STEM 7.3 Beta 2 is a fully-supported and reliable upgrade.
The initial STEM 7.3 Beta 1 release has been on general release since the beginning of February and has been very well-received by early adopters. The expectation was to be making the final official release by now, but one key feature remains incomplete in certain subtle details. Our quality prerogative prevents us from claiming a final release now and trying to slip out the final details later. Instead, we are providing very clear guidance on which aspects of the new functionality remain incomplete in order to enable all customers to migrate to the new platform without further delay.
1. Everything you did before, better, and now with documentation
Several customers were keen to get their hands on STEM 7.3 Beta 1 as soon as it was available in order to benefit from the advertised new features, and one or two clients have also been through full training courses on the new system. Their confidence and trust have been rewarded by what was already a very polished and solid system, with only a total of three minor bugs reported in the three months to the end of April.
These bugs have been fixed and we now have every confidence in the integrity of the core interface features and, of course, the validity of the results produced, which are tested systematically at every stage. As an upgrade to the existing functionality in STEM 7.2d, we now recommend this latest STEM 7.3 Beta 2 version to all our clients as the most satisfying and reliable STEM platform to use and we fully support it as the current commercial system.
Besides this acquired confidence, the most significant addition of immediate benefit to all users is the all-important What’s new in STEM 7.3 guide. Although this documentation is still subject to change, pending the completion of the new aggregate handling functionality, it has already been peer-reviewed and thoroughly edited and as such is fully fit for purpose in helping you find your way around the myriad changes we have made to improve the user experience with STEM 7.3.
The new aggregate demand, consumable resource, time factor and capacity period concepts are also explained through a series of pertinent examples covering topics such as power, spares and human resources. Conventionally, a resource had a persistent capacity which could be used in an ongoing sense from one period to the next, such as the maximum bit rate of a broadband link, whereas now you can also model more transient items whose capacity gets used up – literally consumed – as time goes on.
The only outstanding documentation relates to the new HTML-5 export functionality which is still being added to complement the Flash export advertised in recent newsletters. This is being developed with direct input from those clients who have already invested in our hosted eSTEM solution and the general guidance notes will follow when that implementation is stable and complete.
2. Aggregate handling is substantially complete if you want to try it
At over two years in the making, it is no overstatement to say that aggregate handling is one of the most significant developments in STEM functionality since the ability to run a model in months, quarters and years was added in 1998. It is therefore unsurprising that the current What’s new documentation is dominated by the explanation of this profound extension. The breadth of this new material reflects the extent of the functionality already complete; initial reviewers have consistently described the text as ‘challenging’, so it may take you a little while to find the current limitations!
All of the examples cited have been independently tested and verified. Resource and service inputs to transformations are correctly classified as instantaneous or aggregate and aggregate demands are correctly matched to the supply of consumable resources. The new Time Factor transformation works as intended to switch between instantaneous and aggregate demands, and correctly flags any mismatch between the nature of its input and its intended Output Mode. The equivalent functionality in the optional resource Capacity Period also behaves as expected.
The main omission so far (which can be very confusing for the unwary user) is that much of the consistency checking in the Editor remains to be implemented, even though it has already been documented! In particular, the system does not yet raise an error if you try (without a suitable time factor) to match an instantaneous demand to consumable capacity or an aggregate demand to persistent capacity.
The following areas are also still pending:
- proper Output Mode classification for an expression transformation
- proper consideration for consumable resources of advanced features such as deployment, pre-run installation, residual value, planned units and functions
- consumable resources as transformation or value-chain service inputs.
The important thing to understand is that most of this functionality is dormant unless you choose to flag a resource as consumable, so the results of existing models should not be compromised by any of these loose ends.
3. Download with peace of mind; install with confidence
In order to access the installer for STEM 7.3 Beta 2, you will need to visit our website and register for a free account if you have not already done so. As with earlier advice, registering in itself will not guarantee your access to the software. Instead, you will be notified that we have added the relevant permissions within 24 hours if we recognise your email address. Please contact us directly if you have any problems with this process.
An alert visitor to our website will notice that the address bar in their browser has ‘gone green’, signifying that our website is now protected with an extended validation SSL certificate (verified by GlobalSign).
This protection actually establishes two separate things:
- it verifies that the website is really ours and that your browser has not been re-directed through malware to a rogue site impersonating Implied Logic
- it arranges for all traffic with our website, including user registration and log in, to be encrypted from the start, minimising the risk of your credentials or any secure content being compromised by snooping software.
You may also note that all of our web pages now display a GlobalSign site seal, which basically provides a way for you to review the details and validity of our SSL certificate directly from the page content as opposed to the browser controls shown above.
Once you have downloaded the STEM 7.3 Beta 2 installer (or any future update), you will be able to verify its authenticity before proceeding. When you try to open the install program, it will display a security warning asking you to confirm whether you want to run this file, and showing the publisher as Implied Logic Limited. If you click the publisher name, then you can review the code-signing certificate details (again verified by GlobalSign).
Figure 1: Security warning on opening an installer and digital signature details for the publisher
The installed program files as well as the installers are all signed before distribution, so you can verify the source of the executable content at any time. Please contact us immediately if the digital signature illustrated is missing from your new STEM programs.