Boston-based MRCC acquires Irvine-based TechForza

M&R Consultants Corporation (MRCC) of Billerica, MA recently acquired 75 percent of TechForza Corporation shares for an undisclosed amount to bolster its Oracle service offerings. This acquisition also expands MRCC geographical presence into both southern California and Chennai, India. “TechForza’s addition to MRCC will fuel its already rampant growth,” says Anil Shah, MRCC’s President/CEO.

MRCC has been providing its customers with a variety of software services since 1996 and has become one of the world’s largest custom eLearning courseware producers for all disciplines in corporate, K-12, and Higher education. TechForza, having been in business for more than 10 years with a solid portfolio and strong client base, completes MRCC’s database service offerings. With ERP software companies foraying into the Talent Management business with the acquisition of Taleo by Oracle, MRCC’s services around eLearning development and Talent Management products will allow for a complete solution.

MRCC is looking for new acquisitions in the coming year to aid their growth and to add members to its already strong technology team. MRCC is well prepared to tackle this unpredictable market with multi-directional growth in software, information technology and infrastructure, data warehousing, Oracle professional services and eLearning solutions.

 

Public Relations Contact:

Elizabeth Cascio

ecascio@mrccsolutions.com

 

Links

www.mrccsolutions.com

www.mrcctechforza.com

Application Development Using MVC Architecture

The Principles of the MVC Design Pattern

The MVC paradigm is a way of breaking an application, or even just a piece of an application’s interface, into three parts: the model, the view, and the controller. MVC was originally developed to map the traditional input, processing, and output roles into the GUI realm:

Input –> Processing –> Output                           .
Controller –> Model –> View

 

Model

A model is an object representing data or even activity (e.g., a database table or even some plant-floor production-machine process).

The model manages the behavior and the data of the application domain, responds to requests for information about its state, and responds to instructions to change its state.

The model represents enterprise data and the business rules that govern access to and updates of this data. Often, the model serves as a software approximation to a real-world process, so simple real-world modeling techniques apply when defining the model.

  • The model is the piece that represents the state and the low-level behavior of the component. It manages the state and conducts all transformations on that state. The model has no specific knowledge of either its controllers or its views. The view is the piece that manages the visual display of the state represented by the model. A model can have more than one view.

Note: the model may not necessarily have a persistent data store (database), but if it does, it may access it through a separate Data Access Object (DAO).

View

  • A view is some form of visualization of the state of the model.
  • The view manages the graphical and/or textual output to the portion of the bitmapped display that is allocated to its application. Instead of a bitmapped display, the view may generate HTML or PDF output.
  • The view renders the contents of a model. It accesses enterprise data through the model and specifies how that data should be presented.
  • The view is responsible for mapping graphics onto a device. A view typically has a one-to-one correspondence with a display surface and knows how to render to it. A view attaches to a model and renders its contents to the display surface.

Controller

  • Controller facilities change the state of the model. The controller interprets the mouse and the keyboard inputs from the user, commanding the model and/or the view to change as appropriate.
  • A controller is the means by which the user interacts with the application. A controller accepts input from the user and instructs the model and view to perform actions based on that input. In effect, the controller is responsible for mapping end-user action to application response.
  • The controller translates interactions with the view into actions to be performed by the model. In a stand-alone GUI client, user interactions could be button clicks or menu selections, whereas in a Web application, they appear as HTTP, GET, and POST requests.

The actions performed by the model include activating business processes or changing the state of the model.

Based on the user interactions and the outcome of the model actions, the controller responds by selecting an appropriate view.

  • The controller is the piece that manages user interaction with the model. It provides the mechanism by which changes are made to the state of the model.

 

WHY MVC?

  1. Effective implementation of OOP concepts using classes and methods.
  2. When there is excessive traffic, the server will not be down because of MVC architecture with a browser caching feature.
  3. Information will not be passed through IDs. Information will be posted and passed through encrypted format.
  4. Enhancement and maintenance is less time consuming.

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Milind Madane currently works with the MRCC Netvidya development team.  This team is working on the following products using the MVC architecture:

Netvidya 7 Steps, Netvidya CACPT

Apple’s Killer App

Apple unveiled its new “Digital Textbook” platform just last week.  It has taken the industry by storm signing 3 of the biggest textbook publishers (and our clients) such as Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  What excites me most about the new iBooks is not the digitization of textbooks by large textbook publishing companies, but that Apple has brought interactive media creation to the masses.  We’ve been waiting for an HTML5 authoring tool!  (Honestly, I thought Adobe would be the one to market first.)  The need has been there since Apple announced that the iPhone would not run Flash… which is why I emailed Steve myself back in 2010:

I know it’s cheesy but what was the chance he would read it anyway?

Strategy:

Apple is simply sticking to its roots by marketing its products to the Education industry as it always has i.e. Apple II.  However, I was a bit taken aback by Apple’s negative stance towards the US Education system.  It was unnecessary for them to spend the initial 5-6 minutes discussing the US’s shortfalls.  They spoke about large issues like overcrowding, teacher/student ration, dropout rates, etc. as if they are going to fix it.  Even Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, was extremely somber during the entire presentation.

