Author Archives: wim

Email as a platform

Google just announced Actions in the Inbox.

By adding some markup (Microdata or JSON-LD) to the HTML emails you send out, Gmail can now display quick action buttons next to your email.

Some might see this as simply another random extension, or a Gmail gimmick à la Gmail Labs extensions. We rather see it as part of a trend in which communication channels and devices are changed into platforms supporting an entire “ecosystem of apps”. Mobile phones used to be for calling, emails used to be for sending someone a text message (and I guess sunglasses used to be for just protecting your eyes :). Not anymore. All these things have turned into platforms with many apps running on top. All this added functionality makes it much more interesting for consumers, and more exciting for developers to hack new apps on top of. The companies behind them of course know that they can win the real battles by having the better ecosystem (would you switch to Windows Phone if it doesn’t have your favorite YouTube app, or to Hotmail if it doesn’t have your Movies Info app).

Many people would agree that email as it works today just isn’t good enough anymore. People try to use it for much more than it was originally intended. It’s no longer just a way to send people a message, it’s also a todo list, a CRM application, a help desk, a way to organize events, split bills, and much more. Because of this, the way email works desperately needs to be changed, at least extended.

One approach is to completely reinvent email as we know it, Email 2.0. We think this is a step in the wrong direction. One famous example of a very cool but failed attempt is Google Wave. It’s exciting to work on these projects, and of course developers love to completely rewrite and reinvent things, but let’s not forget email is already very popular and it’s hard to make everybody switch. It’s also not needed, which brings us to the other alternative: there are many ways email can be extended with new (open!) standards. It’s called Actions now, but it might look more like complete “email apps” in the future. We already know people want to use their email more effectively, and in fact using some clever hacks, some “apps” were already built and proven to be popular (Rapportive, for example). Plus, as a platform, it’s already used before as a “human API” to build services on (like sending an email to trigger some action like creating a blog post, an invoice, or – like with a weekend project of ours – create an online form).

One of the reasons email is so popular is because it just works, everywhere. So of course we need to deal with things like mobile views and graceful degradation to make sure that remains to be the case. But a player like Gmail is big enough to take the first step into allowing developers to build more apps around email, using new, open standards. And I believe that with us many other developers would be happy to write them, and make email much more powerful and effective than it is today.

Papyrs Blog

Just a quick note — to better structure our blog posts, we’ve launched a separate blog for Papyrs. If you’re looking for new Papyrs features announcements, tips and related intranet news: you can find it at blog.papyrs.com.

New in Papyrs: Navigation Widget, Google Calendar and more!

We’ve been working on quite some new features for Papyrs, time to introduce some of them!

Category Navigation widget

If you’re using categories to organize your Papyrs intranet pages, you might want to navigate your pages by category. At the Pages Overview, you can already find an overview of all your pages by category. We’re now releasing a new feature that allows you to add category navigation directly to any page. Different pages can show navigation controls for different categories. For example, if you have a page with information about a certain project, you can show “related pages” by adding a navigation widget that shows the other pages and (sub)categories in the project’s category.

You can add the Category navigation widget by adding a Navigation widget, and selecting the Categories option.



Updated Google Calendar integration

We redesigned the Google Calendar integration, and we think it looks really pretty now!

Quick reminder: you can add a Google Calendar by adding a Media Widget to your page, and then going to Google Widgets and selecting Calendar.

With Papyrs you can add Google Apps calendars and personal (gmail) calendars. Just authorize Papyrs to connect to the Google Calendar and we’ll take care of the rest.

The new calendar!



Calendar overview for the entire month (click to enlarge)

 

Viewing the week overview

Viewing the daily agenda

Time picker

We added a new control for time inputs on the forms you create with Papyrs. As before, you can type in the time yourself, but you can also quickly select one using the time-picker.

Search filters
You can now filter search results. This is handy especially if you have a lot of documents and files on Papyrs and you know what you’re looking for. If you’re only interested in pages, you can type "page: meeting notes" (without the quotes) and Papyrs will show matching Pages. If you’re looking for a file (a pdf file or word document perhaps), then you can simply type "file: idea" and you’re going to get a list of pdf files.

Here is the complete overview of the search filters Papyrs understands:

page: Search within pages
file: Search for attachments (attachments on pages as well as attachments on forms)
contact: Search for contacts and profiles
feed: Search for comments
form: Search for matching forms

I’m sure some of you noticed this these filters are exactly like the search filters in Google and GMail. Most people are familiar with filters like these already, so we think most people will get the hang of it quickly.

Sorting checklist filters

A small improvement to Checklists: you can now re-order the items on your list. Especially useful if you want to prioritize the items on your lists!

That’s it for today
Hope you like all the new features. And as always, more improvements are on the way!

New in Papyrs pages: Table of contents

Hi everyone, quick update: we just released a new navigation widget to add to your Papyrs pages: Table of Contents.

If you have a long page with a lot of documentation, it’s often useful to be able to jump to different parts within that page. If you add the Table of Contents widget, an index of all headings on your page is generated, so the visitors of your page can easily jump to different sections. If you add or remove headings, the index is updated automatically. See the screenshot below for a small example:



You can add the Table of Contents widget by adding a Navigation widget, and selecting Table of Contents.



Hope you find the update useful, we’ll be back with more soon!