Feng Office 2.0 First Beta – The geek review

Hello community.


We are soooo happy to finally be releasing the first Beta of Feng Office 2.0! It is hard to put on words how much.


We have been working on it for over a year now, and it has been a great team effort.

The Summary

Feng Office 2.0 biggest changes lie on its architecture revamp, which bring it another step forward to becoming the ultimate Collaborative Project Management Platform (for thousands of customers, it already is!).


This means a simple installation of Feng Office 2.0 will not look much different from the 1.7.X series (though there are some GUI changes we are still working on – the main one being an easier way to customize the look and feel of the app).


So, without further ado, let’s dive into what makes Feng Office 2.0 different.

A Platform

To simplify our messaging, we call Feng Office a Project Management Software.


But if you use Feng Office, you know it is much more than that.


At its core (we’ll be talking a lot more about the core from 2.0 and forward) Feng Office is a Collaboration Platform. Much more so with the latest changes.


Information is going to be centered around people, and the way each teams work.


Your team will be able to organize and share the information that they use, the way that they use it, with the tools that better fit their work.

The Plug-ins

The ability to include specific features and behaviours for different teams and businesses needs is a very desirable one. And Feng Office has always favored the addition of such functionality.


But one of the main issues we had with the previous system was the lack of formal definition and standardization of the Plug-ins system. We had a mixture of Plug-ins and “hooks”, which we used for specific cases for specific customers, using different integration techniques.


Feng Office 2.0 core system will be stripped off the consequences of this procedures, and will make for a solid and minimalist Platform System.

Multiple Dimensions (for every business need)

Probably the most interesting change in Feng Office 2.0 is the further extension of the Workspaces concepts into ‘Multiple Dimensions’.


Workspaces have proved a popular concept amongst the most savvy users of our community. Workspaces can represent a customer, a project, a folder, company division, or any other ‘entity’ that would contain an important amount of information.


But Workspaces (along with tags) had two limitations:

  • They were limited to ‘two dimensions’ (Workspaces and tags)
  • ‘Workspace’ is not a straight-forward name for what you were representing

With the evolution of Workspaces into ‘Dimensions’, system administrators and integrators will be able to customize Feng Office at each businesses, calling customers ‘customers’, projects ‘projects’, etc.


This is better explained on the following image:


User Roles

Depending on who you are collaborating with (a customer, a co-worker, a Company’s Director), you will want to present information differently, prioritizing what matters most to that person. Also, it may be the case you have confidential information that you would not want to disclose.


Feng Office already lets you configure all this for each user, but the administration of it is rather difficult. Feng Office 2.0 will let you pre-configure ‘roles’, so that you can easily grant the set of access permissions and set the configuration that makes the most sense for everybody.

API

Developers rejoice! We are developing an API! This means you will have a way to easily integrate your apps and add-ons onto Feng Office, without having to mess with its core.


This means easier maintainability, and extended business opportunities.


The API is still under development, but Feng Office 2.0 has been developed with this requirement as a top priority.

Mobile Access

Last, but not least, Feng Office 2.0 is a better platform for Mobile Access. Mobile Access is still under development, but we will be sharing more news on this… really soon!


So this is it for now. We hope you help us test Feng Office 2.0. All your feedback and comments are more than welcome.


Ah! To download (and remember this is a Beta release… so no production installations please!) follow this link.



39 Responses to “Feng Office 2.0 First Beta – The geek review”

  1. Chad says:

    Excited about this new release! Did you update ExtJS as well?

  2. Martin says:

    That’s likely the most stable Betaversion I ever tested. Thanks for this nice piece of work.
    Exists inside Fengoffice a possibility to easily send an email to e.g. all members of a workspace or chose the addressees by tag?
    In my installation of the betaversion I can only type in the receipients manually.

    Thanks a lot for your answer and keep on that good work.

  3. Conrado says:

    @Chad: Sorry, no, we haven’t updated ExtJS yet. But it is definitely on the roadmap.

    @Martin: Thank you! I don’t think there is a fully available plug-in for that yet. I’ll check if there is an already available solution for that. It is definitely not part of the core system.

