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Envoy is a mul­ti-faced SIF agent that solves a num­ber of chal­lenges encoun­tered by larg­er orga­ni­za­tions imple­ment­ing a SIF archi­tec­ture to be shared by a large num­ber of schools and/or local author­i­ties. These chal­lenges include: Access­ing con­sol­i­dat­ed data from mul­ti­ple schools as if it came from a sin­gle source with records from many school-lev­­el zones matched […]
By Robert Hutchi­son
Sep­tem­ber 20th, 2018
In edu­ca­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions, com­put­er appli­ca­tions are used to edu­cate stu­dents. This arti­cle shows the basics of how SIF is used to con­nect them.
By Robert Hutchi­son
Sep­tem­ber 18th, 2018
In most larg­er orga­ni­za­tions, sev­er­al com­put­er appli­ca­tions are used to sup­port the process of edu­cat­ing stu­dents, in one way or anoth­er. The major­i­ty of these appli­ca­tions know about who attends the school, who teach­es there, and who the teach­ers are. Some of them know the stu­dents' sched­ules while oth­ers know details such as the grades they received or detailed health-relat­ed infor­ma­tion such as immu­niza­tions or records of injuries. The point is that much of this infor­ma­tion is com­mon to many of them.

So, what is the "best" approach to man­ag­ing the infor­ma­tion that is shared by these appli­ca­tions?

(Click arti­cle title to read more)
By Robert Hutchi­son
May 3rd, 2018
If you read about the the­o­ret­i­cal foun­da­tions behind the dif­fer­ent meth­ods to inter­con­nect appli­ca­tions, you will no doubt hear chal­lenges to a mes­sage broker's abil­i­ty to scale (espe­cial­ly com­ing from Enter­prise Ser­vice Bus ven­dors). This is most like­ly because they use exam­ples of non-scal­able bro­kers to prove their point. We could do that too with almost any tech­nol­o­gy — take a faulty imple­men­ta­tion, make the assump­tion that its design is the only pos­si­ble way to imple­ment the tech­nol­o­gy and then gen­er­al­ize until as much as nec­es­sary to "prove" that the prin­ci­ple (the­o­ry) is flawed, but we won't. Instead, we will con­sid­er the claim itself ("bro­kers are not scal­able") in more detail and see why its foun­da­tion is not stur­dy. (Click arti­cle title to read more)
By Robert Hutchi­son
April 30th, 2018
In the fall of 2001, Visu­al Soft­ware began its jour­ney to take its tech­nol­o­gy that "added ser­vices to exist­ing appli­ca­tions with­out requir­ing changes be made to those appli­ca­tions" and mod­i­fy them to work with an emerg­ing edu­ca­tion­al stan­dard called SIF, or the Schools Inter­op­er­abil­i­ty Frame­work. This new stan­dard had the promise, and in lat­er years, advan­tage of allow­ing edu­ca­tion­al appli­ca­tions from any com­pat­i­ble ven­dor to exchange infor­ma­tion with any oth­er com­pat­i­ble ven­dor. In 2007, with the acqui­si­tion of our first larg­er cus­tomer (Lon­don, with 1.7 mil­lion stu­dents and 2,700 schools), we began a process to re-design all of our prod­ucts from the ground up to han­dle imple­men­ta­tions this large and larg­er where the infra­struc­ture is imple­ment­ed in a sin­gle loca­tion and is shared by all the end­points. (Click arti­cle title to read more)
By Robert Hutchi­son
April 3rd, 2018
When Visu­al Soft­ware set out to design the first ver­sion of its inter­op­er­abil­i­ty solu­tion in 2001, we had already been work­ing on its inter­nal core for sev­er­al years.
By Robert Hutchi­son
March 30th, 2018
Schools and school dis­tricts get most of or all of their fund­ing from their par­ent orga­ni­za­tions. Depend­ing on their loca­tion, this may be a school dis­trict, a state or some oth­er orga­ni­za­tion. But, regard­less of where the fund­ing orig­i­nates, the source of that fund­ing requires account­abil­i­ty in the form of report­ing of some kind (most like­ly this will be in the form of dig­i­tal report­ing).

Recent­ly, we took a sur­vey of sev­er­al US school dis­tricts to find out how much they spent gath­er­ing and prepar­ing this infor­ma­tion to send to their respec­tive states as required to receive state fund­ing. The answers were sur­pris­ing­ly alike for places that hadn't used our soft­ware or method­olo­gies…

(Click the arti­cle title to read more…)
By Robert Hutchi­son
March 23rd, 2018
On our home page, we claim that our prod­ucts scale from small to large imple­men­ta­tions. Han­dling a small imple­men­ta­tion is easy to imag­ine, but how large an imple­men­ta­tion can our soft­ware sup­port?

Some of our small­er exam­ples include sin­gle school imple­men­ta­tions. Larg­er exam­ples in edu­ca­tion include region­al imple­men­ta­tions in the UK with 2.7 to 3.2 mil­lion learn­ers each, US states with mil­lions of stu­dents and nation­wide imple­men­ta­tions with over 8 mil­lion stu­dents in atten­dance…

(Click the arti­cle title to read more…)
By Robert Hutchi­son
March 19th, 2018
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