FirstClass® does a lot...
What we have included here is a global overview of features without too much fine detail. The intention here is not to provide a sales pitch or white paper (OpenText has a number of promotional meterials on their web site if that's
what you're looking for), but to outline some of the more prominent features as they relate to the overall collaborate communications environment. This list is my no means exhaustive, but it should give you a clear idea of what FirstClass® can provide.
FirstClass® is an email application. Along with the familiar contacts (address book), mail lists, and mail filtering, FirstClass® maintains an internal user directory. So in addition to sending and receiving external email, FirstClass® also has a range of features specific to other FirstClass® users with accounts on the same server (such as shared contacts). As an email application, FirstClass® is fairly standard, although you may have to adjust your personal preferences to get the look and feel you prefer. And yes, it can look like Outlook®.
FirstClass® has a finely-tuned calendar product, and with the release of FC10, the calendars have become a powerful management and tracking tool. Calendars can be personal, shared, collated, even used to display search results. Individual events have a variety of options, and the embedded (punch-through) calendaring allows an organization's entire staff, room, and resource scheduling to be organized and managed from a single location. And to those users who got into the game pre-FC7, the repeat functionality really does work now.
Instant Messaging / Chat
FirstClass® continues to develop its instant messaging capabilities. The core content area of the IM system mimics the standard FirstClass® message body in that it's a fully WYSIWYG interface. IM sessions can be enacted on the fly (person-to-person) or established as objects (chat rooms). With the ability to moderate, catch-up, attachments, and archive transcripts of IM sessions, this particular feature lacks only Full Presence Management to be a truly competitive application. We are looking forward to future development
Conferences are access-customizable and content-moderated collaboration spaces. Using a combination of access permissions, behavior rules, and display properties, a conference can be anything from a bulletin board to an online course. As with most other features in FirstClass®, the trick is to know how to set it up, but the power of shared conferences is what drives the majority of user-based FirstClass® potential.
Workspaces / Shared Resources
Workspaces are stripped-down versions of conferences designed to gather like functions for small group project management and communication. If you have access to a good administrator, you can create a variety of workspace templates for various purposes that can be created in a click or two. The best use of the workspace is for sharing communication resources, and creating content for target groups.
HTTP Browser Access
Although the primary (and recommended) interface to FirstClass® is the dedicated Client software, most objects and functions are accessible through an HTTP browser interface. The standard implementation for Web access attempts to construct a browser environment that mimics the Client environment as closely as possible. This means that display and organizational settings on the server produce a visual interface that matches the Client view, and can be modified (with appropriate permissions) in much the same way.
Personal Web Sites
All FirstClass® users have the potential to create and manage their own personal Web sites right from their desktop. These sites incorporate dynamic navigation, Blog, Podcast, and RSS capabilities, and will serve to an HTTP browser the contents of any FirstClass® object using the out-of-the-box template sets. Although the local FirstClass administrator needs to do a bit of legwork to set this system up, the FirstClass® user doesn't need to know a thing about Web site creation to start publishing their content.
Organizational Web Sites
FirstClass® also provides the capability of building and producing enterprise-level Web sites. Using FirstClass® Internet Services (FCIS), almost any FirstClass® object can be rendered to a read-only Web page. There are several out-of-the-box toolkits from FirstClass® to do this. Of course, for those of you that feel that the standard FirstClass® offering is too limited, WhatIf Networks has devised a customized solution that far exceeds the basic FirstClass® functionality.
Secure Social Networking
FirstClass® provides social networking through the OpenText Social Workspaces (OTSW). Previously known as Bluefield and/or OTSM, FirstClass® OTSW provides a secure social networking environment in an HTTP browser, using objects and functionality located on a FirstClass® server. OTSW provides the ability to generate and maintain wikis, shared documents, blogs, and collaboration communities.
Email Archiving may not be just an option. For many organizations, it's the law. It's far too risky to simply instruct your users to retain all of their email for seven years, so FirstClass® has an archivng option that fits the bill. Implemented as a separate service application, FirstClass® Archiving Services is installed on separate hardware and retains 100% of inbound and outbound email for selected users. Just like user licenses on the FirstClass® Server, Archiving Services also requires licenses for each archived user. Access to the archive is restricted to a single Librarian who is responsible for all data retrieval if (and when) it
becomes necessary. Best of all, you can archive your email in an entirely different location, or even with a different company.
We're willing to bet that FirstClass® isn't your only system that requires authenticated access. So how do you avoid the hassle of updating user information multiple times over multiple applications? FirstClass® can work in one of two ways to solve this problem. Using Directory Services, you can set FirstClass® as the "master" authenticator and "slave" your other applications to its directory. In this way, changes made to a FirstClass® user account will be reflected globally throughout your organization. Of course, you may be running a SIS or other core data repository that you would prefer retain the "master"
data. No problem: simply set FirstClass® to take its authentication data from that source. Either way, it will save you a world of trouble.
Did you know that you can receive your voicemail as an email? Well, you can with FirstClass®. With Unified messaging, your standard dialtone or VOIP system can utilize FirstClass® as an automated attendant. This means that FirstClass® will take your calls, play prerecorded messages, store hunt groups, direct calls, take messages, and store voicemail as an email attachment that can be sent anywhere in the world (as well as played back in a FirstClass® Client).
FirstClass® does not exist in isolation. With Application Services, you can connect FirstClass® to almost any database application. You can also construct custom interfaces in FirstClass® to control external databases, use update tables to control the FirstClass® desktop environment, even use your SIS to generate and place custom containers and objects based upon the classes your students are in or your faculty are teaching.