I am really pleased to announce that we have released our latest plugin – Validatrix. (Or jump to the fancy animation). It always bothered me how so many business rules built into The Raiser’s Edge were arbitrary. You have to supply a surname but not an email address. You have to give a gift amount and date but not specify which segment it belonged to when given (as some organisations would do by adding an attribute). It maybe that somebody is a VIP because they give over a certain amount of money or because they are a specific type of prospect or because they attended a VIP dinner. You cannot enforce these rules in The Raiser’s Edge as is. You can, however, with Validatrix.
In Validatrix you can set up rules based on almost any field. One thing that always bothered me with query was that while the search parameters were quite good they were not great. You could not search for a pattern and the summary fields were limited. In Validatrix you can use regular expressions to search for specific patterns: Does it start with a capital? Is it a UK/US/Canadian postal/zip code format? Is it a correct email address/URL/phone format? etc. We give you a few to get you going. You can also combine rules too. So that you could check to see if the country code was Canada and only allow the record to be saved if it is a Canadian postal code format or in the US combined with a zip code, etc. For each collection of records we have a total of that collection so that, as an example, you could test to see if there is more than one fax number on a record.
When we were developing this we ran into all sorts of difficulties getting our head around the more complicated rules. Sure, it is easy enough when you have a single rule but when you have multiple dependencies it gets difficult. That is why we also developed a flowchart for the rule you are currently working on. It shows the main rule but also how the dependencies interact. I love the flowchart. It makes working out if my logic is correct so much easier (although there was a time during development when the flowchart logic was not quite right which made things pretty difficult).
Once you have your rules set up you can set up a message to display when the rule is broken. Now, from the very outset we realised that not all users are alike. Some users really need some handholding. They need to be told that the email address that they have entered is in fact a URL. Likewise there are other users who know that but want to override the rule that was set up. You can set up messages for different security groups. For those that need help you can simply tell them they are wrong, cancel the save and revert the value to how it was. For others you can ask them did they really mean to do that? You can give them a Yes/No/Cancel option. For others you may just want to ignore the rule altogether so that it does not bother them. After all if the DBA is entering a URL in the email field then they must know what they are doing, right?
From the outset we already had some of Validatrix developed. The rules engine was already incorporated into Audit Trail Professional’s Audit Standards (albeit not quite as sophisticated). That is why we decided to offer Validatrix as a free addition to Audit Trail Professional as well as a stand-alone plug-in.
As with all of our products Validatrix is available to self-hosted organisations. But how about those on hosting? Validatrix is one of our most hosting friendly solutions we have developed. There is no server or direct database access required, there are no web services and there are just two simple components. We certainly do hope that this will be available on the Blackbaud hosting environment in the near future. It is available immediately on Concourse Hosting hosting.