GWDG: Maximum simplicity at the press of a button

The application and registration services offered by the GWDG give each of the Max Planck Institutes and the institutes of Göttingen University the ability to access and open all applicant records (and attachments) with one single click. The n2pdf software provides IBM Notes a “one-click solution” in the form of a single button that enables you to merge all of an applicant’s documents into one master PDF file and then conveniently access it.

The GWDG (Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Datenverarbeitung mbH Göttingen) provides teaching and research institutes a powerful and inspired IT infrastructure. More specifically, the GWDG, as a shared corporate facility for scientific data processing and support services, is the university data center for Göttingen University (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) and an IT competence center for the Max Planck Society. Organized into six working groups, the GWDG currently employs a staff of about 125 people.

One of GWDG’s primary tasks is to support science and research by mastering all of the challenges these disciplines face in the following fields:

  • High-performance computing
  • Data processing for research institutes and universities
  • Scientifically based design and organization of information and communications technologies for research projects and university-level teaching
  • Problems involving information and communications technologies
  • The continuing education of scientific and scholarly users
  • Research in the field of practical and applied computer science

GWDG application and registration system

The GWDG offers numerous institutes an application and registration system on the basis of IBM Notes that can be used for such things as job openings or for attending meetings and conferences. Both the Max Planck Society and Göttingen University are working with just such an application system. After registration (with a code) applicants can upload their applications, which generally include multiple attachments such as:

1) Registration documents

2) Letters of recommendation

3) Other supporting documents as PDFs

What is n2pdf used for at GWDG?

Interacting with the Notes database, n2pdf lets you open and use all these documents with one simple click. “This makes the work a lot easier for the users since they no longer have to click through a deluge of documents,” explained Dr. Wilfried Grieger, the head of the Basic Services and Organization working group at GWDG. “All the documents are converted to PDF and merged using n2pdf.”

In combination with n2pdf, the application and registration system through which applicants can upload their materials ensures that the respective evaluators can access specific application packages and open all the documents with just one click. The documents that each applicant submits can then be easily processed, printed and evaluated. Evaluators and other administrators can access these from their IBM Notes client or a web browser. It’s extremely helpful for them to be able to open the documents with one click, especially in light of how the GWDG creates customized IBM Notes databases for each of its clients and naturally wants to make working with them as simple and convenient as possible.

n2pdf was launched at GWDG in 2015

Here is how Dr. Wilfried Grieger described the steps involved in implementing n2pdf: “The first thing we did was make our wishes known to SoftVision. We wanted, for example, to have a single button that with one click would let you open the documents and attachments. We specified a database model and SoftVision did the programming to fulfill our requirements. At first there were a few problems here and there in getting everything up and running with the launch of n2pdf. However, I’m very pleased to say that the support SoftVision Development rendered was nothing less than impeccable and extremely helpful. And because we were able to communicate so closely with one another the glitches were soon resolved.”

The GWDG heard about SoftVision from the Notes community, specifically DNUG – The Enterprise Collaboration Professionals (formerly the Deutsche Notes User Group), as the name SoftVision was mentioned conspicuously often in connection with IBM Notes. “We had heard a lot of favorable things about SoftVision Development through word of mouth, but what really convinced us was the company’s good reputation,” is how Dr. Grieger described the start of the relationship. An active partnership ensued rather quickly. “We have been running the n2pdf solution from SoftVision since the middle of 2015. Using it has proven to be incredibly practical since that time. The one-button user experience couldn’t be any easier and it has really thrilled those who work with the application system on a daily basis. The ability to click once and view all the attachments certainly makes everyone’s job easier,” added Dr. Grieger.

The benefits of n2pdf are plain to see: “We weren’t using any other software prior to n2pdf, but the need for such a solution was definitely there, since those who were evaluating the applications regularly made it known how inconvenient it was having to click so many different attachments in the course of their work, and how they wished they could open them all with one click. They kept telling us about this so often in the past, and at long last n2pdf made it happen.”

How many n2pdf locations and users are there at GWDG?

Dr. Wilfried Grieger gets right to the heart of the matter when talking about how pervasive n2pdf is. ”Basically you could say that we’re using n2pdf as the solution in a great many institutes across all of Germany and in Europe as well. All told there are certainly several hundred locations involved. To be more precise, this means it is in use at about half of both the 80 Max Planck Institutes and the approximately 300 Göttingen University institutes. It’s fair to say that some 1500 users are working with this SoftVision solution.” This is precisely the reason why a further collaboration with SoftVision Development cannot be ruled out, even though there are no specific plans for such at the moment. “Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with the n2pdf tool, we’ve come up with a number of ideas about how SoftVision software can make our work even easier. We’ve ‘acquired a taste,’ so to speak, for working together with SoftVision,” added Dr. Grieger.