K2 updates SharePoint workflow-BPM

Software maker K2 has announced a major update to its software platform that provides visual tools to develop SharePoint-centric workflow and process-driven applications.

The K2 4.5 platform includes K2 blackpearl and K2 blackpoint, offerings that allow SharePoint users to automate business workflows without requiring any code-level programming. K2's visual tools allow people of various technical and less-technical backgrounds to create applications that automate processes and streamline operations.

Jey Srikantha, principal at Melbourne-based consulting firm jEyLaBs, said, “Working with the K2 4.5 release is an enjoyable experience. Whilst still being very familiar, K2 4.5 offers interesting new features.

“The Microsoft Silverlight based K2 process designer for SharePoint stands out as a significant new inclusion in the K2 blackpearl stack of capabilities.

“Having worked on a customer project with K2 4.5’s beta and release candidate versions, we have been impressed by advancements made in performance and usability of the no-code K2 Studio and Visual Studio 2008 based K2 design experiences. The new K2 Inline Functions feature set for visual configuration of complex logic, has been well received and are an excellent addition to the platform.”

K2 blackpearl is the premium package that allows the ability to delve into the code behind solution artifacts, while K2 blackpoint is a compatible WYSIWYG-only tool for those who want visual tools to build workflow and process-driven applications quickly.

The 4.5 release for K2 blackpearl includes the Web-based K2 Designer for SharePoint (using Microsoft Silverlight) that allows access to the K2 toolset via an Internet browser. It also includes the rich-client K2 Studio Designer that has been optimized to provide for faster and more intuitive application design.

K2 blackpearl’s other application designer, K2 Designer for Visual Studio, now supports Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and contains the architectural building blocks for K2’s upcoming support for Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0

New K2 tools have been added to provide Inline Functions that allow users to build complex logic and calculations with simple drag-and-drop tools.

K2 View Flow has been improved in the 4.5 release to give users a graphical, real-time view into the status of any step in the process. For every action taken along the path of the workflow, audit information is available so users know what decisions were made and who made them.

K2's ADO.NET Data Provider, K2 SmartObjects and runtime components have also been enhanced, so complexity is reduced and developers can build more sophisticated .NET applications that make use of data across systems and organizations.

K2 blackpearl 4.5 now includes K2 Process Portal. K2 Process Portal is a SharePoint site that provides a one-stop location for access to information and management of processes. Reports included on the site provide deep visibility into process performance and can help uncover bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Hennie Laubscher, Managing Director, K2 ANZ, said, “We are excited about the benefit that the improvements and new capabilities in K2 4.5 will bring to our customers and channel partners in Australia. Focus on business efficiency became top of mind for many organizations as a result of the GFC.

“K2 4.5 goes a long way in equipping our customers with better tools to address process automation challenges, knowing that more can now be achieved much sooner.”