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June 01, 2009

SugarCRM's Beta for Web Services Framework Released

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor


SugarCRM (News - Alert) has announced the beta release of its new Web services framework, platform improvements, and enhanced mobile features for SugarCRM. The release, company officials say, lets users and developers "create and manage customized CRM experiences." The new capabilities are on Sugar Open Cloud, and available to the SugarCRM community to test in beta today. General availability is expected this summer. 

CRM is "most valuable when customized for each business and integrated with other mission-critical systems,” says Clint Oram, co-founder and vice president of product management of SugarCRM.

New application features include features for managing SugarCRM in a mobile environment and the ability to assemble teams to collaborate on projects. The Mobile Studio Editor has capabilities to optimize SugarCRM for mobile devices with pre-built layouts and views for modules designated for mobile use. Users can then select which modules to view in the wireless client and tailor the layouts and fields for the wireless client from within Sugar Studio. 
 
According to industry observer Chris Bucholtz, the release "isn’t going to be a big breakthrough in terms of functionality, but it does something that’s important." He says that instead of CRM being rushed into a company to solve a problem, like a Dutch boy standing with his finger plugging the dike ("He may temporarily hold the water back, but at some point the solution will become the problem,") the release "gets Sugar aligned with some of the business needs of its prospective customers."

The release also has representational state transfer, or REST, which according to industry sources is "an approach for getting information content from a Web site by reading a designated Web page that contains an XML file that describes and includes the desired content." An online publisher, say, would use it to distribute syndicated content, and could prepare and activate a Web page that included content and XML. The advantage to this is it renders information accessible to the technoklutz, since all subscribers would need only is how to operate a Web browser to access the information. And if they can't do that, well, you probably don't want to be doing business with them.

As described in a dissertation by Roy Fielding, REST is an "architectural style" that basically exploits the existing technology and protocols of the Web, including HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) and XML. REST is simpler to use than the well-known SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) approach, which requires writing or using a provided server program (to serve data) and a client program (to request data). SOAP, however, offers potentially more capability. For example, a syndicator that wanted to include up-to-date stock prices to subscribing Web sites might need to use SOAP, which allows a greater amount of program interaction between client and server.

In late April TMC reported that SugarCRM announced Sugar Express, described by company officials as "addressing SugarCRM open source users’ demand for an affordable product that runs on SugarCRM’s on-demand computing platform, the Sugar Open Cloud."

Sugar Express provides core sales, marketing and support features, Sugar Plug-Ins for Microsoft (News - Alert) Office and access to SugarCRM Customer Support. Platform functionality includes the Module Builder to create custom modules and Cloud Connectors, "to integrate third-party data services from companies such as Hoover’s and Jigsaw," company officials said at the time.
  
The new mobile studio is supposed to allow developers and Sugar users to design purpose-built mobile views into the SugarCRM system. A streamlined view of the customer support case module, for example, could help field support agents and manage customer case information to provide troubleshooting for customers. 
SugarCRM is also introducing capabilities to let users add multiple individuals or teams to a CRM record to "enhance collaboration on complex projects," company officials say, adding that "for example, a user could assign an executive sponsor, professional services team and customer advocate to a given account, rather than simply assigning the account to an individual sales representative or sales team.
 

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi



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