Our 4th internal demo of GroupWise Ascot was presented yesterday by the Engineering team! Get the latest details, updated schedule and latest plans!
The GroupWise Engineering team continues to work very hard on Ascot. Ascot is the code name for the next major release of GroupWise. (Note: A version number has not been selected yet. Marketing will handle those details as we approach public beta.)
Throughout the development process, we have milestones and check points. So far we have have four such check points. At each of these, we hold an internal demo of the features and present the progress that has happened since the last milestone. Our first demo was held in May and subsequent demos have occurred in July, September and the latest was on November 11th.
Let’s start by providing the latest information on the schedule. As with most software projects, schedules, scope and requirements have a tendency to change as the project moves a long. Ascot is no exception. We have changed all three of these variables since our last public update and especially since BrainShare in March.
So here is the latest on schedule.
Feature complete is scheduled for February 2011, followed shortly by authorized BETA. The public release is planned for the summer of 2011.
There are two major components of the Ascot release that are the long poles. Converting WebAccess to no longer depend upon GWINTER and creating WebAccess templates for the Apple iPad and other similiar tablet devices. A lot of the other features and planned requirements are either already complete or will complete over the next 6 weeks. The team is fully engaged working towards this major milestone. I will continue to provide status on this blog as we approach that date.
The scope of the Ascot release has also shifted a bit. We have removed several requirements of the release and have added a few new ones. We have also dramatically changed the requirement for 64-bit agents.
Integrations between our products and others has taken on slightly more focus. We are adding integrations in the GroupWise Windows Client for 3rd-Party applications like Skype. Giving the user the ability to easily Instant Message, Dial, SMS and see Presence for their contacts directly from within the GroupWise Client.
Integrations with Novell Vibe is also taking shape. I will give more details about that when the feature appears in our next milestone demo.
We have removed a few requirements, but the most significant change has to do with our support of 64-bit agents. We have determined that there is still a significant number of our current customers who have not transitioned to 64-bit server platforms. Therefore, we have decided to ship as our reference platform 32-bit versions of our agents for Linux and Windows.
We are still working on the 64-bit versions and we do plan to release them. Depending upon the amount of validation and real-world exposure we get on the 64-bit agents will determine in what form we will allow customers to use them. It may be in a beta or tech preview deliverable.
The Windows 64-bit POA and MTA were part of the demo yesterday. It is installable and is now beginning to be tested by our QA team. Linux versions will quickly follow.
Note: Although we are bringing back 32-bit support in the agents, we are not bringing back support for NetWare. The supported server platforms will be OES Linux, SLES and Windows
So, now back to the demo. Let me share the latest set of functionality that was demonstrated by the team on Thursday. The demo lasted all afternoon and was attended by management, NTS and product management.
The WebAccess iPad Templates were the first demo of the day. I remind you that the Novell Data Synchronizer Mobility Pack already supports the iPad with its native mail, calendar and contact applications. However, the solution being developed for Ascot is a WebAccess/Browser version. It will allow the user to utilize the iPad’s web browser to access their GroupWise mailbox. Several aspects of this experience were demo’d including:
– Compose email, note, task and adding attachments
– Actions like reply, forward, delete, retract, resend, undelete, purge, accept, decline and mark complete
– Name Completion
The Windows Client had a few new features as well. Appointment Modify was a big hit. The capability to modify not just the recipients as you can today, but be able to modify a scheduled appointment to add attachments, change the message body, change the subject, time, location, etc. Every aspect of the appointment can now be modified after the appointment is already sent. This will allow users to schedule an appointment and then later add the agenda without having to do a ‘resend’, or correct their spelling or update the message body – all without having to do a ‘resend’ and without having to force the recipients to ‘re-accept’ the appointment.
The team also fixed two use cases of the Auto Accept feature of GroupWise 8. Both of these changes were also demo’d. First use case is if you send an appointment as a ‘proxy’, the proxy account will not auto accept the appointment. The appointment will have to be manually accepted. Second use case…if you schedule an appointment that conflicts with your own calendar, you will be prompted as you send so that you will know of the conflict and be able to decide to change it or accept it anyway.
The team added the field ‘Year’ on your birthday and anniversary fields for a Contact. The concept was introduced in GroupWise 8 and after some feedback, the ‘Year’ field can be entered and displayed along with th Month and Day fields.
Multi-User Calendar has a few new things. When you are viewing your multi-user calendar or the ‘new’ aggregate calendar of ‘Proxy’ users, you can easily create a new appointment that automatically addresses the appointment to all of the users.
The team has also added Calendar Navigation controls to Calendars displayed in a Panel.
One last thing – we have now added ‘Distribution Lists’ to the the QuickFinder index. Now when you search for an item to/from a particular contact and the item was actually sent to a distribution list – the item will now appear in the find results.
In previous demo’s, the team has demonstrated changes like: replacing the Speller technology, a new Save As dialog, Sharing a Folder Tree, sending a modified attachment and updating the appointment ‘Place’ properly.
WebAccess is not only transitioning away from GWINTER, but is also adding new features. Some of these things already exist, but have now moved architecturally to use the POA SOAP interface instead of GWINTER. The demo included categories, streaming attachment support and retracting sent items. Previously, WebAccess has also demo’d completion of HTML signatures, consolidating signatures, sorting columns, new address selector, Pictures in Contacts and improved Group Management.
The demo also included an update on the Mobility Pack and its next release and road map. In addition, the team demonstrated a process/build change in how our multi-images are created and packaged. We are migrating from one tool to another and although not terribly interesting to our customers, I include it simply for completeness
The team also demonstrated the tremendous progress being made on the new Adminstration Console design. Although, not an Ascot deliverable, we are beginning the work to remove our dependency on ConsoleOne. We are moving to a Web Interface for the Admin console. We are also removing our dependency upon eDirectory and adding support for ActiveDirectory as well as eDirectory. No more mapped drives, using REST and GWT. More details will come as the design and implementation move forward.
Great progress is being made and we plan to have several sessions at BrainShare this year showing all of this new functionality, ideas and progress.
Let us know if you have questions or comments!