29 June 2011

New Senior Developer For Cloud Based Solutions

For quite some time has been looking for another developer, who can help us expand into cloud-based services. Now we have found the right person, and I am happy to introduce Kaushal Bharadia, who has been with us since the beginning of May. Kaushal will also help us develop new features for our products, and he will make it possible for us to accept more of all the requests for special solutions we get.

Kaushal Bharadia is a proficient developer with long experience of object-oriented programming and design. He is an expert in Microsoft .Net Technologies, so his skills are is just what the team needs. He is currently building the new version of HelpDesk OSP, called HelpDesk OSP Azure, which I described in the blog post of 22 June. Kaushal also did most of the programming for a special application requested by a Swedish building company, where we created a synchronization-engine between the cloud-based Office 365 and the likewise cloud-based ERP-system Fortnox.

Kaushal and I have a common interest: mountain walking. We both find this an excellent way to counterbalance work at the computers. You get exercise and fresh air, and at the same time you can enjoy a beautiful scenery ‒ and get nearer to the clouds! The photo above shows Kaushal at a cave on top of a mountain. If you wish to read more about Kaushal and other members of the team, welcome to the Team page on our website.

24 June 2011

Midsummer - Celebration Of Light

Today the Swedish members of the team celebrate Midsummer. Sweden has long and dark winters, and maybe that is the reason why the Swedes have honored the lightest day of the year since long before Sweden was a country. Midsummer is one of the most important holidays of the year, and even if the summer solstice is celebrated in other parts of Europe also, many Swedes feel that Midsummer is something typically Swedish. Probably this feeling comes from the many traditions surrounding Midsummer's Eve, the day of the main celebrations.

Most Swedes try to get out from the towns to celebrate Midsummer in the countryside, so on the island where Sigge and I live and has its head quarters, we count on having guests for this holiday. In the morning of Midsummer's Eve, people go out to pick flowers and dress the maypole. "Allemansrätten", the law that gives us the freedom to roam in the countryside, also gives us the right to pick flowers that are not protected.

After a lunch on pickled herring, chives, sour cream and the first potatoes of the season, it is time to raise the maypole on a meadow or lawn. After that follows dancing around the pole. All join hands and create huge rings, and then we sing traditional songs while wandering around the pole. Often special movements has to be performed with each song, and this is a great joy for the children.

 Unfortunately I do not have a good photo of our CEO Peter making these silly movements while dancing around the maypole with his kids, but I can assure you that he loves it! Instead I chose a photo of dancing people in folks costumes that I took during last year's celebration. In the evening follows a long dinner with friends and family and more dancing and singing.

In ancient times people believed that magic was strong during Midsummer's Eve, so it was a good night for rituals to look into the future. Unmarried young girls picked a bouquets of seven different flowers and put it under the pillow to dream about their future husband. Herbs picked at Midsummer were considered to be highly potent, and the spring water could bring you good health.

Greenery was placed over houses and barns to bring good fortune, and we still decorate our houses with greens even though we today do it just to create the Midsummer spirit.

I hope my readers feel some of that spirit reading this post. Even if you don't celebrate the light in the way the Swedes do it, I know many of you honor it in other ways. Therefore I wish you all a Happy Midsummer!

By Kate Kalmström
Marketing and Documentation Business Solutions

22 June 2011

Connect Office 365 To Cloud-Based HelpDesk From

In the blog post from 6 June, " Goes Cloudy", I mentioned that we have started developing a totally cloud-based version of HelpDesk OSP, the add-on that connects Outlook to SharePoint. The new version will be called HelpDesk OSP Azure, and  today I can tell you more about it.

HelpDesk OSP Azure will run on Windows Azure and convert e-mails received in Exchange 2010, in-house or online (Office 365), into list items on a SharePoint site. This conversion will be automatic and happen 24/7 with a minimum of configuration. Just like with HelpDesk OSP it will be possible to decide in what way the e-mails should be converted ino tickets, and you can of course use your custom SharePoint list fields also.

You will access HelpDesk OSP Azure directly via the web, and above you can see the user interface for the login page. On the HelpDesk OSP Plans page, Peter explains in an animation how HelpDesk OSP Azure will work. Welcome to have a look into the future!

20 June 2011

Praise For HelpDesk OSP In New Testimonial

A few days ago a Community Member from the U.S. made the whole team happy by sending us a good testimonial on HelpDesk OSP. As you might have seen we placed some testimonials on the home page when we redesigned it. We plan to circulate snippets from testimonials on the home page, and now we replaced a Calendar Browser testimonial with excerpts from this new one. If you use one of our products, maybe you also want to share your experience of it?

Heather White, Prospect Development, UC Berkeley, first tells what our product has meant for her team: "Helpdesk OSP has been an incredible help to my team in our business process. It saved our unit several thousand dollars over competitor products and allowed us to leverage tools we already own, eliminating the need for additional training."

We also appreciate that Heather writes about how they make use of Helpdesk OSP. This is often the most interesting part of a testimonial for those who are new to the product. "Our team can now share information on our SharePoint site with just one click. We use Helpdesk OSP to initiate and track data and service requests from the schools we serve, making a complex process much more simple and transparent.”

Welcome to read more testimonials ‒ and of course to send us your own!

