Monday, August 29, 2011

WHS 2011 Add ins Slow to Arrive

Many of you know that I have been a Windows Home Server fan since I participated in the WHS v1 beta back in 2007. I wrote a little bit about my experiences installing and using WHS. I was, by no means, prolific in my writing but I did a blog or two on it. I fell in love with it and evangelized it to my friends and family. It was a great product that Microsoft knocked out of the park.  Many a pundit agreed with my assessment so don’t just take it from me.

WHS was exactly what I wanted as I brought my home into the technology age. I had a centralized backup solution for all the PCs and laptops in my home.  It used de-duplication for storage of the backups so space became less and less of an issue.  I could restore individual files, or the entire pc easier than ever before.  I tried many ways to backup my ever increasing photo collection.  I tried NAS.  I tried Novastor. I tried Norton Ghost. I tried Genie.  All had their positives and negatives but none as good as WHS.

One of the other things Microsoft did right with WHS was offering an API to create add-ins.  Add-ins are little programs that integrate with the Home Server Console which is the central management facility for WHS. I could use and did use many add-ins.  My favorites include Advanced Admin Console, Add-in Central which was an add-in manager, and DA Document Manager which allowed my WHS to be the central repository of of my document management system.

DA Document Manager is a great product and one that used almost everyday.  My family was going through the process of becoming paperless. We receive all our bills via the internet as .pdf's. We do everything we can to cut down on the amount of paper we consume and have delivered.  We managed all these paperless documents with DA Document Manager. We were doing great for a long time.

Then, after months of deciding whether to move to WHS 2011, I finally made the decision to move to the latest WHS.  This version of WHS offers many distinct advantages over WHS v1.  It is now based on the Windows Server 2008 R2 code base. It has significantly improved remote access capabilities.  It can take advantage of more memory now that it is 64bit.  I am very happy I made the move.

But there is something missing.  No not Drive Extender, though that was a great feature. What is missing are the plethora of free user community supplied add-ins.  To date there are only a handful of replacements for the add-ins I used with WHS v1.

I know the API and the code base for add-ins are completely different. I have tried my hand at writing an add-in for TFS and WHS v1 which I never released because I never felt it was ready for prime time. Then when WHS 2011 API came out I tried to port it. Not easy when working 1 hour a night every other night.

So, for all you WHS add-in developers out there.  We really want some of the older WHS v1 add-ins converted to WHS 2011.

On a related note, I sent an email to Digital ArcHound asking when they may have their add-in for WHS 2011 ready and this was the response:

Thank you for contacting customer support.  We are still working on the WHS
2011 version of DA Document Manager.  Because the new version of WHS is a
complete rewrite, it has taken much longer to implement all of the features
that were in the prior version.  We are working as diligently as possible to
finalize an update for DA Document Manager.  Thank you for your patience.

Till next time…

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