Locking Down Community Server 2008.1
We’re only a couple of weeks away from a beta release of Community server 2008.1. As previously discussed this is the first of a more rapid pace of releases for the Community Server product. (There is a public roadmap we’ve produced that I’m hoping to have published next week some time to www.communityserver.com. ) What this means though is that we’re pretty locked on what we are shipping and what we are NOT shipping. This post will give you a few more details to help get you ready.
CS 2008.1 will be shipping with Hawaii as the default theme again, but will not include Lean & Green or Calypso in the box. This was one of the hardest calls to make, but as a team, we realized we could either fix more bugs & ship good wiki OR support 3 themes while cutting a lot of bug fixes & feature work.
The reality is that a theme is not simply a set of CSS changes. Fixes & feature work had to be developed & tested in three themes. For the sake of quality, we chose to simplify for this release and focus on making one theme (Hawaii) better. For those of you that felt Hawaii was a little drab, we have been adding some more stylization to it.
Question & Answer Details
I previously mentioned that we were working on dramatic improvements for forums aimed at support communities. Here are some details to get you ready.
- A new forum can be enabled for QnA or General Discussion. If you pick QnA then new threads will be questions without answers by default. You can ask questions in General Discussion forums, but they aren’t the default thread type.
- The basic workflow has been updated as follows: User A asks a question, users B & C suggest answers, and user A marks one of both of the suggest answers as the “verified” answer.
- Once an answer is verified it is always shown at the top of the thread under the question to help people that land there from google.
- Multiple posts can be verified answers.
- We show the user who suggested a post as the answer & who verified the post as the answer to the question.
- The theme icons & visuals have been updated to clearly reflect the three post/thread states (Unanswered, Suggested Answer(s), & Verified Answer(s) )
This is the biggest addition to Community Server 2008.1. In terms of a wiki you’ll get support for the following:
- Basics: WYSYWIG editable pages with revision history’s, tags, comments, & ratings.
- Multiple Wikis per site & One Wiki per Group
- Roles for Wiki Administrators & Moderators. Admins can create & edit wikis while moderators can lock & delete pages.
- Attachment support
- Activity Message support
- Support for customizable points for contributions if you have points enabled.
- The ability to create a Table of Contents for your wiki to add some structure. Like I said, our target is collaborative documentation. See dogfooding below.
Something I didn’t mention before
The Mail Gateway add-on for Community Server is going to be greatly improved because of all the work we are doing for Community Server Evolution. Details are coming in future posts about Evolution, but all the changes made for Evolution will be included in the release of the add-on for Community Server 2008.1.
When we hit the beta there will be no more feature work. With the possible exception of extremely small change requests to Wiki & QnA forums what you get in the beta will be feature complete. We then enter what we’ve been calling “baking time” for bug fixes & minor tweaks based on the feedback we get. We’ll also be looking at the forums to take in bugs from CS 2008 that are still lingering after SP1. So yes, we’ll be listening and responding in kind during this period. Expect this “baking period” to last a few weeks before you see a final release.
What About Evolution?
Community Server Evolution is an intranet only version of Community Server that includes add-ons like Exchange, AD, & SharePoint Integration. Because this is being built on top of Community Server the schedule is following the CS schedule, but will need some additional time once Community Server is solid. It will beta & ship shortly after Community Server 2008.1 release.