Erwin Timmerman
Sr. technical writer

We talked to Erwin Timmerman, one of our technical writers, to get his view on our latest AEOS release and what it means for users and the future.

Technical writer? Isn’t that, like, the most boring job in the world?

Everyone hates reading boring manuals, don’t they? So writing them must be the pinnacle of boredom, presumably. Well, in my opinion, not quite. I actually only spend 30% of my time writing. The rest is spent trying out early versions of the product, reporting usability problems and bugs, and talking to almost everyone in the company. I talk to product managers to find out what the product’s supposed to do, engineers to find out what it actually does…and sales people to find out how to make what it actually does fit with the customer needs.

We’re even let in on some gossip talking to all these people; if you want to find out what’s really happening in a company, ask the technical writers. How’s that for boring (laughs)?

But seriously, good manuals can help people help themselves, which makes them feel smart and feel good about the product. And making people feel good about themselves – isn’t that the best job ever? Really?

You’re getting a bit carried away here; we’re supposed to talk about AEOS.

Well, you started by talking about my job being boring (laughs).

Why do you think AEOS 2019.1 is such a major leap forward?

As a technical writer, I’m more or less the “first user” of the product, because I need to put my own user experience into the manual. That way, I learn all about the usability of the product – or the lack of it.

When I joined Nedap Security Management two years ago, AEOS was already a very powerful and versatile access control system. You could make it do almost anything – if you only knew how. Because, while being powerful and versatile, AEOS was also a product by techies for techies. As a techie myself, I could appreciate that. But, as a technical writer, it was quite a challenge to make a product easy to operate when everything related to everything else.

This is where Nedap’s, normally inspiring, flat organisational structure, where everyone is truly equal, actually became a disadvantage in some ways. Everyone contributed great things, but not in a very coordinated way. This resulted in a lot of scattered features. And when you’re moving in all directions at the same time, you’re actually standing still (laughs).

With the new release, the whole team has made a great effort to turn this around. They reinvented their vision. They frequently met with customers to find out where AEOS met their expectations and, more importantly, where things could be improved. Better usability. More speed. Up-to-date data security. Better integrations.

Having felt the change in vibe caused by a clear vision of who we want to be as a company, and having described many new features of this release, I can only say that I’m truly impressed.

  • Impressed with what they’ve done to make AEOS better under the hood. They migrated to a new platform, which made the latest security technologies available, and increased the speed of some operations (including some SOAP calls) tenfold. Tenfold!
  • I’m impressed with what they’ve done to make AEOS easier to configure. For example, they’ve created a Scripting UI tool for defining badge handling scripts. Now you only need to know your card’s configuration, not some kind of complicated script language to enter it into AEOS.
  • I’m impressed with how they’ve made AEOS relevant to end users again. Our old dashboard was slow, and, dare I say it, just plain ugly in today’s standards. It also used flash, which is being phased out anyway. The team converted the whole dashboard to HTML5, and gave it a fresh new look. It’s now a pleasure to use again: beautiful, organized, and responsive. All you could want from a user interface.
  • And finally, I’m impressed with what they’ve done as a team. They really came together and moved on from a bunch of brilliant individuals to a team of brilliant individuals that can achieve anything they’ve set their mind to. In that respect, I see AEOS2019.1 as only the beginning of a truly great new future for AEOS and security management as a whole. Knowing some snippets of what’s in store down the line, I feel excited.

Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure talking to you. Do you have any final thoughts?

Likewise. So it wasn’t as boring as you expected (laughs)? I just hope many customers will join us on our step into the future, with AEOS 2019.1. I’m confident they’ll enjoy using it as much as we enjoyed creating it.

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