Randy Weakly
By Randy Weakly on February 21, 2022

Q&A with CTO Randy Weakly: ILINX 9.1

Randy, tell us about the ILINX 9.1 update

Even though this is what we would call a soft release of 9.1, we're still super excited because we've got over 100 different products and instruments that we're delivering with this release. A third of those were requested directly by our end-user customer partners, so we're excited.

We're very driven to ensure your success with solutions around the ILINX platform, so that's our main focus. I think that's reflected if you participated in any of our past webinars. You'll always see that a large portion of our features and enhancements that we're delivering are specific customer requests, so we love that. That motivates us and gets us out of bed in the morning.

We've had a couple of product announcements over the last year, and now they are rolled up into the primary set of binaries that we deliver with the product. So, we'll talk about those.

How are we staying in sync with IT standards?

We ensure we are compatible and certified with the latest and greatest environments we deploy to every release. ILINX 9.1 is licensed and tested up to SQL Server 2019, Office 365. 2019 32 and 64-bit prod looks as well as we've migrated up to the latest .Net 4.8 release.

It is very important for us for several reasons; specifically, security is a huge focus. If you're familiar with the OWASP top ten security vulnerabilities for web-based applications, you'll know that. They released an update last year, and they're changing the nature of some of the top ten items. In 2021, OWASP added the recommendation that software applications need be on the latest environments or third-party components. Historically that's been a real focus with our ILINX releases and more so with the 9.1 release.

We will always look at performance, stability, and usability with each release. Every release contains some element of those. You'll see some of these themes as we go through each product for 9.1. These are always enhancements that we put in from our services folks. We ensure the product is enterprise-ready, it's easy to use, and you're getting the maximum out of the product.

Can you share examples?

One area of improvement is ILINX's ability to handle large files. In the 9.0 release, we increased that to near a GB file. We've continued to improve and have expanded to handle video files or audio files that may even go over a GB.

For all the propeller-heads like me, one big focus in 9.1 is enhancing our REST API. REST is a form of web service protocol; it facilitates integration with other languages like JavaScript and java.net or PHP or whatever language you're using. That was a huge focus for us in 9.1, and I am sure we'll discuss it further.

Tell us about ILINX client enhancements.

One of the most significant areas we invested in for 9.1 was the ILINX Flex client. If you're not familiar with this client, it's our 100% HTML-based web client. It runs on all major browsers: Firefox, Chrome, runs on Mac, runs on your phone. Our customers need browser-agnostic capabilities.

Flex enhancements are more extensive than browser support, correct?

Yes, for one, we have a single sign-on integration. If you're using Azure AAD or a third-party identity provider like Okta or another new tech, as long as they are SAML 20 compliant, we can get that working with a single sign-on. Identity management platforms also provide multifactor authentication; if that's a requirement, it's achievable with the ILINX integration to identify providers.

We've got some things that we've built into the Flex client database: lookup fields, picklist fields, table fields, the ability to annotate images or burn those annotations, and if that's a captured image as well as really rounding out the capabilities that you have to interact with workflow items. You've been able to do this in the past to an extent, but ILINX 9.0 brings these capabilities up to feature parity with our other end-user clients, so we're super excited about that. It's a productivity improvement for any ILINX implementation.

One of the other very heavily used areas is our extensibility points. Our capture client allows you to create custom user interface panels, batch panels, and index panels. We now have that same capability in the ILINX Flex client. You'll do that in an HTML type of presentation, of course, but those will translate to any of the browsers and mobile devices you may have in your organization.

Tell us about the Workflow enhancements

Workflow is an area that is super interesting to me. Workflow is where you drive a lot of ROI into your business solutions. It's always a focus for each of our releases to make sure we are raising the bar with the workflow capabilities that you can read in the new features document, which is available on the help center. But we have several different enhancements applied to our workflow activities. We call them extension modules, and so you can refer to the help documentation for all the cool things that are going on there, but if you're into workflow, those will be very interesting.

There's more on REST API's too, correct?

We expanded the REST API. If you're building integrations with the ILINX platform, you'll enjoy these new extensions to the REST API for Capture performance and memory management. It goes back to large file processing, performance, scalability, and we always focus on those for each of our releases.

How about Capture updates?

Under the Capture umbrella, we've got several different modules. If you're familiar with these, we've been enhancing these as well. Format Converter received a couple of nice enhancements, such as handling the binary formats of documents. We've done the XML-based documents, like the DOCX, the XLSX, PPTX, etc., for a while now. We've added support for those older binary types of formats. Some of our customers still deal with email import, which is now Azure AAD compatible. If you're using the iLINX Microsoft Outlook add-in, you can use that with Azure AAD security as well.

There's a new smart compression type of option as well. If you want to get content out and squish it down as much as possible, we look at every page in the outbound document and decide based on the page type. There are mixed content types. You may have a PDF that's got some text, a JPEG, a tip on it. We will make the best decision to hand your application the smallest document possible. That's a pretty cool way to squish that content down for optimal delivery to wherever that's going.

