Domino, Notes and videotape
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I promised a summary of the second part of the Opening General Session. And I will include it here, but this posting is mostly about the future of IBM Notes and Domino. It’s based around four separate sessions and lectures about the strategy around and development on the Notes and Domino platform.

First things first:

  • Yes, IBM will continue support and come up with upgrades and new functionality for the IBM Notes client.
  • Yes, IBM will continue supporting Domino but forget what you know about app development on the platform if all you know is the Designer
  • Yes, the Domino Designer is set to become a thing of the past
  • Yes, Cognitive, Connections and Watson will play a huge part in this
  • Yes, in my opinion Xpages is dead (but see the discussion in the comments field who says I’m outright wrong about this)
  • The APIs for Domino will be improved, expanded and upgraded

SaphoFor the first time in years IBM Notes and Domiono was, once again, the center of attention during an opening session. A lot of time was spent on it during Ed Brill’s presentation in part 2. He announced three partnerships with the companies Darwino, Aveedo and Sapho. All of them makes it possible to extend and refresh Domino applications. All of these give you the opportunity to stay on Domino, as well as combine your Domino app seamlessly with applications on other platforms without the need for development. I was especially impressed with Sapho.

In the session about the future roadmap for Notes and Domino, IBM also said that Notes and Domino would be updated via Feature Packs from now on (which basically means no Notes 10, folks). These will come out 3-4 times a year, and extend the features of both the Notes client, as well as the Domino server. It will be optional whether you want to install these and whether you want to enable the new functionality that is added in the feature packs. Security upgrades and bug fixes are also a part of the FPs.

Other news:

  • No more Notes client for Linux beyond 9.0.1 FP 7
  • 32 bit droppet for AIX and Linux servers
  • Template upgrades will be available as a separate download, so that you can use them without having to install the latest FPs

SwaggerAs for what is coming for both the Notes client and the Domino server, I will refer you to my blog posting about the very same subject from last year’s Connect. Yup, nothing has happened since then. But this year they actually showed us demos of most of the stuff you can read about it that blog posting. Last year they only talked about it. FP8, which will give you the ability to show email addresses as internet addresses, support Java 8 in the Eclipse framework and include email template upgrades will be released in March.

As you know, I love the IBM Connections plugins for IBM Notes. My 250 page long manual for the plugins will now have to be updated since CCM will get it’s own plugin! Yay! There’s even a plugin for Box, which I haven’t tested yet.

I spoke to one of the leading men in Xpages development, and he told me “Xpages is dead.” Personally I’ve never ever believed in Xpages, and I never bothered to learn it. “From now on I’m a web developer and a Javascript developer,” he said. And that is certainly what Stephen Wissel showed in his presentation, Beyond Domino Designer.

In the session he pointed out that you should leave the Domino designer and start learning Javascript frameworks like Angular, use Swagger as an API framework, become friends with node.js, make peace with command line tools, learn http and use clients like Postman to test http calls to REST APIs, separate front end and backend and test, test, test. This is pretty much how my previous employer modernised their IBM Notes solutions to lift them to the web and onto mobile.

Sapho 2The most exciting thing I saw when it comes to development of Domino based solutions was a product called Sapho. The product delivers a Facebook-like feed of data from your applications, both on Domino and a host of other platforms. I was amazed that every time someone asked the question “what if I need to do…,” Peter Yared, founder and CTO of Sapho, did it live, in the presentation, there and then! The product was incredibly easy to use, and you could fetch data from all kinds of data sources, including Domino. And you could of course write data back to the source as well.

So what does this mean? It means that you don’t need to migrate. You can keep your data on Domino, but at the same time add functionality to a Notes application which will run on web or on a mobile device. Or you could replace an entire Notes application, but still keep the nsf file on Domino. This is the future of Domino development folks! Spending loads of man hours on using the Domino REST API with Swagger, Angular and so on is incredibly complex, time consuming and complex. There are of course instances where you wouldn’t have much choice, but I think in most cases, a product like Sapho will solve your business needs.

