Software Integration: Municipal Government
On this project, two commercial off–the–shelf software products (KnowledgeLake Capture and Microsoft SharePoint) were modified and integrated with legacy custom software (previously developed in–house by the City of Pittsburgh) and new custom software (developed by B–Three).
Objectives and Requirements
The objective of the project was to construct, for the City of Pittsburgh, a new image repository for tax documents. The new repository replaced a system that was not web–enabled and was hampered by batch processing requirements. The City required a new repository that was fully functional and easy to maintain, and able to be expanded and adapted to the City’s changing needs.
Another key requirement was to integrate the new repository with the City’s Integrated Self–Assessed Tax (ISAT) system, a legacy application developed in–house. ISAT users required these capabilities:
- Add new tax documents to the repository.
- Access stored images from within the ISAT application.
- Annotate or mark up a document without altering the original image.
Design and Development
B–Three began the project with a series of meetings with City personnel, and then distilled those discussions into a detailed Design Specification for the City’s approval. The document included detailed definitions of the requirements for integration of the two off–the–shelf software products with the custom software of the legacy application. On the basis of those detailed definitions, the necessary software modifications were later developed.
Microsoft SharePoint was the commercial software foundation on which the image repository was built. Through SharePoint and .NET, B–Three created a series of web services that provided the necessary integration between the image repository and the ISAT client interface. Another commercial software product (KnowledgeLake Capture) was then incorporated into the solution to provide scanning, viewing, and annotation capabilities. Extensive system testing was conducted, to ensure that the software modifications had been successfully integrated with the legacy application and the two off–the–shelf packages.
Watched Directory Module
After completing this integration, B–Three enhanced the repository with a Watched Directory module. This custom application monitors a specified directory. Each document saved to the directory is automatically imported into the image repository via SharePoint. After this component had been integrated into the repository, the system was again tested and tuned.
After all the new software had been thoroughly tested, thousands of tax documents were extracted from the old repository, transformed as necessary, and loaded into the new system.
Documentation and Training
In preparing the technical and end–user documentation, B–Three created material that would mesh with the documentation provided with the off–the–shelf software. The new material covered the modifications made by B–Three.
With the documentation in hand, B–Three provided training to end users and system administrators. Because this was the City’s first SharePoint system — and the forerunner of other SharePoint applications — it was particularly important to provide thorough training for the system administrators.
After training had been completed and all the legacy data had been imported, the new system was put into production.