Tag Archive for suite

Task Management Console for SharePoint by Future Structure

Refreshed from my 4-part, enterprise C2C Content Service blog series, it is time to turn back to a good old straight-forward productivity app.  The Task Management Console for SharePoint is the first app published by Future Structure for the App Store – it fits the bill nicely.

Very simply, this is an add-on that makes it really easy and efficient to manage tasks in SharePoint.  As an add-on, it can be installed into any existing SharePoint site.  You install the action library and the four web parts into a site collection and then anyone in the site collection can instantiate it in any site.  No UI hassles, no site templates, just, straight up productivity enhancement.

It comes with 4 displays, 3 of them of basically the same Task Management Console in 3 different color schemes (nice touch).  Each TMC display has 5 pre-configured views that deliver to the most common needs.  They are chuck full of actions to automate all of the routine things that people do when managing tasks.  Then, it has a Task Portfolio display.  This is very powerful.  You use it to connect to any task lists across SharePoint and create an instant portfolio in a single display.  You can connect to lists across sites, site collections, and web applications.  You can then group, sort, filter all of the items, and, act on them in one step – across all of the locations.  (BTW, this would be stellar to drop into peoples My Sites or Personal dashboards.)

The picture below shows TMC being used with grouping by Assigned To.  It shows the context menu with a broad assortment of the available custom actions.

taskmgmtbig3

Here is the link to a short 5 minute video of the Task Management Console.  It walks you through a common scenario.

An app like this one reminds me that often “simpler is better”.  How often have we just wanted to get a team focused on getting some work done, but, get bogged down in having to create a site with a bunch of stuff?  Do we really need a site or a complex app?  What we really need is just a simple task list with some robust functionality, like being able to pop off emails about one or more tasks, to nag people to get things done.  This app really hits the mark and can be easily used all over across your SharePoint environment.

Lastly, the price is right at $700, it runs on the Workplace Suite, MOSS or WSS, and, the documentation is quite extensive for an add-on.  I recommend putting on your summer hot list…

Enjoy,

william

C2C Content Services for SharePoint (Part 4 of 4): Bringing It All Together

In Parts 2 and 3 of this series, we reviewed two apps that enable very different C2C Content Services.  Yet, as we saw in the videos, these services can be integrated.  In this last article, we’ll describe in more detail how the two apps integrate to create an end-to-end C2C Content Service solution and how this approach can be extended to apply to a broad range of scenarios.

 The End-to-End Scenario for the Sample Appsx-design

So, let’s review the end-to-end C2C scenario using the 2 apps in these articles. There is a Blog-Style Announcements app.  Users contribute their announcements working locally.  They flow through a process and are aggregated and transformed into a Blog-Style display.  In the Virtual Slide Show video, we showed how the announcement service was embedded into a slide show that was part of a set of Organizational Services that was delivered to users where they work.  Thus, you have contributors entering information locally and consumers using the information locally.  You might call it a “work@home” scenario.

 It takes a lot of words to explain what is going on in such a system.  Let’s simplify it a bit.  If you recall, in the previous articles we introduced a design pattern for each type of app.  The A design pattern for the Announcement service (think A for aggregation).  The V design pattern for the Virtual Slide show distribution.  When you put the two together as an end-to-end system it appears as a design pattern that we call “X” as shown here.

 The two separate application services work independently but are integrated in the middle.  The result is that consumers don’t have to navigate to the Announcements Blog UI.  Instead it is repackaged as part of an Organizational Services service that is delivered to users where they work. This end-to-end C2C solution provides a seamless experience to both contributors and consumers.  In addition, other services, such as the Video Library, were combined into the Organizational Services service. 

 The Power is in the Middle Tier

The real power of this design lies in the application services in the middle of the X design.  Let’s look at this in more detail.  We’ll examine how the integration happens and the utility of the centralized, one touch management approach.

