take advantage of Windward’s help desk, and we always strive to give you a response as quickly as possible. As a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner, Windward receives access to the certified Microsoft engineers and developers. This will help us to figure things out quickly and deliver you results on time.
Your Survey Questions, Answered
As I said above, we compiled a list of questions and answers that we’re posting below in order to benefit everyone. In some cases, we linked to the appropriate resource or more detailed answer.
QUESTION: Where can I find a list of changes and feature additions between versions of Windward software?
ANSWER: Windward posts its new features on the documentation wiki in our What’s New section. For updates of changes between minor versions, including bug fixes, you can always review the release notes pages for AutoTag and the Windward Engine.
QUESTION: Where can I find more detailed documentation and tutorials?
ANSWER: Windward has worked hard in recent years to update its documentation and make the user onboarding process easier. We have recently gone through our entire documentation wiki to convert to a newer format with better searching and more intuitive instructional paths. We have also added a large library of videos with text step-by-step guides. Our Windward Engines ship with a product called Catapult, which contains ready-to-run samples along with developer led videos and step by step instructions for many use cases. Lastly, we deployed Windward Tutor as an online instructional website with animated graphics and quizzes new users to interactively walk through basic concepts. Our recent update of the AutoTag Getting Started Guide launches automatically after installation and includes a large library of samples, videos and step by step guides. Check this guide often as it is constantly being updated with each new version.
QUESTION: Where can I find more assistance and samples demonstrating more technical concepts?
ANSWER: As mentioned in the previous question, Catapult and the AutoTag Getting Started Guide are great references as well as our documentation wiki. In the Sample Templates section of the AutoTag Getting Started Guide, under Additional you will find Tag Tutorials for both XML- and SQL-based data sources. These samples show the use of each tag in various scenarios. If there is a question that can’t be answered by these generic sources, you can always ask our friendly staff at the Windward Helpdesk.
QUESTION: What license model should I use to ensure that I can support testing by multiple clients in a development environment?
ANSWER: The Windward Developer System license key is available as a single Engine license or combine with an AutoTag license in a single key. The developer system engine is single threaded and intended for testing on a developer desktop. The Windward Test Engine license is what you would need to purchase as it supports multi-threaded operations for testing multi-threaded application calls.
QUESTION: License updates cause interruptions. What is the best process to update a license?
ANSWER: The best way to update a Windward license in the Windward Engine products is to enter the new key in your WindwardReports.properties file (Java) or APPNAME.EXE.CONFIG file (.NET) after the license= statement. Then stop the application running the Windward Engine and restart it to trigger the license update in the new process. Details on updating your AutoTag license key can be found here. All Windward license information is kept in the article All about Windward Licenses on our documentation wiki.
QUESTION: How is Windward continuing to improve its support for Java?
ANSWER: Windward has continued to improve its support for the Java-based Engine since the product’s inception. Our development staff is constantly testing against the very latest versions of Java (1.7 as of this writing) to ensure our operations work seamlessly. In the past we have moved to a new charting engine that is the same between Java and .NET Engine, and in early 2015 we will bring our PDF generation in house instead of relying on iText for PDF output. This will provide more accuracy and better support for right-to-left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew.
QUESTION: How can I increase the performance of my reports when developing large reports with many SQL queries?
ANSWER: The connection between the SQL server and the Windward Engine is the single biggest bottleneck you will encounter in our reporting solution. Table indexing and minimized use of temporary tables will increase the performance of your SQL queries. You can also make use of the QUERY tag to execute a query once and then refer to the result set by variable reference throughout your report. Another tip is to take a look at any forEach tags, especially nested ones, to see if you are returning the optimum results.
QUESTION: I have a requirement for a template creation wizard in order to assist in the creation of the template in a process oriented manner, how can I accomplish this?
ANSWER: Currently Windward does not offer an Interview Wizard to walk a user through creating a template step by step. Windward is used in many different industries for different purposes and it would be difficult to provide a process template for each document that is required. You do have the ability to use PODs to capture large pieces of templates for reuse as well as the step by step option in the AutoTag Getting Started Guide. We are investigating adding an interview wizard to our products in 2015. Check my blog regularly for updates.
QUESTION: How can I prevent the data connection window from downloading the entire schema of a database upon connection?
ANSWER: There is an option on the data connection details window titled Read in metatdata, if you uncheck this option, the schema will not be downloaded. Furthermore, you can use the Build SQL Schema option in the AutoTag Manager Tools section to create an XML file of the database schema and then edit that XML file to only the items you want to access in your database. You can then add this XML file as an SQL Schema datasource, which will process the connection instantly.
QUESTION: Does Windward provide a version of its API for IOS?
ANSWER: Windward currently does not provide an API for IOS. We do have customers who have made use of MONO on IOS to run our .NET Engine with varying degrees of success. The fundamental change between objective C and Java would require a complete rewrite of the Windward Engine. It is something we have looked into and we will consider in our future roadmap planning.
QUESTION: How can I use advanced XPath functions with my Windward tags?
ANSWER: The current XPath 1.0 library only supports a limited set of XPath functions. Windward will be upgrading its core XPath libraries to support XPath 2.0 in Q1 of 2015. This will allow the usage of more advanced XPath functions. You can keep up to date with new features by visiting our What’s New section of our documentation wiki as well as my personal blog where I post development roadmap updates.
QUESTION: How can I enter XPath queries without needing to build the XPath statement in text?
ANSWER: You can use Windward’s always evolving XPath wizard to select nodes from your XML structure and apply filters and sorting to return your results. In 2015, we will be restructuring our data selection wizards to add more functionality and make them more intuitive. Stay tuned to my blog for more details.
QUESTION: Why is Windward’s .NET API namespace built in a non-standard or unconventional format?
ANSWER: Windward’s Engine was built first in Java and the API naming conventions came from those roots. This does make the naming somewhat non-standard in the .NET Engine. Unfortunately, correcting this would be a very drastic change and could cause instability in our core code.
What other questions do you have?
Have an issue but didn’t take the survey? I invite you to post your comments and questions below.
And if you’re among those in the 98% who are satisfied and would recommend us, please contact our marketing team and share your story and testimonial!
Author: Ryan Fligg
Ryan, Windward's Sales Engineer, has been with Windward since 2006 in many roles as a sales engineer, IT specialist and account executive. Ryan's background fuels his desire to guide Windward's product development. He now works on the future vision of Windward offerings through creating the product roadmap, responding to customer requests, and communicating what Windward is doing and where it’s headed.
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