  4. Monaco says:

    Yay… improvements for 2.x much appreciated. Great to see that the feng team keeps focus on core improvements like workspaces and mobile access. Seems you’re flooded with more narrow requests that caters to individual use (including a few of mine), but it’s important to maintain focus on ‘the big picture’, which you do. Keep ut the good steem :) M.

  5. Conrado says:

    Thank you, Monaco!

    And yes, you got it right! We would love to be able to take all individual requests, but we are definitely receiveng waay too many.

    Cheers!

  6. Razva says:

    Hi folks, thanks for the new release!

    Unfortunatelly…I’m don’t want to say this…but Feng lacks some very important options:
    1) Discussions – a “forum-based” section
    2) The possibility to communicate with the users within the script, not by email
    OR
    3) The possibility to restrict a Discussion (which doesn’t exist right now) to a specific number of users. Like…if I want to talk something private with my client and just my designer, we should have the possibility to do this, without bumping into email.

    Please note that these functions are already present at your competition:
    - ActiveCollab
    - TeamLab
    - Alfresco

    Is there any possibility to see these functions into v2? Please…? :D I don’t want to stop using Feng! :(

  7. Andy says:

    Looking good so far! Is the new dimension model in lieu of folders (especially for documents), or are folders on the roadmap? Really looking forward to improved synchronization of the Feng calendar with Google calendar(s). Thanks for the early look at the upcoming release!

  8. Francisco says:

    Hei, nice update!

    When will we have a forum inside Feng? And a spreadsheet?

    tks

  9. chedes says:

    @Razva, great feedback. We love the idea. It would be a good plug-in for Feng 2. We will take it into account but it won’t be in the application core.

    @Andy, Dimension model is a generalization of the folder concept, so you can configure Feng in order to organize your information as folders. The google calendar sync is in the roadmap.

    @Francisco, Spreadsheet will be ready as a Feng 2 plug-in after the final release.

  10. Denis says:

    Looking good. Excellent work!

    @Razva, @Francisco: Feng Office needs to encourage a contributor base by providing a decent plugin system and a well-managed online plugin repository like, for example, WordPress. I hope you will agree with me that this cannot happen without robust and uncluttered core functionality, which includes the plugin mechanism. Now that this appears to be a reality, I’m sure that it won’t be long before your requested forum and messaging apps will be available.

  11. Sam says:

    Hey Love the new direction!

    I’ve tried to test the upgrade but its not working as it says I’m missing a table “fo_amounts” can we fix this to provide more feedback?

    I Think the Google feed/sync for tasks and Calendar is my biggest +1
    Then you would be able to get any device to display this key information
    only problem with feed is the update only happens every few hours but that’s better than nothing for the time being.

    Keep up the great work!
    Sam

  12. Conrado says:

    Thanks for the positive feedback everyone!

    @Razva, you can have private conversations using Feng Office. We usually do that with comments, using a note -or a document- as a basic description of the topic.

    You don’t have to stop using Feng Office if you don’t want to. ;)

    @Andy, you are correct! It is how Chedes tells it. More on how to use dimensions to set up folders coming soon.

    @Sam, I haven’t seen that bug. Hopefully it will be resolved in the upcoming release.

  13. T says:

    I’m not sure if this is a bug, or I am doing something or even how to report this.

    I tried the traditional multi-upload method of compressing files, uploading and then extracting. I can upload the compressed files, but in this beta version, I am not able to extract, although, I am given a message saying it was a success.

  14. Razva says:

    @Conrado: yes…we do the same also, but there’s no way to limit a certain person, within the same workspace, from seeing the note/comments.

    Why a forum, and not a note? Because the notes lack “interactivity”. It’s like…I’m making a blog post, and people start commenting in a single form (like on this blog). A forum has quotes, WYSIWYG and a better visual representation of a “thread”.

    Why a messaging system and not a note or a forum? Because in a mid-size team everything a project manager wants is to get rid of email. Emails are lost, deleted, forgotten. If Feng would have an internal messaging system, that will archive all my discussions when ending/archiving a project/workspace, it would be a KILLER deal!

