The FirstClass Roadmap
Welcome to the latest version of the FirstClass Roadmap. From the
earliest FirstClass systems with a few hundred users in 1990, through
the emergence of the Internet in the mid-1990s, and on into the
current era of converging communications, FirstClass has consistently
evolved to enable customers to deploy leading edge functionality at
very low cost. We now have thousands of systems and millions of
users in over sixty countries around the world.
The success of FirstClass has been fueled by customers who have
appreciated the unique abilities and value proposition of our product,
and then shared their satisfaction with other potential customers. We
know it is important for our ongoing success that we listen to the
changing needs of our customers, and use that input to drive the
evolution of our product. We obtain that input through direct customer
visits, the many user group meetings that we host around the world
each year, and through the Enhancement Suggestions conference on
Back in 2002 we released the first version of this FirstClass Roadmap
document. It provided our customers with insights into our release
plans for a wide range of customer-requested features. We received a
lot of positive feedback on that document, and so we've committed to
continue to release updates to the FirstClass Roadmap on a periodic
basis - generally after we get finished with a major release and get a
better view of upcoming content in pending future releases.
The previous FirstClass Roadmap introduced a number of changes in
the way we describe FirstClass. The new Roadmap presented here
continues on this theme and describes changes coming to the way that
FirstClass looks, feels, and works.
In the six months since the previous Roadmap, we have hit a number
of important milestones:
- Shipped FirstClass 8.3 Server, Client, and Internet Services
- Shipped the first official versions of the Linux FirstClass 8.3
Server, Client, and Internet Services
- Shipped initial versions of our mobility solutions, including
FirstClass Synchronization Services and FirstClass Personal
- Delivered Macintosh OS X Universal Binaries of all of our key
- Made substantial changes to the localization and delivery
processes to improve turnaround time
This document does provide our best view at this time for the features
and timelines we envision for our future releases. We know from
experience that we'll end up adding in features that aren't described in
this current version of the roadmap, and we know that some features
we've described may not make the particular release or date that
we're currently forecasting. We'll work hard to maximize the former
and minimize the latter, but we can't provide any guarantees.
In addition to the specific features covered in the roadmap, we will
continue to have a strong focus on the key attributes of FirstClass that
have consistently differentiated it from other approaches over the
years. These attributes include:
Strong security: The information age provides an ever-increasing set
of challenges to those working to create safe and reliable electronic
environments for their users. These challenges include spam, viruses,
worms, hackers, denial-of-service attacks, and so on. Each FirstClass
release includes enhancements to provide effective means for
managing these security concerns.
Platform choice: A key strength of FirstClass is the choice we provide
to system administrators and end users regarding the computing
environments they can use. Our support for Windows, Macintosh,
Linux, and web browsers enables flexibility that other solutions don't
provide. Our support for access from telephones is unparalleled in the
industry. Each release extends the range of platforms we support to
ensure that our users aren't locked into one particular platform.
Total cost of ownership: Our customers find that the total cost of
ownership of FirstClass when compared to alternative solutions is often
one-fifth to one-tenth of the cost of competing solutions from other
major vendors. With each release we add to our leadership position in
this area by focusing on automated user administration, simplified
software upgrades, reductions in hardware requirements, higher
scalability and an expanding suite of solutions that run on the
In addition, in each release we include a significant number of quality
improvements to ensure that issues flagged by our customers get
addressed on an ongoing basis.
The FirstClass development team is now more experienced than at any
prior time in the history of our organization. We're very excited about
all of the enhancements we're planning to deliver in the short, medium
and long term, and we trust they will reinforce your satisfaction in
your choice of FirstClass as your communications and collaboration
Note that the roadmap for our FirstClass ED learning management
module is covered in a separate document.
FirstClass 9: Archiving, Applications and
The upcoming FirstClass 9 release will contain three major
components: A comprehensive archiving and compliance solution, a
major set of upgrades to many of the applications in FirstClass, and
support for Unicode.
On of the biggest changes in FirstClass 8.3 was the change to a fixed
release date -- July 31st. We received very favorable feedback from
our customers regarding having a fixed date for each release.
However, we also received feedback that the July 31st date was much
too late for our educational customers. Accordingly, we have adjusted
our programs and now expect to ship FirstClass 9 in May 2007. This
will allow plenty of time to use the spring to prepare for deployment
and then do the actual deployment in the summer.
