One choice that faced institutions implementing Ellucian’s Banner ERP was deciding between the proverbial “vanilla” install, where schools conformed their processes to Ellucian’s pre-packaged solution; and a highly customized environment that better suited existing business requirements, but required coding customizations not only at the outset, but on a recurring basis… because customizations needed to be re-coded each time Banner re-released a particular form.
Ellucian is promising to take some of the pain out of this choice with Banner XE. The “XE” stands for eXtensible Ecosystem, and a key feature is a complete redesign of their administrative and self-service forms. Simpler customizations no longer require complex inline code changes. Instead, XE forms accept behavioral modification cues from institution-developed custom extensions that live outside the delivered code. Since the institution-specific extensions are not laced directly into Ellucian’s code, new versions of any given form will typically not require a reintegration of the institution’s modifications, drastically reducing maintenance efforts.
XE’s extensibility is built into both Self-Service forms (built on Groovy on Grails), as well as Administrative forms (built on Java). While simple modifications may be applied using custom extensions, there is also always the option to apply more involved customizations directly into Ellucian’s code as well. Ellucian’s education center plans to offer training sessions to developers needing to familiarize themselves with the code behind this new extensible ecosystem.