Welcome to Curtis’ Corner 
A learned man’s view of the JDA, now Blue Yonder, latest release of the Category Management suite. Learn more about the Blue Yonder Category Management Suite here.

Short Read:

If you’re upgrading to Microsoft Windows 10 (32-bit or 64-bit), then you’ll want this JDA release for the official support of the Windows 10 operating system.

Space Planning and Floor Planning’s ability to access up to 4 GB of memory on a system running the 64-bit OS is great news for users who want to work with huge multi-planogram projects or big floorplans with extensive 3D visualization.

If you use more than one Blue Yonder Category Management Suite application and want to upgrade, you should upgrade all your applications at the same time to provide cross-product functionality. According to JDA, some applications in the 9.1.0 release are not compatible with earlier releases. We see this particularly with Assortment Optimization and Space Automation Professional, due to rapid advancements in their functionality.

Note that most applications use the Microsoft .NET Framework, and 9.1 now requires Microsoft NET Framework 4.5.2.  If your PC operating system has an earlier version, the installation will warn you.

Click on the links below to read our summary for each application

Space Planning

The biggest technical change is being able to access up to 4 GB of memory on a 64-bit operating system. The previous limit of 2 GB still applies to 32-bit systems. For customers who were pushing the boundaries of performance, this increase enables Space Planning to load more data, such as more planograms and their product images. You will still want to pay attention to the ‘memory available’ warning on the Status Bar to avoid going into the red ‘low memory’ zone because the Windows architecture makes it practically impossible for applications like Space Planning to recover when it has run out of available memory.

The biggest functional change is the search bar in the Planogram Explorer, allowing you to search for text in all fields configured for the currently selected Planogram Explorer tab. The search automatically expands and selects the matched record in the Explorer view, with options to continue searching forward or backward from the currently matched record. Your last 10 successful search requests are stored for easy recall of previous search terms.

Some users may find it useful to configure how facings and capacity are affected when changing between the Unit merchandising style and other merchandising styles, such as Tray or Case. You can choose to retain the exact number of units in each direction (high, wide, deep), or in the primary direction only (e.g. horizontal facings on a shelf), or retain the total number of units (to maintain capacity), or replace each unit, case, or tray with the equal number of facings for the selected merchandising style.

​​​​Floor Planning

If the enhancements added to Space Planning 9.1 for Windows 10 support and 4 GB of memory are compelling reasons for you to upgrade, then you will be pleased to know these are also supported by Floor Planning 9.1.

Although there are not many new features, this release was clearly focused on technical upgrades and quality improvements. If you use Floor Planning with Category Knowledge Base, the large number of fixes is good news and should be a compelling reason to upgrade.

If you use 3-dimensional planogram models for 3D visualization (in FBX or 3DS file format), then you’ll welcome the internal upgrade to the new FBX SDK (Software Development Kit) from Autodesk. This technology upgrade provides 3D rendering enhancements with many bug fixes (see the Floor Planning Release Notes for a complete list of all the fixes). Combined with the increase to 4 GB (on 64-bit systems) this should provide robust 3D visualization of floorplans with 3D models of planograms.

Space Automation Professional

This programming application now works with Visual Studio 2015, in addition to the previously supported Visual Studio 2013.

In addition to a dozen new commands, your in-house developers will likely appreciate being able to use the keyboard to navigate the Command Explorer. The arrow keys move the current selection, and typing partial command names will select the next matching command. New command dialogs make it easier for developers to visualize required and optional parameters. Also, operators can now include ‘<>’, and ‘!=’ for conditional WHERE statements to specify a negative condition.

Space Auto Profesional is a fully functional application that can replace the legacy Space Automation product. A word of caution:  The skill-set required to write these script executables is very different than the skills required of business users using the legacy Space Automation. IT staff familiar with working in Visual Studio will be very comfortable with Space Automation Professional, but it’s a paradigm shift for most users.

Due to the rapid evolution of Space Automation Professional, you should keep the versions upgraded and synchronized with Space Planning or Floor Planning for full access to each application’s capabilities.

Space Automation
JDA continues to support the classic Space Automation, as demonstrated by fixing bugs and officially supporting it on the new Microsoft Windows 10 operating system (32-bit or 64-bit). However, new enhancements are focused on Space Automation Professional since it provides more robust capabilities using industry-standard development methodologies.
 
Talk to us if you have classic scripts that you would like migrated to Space Automation Professional as we continue to increase our conversion capabilities.

​​Category Knowledge Base

All Category Knowledge Base components are now supported on the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, and Oracle 12c and SQL Server 2014 databases.

