We've released Version 2017 of Frontline Solvers for Excel and AnalyticSolver.com, our cloud SaaS platform! There's a lot that's new, from product names and more flexible licensing, to a new "starter" product Analytic Solver Basic, easier ways to evaluate our products and upgrade, and of course, many feature and performance enhancements.

Simplified Product Line

Since we've learned that many first-time users found our product names (Premium Solver, Risk Solver, XLMiner, etc.) and the "Pro vs. Platform" distinction confusing, in V2017 we have simplified things! Check out our Product Overview for details, but here's a summary:

Given the changes to products and licensing, we highly recommend that existing customers contact us so we can update your license subscription BEFORE you download and run the V2017 SolverSetup program. (If you don't do this, you may not be able to run your large models right away.) This is especially important if you own a license for Risk Solver Pro, XLMiner Pro, or Analytic Solver Pro V2016, because there is no direct equivalent of these products in our simplified V2017 product line.

Analytic Solver Basic: Advanced Analytics for Learning

In this release, we're making available to all users Analytic Solver Basic V2017, a new version of our extremely popular Analytic Solver Platform for Education software, formerly offered only for university MBA programs, and used for learning by hundreds of thousands of students. Analytic Solver Basic includes every feature of Frontline’s analytics software, but handles only limited-size models and datasets. (All of the 100+ example models and datasets included with the software can be used.) A software license is just $250 per year and includes both the desktop version and access to AnalyticSolver.com. Paired with Solver Academy, our new online learning platform (more on that later), Analytic Solver Basic offers a way for you to gain "advanced analytics ninja" skills.

Test Run Summary Only: The Ongoing Free Trial

Where you've been used to a 15-day free trial, Analytic Solver Basic gives you an ongoing “free trial” opportunity for all the large-capacity products that we offer. At any time, you can create or open a model larger than the limits of the product you have – and run it – even if it requires a plug-in large-scale Solver Engine. V2017 will enter “Test Run Summary Only” mode, and actually run the problem, but it will deliver only summary information such as the final objective in optimization, or key statistics in simulation/risk analysis. Then it will show you the best upgrade option to run your model repeatedly for full results. You can just click a button to upgrade with a credit card, or get a PDF quote emailed to you. You pay for only the upgrade you need -- optimization, simulation, or data mining. But you'll still have access to all Analytic Solver Basic features, as well as your upgrade's capacity and speed.

New ‘Adobe-Like’ Software Licensing System

Also in V2017, we've implemented a new cloud-based software licensing system, similar to the approach taken by Adobe Systems. You can now install and use our software on multiple PCs, such as a desktop, laptop, home PC, or virtual machine – but use only one of these at a time. (For companies, our multiple-user license option allows you to share a license among multiple users and multiple machines, without having to run a special ‘license server’.) The software can be used while disconnected from the Internet, for lengths of time specific to the license. Full details are available here -- we highly recommend reading them!

Very High Performance Evolutionary Solver

V2017 features further significant enhancements to our Evolutionary Solver for optimization, focusing on difficult non-smooth, non-convex models with integer variables. We'd really like to hear how it performs on your models! In our benchmark tests, we've found that it performs as well or better than anything else we've seen, for these types of models.

Data Mining Enhancements and PMML Support

In V2017, predictive models that you have "trained" against past data are saved in industry-standard PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language) form, on "stored model" worksheets. The Score button still works as before, using these stored models -- and we have new, simpler Excel functions that allow you to apply models to new data in any Excel worksheet. But you can also use your trained models in a wide range of other software -- even in R, with the PMML package! Other data mining enhancements include:

  • Ability to create ensembles of any mix of six different classification methods and four different prediction methods
  • Direct use of categorical variables in many predictive algorithms that, in other analytics software, can use only continuous variables
  • Ability to “fit,” store and apply to new data a wide range of data transformation and unsupervised learning tools, such as PCA and clustering
  • Enhanced neural networks with any number of layers, and better scaling, training, and activation function options
  • Enhanced reports and charts, especially for model evaluation, and simplified functions to apply predictive models in Excel worksheets

We look forward to your feedback on our latest labor of love!

P.S.: There's more: Support for very high resolution (4K) monitors, and support for a new version of Tableau Software’s Web Data Connector.