 As shown in the VSS video, the integration of the two sample services was easily accomplished by the VSS content manager adding a link to the Announcements slide show.  No coding, no protocols, no configuration – just a link and the two separate apps are now part of a system.  Effectively, it is a loosely coupled integration.  Each app can stand on their own.  There is no technology required to integrate.  Thus, the VSS service serves as a middleman to “mix and mash” the various other applications, content, and services across SharePoint.

 Couldn’t we just put some links on end-user pages?  It may work, in certain scenarios, for a moment.  However, the user is still navigating, the information is not being aggregated or transformed, you are not able to “mix and mash” content and specific application functionality, you are manually maintaining lots of hard-wired links, you lack security trimming, and, the system is not centrally configurable.  Using a centralized service such as VSS in the middle tier adds these capabilities to the system.

 Let’s take a look at the specific ways that central configuration via the application services turns this into a dynamic, one touch system: 

- The Announcements service is configured to reach out and connect to distributed data sources.  To add a new data source, you just add an entry in a Directory list in the service.  To change gates for approval, you change it once centrally.  The Blog UI is centrally configured.  The local data sources control security and security trimming and the service respects these settings.

- The slide show listings available via the VSS service for Organizational Services is also centrally configured in the app.  Thus, you add a new service as a slide show and all distributed service listings are updated.  Change the content centrally and all content changes.  Drop a link into a slide show and any business functionality is accessible to users in a click.  They can even contribute and act on information from where they work.  It is easy to do and keep things consistent and accurate.

Thus, the application services in the middle tier of this X design provide the capabilities necessary for a flexible and manageable end-to-end C2C Content Service across the enterprise.

 

The Breadth of this Design

So, how extensible is this X design?  What content and functionality across SharePoint can be included, in as easy a manner as has been shown here?  The answer when using CorasWorks is just about everything.

By this I mean that effectively following this X design, just about all content and all functionality built across the entire SharePoint environment can be re-packaged and served up to users in a task-oriented business context.  And, all of this can be done without coding and very simply.

So, how does this work?  There are a couple of basic elements. 

- First, is that CorasWorks is designed to work with all information across data types, sites, site collections, web applications, external data bases, cloud services, enterprise applications, and, in many scenarios across server farms and organizational boundaries. 

- Second, is that SharePoint supports a basic modular framework based upon the web part framework.  CorasWorks leverages this framework and makes it centrally manageable.

- Third, is that because of this modularity and central control any functionality built with CorasWorks can connect to any information and can effectively be snapped off and re-mixed and put at the service of any user working anywhere.

 We’ll use a final video to emphasis the benefits for the end-user of this design.  We’ll return to a jazzed up set of Organizational Services for employees working in their departments.  We’ll show an embedded window versus a pop-up for the slide shows – a simple customization of the VSS service.  We’ll flip through 4 different services at the disposal of the end-user.  They cover the range from passive content slide shows, to interactive content, to business functionality where users see, contribute, and act on information.  The key thing to remember is that each of these end-user services actually contains specific pieces of functionality contained within different business applications in different departments across a SharePoint environment that are being “mixed and mashed” as part of a single Organizational Service being provided and centrally managed by VSS.  Click here to view the video (runtime 5 minutes).

 

Wrap Up

If you’ve made it through the full 4-part series and watched the videos you’ve spent about 2 hours or more with us.  Thank you.  The series was intended to provide you with a broad yet practical understanding of CorasWorks-based C2C Content Services.  Our gift in return, if you are a CorasWorks customer and running MOSS 2007, is that the two apps discussed in these articles are free, available in the CorasWorks Community App Store, and can be put to use right away.  We thank Spirit for their contribution of the Blog-Style Announcements app.  You will find them easy to install and use, well documented, and easy to customize. 

 The overall design and capabilities of CorasWorks-based C2C Content Services provides you with a unique combination of flexibility on one hand and control on the other to enable you to meet a broad and diverse set of needs across your enterprise SharePoint environment.  The fact that it happens without a lot of technical work, frees up time for you to invest to learn which services for which user groups offer the most value for your organization.  Given that it is mostly pre-packaged, centrally manageable, and non-invasive to an existing environment, you are also able to easily test and try things out.  We hope that these community offerings will help drive some very innovative solutions.  Please share your findings with the rest of the community.

