Domino, Notes and videotape
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A real life story that happened to me with two different customers.

Once upon a time there two files. Each file was used in a different organisation. The files were important for the organisations and several people needed access to them as several departments and projects needed to be able access, update and read them.

The Microsoft customer

Office 365 appsIn the first organisation the file was created by a team manager who then uploaded it into a team room in Microsoft Teams. Everybody with access to the team room could now reach the file and work on it. However, they didn’t have version control, nor could they really set different permissions for different users of the team room.

Furthermore, other teams also wanted access to this file. But as long as they weren’t members of that particular team, they couldn’t reach the file. The solution was to upload a copy of each file to the other team rooms in Microsoft Teams. Each team got a different copy. The problem with that solution was everybody was now working on different files. This created a lot of confusion.

Finally they had to sit down and try to merge all the copies into one file, which took a hell of a lot of manual work. When the file was to everybody’s liking, they now uploaded it into Sharepoint. They could now add this Sharepoint file to several team rooms in Teams. They could also set permissions so that some teams could write to the file, while others could only read the file. But they could only set the permissions for the team room as a whole. They also had version control now.

However, the team members had a hard time understanding why the file wasn’t in their Teams files. They had to remember to go to the Sharepoint tab in Teams to get to the file. If they wanted to see the file revision and version control, or wanted to see who had done what to the file, they had to open the Sharepoint app. It was a lot of unnecessary work that made a lot of users rather grumpy and confused.

They also wanted to share the file outside of their organisation with a couple of business partners. This could be achieved via a guest account, but this wasn’t something they wanted to do. Instead they discovered that they could share the file externally via the Offie 365 apps, but only if you changed several permissions in the Sharepoint admin tool first. It was a lot of work and they ended up emailing the files to the external users. They then uploaded the edited file they got in return into Sharepoint, with all the pitfalls that came with such an approach.

What they did love though was the ability to let several people edit a document at the same time in their web browser. This worked beautifully, and they could have an online meeting where everybody was working on the same file, seeing the updates being made live. After saving, all the formatting in Office file was intact.

It was also very easy to access the file via Windows Explorer and to open it up in Office to work with it locally on their computer.

But as the number of Teams grew and people started using more and more of the many apps inside Office 365, it became more and more difficult to have the overview the workers needed to keep up to date. There was no singular newsfeed to keep people updated.

The IBM customer

IBM Connections LogoIn the second organisation the file was created by a team manager who then uploaded the file to his own profile in IBM Connections. He then shared the file with his team via the community the team had in IBM Connections. Now all the members of this community could both work with and read the file. They also had full version control and they could also set different permissions for different  community members.

Other teams also wanted access to this file. This was no problem. Since the original team leader had uploaded the file to his own profile, he could just share the file with any other community or other users directly. Everybody was  now working with the same file without any hazzle.

And even though the file really resided in the original team leaders profile, each community saw the file in the Files view of their community, as if the file was there. There was no need to look for other apps or tabs inside the community. To see who had done what to the file, and to have revision and version control, all they had to do was to to go to the file inside their community. All the details were there.

They also wanted to share the file outside of their organisation with a couple of business partners. This could be achieved via a guest account, but this wasn’t something they wanted to do. And since they didn’t want t to do that, there wasn’t much they could do, without buying a third party app like Box or similar. This was a major grievance for the organisation.

What they also wanted was to be able to let several people edit a document at the same time in their web browser. To be able to to this they had to buy IBM Docs as it doesn’t come out of the box in Connections. But they soon discovered that IBM Docs screwed up the formatting in the Office files, especially in Excel and Powerpoint. For Word documents, they got by.

However, it was very easy to access the file via Windows Explorer and to open it up in Office to work with it locally on their computer, something they were very happy with.

What the IBM customers also was very happy with was that no matter how many communities or how much functionality they used, everything was contained within the same user interface, the same program and the same newsfeed. You didn’t need to think about when to use what functions, everything was inside IBM Connections.

Conclusion

Microsoft’s Office 365 has great functionality when it comes to document editing and creating good and useful Office files. It’s also good for smaller collaboration teams. However, there are way too man apps and way too many possibilities, and despite this, it’s still very difficult to share information and files between these apps. Heck, it’s even hard to share information and files between different teams within the same application. For a large organisation, I would definitely think long and hard before I started using a lot of these apps, especially Teams. A Sharepoint site is better, but then you will have a lot of development costs in addition to the license. Unless you find a good Sharepoint template to use.

