Personalizing Kinetic Calendar

By Derick Larson

Kinetic Calendar is possibly my favorite product—and not just because we get fewer support calls. Kinetic Calendar gives you an entirely new way to view your Remedy data and opens it up to a much wider audience.

The most common question about Kinetic Calendar is how to let customers view the events they want without making multiple calendars. The idea is to give the customer a lot of data and let them “filter” down to what is important to them. This lets you have one main calendar that customers can personalize for their own requirements.

For example, you have one change management calendar that multiple departments use to view their changes. You could create multiple calendars, but that is limiting if a customer wants to see the changes for multiple departments. Filtering lets the customer personalize the calendar, without requiring you to make any changes to the actual calendar definition.

Filtering is done two ways.

First, there is an event type for a calendar called Filtered that lets you select fields (from the BMC Remedy form you are using for your data) for your customers to filter the individual events. You can set the order of the fields and even set a default. The fields are listed along the top of the web display of the calendar for the customer to choose.

The second method allows you to put parts of your qualification in the URL that is used to display the calendar. You have to build your own web page to collect the parameters and call the URL (Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey are perfect for this), but you can really add to your customers experience by letting them make selections before the calendar is displayed. This method uses a feature called Parameter Values, and can be combined with the filters.

Combining the two methods together allows you to present very informative and personalized views into your own BMC Remedy data. For example, a service provider could see events by one or multiple companies, or their customers can be limited to just their own tickets, but still have the ability to filter based on other criteria like priority, status or assigned to group.

Let us know what cool things you’ve done with Kinetic Calendar—we love to share ideas and experiences with our customers.

So You Want to Change the Out-Of-The-Box Workflow or Forms?

By Derick Larson

So you love our Kinetic Data products (of course), but there is this one thing that your customers are asking for that means you might have to alter the out-of-the-box workflow or forms.

What Now?

Have no fear. Remember that behind the scenes Kinetic Request, Kinetic Survey, and Kinetic Calendar are all built on BMC Remedy, a configurable automation system. Using the Remedy Administrator Tool or Developer Studio (depending on your version of Remedy) you have total control to change the application to suit your customers’ needs.

While this sounds great, even easy, there are a couple things that you want to watch out for.

Upgrades and Patches

Every time you upgrade or patch the application, there is the possibility of our updates overwriting your customizations. It is very important that you track and record all of your customizations so you can setup the application the way you (and your customers) want it.

Migrating Environments

Just like after an upgrade, if you migrate a Kinetic Data application from one environment to another, your changes need to be accounted for. Most customers mark any workflow changes with either a unique character (*, = or +) or a standard abbreviation pre-pended to the name. Forms are a little harder to notate changes, and may require a separate document.

What are “Normal” Customizations?

Over the years we have learned that there are not many customizations needed in either Kinetic Request or Kinetic Survey. Almost the entire interface with customers is done through the Service Items or Survey Templates. However, there are a few that are popular:

  • Removing Delete Options—this includes removing or disabling the delete buttons for templates and catalogs
  • Changing Access using BMC Remedy Permissions—often done to open up access to the BMC Remedy Administrator links to Configuration, Integration Manager and Report Manager
  • Adding Custom Workflow for Submitted Templates—Not a true customization to the product, but we do provide a specific filter guide for filters that need to fire when a template is submitted. The guide is called “KS_SRV_CustSurveyResultsJoin_RunCustomLogic”

If you and your customers think your customization of the product is coolhey! We might too. Let us know of any interesting changes to the product and they may end up in the next version.

As always, feel free to contact Kinetic Data support with any questions or comments about customizations or any other topic.

So…You’re New to Kinetic Request, Kinetic Survey and Kinetic Calendar!

By Derick Larson

We love new customers (no surprise there), because new customers always have the most questions. Here are some of our most common questions from new customers—generally about installs—and some answers.

Q. What version(s) of BMC Remedy do you work with?
A. Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey are compatible with BMC Remedy ARS 6.3 through the current Remedy ARS release (Version 7.6.4 as I’m writing this). Kinetic Calendar is compatible back to Remedy ARS 6.0.

