Category Archives: intranets

Launching Form Updates & Apps

Today we’re relasing a big update to forms. The form results page has been completely redesigned, and now allows you to view your form records in different views. By default, records are shown in a table, like before. The table view has been updated and the columns can now be resized. Using the new view settings (View & Reports > Change view defaults), you can also hide the columns you don’t need. Next to the table and list view, we’ve also added two new record views: thumbnail and calendar view.

Example - View contact records as thumbnails

Creating reports and filtering form records also became easier: in the filter panel (View & Reports > Show filters), you can now select filters and immediately see the matching records, without having to create a new report first.

Filter data and create reports

We’ve also added pagination, to make it easier to browse forms with many records.

Finally, we’ve also introduced a new option to turn forms into more complete web apps, which we call Apps mode. When Apps mode is enabled, a new page is automatically created when a new form is submitted, using the form page as a template. This way each record can be viewed on a separate page. Like any other page, you can then add additional widgets such as related documents or a discussion to each page in the app. This is especially useful if you want to organize information with a certain structure, but need the flexibility to add related information later on. For example, you could create a form to create contacts, described by a number of fields (a name, an address, and so on). With app mode enabled, when a new contact form is submitted, a new contact page is created, based on the form template. You can then add related information, files, discussions and other widgets to the contact page. You can find more information and a demo video at Papyrs Apps.

Papyrs Apps

New Papyrs version: Customizable Menu Bar and more!

Today we’re launching a big version upgrade for Papyrs. An important part of storing and sharing information within your company or organization is navigation, to make sure everybody can quickly find what they’re looking for. Papyrs already had a powerful find-as-you-type search, and navigation widgets allowed you to add table of contents, links to other pages and category tree controls to a single page. We’re now launching a fully customizable global menu bar.

With the menu bar you can easily add global navigation to your Papyrs intranet site. Because the menu bar is global, you only need to create the menu once, and the navigation is automatically available from every page. This is a great way to link to pages you use frequently, but you can also add all kinds of other (external) links, or add hierarchical navigation using drop down menus.

Menu Editor
Like editing pages, we wanted to make sure everyone can build their own custom menus without the need for any technical knowledge. That means no scripts, markup codes or configuration. To make this work we built a new custom menu editor. Like the page editor, you can create your own designs by just clicking and dragging building blocks in the editor. We wanted to find the right balance between flexibility and keeping things easy to use and simple, so we introduced the following building blocks you can add to the menu bar:

  • Page Links
    link to a page
  • Links
    links to an (external) URL
  • Categories
    add a category and its pages as a dropdown menu
  • Custom Dropdown Menus
    add a dropdown menu, to which more Page Links and Links can be added
  • Internal Navigation
    add a button to access standard functionality like the All Pages overview or the Activity Stream

Links to pages and categories a user cannot access are automatically hidden.

You can access the menu editor under Settings > Menu Bar.

More Menu
By default, the new menu bar contains the same navigation buttons as the old menu buttons (Home, All Pages, Activity Stream, People Directory and Settings). Because all buttons can now be modified or removed, we’ve added the More Menu, to make sure you can always access all standard functionality. The More Menu is always the first item on the menu bar.

More Features..

We’ve also added a couple of other features over the last few weeks:

Custom Form Submission Message
You can now customize the Thank You message when someone submits a form. To change the message, edit the page (Page > Edit Page), and edit the widget with the Submit button. You can then set the message in the dialog (shown below):

Auto-save draft
If you’re working on a new draft, or editing an existing document, Papyrs will now periodically auto-save your changes to the draft. As before, when you’re done editing the draft, just click Save to publish the changes (or discard the draft to cancel the changes).

User Impersonation
If your plan comes with the Admin Console, administrators can now impersonate other users in your account. This lets administrators view pages and settings as if they were another user. This can be useful to make sure the settings are correct, or to help a user with some question. As long as a user is impersonated, all actions are performed as this user (such as posting a comment, changing settings, etc.); to exit impersonation mode click “Stop Impersonating” in the yellow top bar.

