Enhanced Live Catalogs at DMCommunity.org

A few years ago, I wrote a web application that allowed professional communities to support Live Catalogs of different software tools. The “live” means that a product catalog is automatically updated whenever the profiles of products included into the catalog are added or updated by their authors. Initially I created a catalog of constraint solvers for the CP 2013 conference. Last year, I contributed this software to the Decision Management Community (www.DMCommunity.org) where we created 6 different catalogs of decision management tools – see https://dmcommunity.wordpress.com/tools/.

For each catalog, we supported large tables of all products and all features that gradually become too big. Even when we created a short view of each catalog it still was difficult for a user to compare certain tools. So, this month I finally found time to essentially enhance the Live Catalog software. The most important improvements include:

– An ability to see all included products on the main page and select up to 3 products

– An ability to generate a view of the selected products and to compare them feature-by-feature. The product comparison view is organized in a very compact way: rows contain features and columns contain products. This way a user may see all selected products on one page and only scrolling down to compare different product features.

This new interface is quite intuitive and similar to the traditional web-based product comparison when you try to buy for example a computer: you may chose several computers and then compare their specifications feature-by-feature.

The new catalogs saved all previously entered product profiles and you may look at them now from here.  We also added a new Catalog of the DMN Supporting Tools, and I naturally used OpenRules as a test product.

At the end of this post, I cannot help boasting a bit about my implementation experience. For this web application with relatively complex internal logic, I used OpenRules Dialog. I may tell you that I wrote the entire application using only Excel without an external Java code. I know that our customers like our product, but this time I experienced its flexibility by myself and pretty much enjoyed it. We will probably add this application to the standard OpenRules Dialog samples.

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