Advanced Capture is a phenomenal product with machine-learning, AI-based technologies. It's fantastic at categorizing or classifying your documents as they flow through workflow and extracting information. It's another big focus of ours. We focused on prioritization. If you are working with large documents and extracting information, that will tie up resources. Let's say I dump a bunch of invoices that aren't super-critical introduced into the system, and there's a high-priority document that's also just come into my system. I need to prioritize that work over everything else. We can now prioritize Advanced Capture jobs, so your SLAs are met while you continue to do those lower priority processes.

One of the exciting things that we've added to the backend engine is a hybrid field. If you're familiar with Advanced Capture, I'm sure you've probably used the fixed field extraction, which tells the system where it's going to find the information. Then we have dynamic fields where the system uses rules and some fantastic intelligence to see the field within the document on any page, anywhere. So, we merge those. You can now say, "well, you might find it here, but if you don't, then I want you to go look based on this set of rules in this information." It's an elegant hybrid option.

We've also done some refactoring on the studio. We had feedback on areas to simplify, so we've consolidated to make it easier to use and set up your jobs. For example, our webforms product-ILINX eForms-we've continued to add enhancements based on user feedback, making the forms easier to create. We've created a Social Security number. It's a heavily used field that people are collecting, so now we have an out-of-the-box Social Security widget that you can grab and drag onto your form anywhere. We take care of validating the object. Label fields have been around for a while, but in ILINX 9.1, we can style those and use the batch or workflow item information to present on the form. We've enhanced the theme editor to give you a little better control over the look, feel, and other things, which allows a little fancier integration with line-of-business information.

Can you tell us more about ILINX Engage?

ILINX Engage is one of our newest products. We're super excited about this and have invested heavily in it. ILINX Engage allows you to easily point and click to create a user experience tailored for the consumer or the particular user. That could be employees, business partners, or customers and constituents or volunteers-it doesn't matter. You can create elegant user interface layouts that focus the end-user right to the work they need to do. That can be seeing dashboards and widgets that present key performance indicators about the workflow, access to forms, approvals, calendar activities, notifications, etc. You can create these different layouts for the user.

So as an employee of ImageSource, I've got two roles. I'm an employee, so I could go into ILINX Engage and kick off a time-off request. I need some vacation or to do some HR stuff and access our holiday schedule. I could see some of our support metrics about calls that are coming in and release schedule stuff. So that's me as an employee, but I also need the ability to work with customers to access ticket information. I may look at our development schedule. I may look at reports for our security scans for example. I can set up different layouts and finetune my focus to my goals within the interface. Again, this can be inside or outside your organization. It's a flexible tool to create these highly engaging user experiences, and it works on a phone, a tablet, any browser, etc.

What else should we know about the ILINX 9.1 release?

Analytics is a tool that we continue to enhance. ILINX Analytics is a tool to create these visual presentations or a business information dashboard. Whether pie charts, area charts, or reports, you can surface critical process information out to your users. These can be secured. It's a great value to embed Analytics within the ILINX Engage user interface. In 9.1, we've added advanced data filtering options to allow you to create dashboards that have very, very important information filtered in precisely the way that you want them. We heard the customer feedback that we had an excellent presentation, but we needed to tease out the correct information. We've done that in ILINX 9.1.

With Content Store, we did a similar type of single sign-on feature as we talked about with Capture. You can now integrate that with Azure AAD for a single sign-on. We've changed how we do annotation security; we didn't take anything away. We streamlined configurations. We're going to have some cool stuff coming out in a future release where we're adding a bunch more annotation types, but we didn't want to get this massive list of things. You're not going to check 100 checkboxes, we are consolidating that, and that's going to be exciting.

You'll see those couple of other products when we start rolling those things out. ILINX Import: we have added the OAuth security integration for Microsoft Exchange Online. It's a little more modern than a basic authentication. That feedback came right from users. We've added additional error handling options. You can handle those more effectively as you work with Import and deal with failed documents or failed imports.

This release scales better for Retention Management. If you're doing tens of thousands of documents, we've improved the user interface with control pagination throughout that set if you need to review them before they're processed. We've also enhanced the audit records. We're producing more information if you want it. If it's a simple delete, maybe you don't want anything, but we have the option to create a little more sophisticated audit reports as those documents process through Retention Management.

Let's not forget Data Loss Prevention.

