24-7 Claims are a company that specialises in the personal injury claims market. They were interested in building a B2B marketplace to manage the workflow of claims and contacted First Light to help them make it happen.
Initially, a First Light consultant worked on-site with the company to clarify their ideas. A high-level UML document was produced to document and communicate the ideas and from this it was possible to scope the size of the project. The most important factors were deemed to be:
A solution was sought that would enable rapid development on multiple fronts without interfering with each other and that allowed the client input to the design process.
In order to allow for parallel development of business and presentation code First Light sought a web framework that would separate the layers. Apache open source web framework tools Turbine and Velocity were chosen.
Turbine is a servlet based framework that allows experienced Java developers to quickly build secure web applications. Its sub-component Torque is used to generate standard Java business objects from a data model in a database.The Apache Velocity site states:
Use of these technologies meant that as soon as the basic data structures were developed, a set of Java business objects could be created. These were the objects that the screens would ultimately interact with.
Generation of business objects and compilation of extension code is controlled by Jakarta Ant. JUnit and webwalker tests were integrated with the build process so that every time the software was built (and this would be done frequently) it would be fully tested leading to the early capture of errors and checking of software dependencies.
The client created a system mock-up in html to show how the system would work and honed the design as they were able to see their ideas materialised. This mock-up was then 'data-enabled' by First Light developers as soon as the business objects became available. Daily builds were created so that the client could literally see the system grow day-by-day.
Near the end of the project a professional graphic design company was employed to create the page design. They created headers and footers that used Velocity's use of templates to painlessly insert them into the output screens.
The basic premise of a marketplace is that it brings together buyers and sellers, allowing sellers to demonstrate their products before purchase. In this case buyers are randomly distributed a set of available claims of the type they have specified an interest in. These are then available for purchase, until the end of the Market Session when, if not purchased, they will become available to other buyers.
The Claim form itself is a large document with many sections. The buyers are shown a high-level summary and can drill-down to see further details. The most important details are only available once the claim has been purchased.
Buyer or seller organisations may administer their own list of users, categorised as either Managers or Clerks. Detailed statistics are available on each user so that they themselves and their managers can view progress.
A requirement was identified to interface with a standard accounts package without being tied to one in particular.
Castor, an open
source data binding framework for Java, is used to export accounting information
in a 'vendor neutral' XML format, which is then transformed with XSLT
to a format suitable for the chosen accounts product suite.