Solve Legacy Software Problems

Technical Support for Development and Solving Legacy Software Issues

Steelsoft has been supplying leading software for waste management, skip hire and recycling industries since 1983. The company develop and supply easy to use, high performance, database-driven applications used by hundreds of companies throughout the UK.

Steelsoft provide three distinct software products; Skip Hire, Trade Waste and Weighsystem. They have a wide range of customers for each product.

The Problem

The new owners of the company were already aware of problems in the legacy software applications that they were to inherit. As such they were able to provide us with a comprehensive list of requirements.

A key concern of theirs was that the legacy products had been developed using a version of Microsoft Access that was now unsupported.

There appeared to be a number of different weaknesses. However, bug fixing prior to the takeover had not used a consistent and controlled development environment. As isolating problems had been difficult, problems solved for one part of the system sometimes caused problems in a different part of the system. In addition, the new owners were aware that their customers were using varying combinations of Windows, Office and other software. We helped them set up virtualisation to replicate these software environments, to enable problems specific to individual customers to be fixed more quickly.

The Skip Hire application includes a facility for sending invoices via email using PDF attachments. The mechanism used to send emails had compatibility problems with newer versions of Windows and Office. Furthermore, the software module that generates the PDF invoices had ceased to function for some customers.

An optional feature within the software product was the ability to prefix invoice numbers according to their customer's specification. When this option was enabled for some customers it caused problems in other parts of the system.

The Solution

Firstly, we helped them set up a stable and controlled platform to facilitate ongoing development. Next, we helped them set up additional virtualised test environments that were able to replicate their customer computers in different configurations.

With a more stable development environment it was much easier for us to isolate and resolve the legacy software problems. We were able to fix the email compatibility issues, as well as the automatic production of PDF invoices. Having restored this functionality customers are now able to send emails with invoices as PDF attachments.

At the same time we rectified a number issues which were causing nuisance and system instability. We solved display problems resulting from the ShortDate format being used incorrectly. By revising the "invoice prefix" mechanism this feature can now be used by customers requiring this without any knock on effect to other areas.

Bugs had previously been fixed on a more adhoc basis. We added basic debugging support to make diagnostics as well as resolving bugs easier in the future.

Our client is now in a position to develop their products further and deal with most issues themselves. For more complex problems, we provide expert technical support for development which our client can call on as and when required. In addition, we provide support services for their other products Trade Waste and Weighsystem.

We contacted PC Access as we were in need of urgent support for developing our Skiphire, Tradewaste and Weighsystem software. The timescales that we asked PC Access to work to were ambitious and the task was not a straight forward one but with their hard work we got there. As the business was a new venture for us, it was good to know that both we and the software were in competent hands. Since our first meeting both Anna and Tony have been nothing but professional and supportive. We are looking forward to working with PC Access to develop the software further and I would not hesitate to recommend them.

Lauren Broomfield, Director of Steelsoft Ltd