Well, it’s a great day when someone asks you “so, what’s happening with that BlackPoint” thingo from K2 ?” – and I can reply “It’s out !”
SharePoint workflow. More features. No code.
Click here to view the home page : blackpoint.k2.com
For those who haven’t heard about the K2 blackpoint, the easiest way to describe it is that it’s a cut-down version of the flagship K2 blackpearl product :
K2 blackpoint, a subset of K2 blackpearl features and tools, is for SharePoint users that want the ability to build workflows and process-driven applications quickly — without code, without complexity.
As was shown at a recent SharePoint user group meeting, there are a number of workflow solutions out there, with Nintex, Skelta, and the Microsoft offering of SharePoint Designer and WIndows Workflow Foundation (WF).
The K2 blackpearl product stood out as the better choice for an enterprise scale workflow & BPM tool, with Nintex looking rather appealing for SharePoint-based workflow.
That’s all changed now, with the introduction of K2 blackpoint – using the word ‘point’ as it’s a SharePoint-only workflow product.
Let’s have a look at the features that are included “out of the box” :
- K2 studio – new Microsoft Office style workflow designer tool. Had posted about this earlier, click here to read.
- K2 process portals – SharePoint portals to manage processes, instead of the K2 workspace (as with K2 blackpearl)
- Out of the box reporting
- Works with Windows SharePoint Services (free) as well as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS)
- Works with SharePoint Forms Server – or without, by coding ASP.NET pages
So – K2 blackpoint does what it says – SharePoint workflow, no code.
There’s some buzz on the interwebs regarding the differences and advantages/disadvantages when compared with Nintex Workflow.
Here’s a few that are relevant (IMHO) – not the official cross-reference from K2 or anything like that :
Server – K2 blackpoint runs using a dedicated workflow server. Nintex is fully integrated into SharePoint, which means it’s processes are hosted by SharePoint, as with SharePoint Designer workflows.
Licensing – being a separate server, a single K2 blackpoint server can support multiple SharePoint servers, rather than requiring a separate license (costs)
Upgrade – if workflow requirements increase over time, there will be an easy upgrade path to the K2 blackpearl product, including the K2 Visual Studio designer and Visio, as well as K2 connect for SAP, and K2 SmartObjects designers. If using Nintex, and workflow needs/requirements are greater, then it maybe end up (unfortunately) as a “start-over” task, with an enterprise scale product (K2 blackpoint or K2 blackpearl)
Functionality – K2 blackpoint has out-of-the-box reporting capabilities, and assign-to-Content-Type features. For users familiar with the new Word-2007 environment, the K2 studio tool will be easy to create & configure workflows, as well as the K2 designer within SharePoint (like the designer for Nintex).
Extensibility – can easily code webpages and web services using the K2 API, and SourceCode.Workflow.Client namespaces. And, can use ADO.NET to interact with SmartObjects created by the K2 blackpoint, or within SharePoint.
Integration – being fully integrated to SharePoint means that Nintex resides within the content database. This can be GOOD, with regard to disaster recovery. K2 blackpoint has it’s own server, and SQL Server databases, which would require (additional) backup & disaster recovery plans, etc
Click here to view a PDF with the complete comparison document – between K2 blackpoint and K2 blackpearl.
One of the comments that is usually directed at K2 is that “it’s too expensive”. Well, how’s this for an answer :
TRY IT FREE. BUY IT FOR LESS THAN YOU THINK.
K2 blackpoint will be priced on a per-server model — $5,000 (U.S.) for up to 200 users, $10,000 (U.S.) for up to 500 users and $15,000 (U.S.) for unlimited users.
So – the K2 blackpoint product may be cheaper for a lot of implementations, has more functionality, and scalability, and is a true BPM solution – and is easily upgradeable (to K2 blackpearl) when/if you need to.
Seems like a no-brainer, to me. But – hey, that’s just me !
In case you’re wondering, here is a list of what’s NOT included in K2 blackpoint, and requires the K2 blackpearl version :
- Visual Studio designer
- K2 SmartObjects designer
- K2 Workspace
- Custom report designer (within workspace)
- Process simulation (coming soon for K2 blackpearl)
- Code editing, within the workflow designer (would require K2 for Visual Studio)
- K2 connect for SAP, etc
- Business Data Catalog, within SharePoint
Click here to view the home page for K2 blackpoint, including :
- Details on training
- Video clip showing main features
- Sign-up for a free trial of K2 blackpoint BETA
And – there’s even a competition to celebrate the launch.
The prizes are pretty good, just need to do some some searching for “clues”, and enter codes on the website :
- 1st prize : DELL 30 inch Flat Panel monitor
- 2nd prize : Canon PowerShot S5 digital camera
- 3rd prize : Nintendo Wii
Click the following link to see details about the K2 blackpoint Game – get the point(s), win something cool.
Can’t wait to start playing around with K2 blackpoint – looks like it’s going to be great !