Last week I attended CorasWorks Essentials Training the the company headquarters in Reston, VA. The training class provided an overview of the essential features and capabilities of the CorasWorks suite of tools as well as covering usage and configuration.
The major benefits of the suite are its ability to do charting and to aggregate information across various sites, site collections, and web applications in a manner not possible with out of the box SharePoint tools (not even the DVWP).
CorasWorks makes it simple to create mashups of data from various lists (don’t have to be the same type) living on different sites or site collections. In addition to doing rollups it can also do roll-downs by pushing information from one central location down to subsites.
The major drawback of the toolset is its implementation. In general using certain CorasWorks web parts not only suppresses and removes some out of the box SharePoint functionality it also, in some areas, changes basic page update processes that users have become accustomed to. For instance the CorasWorks grid view webpart does not include hyperlinks to view each item and in some configurations the context menu has been repurposed making it difficult to highlight and copy information.
Users who are accustomed to the quirks of SharePoint will find CorasWorks somewhat limiting and may need some retraining. Users who have no experience with SharePoint will be more likely to quickly accept it.
Overall CorasWorks offers some very powerful functionality that could be very useful but the product has some issue both in terms of workflow and user interface that would require significant user training / retraining.