I’ll wrap this up now. But you can still keep the Notes client and Domino, get new functionality, keep your applications and at the same time modernise them. In addition, you can give your users a choice when it comes to mail. They can use Notes, they can use iNotes (webmail), they can use Verse or they can use Microsoft Outlook. The mail is still in the same .nsf file on your Domino server.

IBM is opening up more and more to the outside world, and that is the main strategy these days, also in the future for Notes and Domino.

Stay tuned for more blog postings about stuff I’ve learned here at Connect 2017!

 

Still in the US, but in a new city, on a new date and with a lot of new things you normally don’t associate with Lotusphere, now known as IBM Connect. The city is San Francisco and the location is Moscone West, a gigantic conference center in downtown San Francisco.

As Roxette said: – Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. So, I’ll get right to it. The first session I attended was the brilliantly named session “Your Mail is in the Cloud, What About Your Apps?”

This is a question that a lot of people are concerned with, because IBM has been heavily promoting companies to move their email to the cloud, and then start using IBM Verse. But most of us have a lot of applications running in Notes, which means we still got to run and administrate local Domino servers. Can these be moved to the cloud? Yes, turns out that they can. And IBM showed us how.

Some important points:

  • Files must be moved to the cloud and keep their original file path
  • Servers in the cloud have their own naming convention
  • SAML is used for authentication
  • If you use LADP you got to set up a solution that makes it possible to send requests back form the cloud to LDAP
  • You’ll need ID Vault

The process for moving is described in these images (click on them for a bigger version):

cloudcloudcloud

Most of us are responsible for gigantic .nsf-files with huge amounts of data. Personally I’ve been responsible for databases with a logical size of 100 GB. This is of course only possible through the use of DAOS, which stores the attachments, since an .nsf-file only can be as big as 64 GB.

How do you move all this data to the cloud? You could use good old fashioned Domino replication. This is going to take time, but it’s stable and very reliable. If you lose your internet connection, it will just continue when you get your connection back.

FTP: Quicker than replication, but it has to be monitored. And if you lose your connection, you need to start all over again.

Physical storage: Moving data via a hard drive, which you then ship off to the data center where they will copy it for you. This will take quite a bit of time, but you won’t have any problems with network connectivity.

Moving data online can take quite a bit of time, days even, so this must be planned in detail. Users will experience quite a bit of downtime if you don’t take advantage of weekends or holidays.

IBM calculates that this will take a couple of days. Before you start moving you must analyse and plan what applications you need to move. Some applications might not be needed anymore, or they could be replaced with other solutions.

When you’ve decided what applications you want to move, you have to go through them and check for stuff like

  • Hardcoded server names or databases
  • DBLookups and DBColumns that might create problems
  • ODBC and OS calls from Lotusscript

IBM can assist with all of these things via specialized tools.

And yes: You will be able to do this, even if you are running DAOS.

7 Great Tips About IBM Notes

November 18th, 2016 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Notes - (0 Comments)

The IBM Notes client is an important tool for a lot of IBM customers. It’s a powerful client (albeit a bit cranky at times), which has a lot of features that people don’t know about.  So here are 7 quick tips to make your work day even more efficient.

1) Find a Notes application/database quickly

There’s no need to spend time looking for a Notes application or database on your workspace or in the bookmark menu. Simply use the search field under the Open-button (or the binoculars if you have docked the Open list). Just start typing the name of the application and Notes will list all the applications containing the letters you are typing. Then you can simply just click on the correct one:

Search

No more time spent looking for applications!

 

2) Create a new email at any time

To create a new email, simply hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and then hit the M key. A new email will open up. You don’t even need to have your mail application open!

 

3) Create a meeting out of an email

Sometimes an email discussion has gone on long enough. If you feel the time has come to have a meeting you can create a meeting out of an email by right clicking on the email and choose Copy into New -> Calendar Entry:

Copy into New

 

You will now be asked what kind of calendar entry:

Choose calendar entry type

 

Choose Meeting and click OK. A new meeting form is prepared. All people in the To-field will be in the Reuired field and all the people in the Cc field will be in the Optional field. All contents of the email, including attachments will be included (remove the attachments!). Now you can continue scheduling the meeting.

