I’m a big fan of Google and a big fan of Blackbaud. What do the two have in common? I’m not sure really. They are very different companies offering very different product ranges. However one obvious difference that is currently affecting me day to day is the fact that whereas Google are changing their interface throughout to reflect a modern sleek approach, Blackbaud (for the their “Edge” range of products at least) are not. In fact, not only are they not changing the way they look and feel, these products are stuck in a design that is several generations old. Due to the nature of the products they are also very restricted as to what they can do.
At the Blackbaud Conference for nonprofits in Washington last month I saw a demo of new functionality in Blackbaud CRM. It was highlighted that this functionality is only available in the “webshell” feature set of the application (as opposed to the ClickOnce feature set). If you are not familiar with those terms then essentially the “webshell” is the functionality available for all in a browser whereas the ClickOnce functionality is available only on Windows. What this also means though is that the webshell can utilise html5 and not be restricted to Windows Forms. This means a beautiful upgrade of the user interface is possible with much less of a struggle.
With the news that there will not be an RE8 what does this mean to those on RE7? When I recently showed our Chimpegration application to MailChimp I felt the need to apologise for the way that The Raiser’s Edge looked. When you look at MailChimp’s website it is very cool and very funky, just as you would expect from a website devoted to email marketing that takes pride in the range of sophisticated email templates on offer. Clearly there is a lot more technical wizardry to MailChimp than just the templates but if their site did not look good, you would be put off from creating a campaign through them. They could see that the RE7 interface was antiquated but were clearly impressed by the depth of functionality available to users which was matched in Chimpegration.
And that is the point. The most noticeable changes that Google makes in Gmail, calendar, docs, reader, etc are staring right at you in the form of the interface. But they also make a lot of functional additions too. With the release of RE7.92 Blackbaud will certainly make some good improvements but they cannot afford to stop there. The reason Google is updating is as a form of rebranding. Raiser’s Edge 7 does not have that luxury so it must shine with its functional enhancements and make them known as loudly as a new interface would do.
If you had not noticed, our website zeidman.info has had a make over. We have also added a new section of everything to do with Blackbaud Enterprise CRM and the Infinity platform. Some of the screencasts there were previously embedded in conference presentations so now they have a home of their own. We are really excited by what the Inifinity platform has to offer (even if it is slow coming to the majority of users). Now you can see for yourself the kinds of customisations that can be developed and just how powerful the platform can be.
Have you been working on any BBEC customisations that you would like to share? Have you seen any others out there in the wild. Leave a comment and let us know.
If you recognise the title of this post then I was inspired by a BlackbaudKnowHow article of a similar name. In that article the author describes the differences between the three terms and how they relate to Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. This is a good overview and works well for Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. However it breaks down when talking about The Raiser’s Edge 7.
I have been working with different bank checking software. Blackbaud Europe have written a plug-in for The Raiser’s Edge to update the bank record data such as the name and branch of the bank as well as the address based on the sort code. We recently developed a plug-in that processed the direct debit returns and unpaids from BACS and update the recurring gifts accordingly. In some cases a new bank would need to be created. I was asked to integrate the plug-in with their Blackbaud written plug-in.
I mentioned in a previous post how a service I was using to record screencast, ScreenToaster, dissappeared. When they dissappeared so did many of my screencasts. Well I am pleased to bring back to life Google Calendar Integration with The Raiser’s Edge and with Enterprise CRM.
Fundraising UK are reporting that Blackbaud have released a new version of The Raiser’s Edge. This is clearly not the new version that very many people have been waiting for. It is not RE8 nor is it on the Infinity platform. It does appear to be useful however for those organisations that want an enhanced, internet aware version of The Raiser’s Edge. The Raiser’s Edge (i) as it has being called (more details on Blackbaud’s site) is a new hosted package that incorporates a web presence as well as donor maintenance application.
As this new product has just been released, it is hard to imagine that Blackbaud will be announcing RE8 on the Infinity platform any time soon. Combine this with the fact that no major enhancements to The Raiser’s Edge version 7 application are expected, many organisations are surely feeling frustrated by Blackbaud’s apparent inertia. I have worked with Enterprise CRM and know how far advanced that application is from the existing version of The Raiser’s Edge. I have said on numerous times that it is worth wait and I still think it is. The question is how long will others hold out. An organisation that is thinking of upgrading functionality will not wait forever for Raiser’s Edge on Infinity and will certainly be tempted to look elsewhere.
I have just finished Paul Gibson’s Workflow workthrough. At the two Blackbaud conferences I attended recently there was much fan fair about Workflow and how it will blow our minds away. Having just started to look at it in some depth, why were they understating this technology implementation! This did more than blow my mind away. The potential is very clear. All of a sudden very complicated applications can be created without the need to write a single line of code. Move over SSIS and bring on Workflow.
What this space for some more customizations in the future using Workflow.
If you don’t receive my somewhat irregular newsletter (and you can sign up for it here if you want…) then you will, perhaps not have heard that I will be speaking in both London and Washington DC over the next couple of weeks.
I shall be speaking on the differences between customisations on the Infinity platform versus those on The Raiser’s Edge platform. I have a several customisations created for the conferences one of them an integration with Mailchimp, the email delivery provider. The session is not going to be technical (there will be no code) so it is open to everyone. If you are going to be at either of the conferences then it would be great to meet you.
I am looking forward to some exciting announcements from Blackbaud. Here are a couple of my predictions:
- A public, free, release of the Blackbaud Enterprise CRM SDK
- The dropping of the name “Raiser’s Edge” in favour of “Blackbaud CRM”
- Free iPads for all the speakers! (possibly wishful thinking but it may come true)
Look forward to seeing you there!
As I mentioned in a previous post I have been working on some sample demonstration material for The Blackbaud Conferences in London and Washington DC. I got a timeout error previously on saving data in a custom form. I was able to fix it entirely by fluke without knowing how I did it. However now I have got it again and it has been driving me crazy.
I have been doing some preparation for my two Blackbaud conference sessions (in London and in Washington D.C.). Each year I present at the Blackbaud conferences I develop some new code to show. This year is no exception and without going into too much detail I am sure this will not disappoint those who are excited to see what can be done on the Infinity platform that The Raiser’s Edge platform code only ever dream of doing!
The SDK has some great integration with Visual Studio. For starters you are given very many template items to build your own components from. Intellisense works well in both the XML specs that you have to write and also in any corresponding .NET code. Continue reading