Countdown to homeWorks Version 6
12 January, 2010 | Web design
Good news! The next version of homeWorks (Version 6) is on the horizon. homeWorks has been totally re-written as a brand new web-based product designed for the internet age. This article contains advice and important pre-release information that needs your attention.
First off, here are some of the main benefits with Version 6:
- Access homeWorks from anywhere with an internet connection and a web browser (e.g. laptops, internet cafes and some mobile phones).
- See instant property updates to RT hosted property portals. New client and property entry wizards.
- No complicated and technical installation requirements.
- No stringent computer hardware requirements.
Version 6 relies on a broadband internet connection. It is therefore of utmost importance that your internet service provider (ISP) is supplying you with a top-class business connection. If the connection is slow or poor in quality, then Version 6 operability will suffer as a direct result.
Many internet consumers continue to pay their ISP without realising that it may be possible to improve or upgrade their internet service, in some cases for no extra cost. Our advice is to call your ISP now, and check that you are getting the best there is. You should ask for a high bandwidth business service with low contention. This essentially means an internet connection that is fast, and where the performance remains unaffected by any number of customers simultaneously using the service (i.e. during busy periods).
It may also be worth your time to compare other ISPs offering a service in your area. ISPs that ride off the back of the BT network have improved and are continuing to improve as BT upgrade their networks to cope with demand. The cable internet providers (e.g. Virgin Media) use different underlying hardware technology that is already highly reliable and future-proof by design. If business-quality cable internet is being offered in your area, it may be worth some consideration.
Since Version 6 relies on an internet connection, we recommend investment in a backup internet solution in the case of network failure. Whilst ISPs are usually quick to fix any problems, lengthy downtime should never be totally ruled out, and the problem could even be within your office computer network itself. A backup internet solution can be made available by way of a mobile internet dongle - a small gadget offered by any one of the major mobile phone networks that you plug into a USB port and gain instant near-broadband speed internet for as long as it takes for the fixed line fault to be put right. Prices start at around £7 per month on a contract basis, although it is our understanding that some of the mobile networks are now offering contract-free solutions with a fee structure based on usage. Please contact your preferred mobile phone provider for details on their mobile internet solutions.
Version 6 will not support the now very dated printing template system that utilises the WP editor in earlier versions of homeWorks. Templates for letters and particulars will need to be in Microsoft Word format. This means that you will need a licensed copy of Microsoft Word 2000 or later in order to create and edit all Version 6 templates (Word 97 and older is not compatible). Customers that are currently using Microsoft Word templates for printing will have a relatively simple job to convert and upload the templates for use in Version 6 - more details on the conversion will be made available at a later date. Customers that do not currently print using Microsoft Word templates should begin creating their most frequently used templates as soon as possible, and certainly prior to release of Version 6. Full help on creating and editing Microsoft Word templates can be found by clicking this link
Backups & Security
Version 6 is web-based, which means all your homeWorks data will be stored on secure web servers and automatically backed up in several locations. There are 2 'data-centres' recruited for this purpose. Each data-centre has backup generators and a number of fail-safe measures in place to ensure constant connectivity for all users.
It is likely that you will continue to keep copies of generated letters/particulars on any of your office computers, so it would be sensible to maintain your existing backup system to deal with such files. You can configure which folders and files to backup from within your backup software.
Version 6 is accessed by way of logging in through your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc). At the login screen, you will be prompted to enter your office code, username and password. If there are more than 5 failed login attempts, the user account will be locked (to prevent unwanted access). The user is then emailed instructions on how to re-activate the account.
Version 6 is currently in beta testing, and we are working hard to ensure the final release is bug-free. Once the beta tests have passed careful scrutiny, version 6 will become available to all customers. We anticipate having a full and final version of homeWorks out on general release in the spring of 2010.
Previous ongoing development of homeWorks has always been staged and built on existing homeWorks versions, which over a period of time made the product look and feel dated. By harnessing newer cutting-edge development technologies, we have totally re-written homeWorks from scratch, with our aim to maintain existing functionality, whilst bringing you something fresh and more user-friendly. It has taken some time to reach these goals, but the time has been well spent, and we are confident that version 6 will exceed all expectations.