 

4) Paste as plain text

When pasting text from another document into a rich text field in Notes, all formatting from the original source is kept (colors, fonts, tabs and so on). If you want to paste the text into a rich text field, but remove the formatting from the source, simply hold down the CTRL and SHIFT keys on the keyboard while hitting the V key. Now the text is pasted as plain text, and it will be in the same format as the rest of the text in the rich text field. Easy peasy!

 

5) How is your day?

When you start your working day you want to know what’s on  the agenda today. No need to open your calendar for this. Simply open the right sidebar panel called Day-at-a-Glance:

Day at a glance

You can even look at other dates in the past and future as well.

 

6) Trace your history

Did you know that Notes keeps complete track of every single Notes application and document you’ve opened in the seven past days? It’s true! No more brain twisting trying to remember what you did yesterday! Simply click on History in the bookmark menu (under the Open button or under the binoculars if you have docked the Open list), then the date you want to check and finally the name of the application. Now Notes will list all documents you worked with in that application on that date:

History

 

7) Don’t develop a mouse elbow

We all use the mouse too much. But did you know that you can access any action button in a Notes document or view without having to click on them? Simply hold down the ALT key on the keyboard. You will then see a number in the upper left corner of all the action buttons. Simply click on the corresponding number on your keyboard (while still holding down ALT) to trigger the action button.

Example: If you want to send an email, you don’t need to move the mouse button up to the action button Send and on click on it. Simply hold down ALT and hit the 1 key on the keyboard. Neat, eh?

Hope you liked these tips. If you did, or want to add something, leave a comment!

No more NotesLast week there was an online presentation co-hosted by TeamStudio and TLCC where IBM presented their roadmap for IBM Notes/Domino.

I didn’t listen to the whole thing, I skipped some parts, because I could basically read the slides. In addition, they didn’t present anything new that they didn’t present at IBM Connect 2016. Nothing! Except one thing: You can now also use Outlook 2016 with Domino. Yay…

To paraphrase a friend of mine in the Domino community: “They are killing it, man.” And I find it hard to argue against that. For the past three years, I’ve been telling people who said that Xpages was going to save Domino that they were wrong. And this latest roadmap (which is the same as it was in January in Orlando) makes me ask: Is IBM interested in saving Domino?

Now, the Notes client was never going to be saved. We all knew that, even if IBM never comes right out and say it. But when it comes to email, they want you to start using IBM Verse or they actually want you to start using Outlook. In a world where people want to run light clients and use handheld devices, a huge bloated client is not the way to go, so I’m not really complaining about that. But the seemingly lack of commitment to the Domino platform is glaring.

It’s time to start delivering on your promises when it comes to Domino, IBM. But what’s happening is just one slow and drawn out torturing of a dying beast. If you’re not dedicated to the platform, at least come out and say it. “It will happen at Connect 2017,” they say. What will happen? That you will say the exact same things you said at Connect 2016? And the Java version running on the platform now isn’t just outdated. It’s a sediment on the bottom of the ocean which still hasn’t turned into black gold, and never will. We have been promised a Java update for a year now, and it still hasn’t arrived. Neither has any of the other stuff they promised.

One of the things that makes me want to say that “this is it, folks,” is the way IBM now lets you use Outlook with Domino. What’s basically happening is that IBM is saying: Connect Outlook to Domino, have the entire .nsf mail file downloaded to an Outlooks .pst file and then you can just move that pst file onto an Exchange server or up into the Office 365 cloud. They are even eliminating the need for a huge migration project, like a move from Notes to Outlook used to be.

My employer is, like 99% of the rest of the world, using Office 365. Mail is a part of the Office license, which basically means we are currently paying for two different mail platforms. In a time where we are struggling financially (I’m currently made 50% redundant), and we have to cut costs, what do you think we are going to choose? Staying on a platform where the company making it won’t make a commitment? Or go with the company which is constantly developing and refreshing their platform, and also makes integration and single sign on between all their products a default functionality?

Domino will remain in my company as an application server, because we are still running lots of Notes applications. However, we are currently webifying them and using anything but IBM technology to do so, apart from the nsf files which, for the time being, still will be on Domino.

