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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Microsoft Dynamics Community site set for major improvements

If you are involved with Microsoft Dynamics, in any shape form or fashion, then you have more than likely been to the Microsoft Community site. The site, already, has a wealth of information, forums, blogs and syndicated blogs, links to videos, which is targeted at helping customers, prospects, and partners with information sharing, answering questions, getting help and understanding Microsoft vision for the future of Microsoft Dynamics Product line.

The site, already is a valuable tool in the Dynamics ecosystem, and now the team behind the site will be launching some vast improvements that will help all of us in answering or questions, sharing information, and networking in a more unified and intuitive nature.

I was able to get a glimpse at the new features the site will be boasting, from the Microsoft team behind the community, and may I say I'm impressed with the thought, and effort that is going into making this a better experience for the different types of users that access and use this resource on a daily basis.

Some of the first things you will notice in the site’s design will be around the menu navigation. Right now, the navigation is focused around the left hand side of the site. This is moving to the top, similar to a office ribbon feel, that will help give more space to offer content in throughout the site, and sub-sites, that you might use.

From there the improvements focus on specific improvements around improving a users experience and productivity for finding help. For example the forums are changing, to ‘Ask the community’, in which instead of searching through forums the way we are all use to, a new design will exists where as you type similar asked topics will appear for you, and give you visual aid into the state of that given topic. If it has been answered, what type of resource is it that will be helping you etc. If you don’t find what your looking for, what you have already typed can quickly become a new question to the community.

This is a huge improvement, and really helps the community site actually be in line with what Microsoft is doing with the Dynamics brand, around context aware, role tailored experiences.

Another improvement, is that the User Groups, like AXUG for example, well live as part of the new site. For this there will be public resources for forums, blog post, etc. and for those paying members of AXUG, targeted resources and content that only paying members have access to.

With this move, the robustness of the site itself will increase, and the searching of needed resources and content will include the User Group elements, and is smart enough, based on your ‘Live Id’ to determine if you have the correct rights for the paid for access, or just public access.

While on this topic, the intuitive design of the site will not change, so even if you are a paying UG member or a just public access member to UG content, your overall experience will not be affected, but stay the same in a more unified fashion.

Another great new feature with the new site release, will be around video resources. Now, you have to click on a link, leave the site, and watch a video about a topic your interested in. The site will allow the video content created by Microsoft, to be played embedded within the site, while still maintaining the use and benefits of YouTube.

Also, the video based content can have playlist imported, and therefore partner created videos will be able to exists on the, embedded in the same nature.

Another section, for bloggers like myself, is the improvements being done for sharing content like video’s, editing information, and the management of blog post. This will all become much, much simpler in the site release.

All in all, the Microsoft team behind the community site is really listening to its user base, and will be delivering an experience that will help customer, prospects, new customers and partners alike be more productive and better informed through the innovative and intuitive design the team is bringing with the site release.

I will be doing a future post with further details as the new site launch date gets closer! Till next time.

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"


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