Certain portions of FirstClass 9 have been designated core components
for the release (this includes archiving, calendar punch-through and
Unicode support), and they are receiving the highest development
priority. We have a very high confidence that these items will be done
in time for the scheduled release date. During the beta testing phase,
problems in the core release components will receive the highest
priority for resolution, which may include fairly major changes to the
actual operation of the feature.
For smaller but still high priority items (in the case of FirstClass 9, this
includes items such as contacts enhancements, bulleted lists in
messages, expiring auto-replies, etc.) we expect that these items will
be done in time for the scheduled release date but at the same time
we will not to delay the release if they are not done. If feedback from
the beta test group indicated that the feature is not "correct", we'll
likely drop the entire feature rather than risk slipping the release date.
To help with this, in each of the sections we have the features we are
working on listed in priority order.
Of course, items which do not make the final cutoff for the FirstClass 9
release will be included in either a followup service pack or in the next
full release, which we expect in November 2007.
FirstClass 9: Archiving & Compliance
As regulatory and institutional authorities come to terms with the
importance of electronic messaging in the modern organization, it is
becoming increasingly critical to provide reliable long term storage of
historical messages. FirstClass 9 addresses these issues with the
introduction of FirstClass Archiving Services, a completely integrated
archiving system for FirstClass.
FirstClass Archiving Services will perform a number of very important
functions which will enable FirstClass to address the growing need that
many customers have to meet legal and policy-based compliance
requirements. By providing for policy-driven automatic archiving at the
server, it completely removes any chance of users forgetting to
archive critical messages. Plus, the actual retention period for archived
messages may be specified on a per-group basis. And since it's based
on the proven FirstClass Single Copy Message Architecture, messages
sent to multiple recipients take up no extra space in the Archive.
How does Archiving Services work?
The new FirstClass Archiving Services module provides a
comprehensive archiving, retention and searching capability for
FirstClass messages. The Archiving Services module simply connects
to the FirstClass Core Server using a network connection, in the same
manner as other FirstClass Service Modules. FirstClass 9 includes a
new Extended Content Processing (XCP) architecture which allows
messages to be automatically routed to external service modules for
The FirstClass Core Server provides all configuration data required for
Archiving Services. On a per-group basis, Administrators can specify
archiving policies (on or off) as well as the desired retention period for
members of the group. When mail is sent or received by a member of
the group, the FirstClass Core Server will then automatically direct an
exact copy of the message, including all attachments, to the Archive
In addition to email messages, FirstClass 9 will also include the ability
to enforce transcripting of all Instant Messaging sessions, and those
transcripts will be stored in Archiving Services if the initiator of the IM
session has archiving turned on. This will further enhance FirstClass as
a platform for safe social networking.
FirstClass Archiving Services provides a read-only environment for
accessing archived messages. The Archive Server will hold all
messages from and to each user in segregated storage, and will also
provide the ability to search across multiple user storage areas (e.g.
finding all email from any user with a particular string or attachment
name). The Archive Server will automatically create new storage areas
for each user for whom archiving is enabled.
The Archive Server will be accessible only to the Librarian, using a
special user ID and password. Messages in the Archive Server will be
automatically retained for the period of time specified by the
Administrator, based on the class of the user, and may not be deleted
during that period. When the retention period has been reached,
messages will be automatically deleted from the Archive Server.
For large and complex sites, FirstClass Archive Servers may be
clustered, with messages from particular groups being automatically
directed to the appropriate Archive Server. When FirstClass Archive
Services initially connects to the Core Server, it will enter a special
Rebuild Mode, which will allow the Archive Server to build an archive of
Also, it is expected that Archiving Services will include a restore facility
that will enable Librarians to log into the Archive Server, search for
messages, and quickly and easily transfer those messages back to
their FirstClass Core Server. It is expected that future version of the
Archive Server will extend this functionality to individuals, thereby
enabling a complete self-serve restore system. At all times the Archive
Server will remain in a read-only mode to discourage tampering with
FirstClass Archiving Services will be licensed separately on a per user
basis. Customers can license all users on their system, or just a subset
of users. A FirstClass Archiving Services user license is only required
for FirstClass users for whom archiving is currently configured. This
means that a FirstClass Archiving Services user license is NOT required
for users who still have data in the archive but who no longer have
accounts on the main FirstClass system.
