thinking in rules

Extensions: The Drinking Bird of irAuthor

Mike Grucella | 5/24/2016

One of my all-time favorite episodes of The Simpsons is the one when Homer intentionally gains weight so that he can get on disability and work from home. When he sits in his makeshift home office on the first day, he turns on the computer which prompts him with a series of questions. All he has to do is respond by simply typing “Yes” or “No.” By the way, this scenario might have been a great candidate for a Dynamics survey. The first few questions Homer types in “y-e-s,” until he learns that if he just hits “y” he gets the same result. Being the epitome of laziness, Homer then positions a drinking bird in front of the keyboard so that it hits “y” for him and he can go see a movie.

This one scene exemplifies the one thing everyone expects from software. Even though we recognize the power software has to make our jobs easier and more efficient, we still wonder if it can be even better. I don’t think InRule will be producing a drinking bird that can use irAuthor, so let’s take a look at another option.

Is irAuthor Customizable? Y-E-S.

The irAuthor of today looks different than the original release. Some of this is due to changes in technology. Some of it is due to the feedback we get from our User Community. I work in irAuthor almost every day, and admittedly there are features I use regularly and there are features that I have never used.

A rule architect will most likely need the full set of functionality. A rule author, on the other hand, just wants to get in, make a rule change, test it, and be done.

So how can irAuthor accommodate these different user experiences? The answer is Extensions. Extensions, which are essentially plugins for irAuthor built with the authoring SDK, allow you to add, override or remove functionality from irAuthor.

A rule architect opens irAuthor and sees the following.

The rule architect has access to all the components for creating and maintaining the core elements of a rule application including Entities, Vocabulary, End Points, etc. as well as reporting and catalog management.

For a rule author, an extension can render an interface with a refined set of options without any unnecessary components exposed. The result is a much cleaner and more focused UI.

Note how the ribbon has been renamed, only the desired buttons are displayed and only the rules are accessible.

The following has a slight twist in that it guides the rule author through their work with explicitly defined steps for even more clarity.

Consider integrating more of your own business domain language to provide a more familiar, branded or recognizable rule authoring experience, like the following.

“If something is hard to do, then it’s not worth doing.”

OK, that’s not true. It’s just one of many Homerisms that always makes me laugh. When it comes to irAuthor, if you find something is hard to do, the answer is probably in an extension. You can create your own or access our library of pre-built extensions on our support site.


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