Oh, well. See for yourself, and tell me if I’m wrong:

And here are the slides:

Notes9-thumbnailA lot has been said about the future of IBM Notes and Domino lately, but the truth of the matter is that there are still lots of Notes clients out there that are still heavily in use.

There are also IBM Notes customers who are using IBM Connections. Because of this, IBM has created a plugin that makes it easy for you to share content from IBM Notes and into Connections, and the other way around.

In the plugin you can post and interact with your activity (news stream), as well as with a persons profile and business card. You can drag attachments from emails and drop them straight into Connections (both into your personal files as well as as into a community’s files). You can also interact with, comment on and share files from the plugin.

Connections logoYou can also work with Activities directly from IBM Notes. Personally I prefer working with activities inside the Notes client to the cumbersome GUI in the web browser. You can drag and drop elements internally inside the activities, as well as drag and drop emails, Notes documents and attachments straight into an activity.

In short: The IBM Notes plugin for IBM Connections is a great tool, with a lot of great features. It has increased my own productivity in Notes and Connections a great deal. But I’ve seen a lot of people asking on Greenhouse and in other forums whether a manual exists. And it doesn’t. Until now.

I’ve therefore created a complete manual on how to use the IBM Connections plugin for IBM Notes. You can download it here.

Please let me know if you find any errors, spelling mistakes or things that are outdated because of upgrades to the plugin. Constructive feedback is welcome.

So, How About that IBM Verse?

May 18th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Domino | Email | IBM | Notes - (8 Comments)

IBM finally released IBM Verse on the world back in April, after much hype beforehand. In short: IBM Verse started out as IBM Notes 10 but evolved into a web mail client which offers a whole new way to sort, search and keep track of emails, appointments, contacts and content. This video gives a nice demonstration:

I’ve got an IBM Verse account, but since it’s not integrated into our solutions at work, nor with my private email, I really haven’t used it that much. The strength of IBM Verse is that it’s tightly integrated with IBM Connections and IBM Sametime. All are tools that we use at our company.

At work we are using IBM Notes 9.0.1 for a lot of things, including email and calendar. However, I’ve been testing the Outlook 2016 client, and it blows Notes mail out of the water. It’s really, really good. Outlook calendar has been better than the Notes calendar for years, but even the email part is now quite excellent in Outlook. Also the web version, not to mention the mobile app, are very good.

Why am I mentioning this? Because the integration between Outlook, Skype for business, Sharepoint and other solutions, combined with their new mobile client will make it even harder for IBM to both counter the moving that a lot of companies are doing from IBM to Microsoft. It will also be much harder to convince new customers to move over to IBM.

In that light, it’s not a smart move to:

1) Not deliver what we were promised with Verse (as this article from Red Pill points out).
2) Still use the standard web version of the calendar instead of the new Verse interface.

No matter how much I love Domino and old IBM products, the world is moving on. And I’m an atheist when it comes to my tools. If MS comes up with a better client, with a good mobile app as well as a nice web interface, I can’t keep my users in the dark. Especially now that we are moving our Notes applications to the web, where we only use the .nsf files for data storage while the web interface are running on other platforms. We are also contemplating moving from Sametime to Lyn…sorry…Skype for business, but IBM is actually doing an effort to keep us on Sametime.

IBM has a lot of challenges ahead. IBM Verse shows good promise, but promise ware is not good enough. The only reason Microsoft got away with promise ware for so long was that they managed to get into a monopoly situation in a time where that was actually possible.

IBM is Going for the Push

February 13th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Connections | IBM | ISBG | Notes - (0 Comments)

Wednesday February 11th I attended the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) meeting in Oslo, hosted by Symfoni. IBM presented some interesting news, both about IBM Notes/Domino, as well as a major push in getting out into the market again.

Breakfast seminars

IBM Norway was there telling us about upcoming products and plans. They are planning to host breakfast seminars in several Norwegian cities in the coming months. They want to meet new customers, as well as communicating with existing ones. The new ones will be introduced to IBM’s solutions (IBM Connections/Sametime/Verse/Domino etc) and the existing customers will be given the chance to communicate.