Education will still be iBooks’ catalyst.  Apple has some 1.5 million iPads already in the hands of students across the US with 1000 1-to-1 iPad deployment programs.  These implementations have occurred via school and district-wide initiatives and one such example is with nearby Burlington, MA.  Every student at Burlington High School has received an iPad to replace those bulky textbooks.  The details of this deal have not been made public, however, we know that Apple provides serious subsidies for the Education sector.  This, in conjunction with now requiring the student/family to purchase the textbooks via the iBookstore, most likely frees up enough funds for the town/district to purchase iPads (and for the publishers to capitalize on a per-student, per-year model).

iBooks video

New “App”:

Here’s our take on iBooks 2 and iBooks Author: iBooks now allows you to import .iBooks files and iBooks Author provides you with the tools to create them.  What this means is that Apple has created a brand new type of “app.”  Essentially these 2 products are the App Store and Xcode of Digital Media for iOS.

iBooks, iBooks Author, and the iBookstore together form a full-out platform that allows you to author, develop, publish, and distribute books, magazines, photo albums, activity books, pamphlets, etc.  iBooks Author, available through the Mac App Store for free, has truly brought iBooks development to the masses.  Apple has created this authoring tool using technology already existing in Pages, iWeb, and Keynote so you will definitely find the interface familiar.  It’s remarkable how simple Apple has made the process of creating consumable media; they’ve even bundled 6 templates to get you started.

As a provider of eLearning development, the killer feature for me is the HTML widget.  This will actually allow you to use HTML within a designated frame inside an iBook.  One can even build in communication with a backend database allowing for tracking of completion and grades via an LMS for example.  All of this was technically possible before but iBooks Author has eliminated the need for technical knowhow as it automates navigation, table of contents, indexing, layout, etc.  It is no doubt the “Killer App” that the iPad has been looking for.

iBooks Author

Future:

There are definitely a few areas of improvement here.  I’ll make a list:

  1. iBooks Author should have some InDesign or Quark integration.  Many of today’s books are published via these 2 tools.  If there was an import, adoption would be much faster.
  2. Apple should definitely integrate Newsstand publishing via iBooks Author.  This will allow for publications to use iOS’s background downloading feature as well as a way to provide on-the-fly updating.  Users will not need to download the newest version of a title, rather it will be “pushed” to the device.
  3. iBooks Author should have a Windows version.  Many US publishing houses use Macs, however, internationally that may not be the case.  This could be part of Apple’s scheme to sell more desktops/laptops however.  At least allow it to run on Snow Leopard!

 

What are your suggestions??  Email me at rraju@mrccsolutions.com and I will update this post.  Thank you.

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Rajiv is Sales Manager at M&R Consultants Corporation (MRCC) based in Billerica, MA.  MRCC provides technical and creative services to publishing, training, and development groups across all industries around the globe.

The Art of eLearning

I’m not interested in debating or solidifying the argument notion that eLearning is “better” than instructor-led, live training. I mean, how is that even possible?  Yet, this post-Web 2.0 world has had a very curious impact on how we engage in the often mundane process of being “trained.”  Sure, in some instances, new media technologies have little or no impact on training and its development, but in other cases, new media technologies have made training a virtual art form by adding spectacular dimensions that weren’t previously possible.

Before film and video production, theatrical performances were by far the most popular medium for visual storytelling.  Just as the invention of video recording technology added different dimensions to the art of storytelling, eLearning has expanded the artistic potential for creating and delivering training programs.  Consider the role that art has played in the eLearning development process.  Video production has always played a major role in training, probably since its introduction in the early 20th century.  Of course, video production still plays a major role in eLearning content, but the new fusion of post-Web 2.0 technologies and art is what really fascinates me about this new medium so casually referred to as “eLearning.”

Has new media technology made training more efficient and effective?  I guess that’s up for interpretation. Along the same lines, did the three-point line and slam dunk make basketball more intense and exciting?  Some may say no—traditionalists, I would assume—but, on the larger scale, whether you agree or disagree, the three-point shot and slam dunk certainly added new, dynamic dimensions that didn’t previously exist.  Similarly, the tremendous fusion between new, previously non-existent technologies and art has produced an exciting, dynamic, and engaging alternative to the instructor-led, and often live training of the past.

Again, preference plays a large role in whether or not you agree with the direction training has taken, but consider the new possibilities eLearning has offered.  The eLearning developer ranges from the computer scientist to the screenplay writer, and it doesn’t stop there.  The depths of the pools resources are selected from to create modules for the viewing and learning pleasure of the audience is something of an art form: a project aimed not only to train, but to entertain.  I’m sure video training courses or classroom ILT courses are not designed to be prosaic and routine, yet for reasons obvious to anyone who has ever spent time in a classroom, non-interactivity is a catalyst for wandering eyes and fantastic daydreaming.  Through techniques introduced by new media technology, eLearning intermixes resources aimed at exciting and engaging an audience in a way that was not necessarily possible before, creating a partnership, if you will, with the artist, the scientist, the teacher, and, most importantly, the learner.

I think the reason I enjoy working with custom eLearning so much is that it allows me to be imaginative, seeking out clients that could use our services as an asset to help develop their employees and their businesses.  Art is about perception; the nonlinear yet sensational visual, sound, and structural aspects of art have been further enhanced by technology. In turn, this improves our ability to create technologically-relevant programs that allow the individual—and, in the case of eLearning, the corporation—to  create a perceptive and engaging way to develop their most important assets: their people.

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Steve Melville is a Junior Account Executive at MRCC.  This is his first post and we hope for many more.