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Accpac 6.1 Development Kick-off

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On to 6.1A

Last month we shipped Sage ERP Accpac 6.0A and started working on Sage ERP Accpac 6.1A. Accpac 6.0 introduced our new Web Based technologies with the new Portal, Dashboards, Inquiry tool and Quote to Orders. With Accpac 6.1 we are now looking to fill out the main Accounting functionality by offering Web versions of G/L, A/R, A/P, I/C, O/E, P/O, Bank and Tax (i.e. everything except Payroll, PJC and some options products). This blog posting will fill in a few more details of the plan that was outlined in the Product Roadmap posting.

There will be additional features beyond moving all the screens to the Web, but we’ll talk about those in other blog postings. This posting is going to concentrate on the logistics and process we will be taking to move all these Accounting screens to the Web. One of the other features we will be adding is support for additional Browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Below is a picture of Edmund Tong and Accpac Jack with the Portal running on an iPad in Safari and on a Galaxy Tab in Chrome.

Edmund is a key Accpac development manager and will be demoing these at the Sage Insights conference in South Africa in a couple of weeks. If you happen to be in the Drakensberg then, be sure to check out his sessions.

Remember that as we move these screens to the Web, we will leave the current VB screens in place. As the new screens are developed we will switch to running these from the new Web based Portal. But you will still be able to run the older Windows based Accpac Desktop like you did in 5.6A and run the familiar screens from there.

How to Move Thousands of Screens to the Web

The challenge we have is to move over one thousand screens to the Web quickly, but we want to do a better job than just moving all the VB screens unmodified. We want to add definite learnability and productivity enhancements in the process.

Many screens are already very simple to use, and many others are used very infrequently or are only setup by Business Partners once. We don’t want to spend much time on these screens but concentrate our effort on the screens the customers work with the most. So a lot of work has gone into categorizing screens and determining how much effort we need to put into them.

UCD Porting Guidelines

We have developed a set of User Interface guidelines that categorize our User Interface forms into a number of categories like: Setup Screens, Printing and Processing Screens, Inquiry Screens and Document Entry Screens. Then we have a set of guidelines for each type and a set of instructions on how they look currently in VB and how we want them to look in the Web.

Below is an example showing how some elements look currently and then how we want them to look now. Along with some instructions. Below is one of these from the rather long porting guidelines on our development Wiki.

Porting Tool

We have also developed a “porting tool” which will read VB projects and interpret their screen layouts and then generate an Accpac 6 declarative layout based on the original VB screen, but trying to follow as many of the porting guidelines from the UCD document as possible.

This was a fairly challenging tool to write. Forms in VB are laid out using (x,y) co-ordinates; whereas, in the Web everything is laid out using layout managers. Plus we wanted to do transformations like from notebook tabs to disclosure panels.  But the tool was quite successful and saves us a lot of work creating the starting forms with all the controls bound to the fields in the SData feeds. We are just in the process of adding this to the SDK so ISVs can make use of the tool to start converting their VB based forms to the Web in the same way.

Selected UCD

We aren’t going to port all the screens in this way. We will select specific high usage screens where we want to target greater productivity and learnability and for these we will apply specific UCD treatments to work to improve these screens more than the others. Below is an early prototype of A/R Invoice entry that we are now using for user testing.

We will sit users down in front of this and observe them entering Invoices to see where they have trouble so we can tweak the design to smooth these out. Performing this sort of User Centered Design can be quite time consuming since we have to go through several rounds of this testing/refining before we get a design our users are most happy with.


We are starting to move all the forms for A/R and O/E first. Although we won’t be releasing the product until all the modules are done, we will be demoing and beta’ing the applications as they are completed so we can get early feedback from partners and customers early in the development cycle so in can still incorporate all good feedback into the product before it ships.

The development team is extremely excited with building on the results of 6.0A and now running with it to move all of Accpac to the Web. We are looking forward to an exciting and rewarding development cycle for 6.1A.

Accpac development is performed by teams at several locations, but the largest is the Richmond R&D Team:

Written by smist08

January 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm

15 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Geek Fetch, smist08. smist08 said: Blogged on the kick-off of Sage ERP Accpac 6.1A development: […]

  2. Thanks fo rthe post Stephen.. very interesting. I am looking forward to the new UI’s and the wide browser support. I have never heard of Accpac Jack before, is he a new creation too?


    January 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm

  3. Smith,

    I have installed Accpac 6.0 in my Laptop. The Installation was very smooth. ((In Earlier accpac version i used to do lot of settings in IIS.)). I can able to login and able to view Inquiry pages. I love the sort option for any column fantastic..

    Now i have latest iPad device. Can i access the portal via Wifi in iPad. Laptop & iPad was connected with same wifi router. i try to connect ipad Safari browser. but i didn’t worked.


    February 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    • Officially we only support IE 7 and 8. However you can access the Portal from an iPad (or Safari on your PC). The problem is that the CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) aren’t optimized for Safari and quite a few elements will draw incorrectly. We are just in the process of correcting this for 6.1.


      February 8, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    • Hi Rengarajan,
      Have you installed with SData as well? Is this url working for you? e.x. http://localhost/SDataServlet/sdata/sageERP/accpac/DEODAT

      replace the ‘localhost’ with your server name, and the ‘DEODAT’ with your 6 digits company id.

      Could you share any SData installation story?



      March 16, 2011 at 11:41 pm

  4. […] was 2.0 and we felt absorbing those changes could jeopardize our release date. Now that we are onto Accpac 6.1 development we have moved up to the current version of GWT which is 2.1 and are excitedly awaiting […]

  5. […] that 6.1A development is ramping up and we are on the journey, I thought I’d blog in a bit more detail on how we are […]

  6. […] many Windows desktop applications over to being Web based and optionally cloud hosted such as Sage ERP Accpac 6.1A. The key point being that Sage is already operating in these worlds and expanding our presence […]

  7. […] mostly implemented. Beta will be starting soon. It’s been seven months or so since we kicked off development and we’re all starting to look forward to release. I started to show a number of screens from the […]

  8. […] Accpac 6.1 Development Kick-off « Stephen Smith’s Blog. Category(s): Sage Accpac ERP Our new […]

  9. Hi
    I posted a link to this article on our blog.
    Hope it is okay.
    Keep up the good work, I will refer to some of your other articles as well if it is okay with you.

    Abri Greyling

    September 16, 2011 at 6:26 am

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