FirstClass 9: Applications
FirstClass 9 will feature numerous enhancements which will benefit all
FirstClass applications. These enhancements will include such things as
local storage of FirstClass objects, customizable launch bars, enhanced
grouping and threading, and InstantSearch. In addition to these cross-
application enhancements, several of the FirstClass applications will
receive substantial upgrades. These include the Mail, Calendar and
Contacts applications. Finally, FirstClass 9 will introduce a completely
new Buddy List application.
FirstClass 9 is introducing a substantial number of new enabling
technologies. These technologies will be widely used through the suite
of FirstClass applications and will provide a substantial number of new
tools and solutions.
Local storage of FirstClass objects will enable users to save a copy of a
FirstClass object, including all attachments, on their local drive. This is
intended to provide users with a simple, easy-to-use solution for
storing and transporting rich FirstClass documents and forms. Local
storage will also facilitate the export of FirstClass content from the
FirstClass Archive Server.
Customizable Launch Bar
FirstClass 9 will enable FirstClass administrators to customize the
Launch Bar on a per-group basis. Items may be added or deleted from
the Launch Bar, and administrators may substitute custom names and
Enhanced Grouping and Threading
The standard FirstClass table manager will be enhanced with the ability
to use alternate background colors for each consecutive thread for
better visibility. Support will also be added for allowing thread
headers, which will display information about the thread, especially
when threads have been collapsed.
InstantSearch will perform filtering and searching of all fields displayed
in the window by simply typing into the InstantSearch box:
The new Categories option will allow any FirstClass object to be tagged
with a category. It will be fully integrated with the new enhanced
grouping and threading, as well as the InstantSearch. Objects may
have multiple categories, and grouping on category will group objects
into a group for each category that they are in, not just the first one.
Categories are customizable, and may be set on a per-group basis. In
addition to a name, each category may also include a color and an
Bulleted Lists, Presentation Importing, Spell Check
In the FirstClass 9 release the FirstClass Editor will be extended to
provide bulleted and indented lists, presentation importing from
Powerpoint, and spell check enhancements. In addition the web user
interface will be enhanced with advanced Java extensions to enable
editing of tables.
Improved Handling of Large Name Lists
FirstClass 9 will improve the handling of large lists of names, for
example in mail lists and subscription lists.
Enhanced Mobility Support
FirstClass 9.0 will include additional enhancements to Synchronization
Services as suggested by customers to broaden the devices covered
and the features provided on those devices. In addition FirstClass
Personal will include additional enhancements to provide for more
flexible mail synchronization
FirstClass 9: Application Enhancements
The other broad focus of the FirstClass 9 release is to improve the way
in which the FirstClass Collaboration Suite conforms to the
expectations of users in a broad range of environments. Continued
extensive user feedback has led to a number of substantial
improvements in all of the applications of the FirstClass Collaboration
Suite, as follows:
The Mail application is the single most popular application in FirstClass,
and also the most mature. Changes to the mail application include:
Automatic Disclaimers FirstClass will add support for automatically
appending administrator-entered disclaimer text to outgoing
messages. This feature is configurable on a per-group basis, so
different disclaimers can be set up for different groups of users.
Internet Mail Privilege The FirstClass Server now allows the
Administrator to allow and disallow inbound internet mail on a per-
Attached FirstClass Object Support allows the sending of FirstClass
objects via standard Internet mail. This will allow users on one
FirstClass server to easily and quickly transfer their content to another
FirstClass server. FirstClass documents will also be converted into
HTML attachments for easy use by non-FirstClass recipients.
Rich Signatures enables styled and colored text, images and
formatting in message signatures.
Send from conference allows users to create a message from a
conference if the permissions allow.
Enhanced envelope to allow for compact viewing by arranging the
attachments list in a horizontal box array, combined with more
intelligent splitbar placement.
Enhanced Autoreply, including Reply Once, settable end date, and a
pop up a message on login to tell the user that their autoreply is still
History enhanced to show "Reply Started" instead of "Reply". History
will also indicate if messages have been stored in Archiving Services.
InstantSearch in History.
IMAP Enhancements will allow FirstClass Mail application to be
reliably accessed by a wide variety of IMAP clients, including PDA
Mailbox Filtering will add the ability to combine a traditional
FirstClass Unified Mailbox with a Junk folder.
