2016 Ends with a Bang! 

2016 has been a great year for Akumina – one where we have worked so closely with our customers and partners to redefine what is possible for delivering transformative employee experiences.

The hard work of our talented team has paid off because this year InterChange was ranked by leading research firms as a top ‘digital workplace’ software platform from both StichDX and ClearBox Consulting.

The hard work doesn’t stop there; our engineering team has been very busy rolling out new capabilities month over month for our customers and partners, helping them stay ahead of the competition and drive engaging employee experiences.

We wanted to take a moment to share with you some of those new capabilities that we’ve recently launched and highlight some additional functionality that’s due to roll out as 2017 approaches.

Below is a summary of the new changes to look out for:

Enhanced Widget Framework Model

We’ve created a fundamental change to our widget framework resulting in increased flexibility related to how widgets are created, edited and displayed on sites. This was achieved by separating the management of a widget’s functionality and the presentation or display of widget data.

By separating the widget’s base functionality and the “view” that is used to display its data on the site, a single widget can serve many purposes by merely changing the “view” of the data.  This provides users powerful tools for displaying content from Office 365. Each widget, whether it’s an image gallery, quick list or calendar widget, can have multiple “views” that control the display of the content.

This saves developer’s time from having to create new widgets to simply display content in different contexts and designers are now free to create new views using the available data without having to deal with editing the widget core code.

Introducing In-Context Editing

Authorized users can simply change the view or properties of any widget directly on the page without putting the entire page in edit mode with in-context editing. In-context editing can be quickly turned on and off on any page by simply accessing a widget in the lower left corner designed to serve common functions including in-context editing and cache refresh.

This provides business users greater control in choosing how to display content that provides the best and most intuitive experience based on their personalized preference.

For example, a non-technical user can easily modify a widget to change the display preferences such as how many events are listed on their dashboard to what type of icon is displayed or users can simply pick from a list of pre-configured views/designs to change the way data is displayed in a matter of seconds.

widget-edit-display

Users can easily activate in-context editing by clicking the “edit” button which is quickly accessible via a new access point on the lower left hand screen that was built to house commonly used functions for authorized users including “widget edit” and “cache refresh”.

incontext-editing-preview

Once the page is in edit mode, widgets that are editable are clearly defined with a green highlighted box as users hoover over the widgets.

AppManager Enhancements

Our AppManager continues to be a true differentiator within InterChange. The InterChange AppManager includes pre-built task specific apps that allow employees to quickly access & interact with data from Office 365, SharePoint, Azure and third party enterprise business systems (SAP, Concur, Salesforce, and etc.) to get their job done. This create a user-interface experience that is as easy for business users to understand as an app on their smart-phone and keeps users focused on their job rather than learning multiple, backend business systems.

The newest apps within our AppManager include the Widget Manager App and the View Manager App.

The Widget Manager App is a new management app that allows developers to create new widgets, manage existing widget properties and controls as well as assign views to widgets all in a single interface right from the InterChange platform.

widget-manager-app

Widget Manager App runs inside the InterChange AppManager allowing users to change the view and properties of a widget running inside of Office365

The View Manager App allows developers and designers to make modifications to the HTML mark up of any of the Digital Workplace controls as well as add new views quickly and easily. This allows modifications to quickly and easily be completed directly within the AppManager of InterChange without having to navigate to the HTML files stored in SharePoint.

The View Manager also demonstrates the framework of the Digital Workplace Platform more intuitively showing how all data being displayed is completely separated from the HTML mark up. Not only does it allow changing static HTML elements, but also extends to dynamic data. The view system uses a token like syntax for outputting dynamic data.  This token like syntax is very easily understood by both novice or advanced JavaScript developers, or a designer that may not write any JavaScript at all.

This allows for rapid changes to markup, with a low skill level and learning curve, reducing the cost of changes over the pre-implementation and post-implementation phases of a project.

view-manager-app

Within the View Manager App, users can locate all associated views for all the Digital Workplace controls and make modifications to the HTML markup directly from the InterChange AppManager.  

Various Other Widget Enhancements

We continue to add on-going functionality and enhancements to InterChange’s 50+ widgets, giving our customers ways to add value to their end users to create intuitive experiences and drive engagement.

Image Editing

  • This year we launched a new image gallery  app that is built with our SDK to manage the photo gallery with ease. Image resizing and cropping was integrated right into the image picker for all apps – allowing business users to easily edit and resize photos right from the site they are working on, giving users the self-service capabilities they are looking for. 

Calendar Controls

  • Our calendar widget is one of the most commonly used widget on sites built with InterChange, we recently added new functionality to display events from a root calendar in a subsite and the ability to auto filter from a specific category as well as show or hide the category filter dropdown.

People Directory

  • As workplaces become more spread out across remote working and global offices emerge, it’s critical for organizations to be able to provide directories that don’t overwhelm users and have intuitive search capabilities. We’ve enhanced the search capabilities of our people directory and added support for external users outside of AzureAD, allowing organizations to utilize any directory source.

Site Creator Enhancements

The Site Creator technology framework that allows site functionality (apps and widgets) to be tested in a developer environment and then deploy that functionality from within the InterChange AppManager.

The Site Creator App supports automation and the creation of a master page, new page layouts, content within a page as well as deploying lists and list content. This allows developers to clone a version of their site and re-use it multiple times. Site Creator is an especially powerful tool for our partners looking to deploy new sites for their customers in a repeatable/predictable manner.

We’ve made multiple enhancements and added new functionality recently to our Site Creator App including:

  • A new Site Creator SDK allowing developers to make changes to the default deployment process of the digital workplace, or allow them to start from scratch in deploying their own custom sites.
  • Revamped interface to provide a streamlined management screen that includes the most common control and display options on a single page.
  • A new deployment option has been added that will allow for a Digital Workplace foundation site and four department sites (IT, HR, Marketing and Finance) to be created in one single action.
  • New branding settings and themes have been added as part of the configuration management screen giving customers and developers more built-in options to choose from to easily build a digital workplace that matches their branding.
  • All required deployment options (such as the theme, logo, department name, color, Azure AD enabling along with the required keys) are set as part of the deployment – little or no post deployment configuration

site-creator-app1
The Site Creator App now includes the ability to create new sites, make edits to existing sites right from the AppManager. Configuration options are also now streamlined  into a consolidated management screen instead of multiple locations (as in previous versions).

2017 Road Map

As 2017 quickly approaches, we have many more features coming in the pipeline. We will provide an in-depth announcement as the new features are available, but look forward to a fully re-imagined approach to multi-lingual support, new features and enhancements for creating collaboration spaces, new SDKs for custom integrations with third party systems, drag and drop capabilities for widget management and additional functionality and customization for end users, allowing for even more personalized experiences and ease of deployment options.

We hope you have some insight into all of the new technology capabilities we’ve added just late this year that have our customers and partners raving over what is possible with our framework. We look forward to your feedback and rolling out more exciting features and functionality next year, stay tuned!

If you’re interested in learning more or seeing any of the above features in action, request a personalized demo today or get in touch.