Morning Flight Gold
Morning Flight on the Web
Posted: 23 Dec 2007 10:19 am
Thanks for the fast reply. I just thought of another question though it's off topic. Is there a way to tie MF into our website to generate online estimates? I would be thinking of a simplified or limited version (fewer options). If not how are others generating real time estimates online?
Happy Holidays to you and your family too, Hal!
. . . . . Craig Hofer
Loris Printing Joined: 05 May 2005 Posts: 79 Location: Sandusky, Ohio
Sometimes you're so far ahead of me it's scary. Pricing off the web is one of those hot-button topics you could write a book about. I'll try to keep it short and simple.
First, to answer your questions: 1. Not yet, but there will be. 2. I don't know of any web site that offers real-time estimates other than the internet counter price lists put out by companies such as http://www.vistaprint.com. Those are essentially pre-loaded databases with shopping carts. A true estimate would be just what's on your wish list: A dumbed-down, wizard driven version of Morning Flight where you can enter any quantity or size or run configuration, day or night, and have the web site deliver a selling price.
And that's exactly what's waiting in the wings. It's also the reason why Morning Flight estimating is product-oriented, not press based. You and I touched on that in a July 2006 post, but the roots go back another ten years, to 1996, when Unitac was still in the printing business and mailed a "do-it-yourself" pricing program to its customers. At that time, the technology hadn't caught up to us yet so we were forced to distribute the software on disk.
The technology is here now. Well, sort of. SoftVelocity, the manufacturer of Clarion (the language MF is written in) released a beta version of Clarion.NET to its core subscribers two weeks ago. We're one of those core subscribers. It's a beta, so we couldn't offer a web application even if such an application had already been written. But that $1,600 Clarion.NET beta will at least allow us to start writing. Here, in a nutshell, is what I said I'll keep short and simple:
All software can be divided into three basic categories: Desktop apps, web apps, and mobile (cell phone) apps. With desktop apps such as MF, the user interface and the business logic (the pricing engine) are all rolled into a single .exe file that resides at the user's desktop, either stand-alone or networked.
With web and mobile apps, the user interface and business logic are separated. The user's web site is usually witten in html, text files similar to those generated by programs such as MS Word, InDesign, and Quark. HTML was never meant to perform data processing, so the business logic has to be written in another language (ASP, PHP, Perl, to name a few). The tricky part is where the html text file has to send the user input to the ASP program on the web server, then fetch the results. It's not rocket science, but not trivial either.
What I'm trying to say is Morning Flight web apps are definitely coming. I've been waiting for Clarion.NET for a very long time. Being able to have your print buyers do their own estimating 24/7 is why Morning Flight does what it does, the way it does. It's also something that's not right around the corner.
As I'm writing this, snow is beginning to fall and is putting a white coating on the street and trees outside my window. On this day before Christmas, I'd like to wish everyone in the Morning Flight community a wonderful Holiday Season, and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year.
. . . . . Hal Heindel
Thanks for the insight on the web estimating, it sounds like a lot of work ahead for you!
. . . . . Craig Hofer