With this release, there are over 60 customer-reported issues resolved and other quality refinements have been applied, many of which may present compelling reasons for companies to upgrade to 9.1. Please contact us for a brief run-down of the key enhancements that may be important to your business. Some highlights include:

  • Extra warnings when you’re about to delete items
  • Fixture on fixture improvements when creating a Version
  • OLAR enforcement for NT users
  • Searching by ID in addition to UPC in Open Access
Open Access

The ongoing effort by JDA to replace the classic Data Manager with the modern Open Access continues with several improvements and new capabilities. Whether you can replace Data Manager with Open Access depends on your requirements. Contact us if you would like help in determining your reliance on Data Manager vs. the benefits you’ll get using Open Access. Keep in mind that you can still operate with both applications in place to deliver a more robust functional environment.

In addition to updating the Open Access web interface to meet usability standards applied to other JDA web applications, there have been several usability improvements to the Planogram and Floorplan Viewer for collapsing explorer lists, and toggle options to display or hide various details. 

The biggest productivity enhancement is Web Publisher’s store-based navigation providing easier selection of stores. Accessing floorplans and planograms are automatically filtered based on your assigned Object Level Access Rules. If store-based navigation is enabled and you have access to only one store, that store is selected automatically.

To assist administrators, a new Open Access Administrator Guide provides an overview of the tasks required to configure, customize, and maintain the Open Access web application (with sample code). To assist with customization, an Open Access API Reference document is also included.

Planogram Generator

If you need to automate planogram pegboard production, upgrading to Planogram Generator 9.1 provides several compelling features to support the complex merchandising inherent in pegboards. For example, when the template has pegboard positions arranged in rows or columns, the option Follow template places positions as closely as possible to their relative locations in the template. If the next position in the sequence won’t fit in the remaining space in the row or column, the option Allow resequencing for better fit evaluates the dimensions of the subsequent positions in the sequence to see if they fit, with the remaining sequenced positions placed in the next available row or column. The option Allow micro rows/columns enables multiple narrow positions to be arranged within the width of a wider column. The option Spread positions evenly distributes leftover space between rows and columns, between positions within a row or column, and also centers positions horizontally within a column or vertically within a row.

There are some enhancements for general use, including the option to copy text boxes from the template planogram to the target planogram, and the Copy tags to target option copies tag values from the template to the target planogram.

A significant enhancement in the Enterprise version is configuring the Planogram Preparation interface in Category Knowledge Base to use a SQL statement that automatically assigns planogram names to the target planograms created during the planogram generation process.

If you don’t have the Enterprise version that is integrated with Category Knowledge Base and JDA Space Planning, the client version (myPG) that utilizes just Space Planning is an affordable solution. With Space Planning 9.1 being able to support up to 4 GB of memory on a 64-bit operating system, myPG is even more robust at generating many planograms quickly based on your templates and action lists. We have done extensive testing on myPG and can provide insight into this great tool. Note that this application is intended for small to medium-sized companies who have not invested in the Category Knowledge Base that is required for the full Enterprise version of PG.

Assortment Optimization

Several enhancements have been applied to the Assortment Tree Editor view and the Scorecard view to improve usability, with new ability for spreads and roll-ups to transfer Boolean (True/False or Yes/No) fields to other levels in the assortment.

Significantly, the new tactic Product Replacement enables you to identify products to be deleted from the current assortment and additional products to replace the deleted products based on specified criteria (and transfer data from the deleted product to the replacement product).

If you utilize store-specific capabilities in the Category Knowledge Base, the new Store Assignment view enables you to assign stores from a Category Knowledge Base database to an assortment. This enables other Category Management applications that use store-specific data to be aware of the assortments assigned to each store.

JDA continues to enhance the Assortment Generator, which can generate mass numbers of assortments to find an optimal solution. You can import assortment data into the project based on pre-configured import settings, which can include a Where clause to filter the data.

Note that Assortment Optimization 9.1.0 is not compatible with earlier versions of the other applications in the Category Management Suite. If you use more than one Category Management application, all applications must be upgraded at the same time to provide cross-product functionality.

Our take on this release:

Because the 9.1 release comes only 4.5 months after the 9.0 release, it is understandable why the applications do not contain a significant number of new features. However, the handful of SIG prioritized enhancement requests and the focus on technical upgrades and quality refinements make this a compelling upgrade for power users and companies that want to increase user productivity.

If you aren’t upgrading to Microsoft Windows 10 and your current version has the functionality and quality you need, upgrading all your Category Management applications at the same time can be a significant investment for your IT and management and you may want to wait for a future release.

Interested in upgrading? Learn more here.

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