The first week of May, the GroupWise Engineering team demonstrated several pieces of technology that they have begun to work on in preparation for the Ascot release. I admit that some pieces were still very early in the design/prototype phase, but others were well down the implementation path and will be very well received.
Engineering uses these types of milestone demonstrations to make sure we are meeting Product Management's expectations as well as allow a broader cross-section of individuals the opportunity to comment, critique and provide input.
Here is a list of some of the things that we demonstrated with some of my personal commentary.
Calendaring - Windows Client
- Appointment 'place' field updated properly
- Remember most recently used resources
- Auto-select available time
- Busy Search as attendees are added
- Recurrence UI changes
This set of features was just in the design stage. We have a very lengthy discussion and a follow up design meeting to talk about some of the interaction, impact of the changes and to make sure everyone understood final expectations. This particular set of changes/enhancements will be very positive and well received. They are things that have been requested by many many customers. These enhancements still need some additional design work, but the overall direction and intention is very positive.
Calendaring- Multi-user calendar overhaul – Windows Client
We discovered when we introduced multiple personal calendars, that many of our administrative assistance liked the interface so much, that many requested we allow them to put ‘Proxy’ calendars within the same infrastructure. The demo included functioning code that had Proxy calendars mixed in with the rest of your personal calendars with the ability to optionally select which calendar data you aggregate together. It will allow the user to overlay Day, Week, Month data from multiple proxy calendars in a single view. It also allows you multiple levels of calendar folder containment. Tons of flexibility!
Share entire folder tree with other users – Windows Client
This is a feature that has been requested for some time. We finally heard you! Now if you have shared folders within shared folders and you share the outer folder, all of the sub-folders will also automatically get shared with the same distribution list and rights. There have been some 3rd-party products that accomplished essentially the same thing – one of them was called Treecast – if I remember right. Now this functionality will be part of GroupWise. This was demo’d with what I would call – public beta ready code. Completely functioning and with several use cases already implemented. Things like what happens if I unshare the entire tree or one folder within the tree. What happens if I move a folder to another place in my folder tree?, etc. etc.
Switching to WebAccess, there were also a lot of very good progress. In addition to the features I will mention here, I will also share that all of these features have already been migrated, along with the majority of the WebAccess code base, to our new architecture – WebAccess servlet talking directly to the POA via SOAP. No GWINTER!
WebAccess - Sort Columns
The number one requested feature for WebAccess is the ability to easily and quickly sort columns within the mailbox or any folder. Sorting by ‘From’, ‘Date’, ‘Subject’, etc. was very slick – just like the FAT client :)
WebAccess - Signatures
One of those nagging issues that the WebAccess client will finally catch up to. We have consolidated signatures between the Windows Client, Linux/Mac Client and the WebAccess Client. Now we only have one set of signatures, all stored in the same place and support for multiple and HTML signatures – exactly like the Windows Client.
WebAccess - Recurring appointments and Simple Forward
Need I say more? Yea baby! Finally, the ability to create recurring appointments from the WebAccess Client. This feature still needs additional work because the recurrence experience in the Windows Client is also changing for Ascot. However, the plumbing is done and the state of this feature is much more certain. I would say this feature is currently in an alpha state.
Although ‘Simple forward’ has nothing to do with recurring appointments, I mention it here because it is catch up work and a feature that is fairly well understood. Now it will simply be available in this client.
WebAccess – Contacts
A few new changes with Contacts and Address Books were also demonstrated. New interaction with a legitimate ‘Address Selector’. Adding Pictures to a Contact and improved Group/Distribution List management capability. These features are simply following the design that currently exists in the Windows Client. I would also say that this set was alpha ready.
WebAccess/Cal Pub Install changes
The last topic worth mentioning was a demonstration of the changes required to the install for WebAccess, Monitor and Calendar Publisher. Required because of the removed dependence upon GWINTER and for several other reasons, the install for these components has changed quite a bit. It will be simpler, less configuration during the install and more predictability with the final outcomes for each platform where these components will be installed. The biggest change….no more objects to create and configure in the directory. No more configuration management handled in multiple places with the susceptibility of getting out of sync. Config files will be the standard.
The engineering teams did a great job and have made significant progress so far on Ascot. Of course, these are not the only features or changes that you can expect, but they are the first installment. Design, project plans, prototypes, reviews, demo’s and finally functioning code. We will begin to share many of these changes in up-coming events around the world. Stay tuned – the next internal engineering milestone demonstration is scheduled for mid-July and I will blog again about the progress and new set of functionality that is taking shape.
Congratulations to Jay Parker and his team. The leads like Kent , Scott , Bob , Kiran , Ron , Juan Pablo, Arnulfo and Nidia - fantastic work!!
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