And this communication will not just be with IBM, this will also be a good opportunity for IBM customers to meet up with each other and exchange experiences, problems, information, tips and so on. This is something we IBM customers feel have been lacking for years and years and years. Hopefully this signals a new push from IBM.

IBM Verse and Notes/Domino

RoadmapAccording to IBM Norway, they will soon publish their new roadmap about Notes/Domino. This will tell us what to expect for the platform in the future.

The most revealing news were this:

  • There will be a new release of the Notes 9.x client in the coming months
  • Domino 9.0.2 will finally have the long promised feature where you can connect to the server with Outlook, and a couple of Norwegian customers have been testing this for a while
  • Notes 10 is IBM Verse, Domino, Xpages and Bluemix. Enjoy your last few years with the Notes client, my friends
  • IBM Verse will be available for cloud customers from March 31st
  • IBM Verse will be available on premise during the second half of 2015. However, it will probably not be possible to run Watson on premise. A hybrid solution might be a work around, but nothing was promised

Cooperation with Apple

Apple and IBMLast year IBM and Apple announced that they were in cooperation about apps for businesses, a market Apple has struggled to get a foothold in. IBM will, with the help of technologies like Watson, create tools for analyzing big data. This in addition to the gathering of live data. Apple will be making the design and GUI.

Every quarter there will be a release of new apps, for various types of businesses. We got a demo of an app created for the police. The officer logged on with his Ipad when her shift started. She would then see all police actions in progress that is nearby. In addition she will also be able to call for help via the app, as well as receiving requests herself.

If she is called out on an assignment, she can use the app to connect to surveillance cameras in the area where a situation is in progress. She can then assess whether she should call for backup or not.

My presentation

PluginAfter lunch, Tore Sørgård from the company Geno gave a review of IBM Connected. He was positive to Verse, but skeptical to the fact that Sametime is hard to administer and is flawed, and that IBM was only about cloud, while their customers were not.

After this I gave my own presentation. I talked about Brunvoll, which a lot of people liked because they think our thrusters are cool, and then I spoke about the plugins for IBM Connections.

I did a big presentation on how to install, create settings for and how to use the plugins for Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer and IBM Notes.

I also talked about how you can make the plugin your own.

After that, and during he breaks, we mingled, talked, discussed and exchanged contact information. These bits are also very valuable.

Next ISBG conference is in May. See you then!

Finally I get around to summing up day 2 of the Norwegian IBM User Group’s spring meeting that took place 21st and 22nd of May this year. This was also the day that I would give my presentation about my company’s introduction of IBM Connections, so read on to know about that.

It was a late night for some of us, but thankfully I turned down the invitation for nachspiel, which the German’s from Panagenda finds amusing since the word means something entirely different in their language (and don’t get me started on the German meaning of vorspiel…) so I managed to get up at a reasonable hour. Here’s a short summary of each session during day 2:

Become a Connections Administrator
Gabriella Davis, The Turtle Partnership

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

Let’s face it: IBM Connections is a bitch to deploy and administer. It takes days to install and it’s very hard to control. At least it’s hard when you have several other assignments at work and can’t devote your full attention to it. So Gabriella Davis’ presentation on how to become a Connections administrator was something I was really looking forward to. Her main points where:

  • Fight for your resources, IBM Connections demands a lot!
  • Have a deployment server
  • You can then choose to have one server for each application in Connections, or not
  • A Connections installation is only as good as its LDAP source, be sure to have a good one
  • People needed in a setup: Network admins, server admins, firewall admins, designers and the marketing department
  • Make sure you have all fix packs and files needed before starting a setup
  • Always install a test-server that mirrors your production server

A short summary on how you perform an installation and how to administer Connections:

