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The History of @MApp

A Rules Based Drafting Application

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   @MApp is a "Rules Based" drafting application that runs within AutoCAD Map. It began simply out of a need at TCI Northwest in the Spring of 1999. At that time TCI had a "defined" drafting standard in chapter 4 of its Construction Manual. Unfortunately there were no tools to enforce the defined drafting standard and no time to manually check system maps because of a complete plant rebuild that was going on at the time.

   Because of that plant rebuild there were system maps coming in from multiple design contractors for different areas in both Oregon & Washington. Although the system maps all looked alike visually, they were vastly different when you began to dig into the electronic copies, things such as layer names, block definitions, & block scales just to list a few of the extreme inconsistencies encountered. In some cases there were inconsistencies in maps that came in from the same design contractor.

   TCI had a need to extract data from these system maps and push it into its billing system for provisioning reasons so it could provide new, expanded services to its customers. At the time Technical Design & Drafting founder, Evan Wagner, was the Design & Drafting Supervisor for TCI Northwest and it was his responsibility to extract that data from the maps, along with his other responsibilities such as receiving & maintaining the system maps (electronic format), and issue hard copy prints to construction for the rebuild. It became increasingly impossible to extract the needed data from the system maps because the drafting inconsistencies were too vast. Any code or routines to extract the data had to be manually edited from one map to the next. It was at this time that Evan Wagner made his somewhat famous quote to his supervisor Sean Bristol and Rebuild Director, Marv Hansen, of "The only thing our maps are good for is printing".

   In the Summer of 1999 TCI Northwest secured funding from TCI West Division to pursue the creation of a rules based drafting application that would enforce TCI's drafting standards. This was done with the help of the Western Division Engineering Director, Patrick O'Hare, because he saw the need for maps to be in "any" drafting standard if we wanted to use the engineering data to its fullest capabilities, such as extracting address data for provisioning.

   In July of 1999 Evan Wagner went to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for a 2 day demonstration with the company Kanotech. Kanotech had developed an application for a Canadian power company that enforced drafting standards. Additionally it had a "Connectivity Trace" feature that allowed relationships to be made between equipment as well as the poles or pedestals the equipment was mounted on. Couple this with the fact that Kanotech had written the source code for the first 2 releases of AutoCAD Map and Kanotech was awarded the contract to build TCI's drafting application.

   The development of the application took roughly 1 year during which time every detail of the TCI drafting standard was reviewed, changed, added to, or removed as needed by Project Manager Evan Wagner. During this development time TCI was acquired by AT&T Broadband and the name of the drafting application came to be ATT_MApp, AT&T Mapping Application.

   ATT_MApp version 3.1 was released August 2000 in Denver, CO. During the release week Evan Wagner trained both design contractors and AT&T Broadband regional drafters in separate training sessions. The material used for these training sessions were 1) the ATT_MApp Tutorial written by Evan Wagner, 2) the ATT_MApp Users Manual written by Curtis Hannah, Alex Lepeska, and Evan Wagner. Both of these documents are still in use today with modifications as needed for each new release.

   In October 2001 ATT_MApp version 3.5 was released with a slight change to its name. It was now ATT_MAppDR meaning it was the "Drafting" version of the ATT_MApp application, thus the DR addition. This was because ATT_MAppFM, the Fiber Module, was in development at the time. Training for ATT_MAppDR v3.5 was done at individual company locations by Evan Wagner for both AT&T Broadband offices and design contractors on an as needed basis. These were mostly new regions AT&T Broadband had acquired and new design contractors, both of which did not participate in the release week training the previous year.

   April 2003 saw the next release and during the development of this release Comcast acquired AT&T Broadband. In an effort to remove the AT&T Broadband brand name from all Comcast properties ATT_MAppDR was renamed to @MAppDR. So in April 2003 @MAppDR version 3.6 was released. v3.6 introduced tools to draft vertical plant, channel drop & insert networks, and create multiple plot views or layouts to accommodate vertical plant, which had been a huge need in major metropolitan areas.

   In early 2003 Comcast Washington implemented a data storage system known as CADX, which is managed by Curtis Hannah. With CADX all the Comcast Washington's system maps were loaded (scraped) into an Oracle Spatial Enterprise database. CADX now acts as the "translator" between @MAppDR and Oracle. With all of their engineering & map data in an Oracle database Comcast Washington has been able to leverage that data for all kinds of business needs that has increased both subscriber penetration and revenue. The foundation that allowed Comcast Washington to do this was "@MAppDR" because it so efficiently enforced the Comcast drafting standard. That lead to a level of ease in building the CADX application because the drafting standard was accurately defined and there were no surprises in the systems maps that were scraped into CADX. Today @MAppDR is still enforcing Comcast's drafting rules making it possible for CADX to receive the engineering data, serve out the engineering data, and store it in a Oracle Spatial Enterprise database.

   @MAppFM version 3.5 was released briefly in April 2004. Because of its reliance on .dwg flat files it never got any traction and was only briefly implemented in Comcast Washington and Utah.

   In 2005 we were developing @MAppRF v3.65 with Evan Wagner as its Project Manager for Comcast and Darrin Maidlow for Kanotech (now with LegacyX) but its last Beta release was September 2005. The @MAppRF application performed RF & power engineering calculations dynamically or live during the drafting process. The last hurdle was its Return calculations, but everything else worked extremely well. @MAppRF's downfall was that it also worked in .dwg flat files. With Comcast moving towards an Oracle Spatial Enterprise database solution development on @MAppRF v3.65 was halted along with its funding.

   July 2007 saw an upgrade to @MAppDR with the release of the @MAppDR v3.6.2 upgrade patch. This upgrade patch was completed by Evan Wagner via edits to @MAppDR's custom lisp file and configuration databases that house all the drafting rules used by @MAppDR. This patch was needed to help all the Comcast @MApp markets implement the new engineering architecture know as "Fiber Deep" design.

May 2009 saw a follow up with the @MAppDR v3.6.3 upgrade patch. This upgrade was completed in the same manner as the previous upgrade with Evan Wagner making edits to @MAppDR's custom lisp file and configuration databases that house all the drafting rules used by @MAppDR. This v3.6.3 upgrade was implemented to support Comcast's "All-Digital" and  "Fiber - Cellular Back Haul" drafting and/or engineering needs.

   @MAppDR has been nothing short of a huge success for TCI, AT&T Broadband, and now Comcast. It has always been a very user-friendly application allowing AutoCAD drafters to learn and understand the application quickly. Because of its enforcement of Comcast's drafting standards and rules, design contractors have confidence that their submitted maps will be accepted by Comcast because they have received @MAppDR's automated QA stamp. Comcast Washington has been able to then scrape those maps with confidence into its Oracle Spatial Enterprise database knowing they are loading a map that adheres to their drafting standard.

   If you would like to read published articles regarding @MApp then click here to be taken to a page that will direct you to those articles or publications.

 
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     Last Updated: 01/28/2017