The all new FirstClass 8.3 User Interface
FirstClass has distinguished itself over the years through the breadth of its feature set, low
total cost of ownership, remarkable scalability and robustness, and strong cross-platform
support. As new features have been added over time they have been layered on to the
existing user interface. In some cases this has made it more challenging for users to
discover and take advantage of the new capabilities that have been added to the product.
Also, since the user interface of FirstClass was so unique to FirstClass new users
sometimes had a longer learning curve since it worked differently than other applications
that they may have had prior experience with.
In FirstClass 8.3 a significant effort has gone into redesigning the FirstClass user interface.
Key design goals included:
• make the basic product more familiar and easy to learn for novice users
• make the advanced capabilities of the product more discoverable for all users
• modernize the graphical user interface to provide a "state of the art" user experience
• harmonize the different modes of the user interface into one integrated model with a
range of customization options
• provide system administrators with more control over the look and feel which their
FirstClass has had a great track record over the years of making system and user
upgrades quick and largely transparent to end users. With the breadth of changes to the
user interface in FirstClass 8.3 this upgrade will be noticed by your users! This document is
intended to familiarize FirstClass system administrators with these new user interface
changes in order to help prepare for the rollout of this exciting new release.
The Underlying Model
In the past, the underlying model of the FirstClass user interface has been that of a
graphical desktop similar to what is provided by the Windows or Macintosh operating
systems. Users have been provided with a virtual "Desktop" which contained a wide array
of applications and files, each represented by a graphical icon that could be placed
anywhere on the Desktop by the end user. Users launched applications or opened files by
simply double-clicking the appropriate icon.
A few years back a new "Explore" mode was added to FirstClass, enabling users to replace
the FirstClass Desktop user interface with a multi-paned suite of windows for more
efficient navigation through large lists of files and folders. This mode was typically only
used by power users who appreciated the ability to navigate through large amounts of
information quickly. Unfortunately, users running in this mode lost the benefits of the
graphical nature of the FirstClass desktop.
In recent years most computer users have become familiar with additional user interface
models beyond the desktop model including:
• The browser model with forward/back navigation between diverse applications (web
sites) and the concept of favorites for jumping to new applications
• The communications suite model as illustrated by popular groupware applications like
Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes that provide a multi-application environment within
a single window.
In FirstClass 8.3 we have preserved the traditional FirstClass Desktop model and
seamlessly extended it with key concepts from the communications suites model and the
browser model. The old "Explore" mode has been eliminated and effectively replaced by a
new navigation pane that can be hidden and displayed at the click of a button. This
navigation pane includes a launch bar for quick access to the key FirstClass applications.
In addition, we've added "forward" and "back" buttons to enable users to easily navigate
through work in progress. Also, we've beefed up the prominence and ease of use of
bookmarks to enable easier navigation to both FirstClass and web-based content.
With these enhancements the powerful FirstClass Desktop metaphor is available to all
users, and at the same time all users can easily navigate through their FirstClass
applications with the familiar navigation pane and browser-style controls.
Key Changes for Users
FirstClass users will notice a number of enhancements when they upgrade to a FirstClass
8.3 client. This section provides an overview of the key user-visible changes.
The new Navigation Pane
The navigation pane is an evolution of
the Explore mode introduced in
FirstClass 7.1 and subsequently
enhanced in FirstClass 8.2.
The navigation pane is divided into two
sections. The explore pane in the upper
portion provides a drill-down view of
whatever objects are tied in to the
currently selected application. The
launch bar in the lower portion
provides a convenient way of quickly
moving between different FirstClass
For FirstClass 8.3 the navigation pane
can be displayed or hidden at the touch
of a button. In fact there are three
ways to control the availability of the
1 users can close the navigation
pane by clicking on the "X" in the
upper right hand corner of the
2 users can open and close the
navigation pane by
double-clicking on the vertical bar
on the side of the launch bar that
contains a black triangle
3 users can open and close the
navigation pane by simply clicking
on the new toggle button in the
lower left hand corner of the client
(in the status bar)
Users will find that as they use the
navigation pane they will significantly reduce the number of different windows that are
open at a given time. Also, FirstClass will store a user's setting for this between sessions.
The New Toolbar
With FirstClass 8.3 the toolbar has been redesigned to provide large, higher resolution
icons. In addition, the toolbar is now context-sensitive so it will display application-specific
buttons that are tied to the context of the currently active application. These changes will
make it easier for users to discover features within each application.
Also new browser style back/forward buttons have been added to enable users to quickly
jump around between contexts they have established as they work with FirstClass.
