Ode to First Class Client

Still Awesome After All These Years

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Way back in the early 90s, when the Internet was becoming a more public tool, cities in Silicon Valley, like Cupertino and San Jose, decided to create online information about city services and officials, to give the public an easy way to access information and contact people in local government, as well as to collaborate with each other. The software platform these cities chose was First Class Client.

I loved FCC. It was easy to download, easy to install, easy (even fun) to use, and fostered interaction among users. You didn't need a manual to use it -- you learned to use it by pointing and clicking.

But then, the World Wide Web truly exploded onto the scene, and FCC fell by the wayside. I thought it was gone.

About 20 years later, I enrolled in a Master's Degree program at Open University, based in Great Britain, and to my surprise, found that the intranet system was First Class Client! And it has all of those wonderful qualities I originally fell in love with -- and now, even more.

OU has integrated their FCC system into their extensive web-based system, so students can access their email and online conferences associated with their current classes through the web. Many students prefer that web-based interface. I'm not one of them -- I love accessing the system through FCC itself. I'm on a Apple Macintosh from 2001, still on system 9.x, and FCC works brilliantly on my machine -- it's stable, and remains easy to install and easy and fun to use, and even 20 years later, still fosters interaction among users more effectively than any web-based system I've encountered. Conferences can be open to all users or restricted to only certain members, conferences are easy to navigate, private chat rooms can be created, or, members can freely chat with each other.

If your organization is looking for an intranet system, particularly for working with remote staff and volunteers, I HIGHLY recommend First Class Client. And just to be clear -- I have no affiliation with SoftArc, the company that produces First Class Client. Visit the company's web site for a tour of the program.

Why am I posting this endorsement of a for-profit company? Because I am in love with this product, and because I frequently am asked about recommendations for building intranets. I can't believe how many organizations struggle with building systems themselves -- FCC is a MUCH better route, IMO.

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