WPF user claims language boosts business

Tools like WPF make it possible to develop good architecture that looks attractive, says software vendor

A New Zealand-based adopter of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) language, claims its user interface properties is winning the company much more business.

Auckland-based independent software vendor (ISV) Aderant makes software for professional services companies, with a core system serving lawyers for around 12 years. The company cites SAP as a competitor in industry-based ERP systems, but claims success by specialising in certain verticals.

Aderant, owned by a US private equity firm, employs 40 staff with software development skills, in Albany, including QA, architecture and engineering.

Director of product engineering William Davis says WPF, a capability or extension of the Microsoft .Net language, has been around for two years, with a “smattering” of users in New Zealand.

The advantage of WPF, he says, is that it can let developers easily install advanced user interfaces, meaning they don’t have to run installs on every machine. It is also a flexible language that makes for dynamic web pages.

The company began re-writing its core product a year ago, under the Expert brand, building up a framework of components in the new language, a process it expects to take two years to complete. Davis presented to Microsoft Tech Ed in Auckland last week on the advantages of WPF, citing its stability, and user interface capabilities.

“The number one thing that sells software is usability. Engineers are poor at graphics and graphic designers make poor engineers. If you have a bad UI, you don’t get to sell it to the customer,” he told the conference.

“You make the mundane pleasurable and if we make the screen bad, we make the users life hell. We need to have good architecture and approaches. Quality doesn’t mean a low bug count. It means a happy user.”

The customer satisfaction bar has changed but tools like WPF make it possible to develop good architecture that looks attractive.”

Since adopting WPF, Davis says Aderant’s success rate concerning bids for work has increased from 10% to 90%.

Aderant developer Mark Greene also told Tech Ed that a simple deployment of systems is only achievable through the web, but WPF gives more options. Users need a rich desktop experience on the web, and WPF and the related Microsoft Silverlight tool helps achieve this.

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