Microsoft Visual Studio 2005
Customer Solution Case Study
/ / Payment-Processing Leader Enhances Products and Development Experience Alike
Country or Region:United States
TPI Software, a Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner based in Redmond, Washington, produces innovative payment-processing solutions.
To maintain its leadership position, TPI Software needed to be able to easily enhance its products for ease of installation and updates and higher performance.
TPI Software standardized its product code base on Microsoft Visual C#® 2005 and the Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005 development system.
Easier installations and updates for customers
Dramatic time-to-market improvements
Simplified long-distance collaboration / “By helping us to dramatically reduce hand coding in the data layer, Visual Studio 2005 cut our overall work on the SmartPayments Server product by nearly one-third.”
Andy Chau, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer, TPI Software
As a pioneer in the development of integrated payment-processing solutions for businesses of all sizes, TPI Software works hard to maintain its leadership position in a competitive industry. To meet its customers’ needs for easier product installation and updates and continually higher performance, TPI Software developers decided to standardize their products’ code base on Microsoft® Visual C#® and the Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005 development system. As a result, they are able to update and maintain their products to meet the needs of current and future customers in an efficient manner. They also have been able to implement innovative features, reduce time-to-market for one product by nearly one-third, and vastly simplify communication and collaboration among a team that spans three time zones.
Since its founding in 2001, TPI Software has pioneered advanced solutions for processing credit and debit cards; electronic check services; electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards and food stamps; and electronic signature, check-image capture, and retrieval services. These solutions are TPI SmartPayments Server, which runs on the Microsoft®Windows Server™ 2003 Enterprise x64 Edition operating system and the Microsoft SQL Server™ 2000 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) database management system; TPI SmartPayments Client, which runs on the Windows® XP Professional x64 Edition operating system; and TPI SmartPayments Mobile, which runs on the Windows Mobile® operating systemversion 5.0.
By delivering such innovative solutions, the company has earned an enthusiastic and loyal customer following. However, like any other business in a competitive industry, TPI Software faces the challenges of keeping current customers satisfied and anticipating the needs of new customers.
For example, many TPI Software customers are smaller businesses without an IT staff, and so they need an especially easy installation process. In addition, all TPI Software customers must regularly update applications to comply with evolving industry transaction-processing practices, and so they need an easy enhancement process. To meet such needs, TPI Software must regularly maintain and update a code base that by 2005 comprised more than 100 modules and 2 million lines of code written in the Microsoft Visual Basic®, Visual J++®, Visual C++®, and Visual C#® development tools.
To address these challenges, TPI Software executives decided to standardize their products’ code base on Visual C# and to do so using the Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005 development system.
As TPI Software Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer Andy Chau explains, he and his colleagues selected Visual Studio 2005 largely because of such features as its support for Windows Forms user interface (UI) enhancements, enhanced support for the AutoUpdate property, support for Microsoft .NET Framework version 2.0 native implementation of Microsoft SQL Server 2000 (64bit), an updated data-set designer, refactoring, enhanced debugging, and anenhanced migration tool. Chau’s team also liked the enhanced collaboration functionality in Visual Studio 2005 Team Edition for Software Architects.
By using Visual Studio 2005 to standardize the code base for the TPI Software products, Chau and his colleagues look forward to providing their customers with easier installations, simple updates, and higher performanceand to being able to do so rapidly and efficiently.
Improving Customer Operations and User Experience
For TPI Software customers whose successful operations depend on a simple and speedy installation process, TPI SmartPayments Server, SmartPayments Client, and SmartPayments Mobile will feature the Windows Forms UI enhancements supported by Visual Studio 2005. To simplify updates, such as the business-logic updates required for compliance with changing regulations for processing transactions, the products will feature the enhanced AutoUpdate functionality provided by Visual Studio 2005.
In particular, the TPI SmartPayments Server product will feature higher performance thanks to the porting of more than 200 stored Structured Query Language (SQL) procedures into a native .NET Framework–based runtime. (The Framework is an integral component of Windows that provides a programming model and runtime for Web services, Web applications, and smart client applications.) As Chau explains, developers were able to do the porting thanks to the support in Visual Studio 2005 for the .NET Framework 2.0 native implementation of Microsoft SQL Server 2000 (64-bit).
Streamlining Development for Rapid Time-to-Market
To deliver such benefits to TPI Software customers, developers are working efficiently with the help of Visual Studio 2005. As Chau explains, the benefits of a streamlined development environment were apparent from the very start, thanks to the support in Visual Studio 2005 for Microsoft ASP.NET version 2.0. “This capability provides developers a ‘virtual Internet server’ on the development platform, eliminating the need to install Internet Information Services,” he says.
Further into the project, other productivity benefits became equally apparent to Chau and his colleagues. For example, thanks to the updated data-set designer in Visual Studio 2005, developers saw an 80 percent reduction in the need for hand coding in the data layertraditionally a tedious and error-prone process. “By helping us to dramatically reduce hand coding in the data layer, Visual Studio 2005 cut our overall work on the SmartPayments Server product by nearly one-third,” he says.
Through the support in Visual Studio 2005 for refactoring, the team is enjoying another 80 percent reduction in effort, specifically in the task of reformatting data structures for performance gains. Still other productivity improvements come from the product’s enhanced migration tool, which the team is using to transform 30,000 lines of Java code into Visual C#a process that Chau says would have been nearly impossible without the tool.
Similar gains are made possible through the enhanced debugging capabilities of Visual Studio 2005, which Chau credits with helping to reduce the time and effort required for that phase of development. For example, by enabling partial recompiles, the Edit and Continue feature cuts the time required for a frequently repeated task from five minutes down to just a few seconds. In addition, NewVisualizer and DataTips simplify data viewing, and New Processes simplifies the setting of breakpoints.
Enhancing Collaboration for
Visual Studio 2005 is also helping Chau’s team to save significant energy and effort by enabling unprecedented collaboration. For example, TPI Software developers working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Atlanta, Georgia, use a virtual private network (VPN) to access the source-code repository at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, with the same ease as the developers based there. “This level of collaboration is possible for one reason only: the optimization of Visual Studio 2005 for VPN,” Chau points out.
Streamlining team development is helping TPI Software not only with product updates, but also with long-term product maintenance. “We’re enjoying a more predictable solution life cycle, and that translates into ongoing savings in the time and effort required to keep our products running the way our customers want them to,” he says. “That’s good news for TPI Software and for its customers, too.”
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