Micromine is a company that has been providing a suite of mining and geological data management solutions for hundreds of mining companies around the world. Micromine’s geological data management product Geobank comes in two versions: Desktop and Mobile. Geobank Desktop has been around for more than 15 years, built with Delphi on the Win32 platform, whereas Geobank Mobile is more recently developed. Micromine continually improve both products bringing them up to date with the current technologies and market trends.
Keeping up with the popular technological trend, Micromine chose .NET and C# as their current development environment for most of their products. While Geobank Mobile has been developed in this generation, Geobank Desktop is undergoing a gradual rewrite to port it from Delphi/ Win32 to .NET/C#. Not only that, Micromine had plans for further improvements, especially for the Geobank Mobile. To achieve all this, Micromine sought out additional resources with the right capabilities.
Micromine found their extra hands in Mitrais’ captive team to help maintain as well as develop new features for Geobank Desktop and Geobank Mobile. Mitrais’ team mainly utilizes .NET, C#, WPF with MVVM architecture in their work. The Micromine and Mitrais’ teams gradually port Geobank Desktop’s Delphi codes to the new platform and roll them out with each product release. This way the customers will not be inconvenienced by the changes made. “Geobank was developed with Delphi on the Win32 platform,” explained Ivan Zelina, Micromine’s Chief Technology Officer. “We’ve decided to gradually port the product across to .NET and C# as this is now the development environment for most of our products.” At the same time, new features are still developed by using the Delphi code, as Delphi is still evolving. Today, Geobank Desktop is a mix of Delphi/Win32 with .NET/C#.
Micromine also seeks to ease the synchronization process between the Geobank Desktop and Mobile. Where before data transfer involves exporting data to XML format and importing it to the other version, Mitrais used Microsoft’s Sync framework to enable users to synchronize the two databases as necessary.
Complementary to the synchronization feature, Mitrais also enhanced Geobank Mobile’s import/export ability so users can download specific data without having to convert it to XML file and import it again. This ability allow Geobank Mobile users to obtain only selected data from Geobank Desktop’s database without having to perform full database synchronization. On top of individual software improvements, enhancing the security for both Geobank Desktop and Mobile is also a part of Micromine’s agenda. Usage of unlicensed Geobank software is a legitimate concern that Micromine battle by evolving its licensing process. Mitrais’ team uses CrypKey to build a double-layered security measures that are geared towards data protection through assigned user access and prevent piracy through sophisticated licensing system. Upon installing the software, Geobank user will receive an automatically generated sitekey that they will have to send to Micromine. The company will then issue a license key, which if used in combination with the sitekey, will activate the software license. With this augmented system, Micromine aims to minimise the pirated Geobank software usage.
“We want to make sure that only licensed software is used in the field so that we can afford to do more development and add more great software features into our products,” Ivan stated firmly. On that note, Ivan added that in the future, Micromine is looking to simplify the licensing process by developing an online licensing portal where users can handle all their licensing needs unassisted.
Micromine’s development team together with Mitrais’ team has turned many of the ideas into reality, providing improved feature after feature for Micromine’s clients. ”The way we’re working with Mitrais is very engaging. Rather than offloading a software development project to a remote team and hope for the best, we have decided to extend an existing team by adding programmers from Mitrais,” was Ivan’s take on the partnership with Mitrais. “This is the third year since they became part of our regular Geobank team. As their Bali development centre is in similar time zone with us, a large portion of our working hours overlaps. They even participate in our daily ‘trans-ocean’ stand up meetings using Skype. We think that this is the best way to maintain a cohesive and productive team.”