Renault F1 team Interview

Renault F1 Team

January 6th, 2006. Version française

We have interviewed  Fabrice Coutant, Project Manager Intranet/Extranet at Renault F1 Team, the famous French F1 team that won the 2005 Double World Championship for both Pilots and Manufacturers. The Team is based in Viry-Chatillon, France.

Since when do you use Mozilla technologies, and more particularly XUL ?
We have been using XUL for about six months. We use it in different projects in our team. We're still beginners but we already find it very useful.
How do you use XUL ? Do you build extensions ?
That's the choice we made, yes. Our apps are extensions to Firefox. Internet Explorer remains the "official" (at least for the time being) browser, and when a user needs these apps, installing Firefox with the extensions is only a matter of minutes... Furthermore, the extensions' update system  is very convenient and allows to deploy new versions very quickly.
Do you plan to build apps based on remote XUL ?
No, and I am not convinced by remote XUL anyway.
And what about standalone applications (living outside of Firefox that is) ?
We are going to wait a little bit more and see how xulrunner evolves. Hey, well, we already tested our apps with the current version of xulrunner and everything is ok... But we have to live with a multi-platform environment. In the case of a standalone app, we would have to offer a separate build for Windows, Linux, Mac and other Unisses... In our domain, we have to focus on what really matters and optimize time allocation to projects. We are beginners on this technology, we're far away from masterizing it, so what's true today will probably not be true tomorrow...
What kind of applications did you implement using XUL ?
We have built two apps:
In 2005, we have launched a B2B portal for our suppliers. This portal is based on IBM WebSphere. In order to simplify its management, we developed wpsConsole. This console is made of three modules: Users Management, News Management and Document Management.
  • the Users Management module allows to open or delete an account on the portal, manage the account's profile (address, phone, ...), set the access privileges attached to that account, research a contact, and so on. It's also directly connected to our ERP, SAP.
  • the New Management module allows to write/modify/delete news reports with some help for translations
  • the Document Management module allows to push documents to the portal, with version management.

This console is based on Apache2/PHP5/Mysql on the server side.

To keep it simple, our Release group needed a new tool to reorganize all engine part numbers to attach costs, time and other data to groups of part numbers. This console allows to do such a reorg through a simple drag'n'drop. This console is based on Tomcat/Oracle and is, like the previous one, connected to SAP. It allowed to reorganize a corpus of several thousand items in less than a week, and that would have been impossible by other usual means.

These two tools are relatively simple but they allowed us to test and evaluate the technology and see how fast it is to implement. As a matter of fact, we have other projects in line ;-)

On how many machines have you deployed the apps ?
No mass deployment for the time being because only a few people use them. A rough dozen people, I would say.
Thanks Fabrice
Thank you.

Web Site:

Interview by Laurent Jouanneau.

Translation by Daniel Glazman.

Copyright 2006

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