vendredi 1 octobre 2010

Usability - Its not a matter of Look and Feel

Look and Feel is one of the important factor in the software to attract people. OpenERP is one of the best management software now looking forward to the most important issue that is faced by majority softwares now a days and that is Usability of softwares. In the version 5.0 there ware many changes made compared to the version 4.2 and version 4.0.
Partner Form - Tiny ERP 4.2
A normal Tabbed form
Version 5.0 came up with the biggest changes in the view that was implementation of the search view where we have the primary search fields select="1" and extended search fields by select="2".
Search view with Primary fields
Second major change was in the form view, which was the six columns view on the top of the form instead of the normal 4.0's tabbed page form.
Partner Form - OpenERP 5.0
Visible six column top fields on all tabs 
Now finally in the upcoming OpenERP Version 6.0 we all are exiting about the new look. Usability is  one of the important factor which is being handled by Aline Preillon. Lets see the new Search view and the Form view of partner.
Partner search Form - Version 6.0
Form view in OpenERP 6.0 - Its not having big changes, but yes of course some of the widgets seems to be improved a lot. For example, One2Many widget has now having the paging facility, also we can edit and create a record in the Many2Many widget.
Partner form view - OpenERP 6.0
By looking at all above screens, we can easily identify the differences in version 6.0 compared to  versions 4.0 or 5.0.
Define your own customer Search View
Version 6.0 has done twice improvement in the user friendliness. The new type of view is introduced in  version 6.0 from which we can define our own custom search view for any form. These are on the fly discussion about the OpenERP Usability. Lets see in the detail what OpenERP mean by the Usability. 

Usability In Installation
Installation process is one more important factor in any software. Easy and assistive installation steps can make software easily understandable and usable. OpenERP makes it very easy with few click installation steps which allows user to install the software easily and according to their needs. Correct ordering of the installation steps can give the required information at desired place. Look at some of the wizard steps from the Version 5.0.
First Step : Single click module selection
The configuration wizard will be launched after installation. This wizard depended on the installed modules, and asked for more customization in it. Look at the account configuration wizard which ask for the accounting configurations. 
Account configuration wizard
OpenERP have stared to think on it since version 4.0. In version 5.0 it came up with the best idea that allows user to place their configuration wizard after installing or upgrading the modules.
Selection of the Business Applications
OpenERP configuration wizard in version 6.0 gives the more options for further customization. Look at the Account configuration wizard below.
Account configuration wizard in OpenERP Version 6.0
Now, OpenERP also takes care for all trunk modules to track them and suggest to the users during the configurations steps. Like if you install Financial Accounting application, it will suggest you some supportive modules for the accounting. Look at the screens below. Some of the module are selected by default and suggest you to install it to get the great experience.
Suggested module for the Accounting Support.

Usability in modularity of OpenERP

OpenERP is famous for its modularity approach. It can easily fit in small organizations, also allows user to expand their business with the lower expansion cost for management software(OpenERP). Version 6.0 seems to be more focused in the same area and the major changes we ever saw in the older versions, are going to be delivered in version 6.0. The major inter-module dependency is removed now. OpenERP will allow users to install application with the limited dependent modules. For example, Sale module will not ask mrp module to install, which was the biggest dependency in the older versions. Look at the module dependency graph below.
Object Dependency to Install Sale module. 
Now, OpenERP will act as a Business Application rather then ERP for specific business verticals. Look at the new menu structure which is specially designed to meet the Individual Application like Sales, Purchase, Stock, Accounts, Human Resource, Etc..
OpenERP Menus
Left: Version 5.0, Right: Version 6.0
The complete new menus structure is based on the Business Application. It is possible due to major changes in to the OpenERP modules inter-dependencies.

Usability in Menus
OpenERP 5.0 has many menus for the single object. Like for the Customer Invoice. It was designed to separate the object state wise like Draft, Confirm, Open, and sometimes depends on the Users.
OpenERP 5.0. Accounting Menu
Menu structure in new version is very easy to access, just single menu with the filters on the search view will allow user to filter the data according to the state on the single form. Look at the account menu in the below.
OpenERP 6.0. Accounting Menu
Customer Invoice List view with the filter options
Customer Invoice List View
Still there are so many things to discuss for the OpenERP Usability, You can go through the usability book.

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