This post should be aptly subtitled “How to get applications to do what you want.”
There’s a program called Kindy Manager, it’s used for tracking child enrolments in After School Care stuff. This program also syncronises itself with the government CCMS, which is where we were having problems.
See, this program required use of the internet and offered no support for proxy servers.
I’ve heard the “horror” stories from the other schools, some schools paid for another phone line so they could get an extra internet connection that didn’t run through the proxy server (also, the other connection could not be linked up to the school network at all due to security reasons). Other schools had to move their Kindy Manager Database onto a laptop (that is, taking the database off the server and putting it on a workstation), taking that laptop home and running the connection through their home internet connection. The other way was to use one of those NextG cards for it (and sign up to a 12/24 month contract too).
So anyway, I figured I’d do something about it.
I sent off a friendly (but firm) email to the Kindy Manager guys explaining the situation and asked them what to do about it. Sure enough, I get a call later that day (awesome service) which started the ball rolling.
It’s less than 2 weeks since I started talking to them about the proxy issue (the first email was sent on the 5th Mar 09 and it’s now the 17th Mar 09) and the updated version will be available tomorrow from the Kindy Manager website.
Obviously, this method wouldn’t quite work with Microsoft, but when it comes to smaller software development companies, you could just trying asking nicely.
Here’s a few hints: When asking them about adding in a new feature, make sure you explain who you are and your role. Then explain what you (or other people) are doing to get around the problem and how much of a waste of time/pain it is to have to do the work around.
Don’t forget correct contact details and to be quite polite, software companies don’t want to have to deal with angry users.
Remember that software companies build their software for you, the user. Make sure you let them know exactly what would make their software a better thing to work with.
EDIT (18th March): So, we got the new beta copy to test out.. Looks like proxies are sort of working, but there’s a few more bugs to work out… Won’t be long now 😛
EDIT2 (20th March): Waiting on the bugs to be fixed 😛