The help icon on the application toolbar is always context sensitive. Pressing the Help icon
in an application will open a help document providing information about the application you
are currently in. Full online help can be accessed from the Desktop Help icon, or from the
Help drop-down menu at the top of the screen.
The FirstClass Applications
With FirstClass 8.3 users will have much more visibility to the breadth of applications
available within FirstClass. All applications will be available at all times; however for some
applications the administrator can apply restrictions that limit the capabilities of what the
user can do within the application. An overview of each of the applications along with how
it works in restricted mode is provided below.
The Mail application is the foundation application of FirstClass. It is required for all
users. The administrator can apply restrictions to the user's mail features such as
prohibiting user to user mail, or prohibiting the sending of mail to the internet. Even
with those restrictions in place the mail application is used for sending mail internally
within the system including to conferences since a copy of all sent messages is stored
in the user's mailbox.
If the administrator enables the Calendar permission for all users or a group of users,
these users can then share their calendars and invite other users to events. If a user
doesn't have the calendar permission turned on they are restricted to using it for
personal scheduling only.
All users have a personal Contacts folder on their Desktops. If the Contacts application
is enabled, a user can address mail to anyone in his Contacts folder the same way he
does for anyone listed in the Directory. If this application is not enabled, the Contacts
folder can still be used as a storage container for personal contacts.
The new Documents application is available to all users. Users can use this application
to create and store FirstClass documents.
The new File Storage application is available to all users. It provides a convenient
location for storing computer files such as spreadsheets, photos, music, video clips and
so on. Note that per group based file restrictions feature that enables an administrator
to block the upload/download of specified file types and/or specified file names will
apply to files in the File Storage application just as it applies to files uploaded
elsewhere in FirstClass.
When users delete objects or have objects that expire these objects will appear in the
Trash Can for the length of time specified by the administrator on the Limits tab of the
Group Privileges form. We suggest you set a minimum removal expiry first at the All
Users level and increase it as required for other groups of users. Users can undelete
items from the Trash Can, or can drag items from the Trash Can to other folders on
their Desktops, thereby undeleting the item.
All users have access to the conferences area. As the administrator, you can make
selected conferences available in the Conferences area by placing them here. This is
useful for publishing access to standard organization level conferences that are
accessible to all users.
A workspace is a user-created space that can be used for a wide range of activities
such as managing projects and activities, sharing files and documents and so on. If
the administrator grants the Share Workspaces privilege to a user, the user can invite
other users in to share a workspace. If a user does not have the Share Workspaces
privilege, he/she can still use this application to create and organize personal projects,
but will not have the ability to add any Workspace Members.
If the Private Chat feature is not enabled, the user can open the Instant Messaging
application, but cannot invite anyone to chat.
Users can easily create a personal web site including regular web pages, blogs, and
even podcasts in this folder. Content created here can be rendered directly to the web
by Internet Services if the user has Web Publishing privilege turned on. If this privilege
is not turned on the user can still create web content, but this content cannot be
accessed via the web.
Users can use the Bookmarks application to store, manage, and user internal and
external bookmarks/favorites. This application is available to all users. In FirstClass
8.3 the ability to import bookmarks directly from a web browser has been added.
This Help application provides a set of help files that explain many of the basic tasks
FirstClass users will want to perform. You can add additional help material if you wish
by adding documents to the Help folder on the administrator’s Desktop. Users can
access the Help contents by choosing Help > Help contents, or by pressing F1 at any
time within FirstClass. The Help application is available to all users at all times.
User Interface changes "under the hood" of FirstClass 8.3
The previous sections focused on changes that your users will see when they upgrade to
FirstClass 8.3. This section describes some of the changes within FirstClass 8.3 affecting
the user interface that are primarily of interest to System Administrators.
The "All Desktops" group
In past versions of FirstClass, it wasn't easy for the administrator to change the view
properties of existing user Desktops. Changes made to the All Users model Desktop view
properties (new backgrounds, Desktop size, etc.) and to standard objects (Address book
renamed to Contacts, etc.) only affected users created after the change. This resulted in
inconsistent layout schemes among users' Desktops which then created difficulties for
administrators in providing end user support. Administrators consistently told us they
wanted to be able to update all users and bring a consistent look to their site. Although this
was all possible through various FirstClass tools, the planning and execution of a site
overhaul was daunting.
In FirstClass 8.3 this issue has been solved through the creation of a new standard
container template named All Desktops. The All Desktops template determines the
Desktop view properties for all users — new and existing. This provides administrators
with a much more powerful way of managing the look and feel of their users' Desktops
since All Desktops view property changes made by the administrator will be sent out
dynamically to each user each time they log in.