 Again, thank you, and enjoy.

 william

C2C Content Services for SharePoint (Part 3 of 4): Virtual Slide Show Service

In this article,we’ll discuss the Virtual Slide Show Service app.  This free application service published by CorasWorks, picks up where the Announcements Service leaves off.  Its purpose is to package content and deliver it out to where the users work.  As in Part 2 we’ll look at this service from two perspectives, the basic off-the-shelf app and its general design and role as part of a C2C Content Service solution.

Overview of the App

The Virtual Slide Show service is used to create and package content and other interactive services from across SharePoint and deliver it to users where they work.  Users can access individual slide shows relevant to a page they are on or they can have a listing of a set of related slide shows for a specific business purpose.  Slide shows might be one page or multiple pages.

 

Below is a screenshot of a VSS slide show running in the Operations Department.  The department has a VSS slide show listing for Cross-Organizational Services.  It includes services for Time Off Requests, Help Desk Requests, Video Library, Travel Requests, and more.  The active slide show shown below is for the Blog-Style Announcements service.  It provides passive content about the service and gives users direct access to the interactive blog-style display within the slide show.

 

vss feature - large

 

if you have the time, we recommend that you pause now to watch the Virtual Slide Show video (runtime 20 minutes).  It will show you the use of VSS to provide passive content such as a standard slide show.  It then shows you how to connect other services into the slide show to make them interactive (such as the Announcements service and a Video Library service).

 

Service Design – The “V” Design Pattern

When we think of slide shows, we tend to think of passive content in a presentation.  Indeed, this is a core use of VSS.  However, VSS goes further to also provide interactive content and business functionality where users can see, contribute, and act on information within the slide shows.  Generically speaking, it is a service whose purpose is to package and deliver whatever is needed to end-users.  It follows a simple design pattern that we call the “V” design as shown here.

 

v-design-blog VSS has a contributor interface represented by the grey box in the diagram.  Content managers use it to create and manage slide show content.  In the process, they may embed other services or functionality from across SharePoint.  They package it all into slide shows that are delivered out to users in individual items or as a packaged group of related slide shows.

 

A key aspect of this design is that the listings and the information that is distributed is centrally managed.  This means that the content manager can make a single change in the service and the end-user UI’s and their experience is instantly updated – a “one touch” configuration.  No one has to go out and touch any of the user pages.

 

Reflect on the Cross-Organizational Services example in the video.  Imagine that the UI for this group of services has been dropped into 50 department dashboards across the organization.  To add a new service, the content manager just adds a slide show in VSS.  That specific service is now available to all 50 departments. 

 

Technical Details About the Service

For those technically inclined, here are some of the key details about this service: 

- It is a single SharePoint site template that is installed into a SharePoint environment.  It takes just a few minutes to install, setup, and start creating slide shows.  You can create multiple instances of VSS services for different purposes. 

- The core application service is built using the CorasWorks Data Integration Toolset.

- The app contains a Contributor UI to automate the work of creating and managing slide shows, an Application Service manager UI to assist with customizing the service, and, a local preview UI.

- The end-user UI for a given service is a web part dropped on a page.  You do this once for each service (i.e., once per set of slide shows).  From there on, the service is centrally managed. 

- The service uses XSLT to manage the style for the content and end-user experience.  Off the shelf it provides different style options for window size, backgrounds, slide show navigation and formatting and slide show listing formatting.  The documentation contains what you need to know to make these kinds of changes. 

 

Implementation Scenarios

Let’s take a look at a few different implementation scenarios.  In each scenario, you would set up a separate instance of VSS, configured for the specific purpose. 

- Dynamic Extranet User Help – You can set up VSS to serve as a central help service.  Links to individual slide shows would go on the key pages.  They would each connect to the centralized service.  This is the initial scenario that we demoed in the video which is what we do with the Quick Tours in the Resource section of the CorasWorks Community.