IBM Connections on the other hand works out of the box. There’s no development needed, unless you want to of course. It’s also very easy to share information and files across the organisation and the various applications inside Connections. The users are thinking of Connections as one app, unlike Office 365 where you have to deal with many apps. This latter so confusing that Microsoft has made an 85 (eighty five!) page manual to tell you when to use what app…

Bot solutions have the ability to create guest accounts so that you can invite external users. But where Connections can’t share files outside the organisation out of the box, Office 365 actually can.

Both solutions makes it seamless to work with files directly from your local PC and from your email.

So both have their strengths and weaknesses, but I find Connections to have the upper hand when it comes to social collaboration and it has a lower learning curve when it comes to working effectively with it as a collaborative tool across the silos of your organisation. Office 365 still encourages silos.

However, if all you want to do is work with files and not much else, Office 365 is the way to go. And: You can actually work with Office 365 files from Connections. Something you cannot do the other way around.

Any thoughts, questions or comments? Use the comment fields below!

 

Ego in session

Photo: Kristoff Bruers

As I wrote in this blog posting, IBM and HCL presented what was new and upcoming in IBM Notes and Domino v10 and 11 at the Engage conference at the end of May. Domino is the server, which they now hope to people will start using as an open development platform with the help of technology like Dokker and Node.Js. Notes is the client, where users traditionally have used the applications developed on the Domino platform, as well as using the email and calendar features the client offers.

They also announced new functionality for the Notes client, but I was very disappointed that there won’t be a new user interface in v10. Instead, HCL and IBM are going with the same design that the six-year-old v9 already has. But on the other hand, what future does the Notes client really have?

In this day and age, a heavy client is not something you want to have to deal with. I have great love for the Notes client, and I’ve defended it against haters several times. Yes, it can be cumbersome to administrate, but the Notes client has an undeserved bad reputation.

Read the rest of the article.

SS Rotterdam

For the third year in a row I’ve been invited to go to Engage to do a presentation. Last year we were in Antwerp, where I gave a presentation on IBM Connections plugins, and the year before that we were in Eindhoven, where I also gave a session about the plugins.

This year the event will be held Tuesday – Wednesday May 22nd – 23rd, on board the SS Rotterdam, the former flagship of the Holland American Line. That’s so frigging cool!

If this conference will be anything close as good as the previous two I’ve been to, we are in for a treat. What’s that? You haven’t signed up, you say? Well, you still can! What are you waiting for? I’ts free (apart from the trip and sleeping arrangements)!

You will be there with 400 like minded individuals to learn and engage with the best people within their fields. You will also get the news about what’s coming up from IBM and their partners. Hear the latest news and the roadmaps for Domino, Connections, Verse, Watson Workspace etc.

You have 80 sessions to choose from.  And I will be there to give my session about 30 tips on how to use IBM Verse effectively!

I will be going down there on a roadtrip through Europe with my friend and business partner Arne from Brainworker. I will be representing Brainworker and the Norwegian IBM Collaboration User Group (ISBG) there as well.

So sign up!

The conference IBM Think was held in Las Vegas from March 19th to 22nd. Over 30 000 people were there, and the conference covered subjects like collaboration, IBM Connections, blockchain, cloud, encryption and artificial intelligence.

As I’m an IBM Champion for ICS and the leader of the Norwegian ICS usergroup (ISBG) I was mostly interested in the portfolio of IBM Collaboration Solutions. As I wrote back in October 2017, HCL has taken over the development of the ICS portfolio, except for IBM Connections, while IBM will still be handling sales and customer contact and support. The most surprising revelation that came out of this is that we will get a Notes/Domino v10, and IBM and HCL has already started delivering demos of what they have promised so far.

However, even that news was eclipsed by the demo showed at Think. You can now actually run Notes applications on you Ipad, without any development, what so ever, needed!

You can simply run them on the Ipad, and all functionality will work as if you were in the Notes client. This includes Lotusscript and the Formula language!

