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03 January 2013

New Possibilities With kalmstrom.com Applications Of 2012 And 2013

Peter Kalmstrom imageThe kalmstrom com team is looking forward to the new year with optimism, as we have more  kalmstrom.com products to offer than ever before – at the same time as we are keeping the Community system with one subscription for any number of products.

We are also re-building most of our applications using the latest techniques and platforms. Here our CEO and applications designer Peter Kalmstrom gives a summary of what we achieved in 2012 and what we plan to do in 2013.

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook and/or SharePoint
Kanban boardDuring 2012 the kalmstrom.com team developed a totally new application: Kanban Task Manager. It was a big undertaking, and we are all happy that we now have released the SharePoint version as well as the Outlook version of this application for project and task visualization.

The two versions may be used separately or together. We are ourselves using both the Outlook and the SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager on the same data for the kalmstrom.com project management.

New techniques
The development of Kanban Task Manager took some time, not only because it was something totally new but also because we used the most modern techniques when building it. I wanted to change the architecture of the kalmstrom.com products, to get them perfectly equipped for future development, and I decided to give the new application the same modern foundation.

Therefore Kanban Task Manager for Outlook was the first kalmstrom.com product using solely the new techniques, but now work is in progress to re-build the rest of the applications. Users will still recognize their software and be able to do what they did before, but under the surface the kalmstrom.com applications will be as new.

SharePoint sharing option
We also want to help Community Members embrace a future where teams get more mobile and geographically dispersed, and therefore the use of SharePoint is an important part of the new architecture. I am a Microsoft certified SharePoint specialist and can see the great possibilities of this platform. Kanban Task Manager was also the first application to offer a SharePoint site as an alternative to a database for sharing and storage of data.

Excel reports
Excel iconThe statistics tool used in most of the kalmstrom.com products will be replaced with Excel reports.
The old tool is a bit complicated to use, and it requires Office Web Components for Office 2003 to be installed on the computer. This requirement is becoming increasingly troublesome even if the 2003 version works well for later versions of Office too.

Excel has grown into a powerful platform for statistics and reports. and most managers already know how to use it. If not, there is a multitude of tutorials on the net. Excel is also very suitable for use with other Microsoft platforms, which further increases the benefits of using Excel reports for statistics.

Each application will have a number of product specific default reports, but these may be modified using all the standard Excel features and new ones may be created and included in the reporting system.

Re-usable parts
Much of what we learned and developed when we created Kanban Task Manager has been, or will be, reused in other products. Therefore the time spent on Kanban Task Manager was not just a benefit for this application but for most of the others too.

I have a lot of plans for Kanban Task Manager, but for now they will have to wait. Instead we will concentrate on our other products for a while.

Calendar Browser for Outlook V8
Calendar Browser logo
Calendar Browser was next application to be released with the new techniques and the Excel reports. Our resource booking tool still does not have the SharePoint option, but it will be added in version 9. Before the next major release we will however give you an update of Calendar Browser which has several new features, sponsored by one of our Community Members.

Folder HelpDesk for Outlook
Folder HelpDesk logotypeIn May we published a new version of the issue tracking application that was earlier called Public Folder HelpDesk. As this Outlook-addon can be installed in a shared mailbox too, we decided to call it just Folder HelpDesk from version 12.

Now we are already working on version 13, which we hope to release in the first quarter of 2013. It will have most of the new techniques and Excel reports just like Calendar Browser, but the SharePoint integration will have to wait until version 14. Here we also have received a generous Member sponsorship that will add a number of new features to Folder HelpDesk V13.

TimeCard and HelpDesk OSP
TimeCard logotypeIn the beginning of 2012 TimeCard Workgroup was updated with a possibility to report on behalf of someone else, and after that we have released two minor updates. HelpDesk OSP was updated to be able to convert incoming Outlook e-mails  into SharePoint tickets even when the have very big attachment files.

These two applications work well, and the kalmstrom.com support team seldom has to assist users, but they  need an update too and their turn will come during 2013. TimeCard V5 and HelpDesk OSP V4 will both get a new architecture and Excel reports, and we hope to be able to add a SharePoint option for TimeCard also.

HelpDesk OSP already builds on SharePoint, but I want to make more use of all the possibilities given by SharePoint  – and of the Outlook functionalities in SharePoint! Apart from that HelpDesk OSP is the youngest kalmstrom.com product after Kanban Task Manager, so it already has a more modern architecture than the more classic applications and no extensive changes are needed.

KBase
KBase logotypeLast but not least KBase V3 will be released later in 2013 as a totally new product. By changing the architecture we will make the kalmstrom.com knowledge base better and more stable, and it will get many good new features.

Document Tagger
Very soon I hope we can release another new product as a Beta: a document tagger for SharePoint libraries. I am sure Kate will tell you more about it in a later blog post.

As you see we are keeping busy. We actually have so many plans that more developers are needed, so we are in the process of hiring more people. It is bound to be a very interesting year!