  • Download the software
  • Install in this order: Websphere, Connections and then Internet HTTP Server (it will work without the latter but that’s not recommended) where the SSL certificate will be
  • Your database source can be Oracle, SQL or DB2. Choose the latter if you do not have your own database administrators
  • Remember Connections consist of at least 20 databases, so make sure you have plenty of memory
  • File attachments should be available for all servers. This is achieved via Connections Shared Data, use UNC paths
  • There’s a lot of shared data: Custom JSPs, customisation strings, profile types, language translation files and file attachments
  • If you move servers, make sure to always copy shared data beforehand
  • If you delete the search index, it will be rebuilt, so don’t panic
  • Make sure that the language for Connections is set to the same language as the the one you tag content with
  • If you delete a community you lose everything belonging to it, so you will need to do a complete rollback
  • Plugin-cfg.xml maps all applications. This file can be modified in Websphere but it does not validate so make sure you are in control
  • There’s no super admin user that will give you administration rights for everything
  • WSADMIN is used for sending commands

After the presentation I had a much clearer understanding on how Connections work, but I can see that it will not be easy to administer without taking a class and then work with it every day.

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Modernizing, Mobilizing and Socializing your XPages apps using 9.0.1 plus extensions
Martin Donnelly, Software Architect at IBM

MartinDonnelly

MartinDonnelly

XPages is a technology used for easily adapting your IBM Notes (formerly Lotus Notes) applications to web browsers on all platforms, as well as making them available on mobile platforms. The programming model is based on web development languages and standards (Javascript, Ajax, Java, CSS and so on). It was launched with huge fanfare 7-8 years ago and was hailed as the thing that would save Notes/Domino. The problem is that this has not happened.

I know that Donnelly is a clever guy who is very good with Xpages, but even though he works for the company, IBM themselves shows no interest in Xpages. The only ones keeping Xpages alive these days are the people behind OpenNTF. If you think this means I’ve no belief in Xpages, you are quite right. There are some people in the Domino community still going on about how wonderful Xpages is and that a lot of people use it. The latter is false. The number of Xpages projects in OpenNTF and the number of downloads (a few thousand) is a clear sign of that. Also: Compare the number of classes given or projects done with other (and much easier) web technologies than Xpages, and you will see that Xpages doesn’t even have a percentage of the market.

Also: Almost every single company using Notes/Domino that I am in contact with, and that’s quite a few, don’t use Xpages, and have no plans for it either. The same goes for every single company I talked with at the conference. TINE, who presented their new Ipad Solutions for their Domino sales databases, used absolutely no Xpages in their project. They used HTML5, Javascript, Ajax and REST. And that’s what we are going for in our company as well. So far we’ve done no development in Xpages.

But I still went to this presentation with an open mind. Unfortunately Donnelly didn’t say much more than what I already knew about Xpages, so after a while I stopped paying attention and did the final preparations for my own lecture. He did introduce me to the Single application wizard, which I will try out a bit, as I might have a few Notes solutions that could benefit for a very quick mobile conversion. But I’m not sure.

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Configuring a Single Sign On Experience For Your Notes Clients
Gabriella Davis, The Turtle Partnership

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella again! The presentation was a bit similar to her presentation given the day before. A short summary:

  • Notes shared logon:
    • Removes the password from the id-file
    • You log on to Windows and then start Notes. Notes downloads from the id-vault (which means the first time you log on you have to write the password), removes the password from the ID file and stores it encrypted on the PC
    • For every logon the password will be decrypted and read
    • You must have an ID-vault.
    • You do not need to configure anything in the client, but you must create a security policy
    • What it doesn’t do: It does not synchronize with the http password
    • Can’t be used for Citrix or roaming profiles
  • LDAP authentication:
    • You only need one password and no synch tools
    • The user logs on to Notes/iNotes, Domino then checks if the password is the same as the http password stored in the person’s document in the Domino address book
    • Even if it doesn’t recognise the password, it will still check on the LDAP server and the LDAP server will determine if you are allowed to log on
    • Use Tivoli to change username, it can write directly to AD or Domino from there
  • SPNEGO:
    • A user logs on to Windows and AD generates a token
    • When a user tries to access Domino or a Domino web-site, a SPNEGO token is sent to Domino, Domino then checks with AD if the credentials are ok
    • AD is needed and this will only work in Windows and Internet Explorer (or in Firefox with a plugin)
    • You have to set up SSO or MSSO on Domino
    • The clocks on the servers must be synchronised
    • Run Domino with a specified service account and not the local system account
  • SAML:
    • Supports multiple OS-es and clients
    • Needs and ID-file in an ID-vault
    • User logs on and the logon attempt is sent to ID-provider. After confirmation you are sent the the original site via SAML Service Provider to decide if the user should be granted access
    • The user will not have to enter a password at any time
    • You must have ID-provider. IBM supports ADFS and TFIM. Others can be used, but check with IBM first
    • Requirements:
      • ADFS 2.0
      • IIS-server with SSL-certificate
      • ID-vault
      • Security policy in Domino
      • IDPCAT-database based on the idpcat.ntf template
      • Domino 9.0.1
      • Time and patience
    • Other:
      • Most complicated setup so far. Not in complexity but this involves 150 steps!
      • Remember to check that the ID-vault template is upgraded when the server is ugpraded
      • Unfortunately Traveler, Sametime and Connections are still not supported
      • No passwords are sent between the systems, so nobody can snap it up on unsecured connections
      • NO MORE VPN!
      • You still have the ID-file, so there’s no problem with being offline in the Notes client, however: Notes will ask for a password, it’s not recommended to combine with shared login