Q. What operating systems do you work with?
A. We will work with anything that BMC Remedy runs on, including Windows, Linux, and a variety of Unix platforms (like Solaris, AIX and HP-Unix).

Q. What web server applications do you work with?
A. The vast majority of our customers use Apache Tomcat. We also have customers using ServlerExec, and WebSphere. We have had customers using Web Logic, but they have moved to Apache Tomcat.

Q. Do you need special permissions (BMC Remedy or otherwise) to complete an install?
A. The person doing the Remedy install needs to have Remedy Administrator credentials to use during the install. The person doing the web server install should have all access permissions to the web server directories.

Q. How long does an install take?
A. It depends on which product. Kinetic Calendar typically takes less than a day. Kinetic Survey typically takes 1-2 days to get installed and hooked into your processes. Kinetic Request typically takes up to 5 days to install and get all the samples working properly. Once the products are installed—it is normal to then have some sort of project/consulting to make surveys that address your business goals or requests that solve your business problems/initiatives.

Some great ways to really mess up and delay an install include: 1) Don’t show up to meetings for the install—no really, happens more than you think. 2) Outsource the web server to company A, BMC Remedy to company B, management of IT to company C (hey if it hadn’t happened we wouldn’t put it on the list).
3) Don’t give permissions to the server/web server that the software is installed on.

Q. Can I get the installation guide so I can prepare for my install?
A. Absolutely! It is available on our web site at:
http://www.kineticdata.com/Products/KineticRequest/Documentation.html

Q. Besides the BMC Remedy version are there any other requirements to run your software?
A. The only other requirement we have is a minimum version of Java, specifically the 32-bit Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.5 or greater.

That covers most of the common questions we get in support from new customers. If you have any specific questions, please contact us directly at support@kineticdata.com.


When Is It Time to Upgrade?

By Derick Larson

Two weeks ago Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey released its most recent patch (v5.02). The most common support question I recieve about upgrades includes, “Do I have to upgrade?”  Normally, the answer is, “No.”

I always hope that customers will keep up with the latest version of our applications, but it is not required. Please note, there are  no versions of our product(s) that are unsupported. Upgrading, especially major releases, can involve a considerable amount of time and effort in testing and verifying your functionality. The only reason I actively encourage customers to upgrade is to take advantage of a specific feature or bug fix that directly relates to their situation.

The benefits of upgrading depend on the specifics of the upgrade itself. Specifics are found in the release notes included in the upgrade package. The most current release notes also contain details for all past upgrades and releases.

Examples of features included in our latest release, Kinetic Request and Kinetic Survey (v5.02) include:

• Added ability for task trees to run for approval submissions
• Added a differences report when importing over already existing templates
• Updated pattern matching for Time/Date field
• Updated documentation to reference 32 bit requirements
• Better compatibility with mid-tier

Upgrades are broken down into two parts, Remedy workflow and form changes and web server changes. You will need to use the Remedy Admin Tool/Developer Studio and possibly the Import tool for any Remedy changes. For web server updates it is normally just a copy/paste over the current web application directory.

Have questions about your own upgrade process? Feel free to contact us.

Support Vision

Questions, Questions, Questions
By Derick Larson

What do you expect when you call support? Do you typically just have a “How do I…?” question. Has your customer asked you to add an enhancement? Have you heard about an upgrade and want to know what’s included?

When you call support, we ask a lot of questions. We ask questions to try and figure out what’s wrong. Asking questions is part of our diagnostic process. We use the answers to narrow down options and present solutions.

The next time you have to call support—or even better, when you don’t have to call support—take the opportunity to ask us questions about our products. We’re always happy to explain how a new feature works, or how we’ve seen other customers use Kinetic Data applications.

A great example of this is the new Kinetic Task Engine that comes bundled with Kinetic Request, Version 5. While we offer a couple of classes on the Kinetic Task Engine (shameless plug—Kinetic Data’s Training Schedule), it may be awhile before customers can get up to speed with configuring and using the new features. While you ask questions about issues you may have with the Kinetic Task Engine, please ask us questions about how you could use it and how other customers are using it.

My name is Derick Larson and I’m one of the folks providing support and training to users of the various Kinetic Data products.