As in the past, users are free to further customize the view properties of their own
Desktops if they choose to do so. If they do, these changes "stick" even when the All
Desktops template is changed to avoid resetting these power users' Desktops. However,
there is now an easy way for end users to restore their Desktop view back to the system
default as set by All Desktops by simply clicking on the "default" button in the View
Properties window of the Desktop.
Prior to FirstClass 8.3 all icons were fixed in size and displayed in their native (unscaled)
size. FirstClass contained two icon families, "small icons" which are 16x16 in size, and
"icons" which were typically 32x32 in size (but they could be other sizes as well). Icons
were stored in the Apple Macintosh ICON graphics format.
For FirstClass 8.3 a new scalable icon technology has been added to the product. Icons are
now stored in the PNG graphics format, and they may be created at any size. These new
icons are dynamically scalable and can scale anywhere from 16x16 up to 128x128 in size.
A new suite of higher resolution icons has been provided as part of the 8.3 release. The
new standard icon size is 64x64.
In FirstClass 8.3 there are two modes in which the icons within a container (a Desktop, a
conference, etc.) can be viewed: by "icon" view or by "scaled icon" view.
• In "icon" view each icon is displayed in its actual size. This enables a mixture of icon
sizes within the window.
• In "scaled icon" view all icons within the window are scaled to the same selected size.
The icon view can be changed through the "View" menu either by
• selecting the appropriate choice from the menu
• selecting "Change View Properties" and selecting the appropriate choice from the
"Display format" field on the "Sorting" tab. Icon size, when using "scaled icon" view,
is controlled by adjusting the slider on the "Icons" tab of the "Change View
Note that the "scaled icon" view in FirstClass 8.3 is a redefinition of the old "small icon"
view. If you previously had "small icon" view selected for a container prior to FirstClass
8.3 it will show up as "scaled icon" view with a size set at 16x16 with a FirstClass 8.3 client.
Also, if you had a container such as a conference that was set to "icon" view in the
FirstClass 8.3 upgrade it will be set to "scaled icon" with a size set at 32x32. Older clients
accessing such a conference will see the traditional "icon" view that they have always seen
for that container; only 8.3 clients will take advantage of the new scaled icons feature for
displaying the container.
A new set of scalable system icons will be provided as part of the system upgrade. Most, if
not all, of the old standard icons have new scalable equivalents that will be automatically
used. Custom icons in the 28000 range will not be touched; this should enable sites to
preserve custom icons they have created over time.
After upgrading your server to FirstClass 8.3 but before upgrading users to the FirstClass
8.3 client we suggest that you look at your various groups and general conferences and
make any layout adjustments such as icon placement and icon scaling as necessary.
The standard applications
Standard applications are available to all users in either the full version or the restricted
version as described above. The administrator can remove an application icon from the All
Desktops model Desktop and this will remove the icon from all users' Desktops. However,
the user still has access to the application either through the Launch Bar or by choosing
File > Open > Calendar (for example).
Localizing standard objects
In the past, there was no way to localize standard Desktop objects. No matter what
language your system used, the Mailbox was always called the Mailbox. With FirstClass
8.3's new modeling capabilities you can change the text of standard objects and have all
users see those changes.
The Administrator's Desktop
The view template provided by "All Desktops" will NOT be applied to the administrator's
desktop. This means that when an administrator logs in to a FirstClass 8.3 server the
basic layout, background graphic and icon size should be the same as it was before the
Note however that two new conferences will be added to the Administrator's desktop as
part of the FirstClass 8.3 upgrade process. These are:
• A new conference called FC Control, which will be used in the future as a location for
FirstClass software and content upgrades to be sent.
• A new conference called Object Templates, which contains all the templates used for
the standard FirstClass applications.
Also, the "All Desktops" container template will be added in to the Groups folder as part of
the FirstClass 8.3 upgrade process.
What happens to the user interface when you upgrade to FirstClass 8.3?
When you install FirstClass 8.3 on your FirstClass server the upgrade process will install all
the new software, icons, background images, buttons, and so on that are required to
provide the new FirstClass 8.3 user interface. However, users running a FirstClass 8.2 or
older client won't experience the new user interface; instead they'll continue to see the
same user interface they were experiencing prior to the 8.3 upgrade.
When a user logs in to a FirstClass 8.3 server with a FirstClass 8.3 client for the first time
a number of changes are applied to the user's account to prepare it to the new user
First, all custom toolbars are cleared to make way for the new context-driven toolbars that
are provided as part of FirstClass 8.3. Toolbar customizations can be added back in after
the initial login.