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this demo, provided by Alan Lepofsky:

 

 

It really seems like IBM & HCL has set a pace we haven’t seen from IBM since…since… a long time. They are even going to do marketing! Now, if this only could be followed by actually talking to and meeting with customers, we might have something. Anyway, that video is awesome, and I can’t wait to show it to the Notes/Domino customers I have left.

As for Connections, on the other hand, it was peculiar how little news that came out of IBM Think. Last year, everything was all about IBM Connections Pink. This year there were a few sessions about IBM Connections Engagement Center, but so far I haven’t seen any announcements about how the development of IBM Connections is coming along.

It’s no secret that when the Norwegian user group have seminars or webinars about Connections, the interest from our members is considerably lower than when we have presentations about Notes/Domino. So I’m wondering about what will happen on the platform. My guess is that it won’t be long before HCL takes over Connections as well. Especially since IBM seems to be focusing everything on Watson Workspace and Watson Assitant. Not to mention quantum computing and big data analysis. Time will show.

Anyway, the video is just awesome. I can imagine the applause in Vegas when it was demoed.

 

What’s in IBM Domino v10

February 28th, 2018 | Posted by elfworld in Domino | IBM | Notes - (24 Comments)

Domino 2025

IBM and HCL, who took over the development of the old IBM Collaboration Solutions portfolio a few months back, minus IBM Connections, held a joint webinar today to present their plans for IBM Notes/Domino v10. You can see the recording of the webinar here.

The people who held the webinar were Bob Schultz, GM IBM Collaborative Solutions & Talent, Andrew Manby, Director IBM Product Management Collaboration Solutions and Richard Jefts, GM/VP HCL Collaborative Solutions. The idea is that contrary to what IBM did before, the whole process towards a finished release of Domino 10 will be transparent. And this is just the first part of the new regime of information. There will be more webinars, blog postings and information sessions at the IBM Think conference, as well as at user group meetings.

The main points of what is coming in Domino 10:

  • Slimmer, faster and better looking Notes client
  • Missing mail features will be added
  • Better Microsoft integration for mail and productivity applications
  • Use of modern development tools and frameworks
  • Better core performance and functionality
  • Easy to use authentication and administration
  • Even better integration with Outlook and Sametime
  • There will be a lot of new development on the mobile experience, both for mail and apps
  • The Sametime client will from now on give you persistent chats through all platforms (about time!)

The most important details they gave us about Domino:

  • Active Directory integration made much simpler (how I wish that had been the case 3 years ago)
  • 256 GB NSF-files!
  • Automated database repair
  • Replica and synch-up and currency monitoring
  • Full text auto update on search and resilience
  • Docker Enterprise Edition images will be available
  • ID/Vault management improvements
  • SAML IPD upgrades (including ADFS4.0) for single signon
  • A much improved API which makes it easier to read from and write to NSF files
  • Exchange Web Services to connect to Exchange and Outlook clients in a much better way than today

We were given a short demo of some of the Notes functionality, but thus far a new design of the client was nowhere to be seen. New Notes functionality highlights:

  • You can edit rich text fields in Word instead of Notes
  • You can schedule (ie: delay) emails
  • You can mark several emails and send them as attachments in a new email
  • You an now invite other s to an appointment or meeting

Something a lot of developers and Javascript fans no doubt will cheer for is that Node.js will be added to the Domino development environment. This will make it much faster and easier to develop modern solutions, both in the Notes client and on mobile and web.

Jason Gary then did a guest appearance and showed how he used Node.js and the REST API to write and read from a very simple nsf-file.

Domino 10 will be released in the second half of 2018. And yes, there will be a beta plan announced. I’ll sign up for it, no doubt.

So, what do you think? Will this make a difference? Will Notes/Domino still have a future? Leave your comments and feedback below.

