We just released the CorasWorks Application Designer. It is a tool that you use to rapidly build the most common types of work management business applications. In this article, I’ll provide you with an overview and explain why it should become the “Just Right” tool for a lot of your business applications.
Getting Started and Building Momentum
It is available for free to all CorasWorks customers on active Premier Support and Maintenance. You’ll find it in the Download section of the new Customer Center. It is available for download by any employees that have been given access to the Learning Centers of the Customer Center (see this article for information on the Customer Center). It requires that you are running v11.3.1 of CorasWorks or greater.
To get going, read the rest of the article, download the tool, upload it to a site collection, create a site with it, and then, build your first app.
When done, templatize that first app, make 10 changes in 30 minutes, and then, deliver your second app for a similar but different need.
Repeat, to create more apps.
Why “Just Right”?
February 13th was our 11th anniversary. For 11 years, we have been committed to helping our customers deliver business applications on SharePoint. Principally, we have done this by offering a powerful Work Management platform and COTS purpose-built solutions. It has worked for many. However, we think there is a large group of people out there that still haven’t been enabled to add business value. We believe that there is a “just right” spot that we haven’t tackled yet.
Let me explain. Our platform requires that you know CorasWorks technology, some SharePoint, and that, you can design a business application. Our off-the-shelf applications deliver the value quickly — if it is the application you need.
So, for some the platform is Too Cold – they can’t get that deep, don’t have the app design skills, not enough time, just not enough there to get over the hump…
For others, the purpose built apps are too much or just don’t apply – let us say Too Hot.
What we’ve done with the CorasWorks Application Designer is to build a “generic” tool that lets you build very quickly and within a well defined application framework to meet that middle majority of application needs. The tool is not overbuilt so that it applies only to a narrow application need. Nor, does it require you to learn much technology to deliver robust apps. It is in the middle – just the right place to start.
All of the elements are there for you to quickly create work management applications. And, whatever you build is a) polished and ready to be put to work, b) very easy to modify and c) even quicker and easier to re-configure to deliver for the next similar, but different, application.
So, not too hot, not too cold, just right.
A Sample Application
What does it looks like? What kind of apps are just right? Here is an example.
I do a lot of work with Federal Government Contractors. They have a department– Contract Administration–that manages their government contracts. They get a huge volume of requests, normally by email, from all parts of the organization. The application is to funnel the requests into a work management application to be centrally managed, assigned, tracked, and reported on. Below is a sample page, All Open Requests, from the application.
How You Get There with Application Designer
You start by creating a new site using Application Designer (or re-using an app already delivered based upon Application Designer). The Application Designer is packaged as a SharePoint template, so it’s as simple as creating a new site using the Application Designer template. Once you create the site, you’re ready to start creating. The Application Designer design canvas shown below is what you use to layout your application.
This easy-to-use designer allows you to lay out your navigation and drop “widgets” into it that provide the functionality. Widgets are navigation items (tabs, buttons), web part pages, displays, actions, and links that build out the user interface. It is rather amazing how productive people can be just because it is easy to visually lay out the application with pre-built functionality.
You can reuse web part pages with web parts as features. So, you can create your first one, and populate it with CorasWorks displays and actions and then clone it for use for other similar pages. For instance, each page above in the “Manage Requests” tab is a clone of New Requests showing different information and with different user work actions.
Each page can be managed here via the Application Designer design canvas. A key feature is the ability to secure each feature/page to a SharePoint Group or one or more users. This enables you to easily design a robust role-based UI within a single app.
You then leverage the CorasWorks Application Wizards (Display Wizard, Action Wizard, Activation Wizard, etc.) to get into details for each feature you’ve added to the app such as custom tailoring the user actions or notifications or reports.
Branding. Yes, people want it to look their way. The Options feature of the Application Designer console allows you to control the look and feel. We’ve incorporated ThemeRoller into the solution. As it sounds, it lets you “roll your own” theme for branding or use one of the default options.
How do I get it? Go to the CorasWorks Customer Center, Download link at the top. You need to be a user that has access to the Learning Centers of the CorasWorks Customer Center. If you are an employee of a customer and don’t have access, just request access from the home page of the Customer Center.
How to learn to get started? See the Application Designer video in the Platform Learning Center. You need to have access to that Learning Center.
How to learn to build with CorasWorks? See the “Essentials” videos in the Platform Learning Center.
Who can help me at CorasWorks? Contact us at CustomerSuccess@corasworks.net. We’ll also set up 1-on-1 sessions with our solution consultants to help you get started.