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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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HTML5 vs Flash — An Entrepeneur’s Guide

By the end of April, all Discover MLS users will have access to a Mobile-friendly version of the software. This is really just a new front-end (or user interface) to the Discover MLS system — designed for the smaller (and touch-capable) screens of smartphones and pads, and built in HTML5.

Wait…did he say…HTML5??

Yes, that’s right.  The company that brought you the first (and STILL the only) MLS system built in Adobe Flash will soon be the first & only MLS software company delivering an HTML5-based user interface, as well.

This obviously implies that we think Apple isn’t going to relent, and Flash will likely not be supported on iPhone or iPad this year.  I’m still the first to say “it’s only a matter of time” before mounting pressure from Google (i.e.; Android) will force the issue…but we can’t afford to sit around and wait for Steve Jobs to ponder the potential reduction of App Store revenue any longer :)

Footnote: It’s interesting to see that Android’s marketshare is still climbing, even with the iPhone available on a worthy cell network at last!

This also puts Discover in a uniquely-qualified position to discuss the relative pro’s and con’s of developing software in HTML5 and Flash, which is the subject I really want to cover.

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What other choices does the Real Estate Professional have?

With the looming increase for the NAR membership fee — up by 50% — what other choices does the Real Estate Professional have? It seems to me that NAR membership is virtually required to participate in the real estate industry in America today.

Most MLS’s in the country requires NAR membership. All AOR’s/BOR’s require membership. So, in order to access all of the ‘real’ information regarding properties and participate in the compensation, you really have to be a member of this large ‘labor union.’ (See this article: http://realblogging.com/matt-jones/the-emperor-has-no-clothes/).

Is it just a labor union? Is the value equation really there? These are valuable questions and need to be addressed in the face of today’s technology, the way the consumer now demands information and service, social media and the housing crisis. Why does it seem like no one is really asking these questions? And when they do, those who ask and even think about making changes are labeled heretics?

I am not a Realtor, but have been a part of this industry since 1986. I love most of the people in this industry and it has afforded me a living for a long time. For the most part, I think things are working great. I am not qualified to answer some of the questions that I am posing here. However, that being said, I have always wondered what the REAL value of NAR membership is?

I get the advertising. I understand the branding. I completely understand and can see value in the legislative and lobbying area. Continuing education is sketchy to me, having seen so many Realtors that I would never allow to sell my home or represent me in the buying process. You can’t educate someone who is just incompetent.

So, where is the value?  I would love to hear from all of the great professionals in this business.  I know the answers are out there……

Best-of-Breed Integrations

Where should an MLS vendor draw the line on functionality?  Is a full-blown “CMA Package” really a core feature?  How about frame-able IDX search?

An MLS system, at the most primary level, consists of listing input (business rule enforcement), search, and reports.  Sure, I’m the first to push the envelope when it makes sense…but at Discover, our mission is to out-innovate the competition on the primary elements first and foremost.  Everything else is gravy.

These days, merely competing on meat & potatoes is a tall order.  So, when we see an arguably complementary product (or an entire niche) that’s already captured the hearts and minds of agents around the country, we do our best to avoid reinventing the wheel (er, uh, gravy).  Leveraging the strength of industry partners is a win-win-win: our users get great new tools, our partners gain traction (and over time, their products continue to improve as a result), and Discover stays focused on building a better MLS.

In recent months, two products really captured our hearts and minds.  Simply put, it was love at first sight.  Both products filled a void in our software that we were poised to fill/develop ourselves, but these products are so good that any reasonable person considering a “build vs buy” decision has an easy task.

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Firefox 4 is here!

No surprise, of course, but we can confirm that all features of Discover MLS work perfectly in Firefox 4.

When we say our software runs on every browser and OS, we mean it!

Adobe warns of Flash zero-day attack

Earlier this week, Adobe issued a security advisory for a zero-day vulnerability in Flash Player, Reader, and Acrobat.

What does this mean to you?

First of all, what is a zero-day vulnerability in the first place?  It’s a security “hole” in these programs, which a hacker can potentially exploit to install a virus or worm, access your sensitive data, etc…in short, to cause some grief.  The “zero-day” part is a techie term, stemming from the idea that when the developer (Adobe, in this case) becomes aware of the vulnerability, it’s considered “day zero” in their scramble to fix the problem.  In these scenarios, hackers who have already exploited the vulnerability on or before “day zero” obviously have a head start…which is why it’s worth coining a term in the first place.

Not much of a head start on this one, though, because Adobe is already “in the process of finalizing a fix”, expecting updated versions of the software to be made available “the week of March 21″.

When developers of Flash-based software (e.g.; Discover MLS) read the headline on a bulletin like this, it’s an immediate red flag that our users could be at risk.  However, based on the reported attacks, this new exploit has no bearing on a Flash application (or “swiff”, since the filename of any Flash usually ends with .swf) that’s used via a web page.  Instead, the malicious Flash software must be embedded inside a Microsoft Excel file.

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Internet Explorer 9

No surprise, of course, but we can confirm that all features of Discover MLS work perfectly in Internet Explorer 9 (beta version is available for download).
 
When we say our software runs on every browser and OS, we really mean it!

Adobe Flash on mobile

Today, Inman News featured an article by Tom Flanagan titled “Real estate and the future of Web Video”.

Truly a fascinating subject, but Tom makes one statement that is flat-out wrong.  And he’s not alone…I see the same, totally-ironic sentiment expressed pretty regularly, no doubt the result of some brilliant marketing (not to mention Apple consumer fanaticism clouding judgement & rationality).

He says, ”As you know, Flash is not an “open” application. It does not play across some devices — notably the iPhone and iPad.”

To be clear, this is not by Adobe’s choice

The reason Apple has not embraced Flash is simple, and is no secret: if developers can deliver web pages to a smartphone with app-like look & feel using Flash, they won’t have to go through the App Store, and Apple will lose revenue.

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Allow the best to lead, and follow the examples!!

How long will it take the industry to catch up to MRIS, MRED, NorthstarMLS and Houston?  To CEO’s, AE’s, Executive Officers, Board/Association/MLS Presidents…as a general group:  Why are you not running your MLS as some of the best run MLS’s have been running now for the last 10 years?

Since 1986, I have attended all of the NAR Annual meetings, NAR Mid-Year meetings, Executive Officer meetings, and multiple state-wide and regional MLS events.  During this time, most of the attendees listened to what the featured speakers have said and their very intelligent content.  The advice, visions, and facts & figures, though repetitive in nature at times, have been right-on for the leading MLS’s in the US, as well as others around North America (because Canada can manage their business just fine, thank you!).  They invested their time in what they believed was the right direction, investigated the merits and ROI, and said yes to change.
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Pondering the Discover MLS launch

All of us here at Discover Software, proprietors of DiscoverMLS, are wondering just why we got into this business on our own. By all accounts, we should just be licking our wounds and leaving well enough alone.

But then, we did ask ourselves why we were in it to begin with? We thought we had a better mousetrap and a better team to execute the vision. Bring something new, fresh and dynamic to the Real Estate Industry. The timing felt right. Hey, we got our first customer, CAR and the new California statewide MLS! What could be better? Everyone knows how that went, at first.
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