A while ago Blackbaud released Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. For me as an observer of all things Blackbaud related I don’t remember exactly when BBEC was released. There was no big announcement but instead there were small releases of information over an extended period of time. First it was snippets of information about the Infinity platform, then announcements that various organisations had selected BBEC and then finally mutterings of information about RE8. The gradual increase of information about the product range has, over time, increased the expectations of Blackbaud’s customers towards the release of RE8. This was no bad thing. Such releases of information, whether officially from Blackbaud or just speculation from within the community creates a buzz around the product. (Such a model has worked wonders for each of Apple’s releases). Unfortunately buzz can lead to hype which can lead to frustration. RE8 has this mythical quality about it. While most people realise that it is more than just vaporware (given the release of BBEC) there is nothing, as yet, tangible. Continue reading RE8 and the risk for Blackbaud→
There has been much discussion on various forums and between different organisation about the rumour that Crystal Reports is not going to be supported on the Infinity platform. While I don’t have any inside information from Blackbaud about this I can dispel a couple of myths.
Currently in Raiser’s Edge 7, Crystal Reports is used as the reporting engine for all canned reports. Blackbaud use components that feed their data into various Crystal Reports so that you need merely click on a button and the report appears. These reports have a predefined format and although the user can change some aspects of this it is very limited.
In RE8, BBEC and the Infinity platform the canned reports do not use Crystal Reports as the reporting engine but rather SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). This is server based and comes with SQL Server. Blackbaud currently bundles Crystal Reports with their software but this version is client based. To bundle the server version would clearly mean a greater expense for them (and ultimately their customers).
When it comes to custom reports there is some uncertainty. I am not sure how the Infinity platform handles custom reporting. I am sure that there will be some kind of function to integrate custom reports with RE8 but most probably via SSRS.
There is a lot of investment in Crystal in the community so it is obviously of concern to think that Crystal will no longer be used. This, though is not strictly the case. It should be quite possible to use Crystal against the BBEC and RE8 database. After all Crystal can run against any kind of database. Many RE7 users develop reports that run directly off of the database rather than using the custom mechanism inside of RE. This offers much more flexibility.
One other possibility that I am currently looking into is developing a Crystal Report engine to integrate with the Infinity platform. That way data can be exported from RE8 and BBEC and linked to a Crystal Report in the same way as is currently the case in RE7. It does seem a shame to waste all the Crystal knowledge out there. Watch this space…
What are your thoughts on the shift to SSRS? Do you currently use SSRS with RE7 or other products and how does it compare to Crystal Reports. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Zeidman Development are pleased to announce a new customisation for Blackbaud Enterprise CRM. The bank validation customisation validates UK financial institutions and constituent accounts. For the financial institutions the branch name and address will also be updated. For the constituent accounts the account will be flagged as whether it is valid for direct debit processes. The customisation introduces the ability to query on constituent accounts and in doing so allows for them to be globally validated.
As this is on the Infinity platform it will most likely work for Raiser’s Edge 8 when it is released.
Check out the video at the link below for more details:
Blackbaud Enterprise CRM (eCRM or BBEC as it seems to be called interchangeably) is enormous. It is a big change to The Raiser’s Edge but then that is not surprising as it is not actually the replacement for The Raiser’s Edge 7. It is an application way beyond RE 7. Nevertheless you cannot help comparing the two as long as there is no RE8 to compare to. As a software developer it is a whole new paradigm. Of course even if you know how to develop software customisations for BBEC you still need to know how the program works from a user perspective. That is why I am not only learning a new development environment but I am learning a whole new program. Some of the concepts are very similar, some are different. As I learn I have come across some quite small changes that, for whatever reason, fill me with a “wow that’s great” feeling. These are not earth shattering improvements but just things that I am sure people will appreciate. So this post is dedicated to the small differences. Continue reading Small improvements that I like about Blackbaud Enterprise CRM→
Zeidman Development are proud to release the first customisation for Blackbaud Enterprise CRM on the Infinity Platform. Google Calendar Integration for BBEC allows users to save events and have them published to their Google calendar. This first release is relatively simple as it only allows for new events to be published. The source code for this can be found on Zeidman.info. If you don’t feel inclined to compile and install the source code then check out the screen cast below for more information.
For those of you still on Raiser’s Edge 7 (don’t worry you are in the vast majority at the time of writing) Zeidman Development is also pleased to release a Google Calendar Integration plug-in for The Raiser’s Edge. See here to download and look at the screencast below for an overview.
Coming soon the Google Calendar Integration Pro which will include the integration of participants from your calendar to The Raiser’s Edge event and vice versa.
What better way of starting the new year than taking a look at the next generation of Blackbaud’s products that are based on their Infinity platform. A couple of products have already been released but unlike many other products released into the IT wild Blackbaud has chosen, wisely in my opinion, to make the release a quiet affair and not a must have upgrade. I have managed to take a look at Blackbaud CRM. This product is aimed at the larger fundraising organisation and its flexibility certain shows this.
I have been at the Blackbaud European Conference for the past two days and had a great time. My session seemed to go well enough and I hope that those that were there found it useful. Again if you want see the slides again then look at the posting below. (Note that you can watch it full screen using the second from right icon at the bottom of the presentation).
If you don’t remember anything else about my presentation remember this: You do not need to purchase RE:API to create a plugin. You are not going to hear that from Blackbaud too often but I have been told from high up in the company that this is the case. You are able to develop your plugin against the sample database (where all the modules are unlocked) and then deploy it to your production database.
I had a good conference and learnt a great deal about BBEC (Blackbaud Enterprise CRM) and the new Infinity platform. (Thank you Ben). Watch this space for more about my experiences of that product.
If I have often wondered if I were in charge of the API at Blackbaud how I would change it. Well unfortunately I don’t wield that kind of power and secondly I am not sure that a major overhaul is required. It is clearly not a modern API being COM based but for the main it works well. However there are still quite a few areas that I would improve upon. I don’t suppose that these will ever happen. Changing the API is no doubt lower on Blackbaud’s list of priorities. With the imminent arrival of the Infinity platform (and, yes, its name does seem to have influenced the pace at which it is being released) , the ability to develop any interface into the system seems a real possibility. RE API by comparison appears somewhat staid and limited. I would imagine it no longer commands the attention at Blackbaud those of us using it would like.