- Employee Services – We covered this is the video and in the discussion above.  The key is that VSS is used to connect to the various business applications and deliver the required functionality to the user.

- Self-Service Support – This is a new one.  The idea would be to use VSS to manage a group of slide shows for self-service support.  The core one would be help desk tickets where users would enter and see the status of their requests.  In addition, you’d want additional services perhaps including a Knowledge Base, a Video Library, and Top 10 Desktop Issues with links to solutions.

- Executive Briefings – Users can directly enter material for Executive Briefings.  VSS can then deliver the briefings out to the dashboards of executives.

- Interactive Management Reporting – You can create a VSS service that provides a listing of Interactive Management Reports.  Each slide show will cover a topic and provide access to interactive pivot chart reports.

- Interactive Process Wizard – A slide show is a good way to document processes.  You would have a slide show for each process.  It can walk people through the process in a wizard-style with passive content, links to appropriate resources, or even, to the actual interfaces to do the work.

 

Role as Part of a C2C Content Service

You can use the VSS app to directly create slide shows with passive content.  However, the real power comes when it is combined with external business applications, content, and services which are embedded as part of the slide shows and made available to users where they work.  A key part of the VSS service is that you are able to “mix and mash” different content and pieces of application functionality from across SharePoint to meet the needs of a set of end-users.  In this way, it serves an important middleman role to package the distributed content and functionality across a SharePoint work environment and serve it up to the users.

 

We’ll explore how all this works and the benefits in more detail in Part 4: Bringing It All Together.

 

william

C2C Content Services for SharePoint (Part 2 of 4): Blog-Style Announcements Service

Part 1 of this series introduced you to our approach to C2C Content Services for SharePoint powered by CorasWorks-based application services.  In this article, we will drill down into the free, Blog-Style Announcements service published to the App Store by Spirit EDV-Beratung AG (Germany).  We’ll look at this app from two perspectives.  First, we’ll discuss it as an off-the-shelf app. Then, we’ll look at it as a representative of a class of apps, based upon a design pattern, that play a role in an end-to-end C2C Content Service.

Overview of the App

The Blog-Style Announcement Service allows you to aggregate announcements from multiple sites/lists distributed across your SharePoint environment and display them in a blog-style format. The contributors are able to work “locally” wherever and however they are used to working. The “consuming” end-users use the blog-style display to see and work with announcements across the organization.  They see the monthly listing of announcements, and, they can browse by source site (department, project, business function) or by date published.  The UI also has bulletins that are persistent announcements by corporate or the announcement service manager.

Below is a screenshot of the end-user display that is pulling together announcements across a SharePoint environment from the IT and Operations departments, an Extranet Community and the Corporate Announcements service.

spirit AS home

Before going into more details, take a few moments and watch a video of the Blog-Style Announcements service in action (runtime 10 minutes).  It will describe the app and walk you through a typical user scenario.

Service Design – The “A” Design Pattern

This service is for Announcements – right? Out of the box, yes, however, as you’ll see below it can be re-purposed to work with any type of SharePoint data and in many different scenarios.  It is built following a design pattern that can be applied to many scenarios.

image

This application service is used to connect to distributed data sources across SharePoint, aggregate the data, and transform it into the blog-style display.  There is a single end-user, blog-style UI that can be further distributed (as you saw in the video).  However, the basic design pattern is what we call the A design pattern as depicted here.

Following this design the users contribute their announcements locally, say in their departments, where they work.  They do not have to go anywhere to enter the information. They use their own local interface, be it native SharePoint, CorasWorks, or some other.

The application service represented by the grey box can be located anywhere in a SharePoint environment and connects to information across sites, site collections, and web applications.  It uses a local Site Directory feature that holds the sites and lists that are its data sources.  Thus, you just make one entry in the Site Directory in the application service to add a data source to the service.

