CorasWorks Community Builds Out in 2009

My – what a year it has been.  Thanks for being there, and, I hope you feel we were there for you.  One year ago, CorasWorks didn’t have an online Community at all, we were coming off a new customer acquisition binge, we were running on CorasWorks v9, SharePoint 2010 was no where in sight, and, we were all staring at a very gloomy looking 2009.

In January of 2009, Gary Voight, our CEO sent an email to customers and partners.  In it, when looking forward to 2009, he said “Beyond the current financial crisis we do have several challenges, but the most significant is helping our customers profitably expand the use and value of SharePoint.“

During 2009, we knew that new customer growth would be constrained and that our customers really needed us to help them be productive.  So we focused on helping our customers succeed.  It was definitely the year to make the switch.  Between the Community, our products, our services, and our partners efforts, we have delivered innovation, education, and support to help our customers better use our products to leverage their investment in SharePoint.  In case you’ve missed a few things, here is a rundown of what went down, with a bit of the rationale, and, some color coding to spice things up:

January – We released v1 of the CorasWorks Community to the world.  It was basically Forums, Blogs and a place for downloads.  But, it was built on a very flexible architecture – CorasWorks on SharePoint.  We had the base to start.

February – We started to release initial apps built on v9 of the Workplace Suite to the Community. On February 19, 2009, we released v10 of the Workplace Suite and v1.3 of the Toolset.  With the v10 release, we started the cycle of releasing the Suite with the Toolset at the same time.  The v10 platform was designed to be able to move customers forward with Ajax Forms, Rich Internet Apps and much more.  The plan was for v10 to be designed to be able to bridge customers to SP 2010 – both technically and from a user experience.  Fortunately, Microsoft made us part of the Technology Advisory Program in January of 2009 – so we were able to plan way ahead (and, the plan has worked). 

 March – We started to release core v10 apps such as the Department Dashboard and Central Configuration in the Local and One Touch Editions, and, the Our Workspace app with tutorials to be used to demonstrate simple collaboration on the new v10 platform.

April – On April 29, 2009, we released v10.1 Workplace Suite & v1.4 of the Toolset.  Our customer transition to the v10 platform was heating up.  We included license management in this release.  It was a hassle to our customers, we heard, and we took it out in v10.2.  Thank you for shouting!

May – We released our Help Desk and Work Order Approval apps – representing reference app designs for Departmental LOB apps and Business Processes, respectively.

June – We went to v2 of the Community adding the Resources section.  Since that time the Resources section has grown to have more than 500 items, including more than 120 videos.

July – We expanded the Community (v2.1) to add a formal App Store with ecommerce for our customers and partners.  We began working with a new cadre of App Publishers to build apps for the App Store based on CorasWorks.  Our goal with Apps is simply to eliminate the need for our customers to design and build themselves.  Even with CorasWorks this takes time and knowledge.  With enough Ready-for-Work apps, at low cost, from quality publishers, that are DLL Free, that all work together – customers will be able to focus on customization and integration and vastly increase productivity.

August – We released v10.2 of the Suite/Toolset – our current shipping version.  We also released the CorasWorks AppEngine as a runtime/customization environment for Apps – providing a low cost way for organizations to run apps and leverage the extensive set of core CorasWorks capabilities.  The first wave of App Publisher apps on v10 hit the App Store addressing classic business problems like Purchase Request, Time Off, Help Desk, Software License Management, etc.

September – CorasWorks released our Project Portfolio Management solution which is quickly becoming a cornerstone app for customers, and, is a reference architecture for project solutions.  We also initiated our new Community Update (bi-monthly now) to inform customers and partners of new updates within the Community.  We announced technical integration partnerships with other SharePoint ISV’s including Syntergy for Replication and AvePoint for backup and administration.

October – We had a great time at the SharePoint 2009 conference where we released CorasWorks for SharePoint 2010.  This product, built for SP2010 Beta 1, put us 9 months ahead of where we were in the SharePoint 2007 product cycle.  It also laid the groundwork for our v10.3 release in January 2010 that will bridge customers from 2007 to 2009 without requiring code changes.   We also announced our joint venture with to take CorasWorks Apps to the cloud (launch January).

November – We opened up our App Publisher program to new partners and began our formal App Publisher onramp.  We also announced our new push of CorasWorks for the web, leveraging the Toolset, in a webcast with Microsoft and highlighting the really-webby Community Services Suite from Spirit (release January).

December – We launched our new online Web Based Training 5 modules and 27 videos to broaden and make it easier for “builders” to learn to customize and build with CorasWorks.  We began launching new waves of App Publishers and their apps ranging from Conference Room Scheduling to Collaborative Hubs to Sales Force Management – many for Free.  And, I did the research and wrote this article :)

So, all in all, quite a bit of activity.  The Community is taking off and we are thrilled with the interaction and engagement.  In truth, it was a building year.  We’ve had to learn how to be responsive with the online community.  I’ve heard that these efforts did help our customers in 2009. And, we did just fine.  But, what it has really done is highlighted how much more is needed to really blow out our customer and partners success with CorasWorks on SharePoint.  We have a long and continuous path now towards plug-and-play business productivity.  The good news, is that we feel that the whole system and community to deliver this value is now in place for great results in 2010.

2010 starts tomorrow.  We will be hitting January big – with the v10.3/1.6 (Suite/Toolset) release - the bridge from SP2007 to SP2010.  With the launch of CorasWorks in the Cloud.  With the launch of lots more Ready-for-Work apps from many more partners and CorasWorks.  With the introduction of CorasWorks Building Blocks – a whole new genre of apps for builders that have grown out of what we learned this year.  And, plans for a lot of improvements in the Community and our content.

Now, I go to celebrate.  Monday, I’ll be back at it.  Talk to you in 2010.


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