More Theme options
Some extra theming options were added to the Theme Settings page:

  • Background Image
    Upload an image to use as the background image (instead of a flat background color).

  • Background & Banner Options
    When a background or banner image is set, it’s now possible to either repeat or hide the image. The “Repeat” option will horizontally and vertically repeat the image until it fills the banner or background area. This is especially useful if you’re using pattern images, for example. The Hide option allows you to (temporarily) not show the image, but use the background or banner background color instead.

  • Menubar Background Gradient color
    If this color is different from the menu bar background color, a gradient color is used on the menu bar (from the background color, to the background gradient color). Unfortunately old versions of Internet Explorer won’t support this, so users of those browsers will just see the menu bar background color.

We hope you like all the new features!

The Intranet’s Identity Crisis

What do you think of when you see the term “intranet“?

In a recent discussion with some company about the state of “intranets”, we came to the conclusion that the word intranet is kind of confusing. Apparently we were both thinking about something completely different, not in the problem it should solve, but rather what it looks like and how it works.

Wikipedia describes an intranet as:

An intranet is a computer network that uses Internet Protocol technology to share information, operational systems, or computing services within an organization. The term is used in contrast to internet, a network between organizations, and instead refers to a network within an organization. Sometimes, the term refers only to the organization’s internal website, but may be a more extensive part of the organization’s information technology infrastructure, and may be composed of multiple local area networks. The objective is to organize each individual’s desktop with minimal cost, time and effort to be more productive, cost efficient, timely, and competitive.

Reading the part about a “computer network that uses Internet Protocol technology“, I see some images of a typical 90’s terminal with a dial-up modem connecting to the company’s server. It doesn’t really sound like the typical “web 2.0” collaboration software or social intranets apps to me. But maybe my own definition is wrong? The last part of Wikipedia’s definition, on a company website, comes closer to what I think a modern interpretation of the word would be. But still, a web site also sounds kind of static in this age of interactive web apps.

Because of recent the revolution of web apps and cloud technology, an intranet no longer needs to be physically hosted inside a company’s office building. Next to reducing IT costs (hosting, maintenance, hardware, etc.), it allowed for a lot of new innovation on the software side, as your data is always accessible and available from anywhere. And with the increasing popularity of cloud platforms like Google Apps, it looks like even the large enterprises (the traditional “laggards” when it comes to the adoption of new technology) are catching on to this idea.

So now the intranets, that used to be an internal network, can be called a “hosted intranet”, and is software in the cloud. It’s accessible from anywhere, but still “internal”, because your data is still private. But then what about the term extranet? If that’s the part of an intranet that’s “external”, isn’t the entire “hosted intranet” an extranet? Personally I see an extranet in the context of hosted intranets as the part of the hosted intranet site that’s accessible by people outside the company, or even public. Then again, when I read that sentence over, I’m not surprised people find the terms confusing!

Then there’s the whole website vs web app discussion. An intranet, whether in the cloud or not, is no longer just a website, or is it? All those “social” features like an activity stream, 3rd party web widgets, people profiles, and so on, they’re very much part of the modern intranet. So much so perhaps, that when people search for something like “a social network for our company”, they don’t expect to find just that, but also all the traditional intranet features with it (like pages, forms and workflows).

Another big difference between traditional intranets and the new generation of web applications, is the latter’s heavy focus on design and user interaction. A lot of the old generation enterprise software had to be installed, configured and updated by IT consultants, whereas all today’s (web) apps have user-friendly interfaces that can be used by everybody. That might be another reason why people wouldn’t search for an “intranet” when they look for a modern equivalent. So what would they call it? We’ve heard things like company wiki, online collaboration software, but even things like “portal” (which to me doesn’t sound much more modern than intranet though :), or “project management software” (even though they were referring to all the intranet’s functionality).

Maybe it’s time to invent a new term. How do you call your “intranet”?