BOARDWALK

TECH

FAQs

Sharing a digital ledger between multiple users, systems, and applications is now possible. Of course, you might have some questions...

Boardwalk is a multi-party digital ledger blockchain database designed for collaborative, multi-party, mission-critical applications which rely on a digital information exchange internally and externally.

To enable this, a unique database technology has been developed to enable enterprise-quality processes driven by tabular data environments. Boardwalk is used to store and retrieve data using a row & column address but with two additional dimensions added to each cell update—user and time. As changes are made, inserts are made to the digital ledger capturing the cells that have changed and all updates are immutable and associated with an transaction ID. Boardwalk's unique, patented digital ledger database means you can collaborate using a shared range (or ranges) of positional data. In addition, role-appropriate row & column-level access control to the data is automatically controlled by Boardwalk or leveraged through another enterprise application. 

All the capabilities of Boardwalk are exposed through a rich set of Boardwalk APIs which have been developed to support creating and managing tabular data in any UI.

Boardwalk is very different than other products that support "collaboration" because Boardwalk supports collaboration between any number of users and systems at the cell level.  Boardwalk lets you select positional data in ranges, like a PrintArea, and links the cells to a Boardwalk Server running on top of a traditional relational database which captures the data and formulas stored in the positional range of data and then presents this shared range back to any number of user in the positional data environment (often a spreadsheet) on their desktop, on-demand. 

That means that once the data is linked into Boardwalk – the “single version of the truth” for that data is on the server – and when users look at their local data, they are seeing a representation of that data that has been designated for them to see. In other words, with Boardwalk, instead of managing files, you are managing positional data at the cell level.

This unique (patented) technology includes:

  • An industry-standard relational database management system with a specialized schema and an “abstraction layer” which runs on top of the relational database to manage the interaction between the tabular row & column world of the UI and the record storage world of a relational database.
  • A desktop virtual machine (VM) which manages interaction between local spreadsheet-based data.
  • A browser-based application which can be used within existing applications to enable "positional" data management.

Boardwalktech's approach to collaboration is much different than other enterprise applications. Boardwalk takes a range of "data" (data and formulas) from a spreadsheet or other tabular data source and populates that into a patented "positional" database. Once in the database, the data can be used to support a collaboration between multiple users working in locally-stored VMs or through a tabular browser interface. Every time a user makes a change, it is versioned in the Boardwalk database and then, regardless of whether the user is working locally or through the browser, the changes are synchronized between all the users automatically using the "single-version-of-the-truth."

Boardwalk’s approach to conflict resolution is to present all changes from all users during a given period to the participants-- this is a unique part of our versioned database system which lets multiple users work concurrently and in isolation. All changes are presented to the user who can then determine which one "wins" which, in our parlance, means is made the current version. There is no check-in/check-out and locking out users while concurrent updates are being processed. It's important to note, too, that all the non-winning changes are not lost. Our users prefer this approach to wading through endless "conflict forms" to determine which change should win.

All updates to the Boardwalk data can be accessed through a query and used to support analytics. For example, you can compare the current data with a change last week by a particular user. You can compare any slice of data against any other slice of data within the Excel or any other reporting environment enabling robust report presentations & analytics.

When an individual user makes changes, they "submit" the changes (including structural changes like a new column, added/delete rows assuming they have permissions to do so) back to the Boardwalk server. Boardwalk tracks every change to every cell whenever a user submits changes to the Boardwalk Server. These changes are captured as versions which can be used for change reports, other analytics, and to drive smart contract if/then logic. When another user then "refreshes" the latest data from Boardwalk, all changes made by any other user will be brought locally into that user's local version. A typical version control system is one-to-many whereas Boardwalk is many-to-many.

You can produce reports that show all the changes to every shared cell, row, or the entire range of shared data, who made them, when, and why. You can see changes made by both other users and other systems. All changes are immutable and tamper proof.

Boardwalk supports checks and validation such as being able to verify that all required input has been captured or that changes made do not exceed an allowable amount. There is another layer of validation that is possible at the server level such as validating part numbers and customer names with an ERP system before allowing updates from process users. 

Web-based spreadsheet applications are just that—web-based. You cannot continue to work with your desktop data in conjunction with a web-presentation of the same data. To be truly a “collaborative" data environment means you must work across the enterprise and not be constrained to the local spreadsheet or just to a browser spreadsheet. With Boardwalk, you have an enterprise-quality database managing the tabular data & formula and the collaboration and consolidation requirements of all the users involved in the collaboration regardless of whether they are working on their desktops in isolation or through a browser-based spreadsheet. Boardwalk can be used to extend web-based spreadsheets to include row and column access control, change management, and integration with other applications. Contact us to find out how.

Boardwalk is able to leverage Excel logic capabilities, which means if you can model your data requirements using a tabular (row-column) environment including business logic, then it will work the same way with Boardwalk. For example, if you want to work with both the booking and ship date, the ship date can be an automatically calculated date based on either a fixed lead-time ratio or it can be specific to each part (unit). Any logic model in Excel driven by a formula is easily incorporated into Boardwalk and the unit booking and shipment information can be captured in additional columns. Also, since data entry is governed using cell-level access control, you can set it up such that an individual ship date can be adjusted manually if required. All changes are also tracked at the cell level so you can always know who has made what change and why.

For applications which leverage Excel as the UI, Boardwalk fully leverages Excel's capabilities for data manipulation and reporting. Since Boardwalk shares a "range" of data, users can have other data models within their Excel workbooks (like commission calculations for sales reps) which is not shared with others, but is driven by the shared data. This means there's no "export" and associated risk of version mix up — all data manipulation is done in and managed by Excel.

Boardwalk supports two-way collaboration and consolidation which means in addition to rolling up information from process users, information from any other system can be integrated and viewed by any authorized users. Boardwalk can take information from ERP and order management systems and automatically merge this data into any process seamlessly.

Document management and workflow solutions work at the file level. Boardwalk provides a cell-level version management solution which is a perfect compliment for content management applications.

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