We've talked about it publicly on many occasions. Our Data Loss Prevention product, now bundled with ILINX 9.1, was released earlier last year. It is an exciting product and essential in today's work-from-home environment with remote work and COVID pushing everybody outside of the office while working on potentially sensitive information. This concept came directly from a customer partner. It's highly needed to ensure information is protected as it goes outside the organization to your work from home or remote workforce. ILINX DLP takes any content that's coming to your workflow. You can add this to an existing workflow; it doesn't break anything. You could create something new, and the system looks at that information as it passes through and, using sophisticated algorithms, identifies potentially sensitive information, like PII. It's configurable. We provide a lot out of the box, or you can tune and tweak if you're going after specific account numbers or the specific information to your business transaction. We can help tailor to find and identify any information you want. Then, we apply a security action on top of that. Now we're not modifying the document. We're using a secure redaction layer on top. Users working inside the office can still see under that set of redactions. If you choose to, you can configure your outside users not to access that data. Suppose the document is accessed outside of the organization. In that case, we burn those redactions into the document, so it is impossible for anyone outside the organization can see or access that information. So that tightly secures that sensitive information before it leaves your DMZ.

Isn't there another new module based on a customer partner's need?

The ILINX Complex Contracts Extraction module is one of the other new products released earlier last year, which we're announcing as part of the 9.1 release package. Suppose you have ever opened a PDF with tabular information and tried to copy and paste information out of that table. In that case, you know that that can be very frustrating, if not impossible. So, what we've done for our customers that need to do volume extraction of tabular information is a solution that allows users to rubber band what they are interested in quickly. We will programmatically go collect that information from the underlying PDF document. That way, you don't have to worry about highlighting and getting the rows and headers and stuff like that. The tool takes care of that for you. Then, we run that through an out-of-the-box formulation script, which puts the data in a column and row format, or you can extend that and do special processing. One of our customer partners will take about three columns and even a tailored script, break that out into seven, eight, or even nine columns, and so very quickly grab one of the tables, and, boom, there are nine columns of information split out. They save that out to an Excel file, which goes to a downstream, line-of-business application, saving them tons of time and is super accurate. They're not retyping information from a PDF or correcting where the cut-and-paste screws up when they paste it into the target document. It's fantastic, user-assistive technology. So, if you need that, I encourage you to contact us because this is an excellent module.

What can you share about a future release?

If you're familiar with the ILINX Export public tool, a simplistic, low-web page that you could configure to surface information out to your user community that was not sensitive. Many of our customers use this tool to integrate invoice presentation into their financial system or ERP system. So let's say I'm in JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, whatever it is, and I'm looking at an invoice. I can click a button on that interface, and, boom, here comes that invoice. Maybe it's my contracts or my vendor contracts master buying agreement, whatever it is. It's relative to this thing I'm looking at in this line-of-business system. It's a super-easy way to integrate content with one of your other applications. We also have several public sector customers using that tool to put public information out on their website for their constituents to grab. So, what are we working on?

In our next release, we will significantly enhance ILINX public access (name pending). Not only will you be able to do the same things you could do with the ILINX Export public and surface documents, like searching, filtering, and viewing, you'll also be able to surface calendars. We have a calendar presentation that shows you the month, week, day, etc. You can click on it, get more information, put live links to Zoom meetings, and things like that. We've got integration with Google Maps to surface geographic information. Maybe you've got documents, case documents, inspection reports, incident reports, whatever, that have geographic information, like an address or a latitude and longitude. We can service that through a map and then allow the users to zoom in. You can click on that and bring up the associated document or associated information -it's super powerful.

We talked about our eForms in this presentation. You can also surface public eForms and provide users or customers the ability to create and participate in business processes. It's an excellent tool for that. You can plug in our dashboard analytics with non-secured information and surface it as charts or public reports; all of this is set up via a single admin configuration. You define what those menu options look like, what they're called, how they present information. You can create quick access menus. You can push it out to other websites. You can create your custom HTML page if you want an about page or something like that. So, it's a super flexible tool. We think you will find lots of different uses for that tool, so we're excited about that.

I do want to point out I love all the front office utility and user experience benefits to functionality and business processes. These have been so traditionally trapped in back-office look and feel, so it's exciting to see that come forward.

I want to be sure we clarify a common question. Some ILINX clients only support Edge today. How does ILINX support additional browsers?

That's a great question. We see more and more of that. If you're using the old Internet Explorer, you'll hit some websites, and they say there's limited support or no support. That is where Flex comes in. Flex is our browser-agnostic client. It allows you single-point access to content, views, workflows, starting workflows, eForms, dashboards, basically everything an end-user could do within the ILINX platform; you can get to it through Flex. You can do that on a mobile phone, tablet, PC, or Mac. So, the answer is the Flex client, and that's going to be a massive investment area for us as we advance, creating an even better user experience and more capabilities. So, I like it. Flex is where it's at.

Can customer partners directly from my ILINX version 8.6 to 9.1?

When we create a new version and a new set of installers, our goal is that you can go from at least two major releases back to that latest release automatically, so certainly any 8 to a 9. That's an automatic upgrade. There's no stop in the middle or any of that. The installer tools will handle everything for you and take you right from 8.6 to 9.1.

Thank you, Randy!

Published by Randy Weakly February 21, 2022
Randy Weakly