Routing workflows to a specific manager

We’re getting a common question from our customers. How can I route a workflow to a specific person rather than a role? For example, a Vacation Request or Timesheet Approval workflow must be routed to the specific employee’s manager rather than anyone in the company with the Manager role.

It’s easy to do with frevvo: simply use a template to dynamically select the user id of the manager. It’s explained in detail in this Step-by-Step Tutorial.

Sharepoint Integration

Nothing like persistent and numerous customer requests to validate a market need for a feature.

It is not that we have not seen this before but, at the end of the day, there are several features in the road map fighting for attention and believe me, the road map is huge! In any case, we are finally committed to provide an easy integration between frevvo and Sharepoint.

Current frevvo customers and prospects are already using or testing frevvo integrated with other back end systems (databases for instance) and would love to bring their Sharepoint instances into the picture. We already provide an Active Directory (LDAP) connector which handles authentication and Single Sign-on and combining that with Sharepoint seems like a great win for users. A sophisticated forms solution that leverages the existing Sharepoint infrastructure and does not dry up the budget is, we believe, highly desirable.

Just as an example, some common use cases we find: create a survey form in minutes using frevvo and share it in the company website. The submissions will update a Sharepoint List and someone internally can generate a report of the answers. A vacation request form can be created in frevvo and when submitted triggers a Sharepoint workflow enabling a manager to approve or deny the request. You get the picture, the possibilities are endless.

The initial version will address what seems to be the most common scenario: create a frevvo form and configure it to post to a Sharepoint List. Frevvo will add a new row to the list when the form is submitted and possibly also save a PDF representation of the form.We will also add the ability to load information back from the list, based on some id, populate the form and update the List entry back. The connector will be able to update resources in any Sharepoint Site or Subsite provided that it has enough permissions to do so.

At this point we are moving full speed with the development and an alpha release is scheduled for the end of Q2/11.

Of course, there are some technical challenges along the way (making sure everything is secure for one) but overall the progress has been great and we are excited about the possibilities.

Why is the frevvo-Confluence plugin licensed by Confluence users?

Many customers ask us why our plugin license is directly tied to the Confluence license.

We have far more users for Confluence than for forms. It would be better to license a [smaller] group of users as having access to the frevvo Plugin.

It’s a reasonable question/complaint. Why should I pay for 500 users when only 20 will be using forms?

The main reason for this is economics. We’re a small company; likely a lot smaller than most of our customers. We constantly face the every-day challenges of running a small company, especially in the current economy.

The reality is that our product is more complex than many plugins. Of course, it provides more complex functionality (workflows in Confluence are just harder than charts, graphics or other macros). We’re also intensely focused on customer support and it’s very likely that you could never get the kind of support and attention you’ll get from frevvo from a larger company.

However, all this requires people and money and we have to be able to afford it. We make most of of our money on the larger licenses. That’s our “bread and butter” and if you could always just buy licenses in much smaller chunks, we would not have a viable and sustainable business model for the Confluence plugin.

We’ve also found that many customers will deploy the plugin and quickly find that all kinds of users want access to it. Once business users discover that they can quickly create their own registration forms/surveys and download submissions to Excel, they want to do it. Once IT realizes that they can simply point business users to a Tutorial for these basic needs, they want nothing else.

I hope this explanation, at least, partially explains our reasoning. It’s the only way to ensure that frevvo can have a viable Confluence business and continue to provide great features and support.

SaaS frevvo with Confluence

Phew! We’ve finally worked out most of the kinks of using hosted frevvo (SaaS server) with Confluence. It’s cool: just install the plugin, point it at frevvo’s SaaS service and Go!! No need to install or configure. You can use HTTPS for security, create/update/merge to Confluence pages even if your Confluence is safely behind your firewall, and run workflows. You can even setup Confluence with Active Directory authentication and connect it to the SaaS service.

Here is an updated video of the setup (note that it’s still a test server and this is not production-ready):

Using SaaS frevvo with Confluence

Several prospects have asked us about evaluating frevvo Live Forms for Confluence without the hassle of installing a frevvo server. Well, we’re working on making this available in production but a test service is available now.

  1. Sign up for a free account
  2. Activate your account
  3. Download and install the plugin
  4. Configure it to connect to frevvo using the account you just created.

This 3 min video shows you how (strongly recommend you watch in HD 720p):

Collect data on a Confluence page

Our customers use Live Forms for Confluence for surveys, event registrations etc. where the result data is downloaded to MS Excel. But sometimes, people want to do more. They want to format the results as a table and add a graph, display the results in specific ways etc.

Confluence and its rich set of plugins is the ideal platform for this and with frevvo Live Forms you can now easily create forms [and even workflows] and collect submissions on a Confluence page. Then, use arbitrary macros to create tables, charts, Tab views etc.

Watch a 3.5 min video below.

Creating/Updating Confluence pages

Customers have long inquired about the ability to create Confluence pages from frevvo forms for structured content. For example, a Client dashboard or Customer support application in Confluence.

Let’s say you want to create a Client dashboard with a Confluence page for each client. Either clients themselves or internal employees can easily create/update their information using the wiki editor. The problem is that it’s hard to keep the pages consistent since the wiki editor lets people create free-format pages. That’s where frevvo comes in.

Instead of creating/updating these pages via the wiki editor, clients and employees are presented with a form. The form enforces structure, business rules, validation etc. When the form is submitted, frevvo will generate a Confluence page for the client; the page can be named using data from the form (e.g. client name). frevvo can also generate an Edit link on the page. When clicked, it takes you back to the form pre-filled with the client data. You can edit the data and submit. frevvo will then update the client page with the updated data.

It’s really quite easy to do. You can see for yourself in the 4 min video below: