Microblogging, activity streams and communities. These three elements are among the most popular within enterprise collaboration platforms, so they get a lot of special attention from vendors. NewsGator (news, site) has just updated all three in Social Sites 2.0 v2, so let's look at what's new and improved.
Focus on the Important Things
Social Sites 2.0 v2 is actually being released in stages with updates to a number of modules used every day. The things you'll notice immediately are as follows:
Microblogging /Activity Stream
A few new capabilities in Social Sites microblogging module:
- Send a private message and share events/activities from the Activity Stream
- Flag posts for follow up, view top news
- Lots of new filters to find things quickly: author, published date, hashtag, community, activity type and contributors. This is done via a new Silverlight Web Part that incorporates MS Pivot technology.
- Create personal subscription feeds
Analytics are Useful
Probably a silly thing to say, I know, but it is true. And with the new Pivot WebPart, there are some great ways to create views and reports that slice and dice the information in Social Sites. In addition to that web part, there are a few other new web parts that present information by hastag/keyword, community and colleagues.
You probably don't spend all your time in Social Sites, but it's nice to know when something of interest comes up. NewsGator has updated email support to allow you to create microblog posts or initiate questions via email. These can be directed at a particular community or to everyone.
There's also advanced email parsing and configurable notifications per community.
I asked Brian Kellner, VP, Development and Product Management for NewsGator, why additional email functionality was added when one of the key advantages to platforms like NewsGator is the reduction in email. He explained that email overload isn't in conflict with email notifications. As we said, most people don't spend all their time in Social Sites, so email provides easy interaction when you aren't there.
Social Sites now offer administrators templates to get a new community up and running quickly in the format they want. Categories and tags have been added for easier discovery and there's a My Top Communities tag to help you find your communities quickly.
Updates to the Architecture
In addition to all this new user functionality, NewsGator also made some enhancements to the Social Sites architecture. Multi-farm deployments are now supported as is farm-level RAM caching. Alternate access mapping is also now available and they have streamlined community security management, tying it into SharePoint.
For those who have to deal with compliance and archiving regulations, there is now long term Activity Stream retention, the default being two years.
And finally, Social Sites now integrates with SharePoint Search, including Fast Search, through the use of BCS (business connectivity services).
Silverlight Search Web Part
All of these architecture updates clearly demonstrate the depth of the integration between NewsGator and SharePoint.
NewsGator's View on the Activity Stream
NewsGator puts a lot of thought and work into designing how the Social Sites Activity Stream works. And they clearly understand the value that the stream brings to an organization. Kellner explained that NewsGator focuses on collecting the most interesting interactions.
Kellner sees the event store as becoming a central piece of enterprise infrastructure, that when implemented correctly enables you to analyze and filter the data, and help prioritize activities for users. There's a bit of work there to filter the right information out (to the right user at the right time), but when implemented correctly it can be done.
More to Come
This isn't the only update for Social Sites 2.0. These new capabilities are available now, but we have more news on the NewsGator front that you will like. So stay tuned for that.