  15. Conrado says:

    @Razva: Absolutely! That is why we are making Feng 2.0 be a better architecture to support those features as plug-ins.

    Let us know if you want to do any of them. :D

    Cheers!

  16. Razva says:

    @Conrado: hmmm…you just gave me an idea! :P These plugins should/will be free? Is there any way we can discuss this in a more private manner?

  17. Conrado says:

    @Razva,

    There is. But at this moment, I need to focus on releasing Feng 2.0, while also serving our clients the best possible way.

    Please ping us again as soon as we release 2.0 final.

    Thank you!

  18. Jason says:

    Great work guys, very excited to test Feng 2; is there any documentation on configuring dimensions manually (per the system directives?). I’ve looked around

  19. chedes says:

    @Jason, Thanks! Unfortunatly there isn’t any documentation on configuring dimensions manually.

  20. chedes says:

    @Jason, would you be interested in helping us out with that issue? :)

  21. Patrick says:

    FengOffice is also one of the favorite project managements softwares for NGOs (at least as far as I saw it).
    In this sence it would be very important to be able to name roles not only in the businnes context, but also other contexts.

    So instead of company, you could have NGO, and so on….

    Please take this aspect into account in 2.0… It should not be so difficult to allow other vocabulary as the user whishes it so…

    I#m already installing 2.0 and I#m really excited about it

    very good job every one

    saludos portugueses

  22. Ralph@Netbiz says:

    Nice piece of work guys. I can’t wait to test “drive” it. Can the best get any better?

  23. Conrado says:

    Thanks everyone!

    @Patrick: Yes, we are taking into account the non-business context.

    Plan is: to get a ‘standard’ version out, to look pretty much like “ol’ Feng Office”. Industry-specific specializations will be available as plug-ins, or as “Special Editions”.

  24. blr says:

    Hi,

    Feng Office is the good software. Nice work.
    may i be start the tanslation on the 2.0 beta ?
    thanks,

  25. Brian says:

    Wondering when 2.0 will go out of beta and into general release? Will the upgrade path be straight forward? I am just beginning with Feng Office 1.7.5 this week and I’m quite impressed. It already looks like 2.0 is delivering the features I hoped to see while evaluating 1.7.5. Especially the dimensions!

  26. Conrado says:

    Thanks blr. Yes, you can start translations! It is never too early.

    @Brian: I am glad you are liking Feng Office 2.0. We can’t promise a date of release. We are finding many issues that need to be solved before releasing it as final.

  27. joseph says:

    Hello is it possible to upgrade from 1.7.5 to beta2, I would like to test the new version but have actually too much operative data on my 1.7.5 install…

    You guys rock and your app really helps me in my everyday workflow!

    PS/ I’m afraid that all_16_16_vertical.png is missing in the 1.7.5 zip install on your server…
    public > assets > themes > default > images > 16×16

  28. Hello

    This look really nice! You must try it to feel it. Its like a whole new program, its like something special i ever have seen! Its all new i feel, and its just so easy and fantastic! I see forward to FengOffice!

  29. msuzenne says:

    Hi,

    as usual, thanks for the great work accomplished ! I’ve known of Fengoffice since OpenGoo 0.9.1, and used it since 1.3, and it always keep its strength, functionnalities, and ergonomy, the last beeing the best (the workspace concept and the extJS AJAX IHM core have always provided a good user experience IMHO).

    @Conrado : it’s difficult to understand the trick of dimensions versus workspaces. Do the dimension can provide me a way to have different custom properties for an object (say notes for example) organized by dimension ? I explain myself : I need to have some custom objects (not implemented in the core) with custom properties to manage an asset. Since you cannot create some personalized new objects, I had (with fengoffice 1.6) used “note” core objects with custom properties, created via the admin menu since I needed the possibility to have repports be aware of the properties of these pseudo-new objects.
    But, since I also needed several very different new objects for my asset management, this resulted in a very large amount of custom properties for the note object, all of these becoming unrelevant. I eventually added a “type” custom property to differentiate all these, but still doesn’t resolved the big amount of custom properties for the note object (a bit tricky when I create a new note, filled the “type” custom property, and having to select the relevant custom property by hand, then filling them, then leaving all unneeded custom properties to their default values).

