Victim/Witness Assistance Centers (VWACs)
GovIS Victim Witness System
"I decided to use Iron Speed Designer to build the first application because it is the only tool that met my needs. Back up this superior product with excellent customer service, and you have a winning solution. I am confident that Iron Speed Designer will help you succeed in your software development endeavors!"

- Michael Sumption, President and CEO of GovIS

GovIS Victim Witness System

Redding, CA USA

The GovIS Victim Witness System (GVWS) is a case management and reporting system for Victim/Witness Assistance Centers (VWACs), which are based mostly in county governments and some private non-profit organizations. VWACs are funded through state, federal, and other grants to provide services to victims of crime. In some cases, victims are eligible to apply for reimbursement compensation for their losses due to the crime.

Representative customers include:

North Las Vegas Police Department, Las Vegas, Nevada
Shasta County, California

The primary user of the system is the Victim Advocate, who collects information about the victim and the crime. This information is used for processing compensation applications and funding sources, as well as internal statistical reporting. The GVWS software can be deployed to the customer's site or can be subscribed to via an ASP model.

The Victim Witness System includes these features:

New Case/Person Wizard: An easy step-by-step process for entering all the required information of a new case or person. The application for compensation is then printed.
Data tracking for cases, persons (with 1x entry), addresses, phone numbers, AKAs, crime, charges, injuries, expenses, employers, providers, insurance, civil suits, and services.
Report printing for case management and grant requirements, including statistics.
Easy to use and familiar Web-based user interface, with navigation bar and an online video-style help system.
Individual and case notes log.
Staff appointment scheduling.
Event notifications by e-mail.
Grant management.
Staff/volunteer management with custom views.
Custom reporting and form letters (requires Business Objects Crystal Reports).
Comprehensive security with users and roles including LDAP (e.g. Microsoft Active Directory) integration for user authentication.
Flexible multi-tier Web-based design for easy integration with add-on components, other systems, and adaptation for each State's Victim/Witness Program and regulation changes.

Application size and scope

There are approximately 200 Web pages in the application. The application uses one database that includes 62 tables, five database views, and two custom stored procedures. There are approximately 20,000 records in all of the tables.

The project

I have been developing software for more than 16 years in various languages and tools. I was not a Computer Science major, so I consider myself more a Business Systems Analyst/System Architect. The entire product was completed within 1,200 man-hours, including design, software development and documentation. The Iron Speed Designer portion of the project comprised about 70% of the project (~ 840 hours), with the remaining 30% for database, design, licensing, and system help tasks. However, the 840 Iron Speed Designer hours also included my learning curve (about 5% of the time) and significant code customizations (70% of the time). Business logic code customizations accounted for 15% of the effort, and the remaining 10% of the Iron Speed Designer portion was page customization and tweaking.

Code extensions and customizations

Because GVWS is a productized application, the code extensions and customizations are quite extensive. We customized the following items:

Report criteria and viewer pages integrating Business Objects Crystal Reports.
Authentication handling for Active Directory and NDS.
Display and handling to scatter/gather data from ASP.NET Checkbox List controls.
Handling for "expired" and "system" code/list values in Drop Down Listbox controls.
Show Table pages into specialized search pages.
Handling for saving/retrieving pagination settings using cookies.
Delete record confirmation handling.
License validation handling.
Help system integration.

Several of the customizations only required a few lines of code; others required a few hundred lines of code. The project makes extensive use of Infragistics user interface controls and Business Objects Crystal Reports.

Page layout customizations

A custom design theme was created for the project with these enhancements:

A new custom style sheet.
Reformatted page templates.
Custom report criteria and viewer pages integrating Business Objects Crystal Reports.
The Header user control (ascx) contains the application title area and several custom "main" menu buttons.
The Menu user control (ascx) contains an Infragistics WebListBar control with embedded Infragistics TreeView controls, which serve as the primary navigation controls for the application.
The Footer user control (ascx) is removed.
The page body was reformatted slightly for the table and record controls.
Custom display and handling to scatter/gather data from ASP.NET Checkbox List controls.
Customized Show Table pages for specialized search pages.

Metrics for success

This is the second time that I have developed this application. The first application was developed in Borland Delphi for my former employer and was completed in nine months with 1.5 developers and required approximately 2,300 man-hours. The new project built with Iron Speed Designer was completed in far less time with a net savings of 1,100 man-hours.

Iron Speed Designer impact

I have built custom frameworks with pseudo code-generation capabilities in Sybase PowerBuilder, Borland Delphi, and Microsoft VB.NET. However, I have never been fully satisfied with the results. I kept looking for a product with a comprehensive solution. My product requirements were:

Build the entire application in my language and database of choice.
Multi-tier, Web-based.
Extensible, open source.
Customizable user interface.
Based on best practices.
Easy to use.

About two years ago, I came across Iron Speed Designer and I evaluated it for about a year. When I founded GovIS, LLC, I decided to use Iron Speed Designer to build the first application. It met all the criteria above. Iron Speed Designer was a good product that has evolved into a great product. Backup a great product with excellent service and you have a winning solution!

Next steps

I plan to expand the system I have created using Iron Speed Designer to other Victim Programs throughout the United States. Our long-term goal is to eventually expand the program into a comprehensive criminal justice system.

About the developer

Michael Sumption is President and CEO of GovIS, LLC, a software development, training, and consulting firm in Northern California. Michael has been developing applications with Infragistics controls for more than three years and has been using Iron Speed Designer for over a year.

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