The blog-style UI is local to the service, meaning that end-users navigate to it to see the announcements. It can be used in this way out of the box. However, as described in the video, by combining this service with the Virtual Slide Show service, the UI gets delivered to the places where the end-users work, such as their department dashboards, the portal, an extranet, or all of their My Sites.  This will be discussed in Part 3 and Part 4 of this series, but, is a key part of an end-to-end, C2C Content Service solution.

Technical Details About the Service

For those technically inclined, here are some of the key details about this service: 

  • It is a single SharePoint site template that is installed into a SharePoint environment.  It takes just a few minutes to install, setup, and start pulling announcements.
  • The core application service is built using the CorasWorks Data Integration Toolset.
  • The service respects SharePoint security.  Thus, if a user looks at the blog UI but doesn’t have rights to a source site, then, that information will not appear in the service.  Thus, the security is maintained at the source site.
  • The service uses a CSS-based look and feel created by Design Disease and available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.  There are other templates available that you can use for your services, or, you can create your own.
  • The service uses XSLT, XML, and jQuery.  These technologies, in addition to the Toolset resource files, provide a very flexible architecture.  There are no custom DLL’s  – it leverages the CorasWorks software running on SharePoint. The documentation addresses various ways to customize the basic service.

Implementation Options

The service can be used for different purposes by creating multiple instances as separate sites in a SharePoint environment.    You may end up with different services for different audiences, connected to different data sources, with a different UI, and, with different end-user functionality.  For instance, one internal service may allow the end-users to drill down to the source site, list, and item (the default configuration), while the service for an Extranet would remove these drill down features (as covered in the documentation).

In addition, out of the box, the announcements flow through the service in real time with no approval workstream.  A user enters an announcement, tagged for enterprise-wide distribution, and, it shows up via the service.  However, in many scenarios there may be review and approval gates for the distribution of announcements (or other content). There are a number of different ways to drop these gates into the workstream for announcements which are discussed in more detail in the documentation. 

Thinking Outside of the Box

The Announcement service is ready-for-work out of the box.  Here are some ways you could re-purpose this service.  They may require a bit of X-development skills and knowledge of the CorasWorks Data Integration Toolset, but, they are basically supported by the out-of-the-box service.

  • A Company Events calendar – How about using this service with event lists?  You could have a blog-style service showing Company Events with their description.  Using the Event start data you’d end up having the archive, but, you’d also be able to see upcoming company events – yes, a blog UI that looks into the future instead of just the past.  By default, it would organize the events by department (or whatever source site type), year/month, and the listings for the current month events.
  • Executive Briefings Service – How about connecting to sources of Executive Briefings from different departments?  This would be a private briefing service for executives.  Contributors would enter their briefing abstracts locally, with links to supporting briefing material.  Your UI would have the information organized by department with an archive to refer back to what someone said a few months back.
  • Weekly Project Updates – Do you require project or program managers to provide weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly briefings?  Do they work in projects sites?  Using the same service, the managers could enter their updates as an item in their local workspace along with reference material.  The department listings would immediately reflect the different project/programs vs. departments.  You’d have a historical record of the updates.  If you have a new project/program, just add it to the Site Directory of the service and it becomes part of the service.

Role as Part of a C2C Content Service

SharePoint environments are usually distributed environments.  Work is done in different places.  This app plays the role of taking distributed work and transforming into a single useful output to be consumed.  It also provides an innovative use of a blog interface that can be applied in a number of different scenarios.  Whether you use it just for announcements or in other innovative ways its basic design and purpose remain the same.

In Part 3, you’ll learn about the Virtual Slide Show service that addresses the packaging and delivery of content to where the consumers work.  This is the other half of the equation of an end-to-end C2C Content Service solution. 

william

Workspace Activity Reporting – a Workspace, a Department, or Across a Farm

 

Well now that we are a Gartner Cool Vendor – we have to show off some cool features.  Here you go – Workspace Activity Reporting.  How about being about to see who has contributed what across all lists and libraries in a workspace?  Even better how about seeing a report across an entire department of say 30 sites?  We make it a snap – literally.

