The entire way of collaborating in Smart Office has been rebuilt for this new version. This means that the support for jabber has been removed and the built in collaboration is completely reimplemented based on web sockets. This enables instant messaging and a lot of new functionality.
Old contacts can no longer be used so you will need to delete contacts from the old versions of Smart Office and add your contacts again. But you will see that this is a small effort compared to the new functionality that we provide in Smart Office 10.2.
The changes include updates to the UI, several new features and more straightforward way of communicating and sharing information with your fellow colleagues.
- Ability to change your awareness
- Group chat
- File transfer
- Screen sharing
- Direct sharing options through out Smart Office
Much has happened to the UI since the last version. First and foremost a contact card has been placed in the Smart Office title bar to let you manage, e.g. the awareness of your contact. All awareness states except ‘Away’ can be set manually since ‘Away’ is automatically set when the user has been inactive for a set amount of time.
The Communicator widget has been given a new design supporting personal contacts and favorites, filtering offline contacts and adding new contacts via search.
The chat window or, as we call it, the Conversations window has been given a completely new tab design where each ongoing conversation is given its own tab.
As the screenshot of the Conversations window above shows, instant messaging in Smart Office now supports group converstaions. The selected tab in the screenshot is a group conversation between three users, i.e. myself, Markus Mild and Dan Hoglund. Additional contacts can be added via the add participant icon in the top right corner of the conversation.
One-to-one conversations also supports searchable history logging via the document button to the right of the add participant button.
File Transfers in Conversations
Another added feature that only applies to one-to-one conversations is file transfers via the attachment button next to the send button. Clicking it will open a context menu where the user can choose between sending a file and sending a custom screenshot. All types of files can be sent but there will be a file size restriction.
The coolest functionality that has been added in this version is however the possibility of sharing your screen in real time to any number of participants in a conversation. Clicking the screen sharing button next to the attach button will show a context menu where the user can choose between sharing his/her entire screen or a specific running application in Smart Office.
When the user has chosen the target for the screen sharing session, a screen sharing controller is opened which lets the user control the session. The session can be paused and resumed, stopped as well as switching the target of the session. The screen sharing controller also contains an area where participants of the conversation can be kicked from the screen sharing as well as be re-invited. Two collapsible views are also included in the controller where the latest messages and a minified view of what is being shared are presented. It is also possible to collapse the entire controller into a view that only keeps the control buttons and the currents status of the session, which can be:
- Waiting – no users have accepted the enquiry
- Sharing – at least one user have accepted the enquiry
- Paused – session is paused
- Stopped – session is stopped
The view of the participants of the screen sharing session is shown in the image below. The conversation is moved to another window where the participant can view the ongoing screen sharing session as well as communicate in the conversation on the left hand side as usual.
New Ways of Collaborating
The collaboration feature has been integrated to Smart Office in an intuitive and straightforward way in this new release. The example below shows the detail panel of an item in Item. Open where the person responsible for the item is shown as a collaboration contact. To communicate with this person directly, simply left click the icon to open a conversation dialog or right click to open a context menu with additional options. We believe that this functionality will facilitate everyday work and let users solve their problems quickly and efficiently.
Sharing Smart Office Content
Another new feature in this release is the possibility to quickly share Smart Office content such as Bookmarks, Links, Images, Widgets etc. This is of course supported by the collaboration framework as in the following scenario.
The current user wants to share an image of the application Item. Open. This can be done in two ways, either by right clicking the related task in the task bar or via Tools in the application itself.
When the user has chosen Collaboration as the target of the image sharing, a dialog will appear where the user has to choose whom to share this image with. The left hand image is the initial view where all of the users’ contacts are displayed and any ongoing one-to-one conversations pops up on top. The right hand side shows the search result for the text “Ant”.
When we choose a contact and click the OK button, a new or existing, conversation dialog is opened and a transfer message is added to the conversation.
Another new feature in Smart Office is the notifications. They appear for a short amount of time in the top right corner of the screen and displays different text messages. The example below shows a notification that is displayed when a chat message is received. If the user choses to interact with the notification, i.e. by clicking somewhere on the notification that is not the close button, the related conversation is shown.
Whether to show notifications or not is a setting that can be set in the related application settings, i.e. these notifications can be toggled under the tab Collaboration in Smart Office Settings.