    I call this a hack, it definitely do the job, but I think is to wastefull for the SGBDR (I think that with my hack, all uneneeded custom properties take some space), and for my mind wich must remenber which custom property is relevant to the “type” I need amongs a lot of ones). So I wished I could organize the note’s object custom properties by workspace (and then only notes in the “computer” workspace have custom properties “RAM amount”, “CPU type”, and only notes in the “switches” have custom properties “Ports number”, “VLAN numbers” and so on).

    Would the new “dimension” concept provide me with such great possibility ?

    Thanks by advance, Conrado (and others who contribute)

  30. thomas says:

    Any news on this? Release date? Anything ? :-)

    Oh… and THX A LOT for the great work !

  31. Conrado says:

    @Joseph: I wouldn’t recommend attempting a migration at this point. We will eventually release a migration script.

    @Petter: Thanks so much! :D

    @msuzenne: Sorry, I can’t fully answer your question (it would take too much time, of which I don’t have much nowadays). In short: Feng Office will provide the same, and further possibilities as Feng 1.X series.

    @thomas: Unfortunately, we are already delaying release dates we tried committing to internally. That is why I hate even hinting of release dates. In projects such as ours, they are bound to be delayed.

    With Beta 2, we found several issues that are a blocker for releasing a Release Candidate version. We are working day and night to solve those, but they have delayed our plans.

    Keep tuned.

    @Everyone: Thanks for the support and the patience!

  32. Tim says:

    Hey Feng-meisters!

    You guys have put together a pretty kickin’ piece of work here. 5 thumbs up!

    When you have a spare second (you know, the one when you go to the water cooler to get a cool drink…) have a look at AjaXplorer.info. An integration with it would be slick. A great means for LARGE file repositories that are also ftp/sftp, etc accessible.

    Good work!
    Tim

  33. Rob says:

    PLEASE fix the error that blocks us from being able to add companies or tasks. This has been talked about in the forum, and the cause of it pointed out. It’s a huge problem with a simple fix, so PLEASE make it your top priority, since these are 2 of the most important features, and they simply don’t work. Thanks, and the software looks good if it worked correctly.

  34. msuzenne says:

    @conrado : I know you don’t have lot of time. In fact I don’t ask you to answer my special needs, but just what are the great differences between workspaces and dimensions, and if we can manage custom properties by dimension (e.g. if we can setup which properties will appear in a specific dimension and not in others … )

    @ the others : if someone has the same need and has previewed a solution with the new concept of dimensions, can he explain me further ?

    @all : many thanks for all this community exchange : that is so great !

  35. Conrado says:

    @Rob, I can add them on test installs, so I don’t think there would be any issues with that.

    @msuzenne:

    1. Feng Office 1.X has:
    – Workspaces
    – Tags
    And that’s it. That is “two dimensions”

    The user has to call a “Clients” ‘workspace’ a ‘workspace’

    2. With Feng Office 2.0:
    – You can have as many dimensions as you want
    – You can name them however you want

    The user calls a “Client” a ‘Client’.

  36. msuzenne says:

    @Conrado : thanks for these explainations, but the dimension concept is still obscure to me (the details of how it works, not the visible differences with workspaces). I will give it a try and dig in it … I tried to search inside the doc, but seems there is nothing yet about “dimensions”. Is there somewhere a tutorial or a “getting started” about dimensions ?

  37. Robin says:

    Hi guys, this is a great news! I can’t express how excited I am to hear this :)

    I have played around with the beta and, although it is far from finished at the moment, I’m sure this version will be really awesome once it finally stabilises. With the advent of plugin support, now maybe even I can find some time to contribute with some plug-ins as well!

    It is very encouraging to see all these improvements coming along and hope to see even more in the future…just keep us posted…I am now eagerly waiting to see the final release soon! Keep it up guys!!!

  38. Conrado says:

    Thank you Robin.

    As you noted, the last beta was far from finished. I did not feel it was beta quality, so that is why the next release is taking us longer. But we are making steady progress. :)

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