 

I have four things for you on this one: some words, a picture, a 5 minute democast, and a link where you can download the Workspace Activity Reporter building block and install it into your v10 environment.  BTW, this isn’t a separate piece of code or software.  It is a “Ready-for-Work” feature that runs on the basic v10 system – no additional code, just snap it in.

 

The objective is to see who has contributed what in a report across types of lists and libraries.  You want to see it for a single workspace – done.  You can also use the Report to see the same across any scope of sites, say a full department.  You can modify the report with our cool ribbon bar.  You can print, email, or save the report.  You can change the report type to over 40 types.  You can change the scope of data and filter out different list and library types or contributors.  All point and click.

 

Now, for some pictures.  The first shows a report for a single workspace with its reporting ribbon and the bells and whistles turned on for the end-user.  The second shows another report configured to show all of the activity across about 20 sites in the Services department.  There are alot more custom lists and libraries and more people.  It is all prettied up.

 

Workspace_Activity

 

Workspace Activity in Breeze - Services

 

My 5 minute democast: 

In this I show you the basic report for a workspace and show off some of the bells and whistles of our new v10 reporting system.  Then, I create a copy of the report and modify it using our Display Wizard.  I point to our Services department and configure it to pull in about 30 sites.  It takes about a minute and shows you how you use the Display Wizard and can easily browse an entire server farm, web application, or site collection to connect to information. http://www.screencast.com/t/3gzieb9gaa8 (BTW, make sure to click the Full Screen button to get good resolution).

 

Download the Building Block:

Okay, now you’ve seen it, you like it, and you want to take it home with you.  Here you go.  We assume you have the Suite v10 running.  Just go here, click the download button and download the zip.  It contains a CorasWorks webpart file that you can just import and use.  It also has a little Getting Started document. 

 

Enjoy!

 

William

WorkPlace Suite v10 – 4th Generation – The Evolution

Our release of the WorkPlace Suite this month is our 10th within 5 and a half years.  It is also our 4th generation of the product and our product line.  I’ll review our release history and the 4 generations.  It highlights the changes in the  product architecture and gives you a sense of where we have been and where we are going.

Generation 1 – a Componentized, Modular UI

With the release of SharePoint 2003, we launched v1 of the WorkPlace Suite (the “Suite”) in December 2003.  Our approach was to offer a suite of modular components and templates to enable people to create simple collaborative business applications.  The first release includes our now “famous” Roll-Up technology to connect to and aggregate data from across sites, site collections, and web applications.  This proved to be a key way to add value and increase productivity in the distributed environment of SharePoint.  It was a favorite tool to integrate distributed teamsites into peoples portals.  It was also perhaps, one of the first point & click “mash-up” technologies.

In this 1st generation, each modular component was a separate display web part with its own .dll.  The UI, business logic and data connections were all in each .dll.  We had 4 releases over this period during which we greatly extended the core capabilities of navigation and displays, added application templates to get people started quickly, and added additional capabilities such as email notification, data publishing, and Outlook integration.

Generation 2 – Separation of the Business Logic and “Building” of Applications

Generation 2 kicked off with our Summer 2005 release (v5) which included a “builder” administration interface to enable non-technical builders to easily create new display web parts and configure them. In our Winter 2006 (v6) release we brought to market our Action Framework which enabled the builder to create custom actions that automate end-user tasks.  Thus, instead of just seeing information users could act on it, and, they could act on many items in one step from across the environment – great productivity gains.  With the framework and admin interfaces we began to separate the business logic from the UI moving towards a multi-tier architecture.  Through the next 2 versions, we fleshed out this generation running on SharePoint 2003 to include items such as Runtime Action Forms and chained actions, so users could create new items or update items, without having to navigate to where the data was stored.

Generation 3 – Application Configuration and Separation of Data

With our Winter 2007 release (v8) we launched into CorasWorks on SharePoint 2007.  To support our user base, we introduced the Design Migrator to support application migration and to allow for programmatic updates of sites/applications with changes in design.  We also introduced a number of application configuration elements including central configuration and portfolio management.  This was the beginning of our journey to make application configuration of modular apps across the distributed environment more manageable.  We launched v9 in October 2007 chock full of enhanced features to flesh out building applications and business processes on SharePoint 2007 and enhanced it in September 2008 with our Fall 2007 Update.