Desktop view changes
If the user Desktop was displayed in "small icon" view prior to upgrading to FirstClass 8.3
then the view is changed to "scaled icon" view with an icon size of 16x16. The user will not
notice any significant change in the layout of their actual desktop.
If the user Desktop was displayed in "icon" view prior to upgrading to FirstClass 8.3 then
the user's old desktop view properties are deleted by the upgrade and the user's new
desktop view properties are provided based on the "All Desktops" container template. This
will change the layout of the user's Desktop as follows:
• The background image from "All Desktops" is applied. The FirstClass 8.3 upgrade
process supplies a new default Desktop background image in "All Desktops" but, of
course, you are free to replace this with your own custom background image as the
system default Desktop background image.
• The icon style information from "All Desktops" is applied. The FirstClass 8.3 upgrade
process sets this to be "icon" view by default. This means that some icons (such as
the new application icons) will be displayed at 64x64, and older icons will remain at
their default size (generally 32x32). You can, of course, change this default view
property to, for instance, "scaled icon" and then set the size to 32; doing so will result
in your users seeing all icons (new and old) rendered at 32x32.
• The positioning of the standard applications icons from "All Desktops" is applied. This
will move these icons on the user's Desktop so they match what is in "All Desktops".
The FirstClass 8.3 upgrade process establishes a default for the placement of these
icons that matches the default background image provided in the upgrade process.
This places the standard application icons along the left hand side and the top of the
Desktop window. Again, you are free to customize this to meet your needs, however
be aware that if you choose a different layout for the position of your standard
applications icons, your users may have to tune the placement of their desktop icons
when they upgrade to FirstClass 8.3 (see next point).
• All other icons on the user's desktop are moved 96 pixels down and 96 pixels to the
right. This has been done to make room in the Desktop window for the new default
placement of the standard application icons. Note that if you have decided to go with
a different layout than the default supplied with the FirstClass 8.3 upgrade for your
default Desktop then this icon shift may result in your end users needing to move
them back (a one-time activity) to a more appropriate place.
For users and user groups that have little Desktop view customization over the standard
shipping product the one-time changes described above should move them to the much
more modern 8.3 Desktop layout with little tuning required.
For users and user groups that have done substantial customization in the past and who
wish to retain that customization, more effort will be required to modify the provided
defaults to achieve the desired layout.
For example, a standard user desktop prior to FirstClass 8.3 is shown here:
After upgrading to FirstClass 8.3 using the standard shipping defaults the new Desktop
view (with navigation pane turned on) looks like this:
After upgrading to FirstClass 8.3 using the standard shipping defaults the new Desktop
view (with navigation pane turned off) looks like this:
Can I delete the All Desktops group?
No. You should never delete a standard group from the Groups folder.
When will my users see the new user interface changes take place?
The changes will only appear to users once they have logged into the 8.3 server with
an 8.3 client. We will delay placing the 8.3 client on the FirstClass website for user
downloading after the initial release of FirstClass 8.3 to give you the opportunity to
prepare for your system upgrade. Each administrator can manage the timing of the
distribution of the 8.3 client to their users.
What is the difference between All Users and All Desktops?
All Desktops precedes All Users and affects existing users' view properties. All
Desktops is a container template that controls view properties and can distribute
resources. All Users retains its current functionality.
Can I delete one or more of the standard applications from All Desktops if we don't
support the application's use?
You can do this, however you should be aware that the user can gain access to any of
the standard applications (some in personal productivity mode) by opening the
application through the File > Open menu command.
Will users be able to reset their Desktops to how they were before the upgrade?
Yes. Some users may have customized their Desktops in a way that works very well
for them, and they can restore that with a small amount of effort. However we have
received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the new layout and icons and we feel
strongly that users will greatly benefit from this step forward in the client user
experience and they should be encouraged to use it before reverting back to their old
The steps required to restore a user's Desktop to the look and feel prior to the 8.3
• the user should log in to the 8.3 server with an 8.3 client and have the Desktop
• go to the View menu and select "View by Scaled Icon"
• go to the View menu and select "Change View Properties"
• within the View Properties window click the "Icons" tab and move the slider to
select an icon size of 32
• within the View Properties window click the "Background" tab, ensure "Use
background picture" is selected, and choose the desired image
• move the Application Icons to their desired position from their default position
along the top and left hand sides of the window
• move all other icons back to their desired position (the user can select all icons
at once and drag all left and up by 96 pixels)