Solutions

Leading educational publisher manages permissions and rights with the ESS and conditional formatting features in FileMaker Pro 9
Cengage uses FileMaker Pro to develop learning solutions more rapidly than in a traditional development environment

Cengage

Cengage delivers highly–customized learning solutions for universities, instructors, students, libraries, government agencies, corporations, and professionals worldwide. Its brand names are internationally recognized and include Brooks/Cole, Delmar, Gale, Heinle, Schirmer, Wadsworth and Arden Shakespeare, among others.

Overview

  • Gale, part of Cengage Learning, serves the world's information and education needs through its vast and dynamic content pools, which are used by students and consumers in their libraries, schools and on the Internet.
  • Gale virtual reference library allows librarians to adapt their reference collection to meet changing needs — offering researchers simultaneous, 24/7 remote access to titles.
  • Gale is located in Farmington Hills, Michigan

Industry

  • High Technology
  • Printing/Publishing

Solutions

  • Rights management and permissions data stored in FileMaker Pro databases

Benefits

  • Multiple developers work on same scripts simultaneously
  • External SQL Sources (ESS) allows integration of data from Oracle 9i system
  • Millions of records updated and formatted every night

ESS, the new ScriptMaker environment allowing more than one developer to work on scripts at the same time, conditional formatting and the new FileMaker 9 Server console are features that we have come to rely on heavily.

— Trevor Gildersleeve, Senior FileMaker Developer, Gale

Business Challenge

Cengage Learning's mission statement stresses the values of integrity, respect, commitment, collaboration and accountability. The company's vision is to lead the transition from print to value–added digital and custom solutions by developing a deep understanding of its customers' needs, thus benefiting everyone.

For Trevor Gildersleeve, the senior FileMaker developer at Gale, part of Cengage Learning, that means staying well ahead of the technology curve. "The evolution of business policies, industry standards, departmental processes, company acquisitions and divestitures, and legal regulations," says Trevor, "all of these mean constant change to the application that the department uses and not just from a data perspective, but also from the perspective of functionality."

When Trevor first went to work at Cengage Learning in 2001, a FileMaker Pro database was used to track "rights and permissions data" — the licenses, or grants of usage, of third–party assets (images, essays, text works) that are incorporated into Cengage Learning products. His challenge? To ensure it kept evolving.

Successful Solution

Cengage Learning's FileMaker Pro-based rights management solution consists of several database applications working together to meet different business needs. As Trevor explains, "this structure allows us to remain flexible to effectively meet changing business needs. FileMaker Pro, as a platform, allows us to develop more rapidly than in a traditional development environment."

There are six main databases used for managing rights, says Trevor, each one serving its own purpose, but each integrated with the other. They consist of 23 FileMaker Pro files, 347 tables, and more than 7 million records which are accessed by approximately 150 users across two main departments — permissions and editorial. Trevor has also built reporting tools for all levels of management to enable them to crunch numbers and spot usage trends that are important to the company.

Because Cengage Learning is a large company with many divisions, there are two main rights systems, one developed in FileMaker Pro and the other using J2EE (Java Platform 2 Enterprise Edition) and Oracle 9i. The need to integrate that data was obvious, says Trevor, and with FileMaker Pro's new External SQL Sources (ESS) he no longer needs to do nightly large "batch refreshes" of the data and Cengage Learning users can get the latest data from both system instantly.

FileMaker Pro has continually brought faster development times, lower cost of ownership, smaller development teams, and above all, excellent results for Cengage Learning

— Trevor Gildersleeve, Senior FileMaker Developer, Gale

Customer Benefits

Trevor is very happy with the features in FileMaker Pro 9. "ESS, the new ScriptMaker environment allowing more than one developer to work on scripts at the same time, conditional formatting and the new FileMaker 9 Server console are features that we have come to rely on heavily," he says.

Trevor explains that Cengage Learning uses conditional formatting in several ways — one of which is clearly creative. "Primarily we use it to emphasize rows of data that are of interest based on some particular status of the data. We also use it interactively to select individual rows, or a range of rows via a custom method we created. Once selected," he continues, "the user can perform certain functions such as moving records into logical groupings, or performing a mass data change on the highlighted rows. We also use it to change the colors of certain fields that fail particular validations.

"Conditional formatting is great," says Trevor, "because it provides a more dynamic user experience, without the burden of extra fields in the schema as in the past. With this new feature we feel that we can provide a better visual experience, without sacrificing performance."

By choosing the right implementation and knowing which problems to tackle, Trevor says FileMaker Pro has continually brought faster development times, lower cost of ownership, smaller development teams, and above all, excellent results for Cengage Learning.

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Gale, Cengage Learning:

Trevor Gildersleeve
FileMaker 7,8,9 Certified Developer
248-699-8249
trevor.gildersleeve@cengage.com
http://www.cengage.com