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Today Cathy Pountney drove across the state of Michigan and presented/rehearsed her Southwest Fox session called “Customizing Your Vertical Market Application” to the Detroit Area Fox User Group. I have been looking forward to this session from the moment I saw it proposed to the organizers of the conference. Tonight I was not disappointed.

What Cathy showed is one approach, one architecture to developing and extending vertical market applications (those built with several potentially diverse customers who work in common businesses). Her approach uses a data driven, hook infested, dynamic approach. The ideas presented are not just something she is thinking of doing, but are a simplified version of the real world approach she and her teammates are using in the app they support.

The session starts out with a demonstration I won’t spoil for those coming to the conference. Trust me though when I tell you there is some humor and some fun poking at herself and the three Southwest Fox organizers. Cathy then demonstrates how she makes the core app work completely different in the other three implementations.

Her architecture works for forms, reports (naturally), menus, processes, and controls. It is built into the base classes and is extremely extensible. While her session focuses on the vertical market application implementation, it could be applied to any software that needs ultimate flexibility to adapt to a dynamic business environment. Here examples are fun, the code is all there for the taking, and the ideas there to use and be expanded upon.

Cathy’s approach might not be exactly what we implement in the first vertical market application White Light Computing develops, but the ideas and approaches were inspiring and could easily be the basis for something we design and integrate with the commercial framework we use.

Definitely a five out of five stars. While I have been to many sessions where I can say this session paid for the entire conference, I can say this session paid for the entire conference and the conference has not even started yet. Very well done.

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