I really like smart objects 🙂 For a K2.NET 2003 user the benefits of smart objects will be obvious in one key area – keeping business data in one place! Keeping business data separate to the process! The SmartBox datastore provided by blackpearl neatly stores all your smartobject data in there (if you choose to use it). It keeps all the reference information in there as well so that your other bits of information that comes from external systems and other smartobjects can be linked to provide the rich set of information you required.
Blackpearl ships a bunch of service objects – objects that connects and understand other systems – that helps you grab data from a variety of useful sources. Active Directory, Sharepoint, Workflow data are some of those. With the MOSS service object you can make any sharepoint object to provide data for your smartobjects.
Beta 2 also provides right-click integration with smartobjects to your infopath forms. You can make infopath form UIs for your smart objects in seconds 🙂 imagine getting your backend data into a infopath form in seconds…that is really cool…wait.. there is more.. and you can push that through business processes in minutes. This business process is enhanced with escalations, task management, notifications, reporting and auditing. all part of the platform 🙂
A much needed feature of initiating processes through the management console has made an entrance in blackpearl. This would be welcomed by admins and devs. very nice for quick testing scenarios. Also now you can download a solution file that is a copy of the source files which you have used to deploy a version of the process. I think this is super cool. This was a requirement I heard many times at my K2 training sessions and glad to see it being delivered 🙂
K2 also announced tooling to talk to SAP and other systems including Biztalk. There is work underway to leverage Biztalk adapters. K2 already connects with Biztalk 2006 and 2004 via K2.NET event templates. The templates will continue to function in blackpearl. If customers have a Biztalk system in place, they can leverage the system integration capabilities of Biztalk in the Human workflow capabilities provided by K2.
All K2.net 2003 templates and processes are supported in blackpearl. This is a major requirement for the existing customer base.
The Visio integration is demonstrated here. Using a process diagram in visio to map out a business process and exporting it to k2 server didn’t take that long. I didnt have to create any UI’s at all. I used the web console to initiate an instance, used the workspace to interact with it and it is done.