Tag Archive for Workplace Suite

AppEngine – What is in it? What is not?

In my last post I gave a brief intro to the AppEngine for SharePoint.  In this post, I’ll drill into the details of what is in it and what it not?  This is important for those that are building apps for the AppEngine as a target app platform, whether you are an independent application publisher, a custom solution provider, or, part of an in-house builder team.  It is certainly not exhaustive, but, it does cover the key features.


 Core Workplace Suite System engines

The AppEngine includes most of the capabilities required to run any application that you build using the CorasWorks Workplace Suite v10.2.  To support this natively, it includes the same core system engines of the Suite, consisting of:

-  CorasWorks Installation Manager

-  CorasWorks Data Engine

-  CorasWorks Display Engine

-  CorasWorks Management Engine

-  CorasWorks Action Framework


 Included User Interface Extensions

It includes the following capabilities that allow you to create and customize display web parts for the UI leveraging the core engines above:

-  Display Wizard for Customization of Navigation and Displays

-  Grid Display

-  Calendar Display

-  Chart Display

-  Menu Navigation

-  Tree View Navigation

-  Up To Navigation


Supported Runtime Features:

The AppEngine provides runtime support for the following features that are typically part of an app built using the Workplace Suite:

-  Support for Central Views

-  Support for Standard New, Edit, View Forms for SharePoint

-  Support for Custom Action Forms

-  Support for the Action Launcher

-  Support for Document Upload and Document Creation Using Templates

-  Support for Email Notification and Email Actions

-  Support for Publishing Actions and End-User Selected destinations

-  Support for standard Create, Modify, Delete, and Print Document Actions

-  Support for Snaplets – local or central view based

-  Ability to Copy a Central View to a Local View

-  Support for Central Configuration Sites

-  Support for Global Navigation

-  CorasWorks Central Configuration

-  Support for Parent-Child views of any type

-  Support for Global Links

-  Support for site directories for portfolio management

-  Support for Lock-Down

-  Support for Local and One Touch application configurations

-  Support for Data Connections across data types, sites, site collections, and web applications

-  Support for Displays using Data Integration Toolset data providers to SharePoint and External data sources

-  Workplace ID custom field for Generating Unique ID’s


What Capabilities are not Included

The following capabilities are not included in the AppEngine:

-  Ability to Attach a Central View to a Local Display

-  Ability to Add or Remove Actions from a Local Display

-  List Activation Triggers and Scheduled Activity Timers

-  Builder Wizards – all of those appearing in Site Settings – Actions Wizard, Central Views Wizard, List Activation Wizard, Scheduled Activity Wizard, Master Page Wizard, and Global Links Manager

-  The Data Integration Toolset and its capabilities are not included

-  Design Migrator


The bottom line is pretty much that if you build it with the Suite you can run it, customize it, and connect it up with the AppEngine. You can use the Community Forums or contact support for more questions on features not mentioned here.   In future articles, we’ll be addressing the new “application server” deployment model and how you are now able to have a combined, yet, separate (and less expensive) runtime production web farm and in-line builder environment.



CW Apps: Local vs. One Touch Configuration

CorasWorks and partners are releasing more and more apps to the App Store.  Typically, the business applications are being provided in one of two basic configurations – Local or One Touch.  I’ll briefly cover the differences between the two.


Local configuration is the classic way of providing portable apps.  By portable, we mean apps that can be built by a partner, and then, shipped to a customer, installed and used – without major configuration.  The Time Off Management app by R3 Business Solutions is an example.  The app is self-contained and ships as a single application template with all functionality.  Technically, the various application features are all configured to work with the data that is stored within the application site itself.  This makes it very portable and easy to install and use.  The end-user is free to customize the configurations, but, it is very easy to get started with.  In addition, local configuration is very useful for apps where you will have many separate instances.  Examples of these are the CorasWorks Our Workspace and the Add-Ons.