Mail To Group will give selected users the ability address and sent to
mail to all members of a User Group.
The FirstClass Calendar application provides a convenient, fast, and
powerful way to create and manage both individual and group
calendars. This application will receive a number of substantial
upgrades in FirstClass 9, including:
Punch Through Calendaring FirstClass 9 introduces the ability to
view multiple calendars at the same time, known as "punch-through"
calendars. A list of available calendars will be displayed on the left-
hand pane, and checkboxes will allow calendars to be turned on and
off as desired. Right clicking on a calendar anywhere in FirstClass will
give you "add to my calendar", replacing "add to desktop". Each
calendar will be displayed using a specified color, and selecting
(highlighting) one or more calendars in the list of calendars will dim
the text and background colors on the rest of the calendars, making
them visible. Punched through events will indicate which calendar they
are on in the tooltip.
Sub-calendars may also be assigned to a group by the Administrator,
so that the specified calendars always appears in those users' calendar
Here's an example of a calendar with several calendars punched
Dragging a message or document from any container into the
calendar will create a new event with the body as a summary of the
message, at the first available time on the day the event is dropped
on. In the case of the day timer view, it will be created at the time
that the event is dropped on. In the case of the today list, a task will
be created with the body as a summary of the message or document.
Preference that sets colors and icons to categories, custom
categories propagate to drop down list on event or task form.
Font size user-configurable in calendar views.
Read Only Events will show the body in page view. to indicate that
the body is read-only and will suppress the cursor in the body
Save and Close will notify the user that it's being scheduled
Automatic naming of subscribed calendars: when giving an alias
of a calendar to a user, automatically append the user's name to the
alias. Aliases will be placed in the personal calendar, not on their
Enhanced Day Timer View including previews if the event is long
Enhanced Month View including setting current day to a preferred
colour as set in preferences and better display of meeting text.
Enhanced Week View with all day events will be visually separated
from timed events, by changing the background colour and placement
at the top of the list as in the day timer view.
New Timetable View
similar to a report, with the day/date as a heading and all events for
that date listed below, with the ability to include selected columns and
to specify a start and end date. This would be an "infinite scrolling"
view, and will include the new grouping technology and the spotlight
Wednesday, December 12th, 2006
7:00 - 8:00 Board Meeting Room 212 Nancy
7:30 - 9:15 Football Practice Gym 3 Mr. Johnson
3:00 - 5:30 Council Meeting Room 46 Steve
Thursday, December 13th, 2006
7:30 - 8:00 TUG Meeting Room 32 Ted Swanson
7:30 - 9:25 Design Firm Room 3 Mr. Hilder
3:00 - 5:30 Council Meeting Room 46 Steve
Friday, December 14th, 2006
7:30 - 8:30 Design Meeting Room 47 Mr Hilder
7:30 - 9:25 Design Firm Room 3 Mr. Hilder
3:00 - 5:30 Council Meeting Room 46 Steve
Extended Click and Type Creation of Events and Tasks to fill
more of the data in, start date, length, location. For example typing
"8pm until 11pm, Dinner at Jack Astor's" will create an event from
8-11pm, with title Dinner and Location Jack Astor's
Automatic Incoming VCS Attachment Processing will read
attached .vcs file automatically convert it to an incoming calendar
Enhanced Printing will Remove flags, buttons and icons. The new
timetable view will also be printable in a compact format.
Custom Repeats and Exceptions will allow schools with non-5-day
schedules to set up arbitrary repeats. The system will provide for
arbitrary timetable day to date mapping, and will allow on-the-fly
changes for emergency modification (e.g. snow days). This will also
allow the administrator to set arbitrary period boundaries, which are
used for the day timer view and scheduling new events.
The FirstClass Contacts application has a number of powerful features,
including the ability to have multiple shared contact databases. For
FirstClass 9 the following enhancements will be added:
Address Card View enhanced to allow viewing entire columns and
adding a "Follow-up" flag to the display
Phone list added to display phone information only.
Easy sorting including First Name / Last Name or LastName /
Quick Contacts will allow real-time display of buddy lists,
online/offline status, and more. Quick Contacts will also offer enhanced
instant messaging invites, and allow the easy sharing of extended
personal contact information. Finally, Quick Contacts extended
personal information may be synchronized to mobile devices.
