Today: Hogne learned splendid new things about content management, libraries and plugins for Office and Explorer.
This Tuesday was the perfect example of why it’s so important to go to the conference in Orlando. You get to talk to the right developers and managers to present challenges and errors. And in mine and Gunnar’s case, we solved several of them. Others we were able to lift to a higher level. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start at the top:
The future for Domino development
As usual there was a huge turnout for a Domion session. Most Notes/Domino sessions are very popular, since it’s the main reason people come to this conference, no matter what IBM claims. People are very anxious to hear if there is any point sticking to the platform or not.
Since a bloated client that takes several gigabytes on your hard drive is not very fashionable any more, the idea is to move more and more of the functionality onto web and hand held devices.
This will be done by separating data and presentation in a much better way. The data can still be stored in the .nsf-files on your Domino-server, but the presentation and manipulation of the data will be done on web or mobile. Writing and reading will still be done to the Notes datbase.
With Bluemix IBM hopes to exploit this by integrating other systems and platforms. I wrote more about this in my previous blog posting. So you can for instance, via Bluemix, combine your Notes/Domino solution with SQL databases, php-systems and so on. In addition, you can still use an ID-vault and ID-files for encryption and signature support via Xpages on web.
The possibilities are many, and I think most of our Notes solutions can be modernized in this way. In addition they will be available for you when you travel, and you can even set up offline syncronisation, like you’ve always been able to do in the Notes client.
Development for IBM Connections
Luis Benitez is the product manager for IBM Connections, and I’ve been in a lot of contact with him in the past year (read: I’ve been pestering him). He and one of the developers did a great presentation that really inspired me.
I’ve now learned how I can develop my own widgets for Connections. This makes it possible to present data from other sources into Connections, like a Notes database. I will test more of this via my own cloud account.
Solutions to problems with plugins, libraries and content management
And then we arrive to the part where I tell you why me and my colleague were so happy on this Tuesday. The conference had, as always, a lab where you can ask the developers of the various IBM systems questions, face to face.
We are using CCM in Connections. It’s a small content management system that makes it possible to create libraries for files. We’ve had huge problems with this.
We’ve not been able to create meta data and document types. This has all stranded in technical problems. We were able to create a form that popped up every time someone wanted to upload a file to a certain library. We wanted them to be able to fill in meta data like production number, thruster type and so on. This can then be used to organise and search for content.
After a talk with the main developer of CCM Gunnar, my colleague, managed to fix this. He was so inspired that he ran straight to his hotel room to finish the solution. And it works. Beautifully.
And: The form asking for meta data also appears when you upload files via the Office and Explorer plugin for Connections! Tears of joy were falling. Beautiful!
Speaking of plugins: These are constantly developed by IBM, and I was able to talk to the chief developer. We will now have offline sync for files in Connections 5.0, via the Office and Explorer plugin. In the newest version of the plugin, you are also able to check files in and out, directly from Office.
I was also told that there would be no more development for the plugins in Notes. Så those of you who have, like me, dreamed of file tagging in the Files plugin in Notes can just forget it. Darn that IBM Verse!
I also talked to him about a problem where my users get an error message when trying to drag certain emails from their inbox and into an activity in the Activties plugin in Notes. Has anyone else of you experienced this? Any tips or help is appreciated.
The trials and tribulations of becoming a social business
This was a very interesting session. It was a non technical session, because it was simply about the organisational challenges you face when converting to a social business.
They presented us a survey done among 20 large companies on what their experiences were. And I must say I nodded in recognition to a lot of the things that was presented.
2,5% of employees are often the ones that take the lead when it comes to introducing social solutions, like IBM Connections. They are impatient, and you can’t even train them, because they are ahead of you, finding every strength and weakness in the system.
13,5% are what we call early adopters. They immediately grasp what it’s all about and they see the possibilities and start their adoption right away. About 34% of the employees need more prodding to be convinced. They usually turn into team players after being trained and have to be able to see it work in real life.
The next 34% are the employees that don’t really see the point but they slowly adopt the system along the way. But they do not use it eagerly, and just look upon it as “just another system.”
The final 16% you should just give up on. You cannot persuade them, and they will use any trick in the book to get around the system and keep working “like we always have done.” It is important, though, not to force them.
We also discussed how you should go about to introduce social business solutions and methods. There’s no rule book for this, and there is no right and no wrong way to to this. But we can sum it up:
- Do not teach too much at once. Take it step by step and let things sink in
- Move data from the old system to the new system, so that they don’t start with an empty system. It’s much easier to graps with content
- How should you control the system? Too many rules, and people give up. Too few rules and things can get out of hand
- Do not let everyone work as they please. Create guidelines and suggestions. If not, it can be impossible to find things
- It’s very difficult to move people from using email to start posting in forums, blogs or comment fields
- Training and adoption are two different things
- Give compliments and celebrate milestones. Make sure everyone feels an ownership to the solution
- Systems like IBM Connections are not projects. They are a part of the infra structure
- Remember that it should be fun!
Upgrading from IBM Connections 4.5 to 5.0
This session was about how to upgrade to Connections 5.0 and best practices around this. Even if my company will be using consultants to do this, it was very useful for me to get an overview what it really will entail. I also got hold of documentation.
Security on Notes/Domino and the Web
This was a very technical session, with a lot of abbreviations and strange jargon. Both me and Gunleif, who administer the Domino servers with me, were pretty tired afterwards.
It was a very thorough walk through on how to secure your Domino servers to minimise the danger of attacks via the web. Gunleif and me concluded that we will go through our web servers when we get home, and of course install all the latest Fix Packs.
In addition I learned that you now longer need a Windows XP PC to generate keyring files. Hurrah!
Register users in one place, let the rest just happen
Most companies, mine included, have a lot systems with employee data. The problem is that they all must be maintained manually. We want this to happen in the HR system, and then be replicated to Active Directory, then to Domino and further onto Connections and other systems.
This session was more of a discussion on how to achieve this, with a special focus on Active Directory and Domino. This will not just be about technical solutions. It’s just as important to have the organisational bits in place.
When a users is created she must be added to a group which reflect the access she should have. This will be based on which department she is a part of. Only after all this is in place can you start with the technical side.
How much of this we will be able to do at my company, we don’t know yet. The job has to be done, and I talked to an expert on Tivoli Directory Integrator, a system you automatically get via your Domino license. He was from Norway, and he felt that everything I wanted should be able to be scripted in TDI.
Because of winds that made the fountains blow the water horisontally IBM moved this year’s beach party indoors. We had good food and drinks, once again, and it turned into a late evening with good talks, exchanges of experience and the establishing of new contacts.
And so it goes!