One Touch configuration is a new type of application configuration that is possible using the new v10 of the CorasWorks Workplace Suite.  Typically, these applications have two parts that are separate application templates.  One is an “application configuration site” and the other is the production site that holds the data.  Examples of these are the CorasWorks Department Dashboard and the Help Desk with Self-Service.  There are a number of benefits to a One Touch configuration as follows:


- Application Management – An application owner has control over the app, via the ACS site, and thus, the users can be prevented from “messing” with the app functionality


- Centralized Application Governance – You can have many ACS sites for different apps in a centralized site collection with control, even though the production apps themselves are distributed across your SharePoint environment (different site collections and web apps)


- Multi-Site Central Configuration Management – You can have a single ACS site, which is centrally configured, that serves as the basis for multiple sites.  this is very useful in situations where you have multiple instances of sites where you want consistency, such as our Department Dashboard or multiple project sites for a single program


- Distributed Application Functionality – The One Touch configuration enables you to distribute application functionality across your SharePoint environment.  (See my blog on the Self-Service Snaplets of the Help Desk).  Effectively, you can “snap off” any functionality from a production site and distribute it to portals, dashboards, my sites, or other apps.  Users are able to work wherever is convenient while working with the production app information.  Most importantly, the application manager can make one change to the ACS site and the many distributed UI’s will immediately update. 


The key technologies that power the One Touch Configuration are Global Links, Central Views, Lock Down Manager, and CorasWorks Central Configuration.  Using these features it is easy to build apps in a One Touch configuration and very easy to install them and even to distribute the application functionality.


For many apps, you’ll see CorasWorks publishing both a Local and a One Touch version.  However, certain apps lend themselves to one approach or the other. The short guideline is:


- Local configuration is for apps where you’ll be using it for multiple unrelated instances.  Great for workspaces, add-ons, and, business apps that would apply to different departments.


- One Touch configuration is where you want a more controlled environment, multiple instances of an app which are related, or the ability to distribute application functionality.




Check out the new CorasWorks App Store for plug-and-play apps for CorasWorks/SharePoint!

Application Evolution White Paper – A story of continuous improvement on SharePoint

Today, we released a new White Paper called “Enabling Application Evolution”.  It tells the story of how an “application” evolves from a simple vendor work order approval point solution into a more complex, distributed, inter-connected system for vendor management.  It is the story of how organizations can continually improve in this new world of modular, distributed, work environments on SharePoint.


We published the white paper to compliment today’s “integration release” of the new CorasWorks Workplace Suite v10.1 and Data Integration Toolset v1.4.  Affectionately known as  r14.14 (10.1 times 1.4), these products are now integrated in such a way as to very effectively empower organizations to naturally evolve their applications and their work environments forward without having to redo things over and over.


The white paper tells the story of how Greensleeves Solutions, our fictitious company, goes through five very natural stages of the evolution of this app.  Along the way people argue, haggle, like and don’t like, and, get innovative and productive.  The software plays its role to incrementally meet the changing needs to enable the organization to get to the next stage of productivity.  You can download the white paper from our site (see upper right corner of the landing page).


Below is a graphic showing the five stages of evolution covered in the white paper from a single app in Marketing up through a Vendor Self-Service portal.  All of the elements are reusable, inter-connected and centrally manageable – and being CorasWorks – done with point and click modular software vs. custom code development.




The interesting part is that you’ll probably find it to be a realistic scenario.  It starts to raise a number of questions about application software in the future.  Do the classic options of Buy or Custom Develop really make sense in this new world? Do people really know how they will want to work at the beginning of requirements gathering?  Exactly where is THE application?  What if you build the apps, but, the users actually work from their own departmental dashboards, personal consoles etc. and don’t go to the app per se – they just do task-oriented work across apps and business processes?  Is the application now just the data and configuration?  Have we moved to a services oriented architecture on the front-end?


Over the years, our software has evolved to support this evolving new world of applications.  The v14.14 release today is a big step.  We hope that this white paper will give you some insight into how the process of evolution could occur in your organization and the benefits of continuous improvement.