Improved printing including selection of home/office addresses,
more rolodex options, printing by groups/labels, choice of fields to
print and new printing format.
Labeling / Grouping for easier management.
Automatic Duplicate Detection to avoid duplicate entries
Ability to chose desired email address when multiple emails
entered per contact.
Action buttons on contact form including create mail, dial number,
map address, open website.
VoIP calling support on contact form will allow entering of VoIP
calling information. A button on the contact form will allow the direct
launching of VoIP calls if a suitable client (e.g. Skype) is installed.
Automatic text formatting of contact contents when contact are
dropped on message bodies or documents.
Easy Searching for email/calendar events of contact.
Contacts Converted to VCF when attached contacts are sent via
FirstClass Web Publishing will be enhanced to make it easier to create,
organize and manage web pages. Improvements include an Advanced
Appearance Manager, new skins, and support for hidden items. In
addition, the web publishing application will include several new
application widgets such as a conference widget, a calendar widget,
and a pulldown menu widget.
On the administrative side, there will be several enhancements,
including Administrator-controlled template selection, separate web
and email aliases, folder authentication, and tilde ("~") substitution
character or phrase.
Finally, the RSS feed will be enhanced to provide rich text in the RSS
FirstClass 9: Unicode Support
Traditionally, FirstClass (like most operating systems) has used
multiple character sets to support non-English languages. This has led
to various limitations, including difficulty supporting multiple character
sets in a single document and difficulty in viewing multiple character
sets on different operating systems. As a result of these problems,
operating systems have adopted a new unified character encoding
called Unicode, which allows all possible national characters to be
viewed on all platforms.
The new Unicode support in FirstClass 9 will enable all FirstClass
applications to include all possible national characters. This will include
message, document bodies, forms fields, and even system data such
as names, User IDs, and passwords. Unicode support will be fully
integrated into FirstClass Internet Services for seamless inbound and
outbound mail and web publishing with non-English characters.
Beyond FirstClass 9
Extended Content Processing Architecture
The technology used to implement FirstClass Archiving Services will be
enhanced to create a new FirstClass Extended Content Processing
(XCP) Architecture. This will enable FirstClass to perform additional
processing on every message which is delivered. The XCP architecture
will allow the actual processing to be done on one or more external
servers, using a network services architecture.
XCP will also be capable of supporting a clustered environment, so for
processor-intensive tasks such as content scanning you will be able to
deploy multiple machines for optimal performance.
New XML/Soap interface that will provide developers with a new web-
services based mechanism for accessing data that resides within a
FirstClass system. It provides access to all major object types within
the FirstClass Network Store. This interface will be useful for activities
such as building integrations with 3rd party applications and
integrating FirstClass content in external web-based portals. This was
initially released to a limited number of partners as extensions to
FirstClass 8.3 Internet Services, and will be incorporated into the
standard released version of FirstClass 9 Internet Services.
Many FirstClass customers have expressed a strong desire for
enhancements that will enable FirstClass to provide (on a per group
basis, of course) extra levels of protection against inappropriate
content being sent and/or received by FirstClass users. In this context
inappropriate content could include files with viruses in them,
pornographic images, and text with inappropriate words. This sort of
enhanced content filtering is very important for education
organizations who are increasingly looking to provide communication
and collaboration solutions like FirstClass to their students and want to
be able to assure that the system is used appropriately. These content
filtering enhancements are also desirable in many business settings as
business organizations look to limit the spread of inappropriate
materials in their online environments.
Versioning and Content Management
Future versions of FirstClass will include a full document versioning
system. As documents, files and messages are edited and changed,
the server will automatically keep each version available. Separate
views for content creators and readers will allow documents to be
revised by editors while readers will see only the published version.
New FirstClass technology will allow users to double click on an
external file type (e.g. Excel), edit the document, and then have it
automagically transferred back up to FirstClass.
Backup & Restore
A new integrated backup and restore strategy will substantially
improve the ability to do incremental backups, as well as simplifying
the process of restoring both individual users and trees of content.
Blogging & Podcasting
A new followup for non-registered users will be added as a followup
tool to both blogs and podcasts.
A new Real-Time Collaboration application in FirstClass will provide
both audio conferencing and screen sharing capabilities.
Future versions of FirstClass will enable folders to have subscribers,
permissions, and unread tracking.