14 June 2011

PF HelpDesk With Support For Office 365

The development of support for cloud solutions continues at Business Solutions. Our Outlook helpdesk was recently updated to a new version, Public Folder HelpDesk V11.2. It has full support for Russian and several other enhancements, but above all it gives the possibility to use Microsoft's cloud-based SQL Azure database for tickets and settings. Now the team takes one step more towards the clouds by making PF HelpDesk compatible with Office 365 also.   

Microsoft’s cloud based Office is still only available in Beta, but far-seeing  Community Members have already shown an interest in using our products with Office 365. HelpDesk OSP and TimeCard already work with Office 365, but the products that have a folder homepage in Outlook must be rebuilt.   

PF HelpDesk may be installed in any Outlook folder, and the folder homepage solution has been used ever since the application was created more than ten years ago. It has many advantages: it gives a nice graphical interface, displays the views and provides a handy search capability. The homepage is also involved when you create a new ticket ‒ but it cannot be used with Office 365.   

Since the folder homepage solution does not work with Office 365, we have to find new ways to give these functions in PF HelpDesk. At the same time we cannot accept that Members who don't want to use Office 365 gets something that is not as good as before. Ideally the next version should be better for them also. This is not an easy task, but our developers are experts on ingenious solutions. They already have a plan for how to both replace the homepage and make PF HelpDesk even better for all.
Most changes are made “behind the scene”, and many users will never notice them. What the helpdesk staff will see is the new search dialog and the addition of a gallery control. This control will show all custom views, and you can easily switch views from there. And to create a new ticket? Isn’t that the most important feature of all? Yes, it is, and don't worry - we will solve that also :-)   

Since Community Members are already waiting to use PF HelpDesk with Office 365, we have made the development of the new version a high priority task, and we hope to release it soon. I will come back with more info about this exciting project later.

09 June 2011

Update Of E-mail Converting Application For Outlook has already updated Public Folder HelpDesk V11.2 even if a new version of this incident management tool for Outlook was released as late as 30 May. When we see that something is not right we always do our outmost to correct it as soon as possible. In this case it was upgrading Community Members with SQL Server databases who got problems.

When we added the SQL Azure database alternative we introduced support for stored procedures, to give higher security. In the process we added the same support for SQL Server, without thinking through the consequences as much as we should have done. Now Community Members with SQL Server databases who upgraded their installations of PF HelpDesk had to add permissions over the stored produces manually, and that showed to be a bad solution. We decided to remove the stored procedure support in the SQL Server database alternative again and add it later together with an automatic permission process.

Microsoft also created problems for us soon after the release of PF HelpDesk V11.2. A new Office 2010 update made PF HelpDesk give a security warning when the PF HelpDesk Outlook folder or Settings was opened. This is now fixed, and I hope all old and new users will be happy with their application!

07 June 2011

Special PamFax Offer In Newsletter

PamFax bannerI normally never announce Peter's monthly newsletters in my blog, because the blog gives you the same info - but earlier, when it is fresh. However, today I want to push for the newsletter, since it contains a special offer. To celebrate the new partnership between and the company behind PamFax, we offer 10 free fax pages to a zone 1 country for the first 500 who clicks the link in the newsletter and register at PamFax. I would not want my blog readers to miss that opportunity! You can find the voucher code in the newsletter.

With PamFax you may send fax messages at low costs online. PamFax is secure and easy to use. If you have not tried it yet, this is a great opportunity to do it. Just go to the newsletter page on the website, find the section about PamFax in today's newsletter and copy the voucher code. Then click one of the two PamFax links in Peter's newsletter, and you will come to the PamFax homepage. There you can learn more about this great tool, and I am sure you want to register when you have seen all the benefits. Do that and redeem the voucher. Happy faxing!

06 June 2011 Goes Cloudy

As you might have understood from previous posts in this blog, we are very excited about cloud-based services in general and  Microsoft´s offerings in that area in particular.

We just released a new version of  PF HelpDeskthe issue tracking tool for Outlook, and it has support for the cloud-based SQL Azure database. This is not because many have been asking for it yet, but because we felt the urge to learn the new technology. We attempt to stay ahead of the curve and understand what our customers want before they even request it!

Now Community Members and Evaluators are asking if our applications work with Office 365 every day. The answer is that HelpDesk OSP and TimeCard already supports Office 365, and we will very soon update PF HelpDesk and Calendar Browser to support it too. However, they still work on the client-installed Microsoft Office applications we all know and love - not directly from a cloud-based service. That is where we are heading, though. We will of course continue to use and support client-based technologies, but we will expand into cloud-based services also.

One experiment-project we just concluded was a synchronization-engine between the cloud-based Office 365 and the likewise cloud-based ERP-system Fortnox. We used the Exchange Web Services and Fortnox´s API to enable synchronization between the ERP system and an Outlook Contacts list in Office 365. This was exactly what the Swedish building company Melander Bygg AB needed.

We will continue to build upon this experience to enable a variant of our other issue tracking product, HelpDesk OSP, to run entirely in the cloud, converting e-mails received in Office 365 to tickets in a SharePoint ticket list. We will of course retain the control of how the e-mails are converted, support for custom fields  in SharePoint and more. I will come back with more info about this product later on.