 

Some Limitations of IBM Connections

February 7th, 2018 | Posted by elfworld in Connections | IBM - (8 Comments)

As an IBM Champion who is visiting a lot of IBM customers, I often get asked questions about challenges that the users have with some of the products. Very often I can give them the answer. But sometimes I have to go to IBM to ask the product managers for help. And other times I turn to the wonderful IBM Collaboration Solutions community. So, here are my challenges at for the customer I’m working with this week:

  • When you save a file directly from Microsoft Office and up into Files in Connections, you can’t share this file with external users. When you try to share it afterwards, you get a strange error message. This means you have to save the file locally first, and then upload it to Files via the web GUI.
  • When you are in the Windows Explorer plugin, and you drag a file locally from your computer and over to Files, you cannot choose to share the file externally if the Connections solution is running on prem. This actually works in the plugin if the plugin is connected to the cloud version of Connections
  • While you can print a wiki page, you cannot print an entire wiki. Is there a way to do that?
  • Why can’t you print a file from the Files web GUI? You can’t print it in preview mode either. I was expecting to be able to print a file when I opened it in IBM Docs, but no. I can only print it to PDF! Why?
  • I’m not sure I understand the process of adding external users. My customer says that when they add an external user, this user hase to log on at least once before they can start adding this user to communities, or start sharing files with her Is this true?

Any help on these matters will be more than welcome.

Life of an IBM Champion

February 2nd, 2018 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | IBM Champion | ISBG - (0 Comments)

EgoAs some of you know, I turned 100% freelance last year, and my income is now all down to me in my pursuit of assignments. If you want to book me, either as a user trainer for effective use of mail and calendar (Outlook IBM Notes or Gmail), general courses about IBM Notes, IBM Connections, general collaboration, social media, Microsoft Office, writing and photography, as a developer/architect or writer and photographer, get in touch.

I’m gonna be more active around here from now on. So first a recap about what I’ve been doing lately.

First of all, I was actually made an IBM Champion again for 2018. This year my fellow Norwegian, Robert Farstad, was named a champion too. Yay!

November and December was filled up with me doing user training in IBM Connections for the worker’s union Industrienergi, on behalf of Item. The feedback was great and I’m going to do even more user training next week and later in February. Last time I taught them their new intranet, which is running on IBM Connections, the news stream, how to stay updated on what goes on in IBM Connections and Files. For the latter I also helped them set up the IBM Connections plugins for Windows, Outlook and IBM Notes, as well as the mobile app. The reason I focused mostly on Files is that in my experience that is the ticket in for most users. That’s what makes them really see the potential in a collaborative solution as Connections. The next courses will be all about Activities, another neat feature in Connections.

I also did an IBM Notes project for a company just outside of town in December and January. It was good old fashioned Notes development, with lotusscript and Notes design elements. It was great fun, but I’m trying to get them to see the advantage of starting to go in a more web enabled direction.

As the leader of the Norwegian IBM Collaborations Software User  Group (ISBG) I’ve also been busy arranging meetings and webinars. All our webinars can be seen on our Youtube channel. The webinar is the last Tuesday of every month. If you want to do a presentation, please get in touch with me.

I’ve also done loads of journalistic and photographic assignments. Some of them will be presented in this blog during the spring.

And lastly: If you are thinking about going to IBM’s Think conference this year, get in touch with me as well. I can give you  a $100 discount.

Expect a new blog posting soon.

We are the Champions

November 1st, 2017 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | IBM Champion - (0 Comments)

IBM Champions in San FranciscoLast year I was fortunate enough to be named IBM Champion for 2017 by my peers in the IBM Collaboration Solutions community.

It has been great. I have made even more friends in the community, I gotten my foot inside the door of places that were closed to me and I’ve been allowed to partake in various IBM stuff. In addition, you sometimes get news and announcements before everybody else.

You are also given access to people and resources that you normally wouldn’t be able to reach, and that is very beneficial for your organization and my customers. More than once have I solved a problem for a customer, thanks to my network that I got by becoming an IBM Champion.

If you feel that you should be an IBM Champion, nominate yourself and give me a shout, and I will nominate you also. And if you would consider nominating me, I would be most grateful.

The nomination form is here. Nominations must be in by November 13th.

If you want more details about the IBM Champions program, read this.

Social Connections in Vienna

October 27th, 2017 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Connections - (0 Comments)

Last week I attended the Social Connections conference in Vienna. This conference is put together by a group of users and IBM partners, and they alternate between North-America and Europe. This was the twelfth conference, but it was my first.

Not only did I attend, I also did a presentation myself. Since I’ve become Mr. IBM Connections plugins over the last two years, I naturally gave a presentation on those. Again.

Vienna is a beautiful city, with a huge legacy of culture, architecture and history. I arrived the day before the conference started and therefore took the opportunity to do some sightseeing. There are those who frown upon those “hop on and off” tour buses that you find all over the world now, but I love them. They are perfect for getting around to see the best sites, and not too expensive.

