Today we announced a major re-work of our Microsoft Office add-in.
For some time we've offered an add-in for Word 2007 only. It worked fine, and it did the job of a minimal viable product (MVP) in that our customers quickly told us that support for Excel and PowerPoint would be good too. They kind of accepted that there was little we could do for Word 2003 because of the major changes in the program architecture between the versions.
Then along came Office 14 and we found the add-in didn't work with Word 2010. A little reminder that supporting X versions for Y applications can sap the resources of any software company. And yes. I know we're not the first to find that out!
So we started again. Rather than develop a solution for each application, the aim this time was to build a platform that is compatible across multiple versions/applications and easier to maintain when future Office versions are released by Microsoft.
The new component supports more versions of Microsoft Office (2003, 2007, and 2010) and the most widely-used applications (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) in the Office suite.
The business benefit remains the same: to encourage knowledge workers to create and maintain their documents within the shared document repository by allowing them to do so directly from within their desktop authoring tools.
During the same period we've worked with and against Microsoft SharePoint in our marketplace. In a couple of our bigger accounts, the outcome was to deploy alongside SharePoint. In a nutshell it does the Intranet team site and we do the underlying document control - effectively the master reference database to avoid duplication and ensure ID uniqueness. In other opportunities it was either/or. Companies may be able to license SharePoint but they knew there was a lot more work to do in customizing it. The big benefit - integration with Office applications - was something they still wanted. So we needed to solve the problem "how can I have Office integration without using SharePoint?”
I think we've done a good job - the feature set is solid and its usability follows the simple-but-effective rule we aim for in CogniDox. There were design decisions about where to draw the feature line between the desktop and the web application, and we’ll listen to feedback to ensure we drew that line correctly.
The press release is on our website and goes into a little more detail about the features. If you're reading this as a CogniDox user, the Office Add-in is available free to all companies with a CogniDox subscription license for support and maintenance.