Beginning in November 2007, we also took another major step by introducing a new product, the CorasWorks Data Integration Toolset (“Toolset”).  This product allows users to build composite applications with read-write access to external data.  It was a major step towards separating the data from the UI and business logic.  The direction was to make SharePoint the enterprise front-end for any data.  It has rapidly evolved over three dot releases, and has been quite popular for building self-service portals, composite business processes and surfacing data from legacy systems and SOA environments.

Generation 4 – v10 Wave – integrated, multi-tier application development system

The v10 wave includes a major new release of the WorkPlace Suite and tight integration of the Data Integration Toolset.  It is a revolutionary release where we brought together the elements of previous releases, and, integrated them via our One Touch system for application life cycle management.  In addition, over the last 5 years web-based application development technology has evolved and we incorporated Ajax and Rich Internet Applications technologies into the UI.  As a result it was a complete re-build from the ground up that can run side-by-side with CorasWorks v9 and that lays the groundwork for the eventual upgrade to the next version of the SharePoint platform.

So today, in v10 what we have is an Ajax oriented, integrated application development and management system.  It is a declarative, point & click “development” model powered by a comprehensive set of Ajax-based wizards.  The UI is separate from the data and the business logic.  Users are now able to enter, view, and edit information from across the SharePoint environment, using Ajax pop-up forms ,without having to navigate to lists and libraries.  They are also empowered to work with the information and to do things like group, sort, filter, search, email, update, publish, and act on their own .  This means that builders don’t have to touch the UI to meet each end-users needs

The business activity/task automation has been enhanced and extended.  The end-user can have a broad range of custom actions at their disposal to automate tasks and now there are automated back-end activities using event triggers and scheduled activities.  All of this is configured with web-based wizards.

The new integration of the Toolset with the Suite, means that you can now see and work with information coming from any data source, external data and/or SharePoint in the same interfaces.   Thus, you can have a mash-up of SharePoint data with any external data from anywhere.  With our v10 wave, we’ve started to publish database applications on SharePoint built with point & click tools.  This is a major breakthrough that really starts to change the role of SharePoint in the workplace.

Lastly, our One Touch system allows organizations to really manage their application environment.  Applications and sites can now be referenced through global links (a variable name) vs. a hard-wired URL. You can build Central Views that are consumed by any displays and are centrally configurable. You can now build applications or components in a “development” environment and push them out into production without having to touch a site, a url, or a display web part.  These and other elements bring programmatic application life cycle management to SharePoint – a challenging problem given its modular and distributed nature.

What’s Next

Since we launched in 2003, the mission on our web site has always referenced the year 2012.  This is the year when we believe that our vision for the workplace will be broadly adopted and the move from content-centric to activity-centric work will be realized.  Not to tip our hand, but, here are a few pointers about our roadmap along the way:

  • -  We’ll see one to two releases of the SharePoint platform and the tighter integration with cloud based environments and application services.
  • -  Take a look at our new Community.  This is evolving to support more business user oriented solutions and the exchange of applications and information.  And, you’ll shortly see partners applications and solutions appearing the community, many of which won’t have any custom code, but, will be very rich in features
  • -  Imagine database applications, departmental applications, and business processes available at a click and easily customized with a wizard – Should it really be so hard to get a pretty simple and standardized app for my department?
  • -  What about real-time collaboration technologies?  When will you have whiteboarding, conferencing, dialing, and video in your workplace?
  • -  At some point will we realize that all of this notification/alert/inbox stuff is getting out of control and perhaps better off in a different interface than our email inbox?  Maybe our mobile device…
  • -  Is the system behind the workplace really helping me?  Couldn’t it be a bit smarter and helpful – maybe it should learn a bit along the way.

Until then,
william

Posted by William Rogers on 25-Mar-09