This week, we released the AppEngine for SharePoint. This new product is a key piece of our go forward product line. In this intro article I’ll cover what it is, what you can do with it, and what is in it.
What is it?
The AppEngine provides you with an extensive “app” runtime system for SharePoint. It enables organizations to add immediate business value through plug-and-play apps. It is a product you install onto SharePoint 2007 (WSS or MOSS) and it enables you to run any apps that can be built using the Workplace Suite. You can run apps from any CorasWorks App Store app publisher, apps that you build, or apps that you contract to be built for you. In addition, it allows you to customize all apps and to connect up apps and your entire SharePoint environment (including, CW-based apps, all team sites, other types of sites, and any other apps from anyone).
This product is now the first step in the CorasWorks application stack. It is priced differently – $4k for the first server and $8k for unlimited servers and users on a farm. This means that you can scale out your SharePoint production environment with the AppEngine without ANY additional costs.
What can you do with it?
First, you can use plug-and-play apps built for the AppEngine. Standard types of “apps” consist of team sites/workspaces, business processes, departmental apps, project-based apps, department-group-role-and-personal dashboards, portals, and others. Visit the See Apps In Action library to see video demonstrations of a sample of apps in the App Store from CorasWorks and application publisher partners that run on the AppEngine.
Second, you can extensively customize the apps. The AppEngine comes with the CorasWorks Display Wizard used to customize all navigation, displays, and data connections of plug-and-play apps and components that you create. Yes, you can create your own display web parts and navigation to add functionality to your native SharePoint sites, business applications, dashboards, portals, etc.. The product contains extensive documentation and online resources to make it easy.
Third, you can connect apps and build your own “front end” solutions connected to apps and team sites across your environment. You can create your own custom dashboards, portals, my sites, extranets, task-specific consoles, and cross-app connections. These types of “apps” are typically custom designed; the AppEngine makes them easy to create, to customize, and to connect everything up.
You connect things together through the data, through structural connections such as global navigation and line-of-site hierarchies, and through action based task automation, distributed application functionality, and connected workstreams. The AppEngine is used to connect all apps and information across the entire SharePoint environment (across data types, sites, site collections, web applications). The sites/apps may be built using CorasWorks, just native SharePoint, custom built, or, off-the-shelf from a 3rd party vendor – it doesn’t matter. With the AppEngine you can connect them all to create a dynamic, integrated, manageable work environment.
What is in it?
It contains the full core CorasWorks v10 Modular Application System – the same as in the Workplace Suite. Thus, it contains the same data engine, display engine, management engine, and custom actions framework. It contains the full display set for Grids, Calendars, Charts and Navigation. It supports the full set of custom Action types and forms. It contains the Display Wizard and supports Global Links, Lock Down, Central Views, Snaplets, Central Configuration & Management and One Touch configuration – powerful system level features of the Workplace Suite.
The difference is that you don’t use it to design and build apps with custom business functionality, end-user task automation or system activities. It doesn’t include the Builder Wizards from the Workplace Suite, the Timer and Triggers framework, the ability for end-users/site owners to Add or Remove actions from displays or attach Central Views, and, the higher level design and management features of the Workplace Suite. It does allow you to connect to Toolset and any other XML data streams from across your SharePoint workplace or the cloud, but, the Toolset is sold separately.
The AppEngine for SharePoint is a very powerful runtime system for “apps” on SharePoint. It is the front-end piece of the CorasWorks application stack. It is priced to enable organizations of all sizes to immediately get the business value of plug-and-play apps as part of a fully connected work environment on SharePoint without having to worry about additional costs as they scale.
We’ll be drilling down into various aspects of the AppEngine, Apps, and the CorasWorks App Stack in future articles, stay tuned…