The conference itself was attended by several IBM-ers, and they started off and ended the conference by talking about the future of collaboration. Over the two days the conference lasted we could learn about:

  • The way your organization changes because of digital transformation
  • Administration of IBM Connections (which can be a bitch on-premise)
  • Various third party apps and solutions for IBM Connections (and that’s growing, something I’m personally very excited about)
  • Integrated workspaces for employees
  • How to boost user engagement and make sure your change to collaborative solutions succeed, and how not to do it
  • The file solution Box which makes it easier to share files from Connections with people outside your organization
  • Livegrid, which is an even easier way to get your data out of Domino, or make it more easily available for other solutions (and for them to write back to Domino)
  • IBM Watson Workspace, IBM’s version of Slack where you can add their Watson technology, which will function as a bot that can answer questions. A lot of banks are using similar solutions these days without their customers even knowing about it
  • IBM Connections plugins for Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office and Windows Explorer, IBM Notes and the MacOS (given by yours truly)
  • Security and hacking. A great lecture was given by my fellow Norwegian Robert Farstad about how they asked professional hackers to hack the IBM Connections solution used by Høyre (the Norwegian political party who currently holds the Prime Minister in Norway)
  • Searching for contents and files
  • Docker
  • IBM Connections Engagement Center and IBM Connections Customizer

Vienna HallwayPhew! Quite a list. But a great conference. If you are interested in learning about any of this stuff, you can find the slides for each session in the agenda. Just click on the More Info button.

I’m interested to see where IBM Connections Pink is going. It seems exciting, but how will customers react to it going from an out-of-the-box-solution to a make-it-into-whatever-you-want-it-to-be solution?

The venue was fantastic. It was like you could hear the ghosts of winter balls past, with the waltz ringing in your ears. Chandeliers, tapestries, long winding staircases, statues, paintings and all other things you think about when you talk about the old Vienna.

Well done to all the organisers! Can’t wait for the next one. Check out my photo gallery from Vienna and the conference.

Here’s my presentation:

IBM HCLIBM made some pretty big announcements tonight. First of all, Notes and Domino will have a version 10 released in 2018. Yeah, I know. I am as shocked as you.

Secondly, IBM is now leaving all the development of the platform to their partner HCL. IBM has already a partnership with them on several other products in their portfolio.

So what does this mean? It means that the platform is not dead, something which we’ve heard since around 2002 from people.

It also means that for the customers, there will be no change in their relationship with IBM. HCL will do the development, and maybe a times help out IBM. But sales, support, PMRs, licensing, Passport advantage will all still be done via IBM.

So the biggest change is that HCL takes over the development. IBM and HCL are committed to make sure that support, development and continuation of the platform will not be disrupted.

The journey starts now, and thus far the next version of Notes, Domino and Sametime is going under the name “Proejct Sapphire.”

Other stuff to look forward to:

  • Domino will now support the Mail client for Mac as they already do for Outlook via Exchange ActiveSync
  • There will be constant development for the Domino platform, so that it will be easier to integrate with other platforms and solutions
  • IBM will hold jams (currently called Domino 2025) for ideas about the future of Notes/Domino where people will have meetings, talks and other ways to give IBM feedback
  • IBM Champions and the user groups will be invited to be much more involved in the future
  • The Think conference (taking over for Lotusphere/Connect) will have a much larger presence for Notes/Domino than what we feared

And just to be clear: This covers the entire family of IBM Notes, Domino, Sametime and Verse, both on premise and in the cloud.

Here’s the portfolio that’s a part of the HLC partnership:

IBM Notes and Domino

  • IBM SmartCloud Notes
  • IBM Notes Traveler
  • IBM Mobile Connect
  • IBM Verse
  • IBM Mail Support for Microsoft Outlook(IMSMO)
  • IBM WISPR
  • IBM Enterprise Integrator (LEI)
  • IBM Sametime portfolio
  • IBM Connections Chat/Meetings
  • IBM Client Access (ICAA)

I was today on the IBM Champions call where we were introduced to this. And some of the questions raised in the Q&A was: Is this too little too late? Will we be able to get customers to invest in Notes/Domino? Will the platform be relevant?

Let’s find out. The journey is #2025.