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How Brunvoll learned how to be connected
Hogne Bø Pettersen, ICT Teaching Manager, Brunvoll AS

Hogne B. Pettersen

Hogne B. Pettersen

Then it was my turn! I was invited to do a talk about Brunvoll’s (my employer) introduction of IBM Connections, or bConnect as we have decided to call it (be connected or Brunvoll connect, take your pick). I’m responsible for integrating and adapting bConnect into our infrastructure. While I’m partly doing that on the technical side, my main job is to train ours users to integrate Connections in to the regular working day. The goal is that bConnect should be the starting point every morning instead of your mailbox. Here are the main points:

  • I struggled with adapting our company to using the intranet or other collaboration solutions instead of email until new CEO arrived in 2011
  • I talked about partnering up with IBM for installation, and then later Item
  • I talked about the huge technical problems we had, and not all of them are solved yet
  • I mentioned that the integration og FileNet (CCM) and the use of libraries had made it impossible for us to move to a new installation
  • I talked about the complexity of administering Connections
  • I talked about user adoption and how it’s not a race, but more like an orienteering marathon
  • The importance of having the CEO and management group onboard
  • I emphasized that this is not an IT tool, and that the IT department really should not be the ones doing the user adaption, but in Brunvoll that was a necessity since I’m also the firm’s instructor when it comes to IT-based systems
  • You have to improve your users work day, this sometimes makes it necessary to do things a little bit more heavy handed than before, but in the long run it’s worth it
  • Train your users. Then train them again. And train them some more!
  • Have super users as your allies and as a second line of support between you and the users
  • Visit the users to get a feel of their working day and hold workshops
  • Use the plugins for Office, Notes and Explorer!

You can read the rest in my presentation, but I was very adamant to point out that this is a long, long process, and that sometimes it’s easy to lose hope. There’s also an age gap when it comes to who adopts very easily to this way of working instead of relying on email and network drives. The younger crowd grew up with systems like these, they didn’t learn about them long after their education.

My talk was very well received. I was a bit apprehensive about meeting with some of the IBM folks afterwards, since I had made some negative (but true) remarks, especially about FileNet. Even if I had emphasized that bConnect so far has been a success for us the negative things often sticks out. Thankfully Louis Richardson came up to me afterwards and thanked me, said it was a great presentation and that they needed to hear about problems like that.

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And with that my part of the ISBG spring meeting was over. I had a train to catch, so I didn’t get to see the last session about Sharepoint. Looking forward to the autumn meeting!

I attended the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) spring meeting from on the 21st and 22nd of May. Just like last year, it was held in the city of Larvik, in a spa resort called Farris Bad. Farris is a very famous brand of mineral water that is bottled in this city.

My arrival was one day before, and thankfully other people were there, and I spent an enjoyable evening, being treated with beers from the Panagenda guys. This, while I really should have been preparing my own presentation for the last day of the conference…

I will here give you a short summary of each session I attended on day 1:

Keynote: How Smart are You?

Louis Richardson

Louis Richardson

Louis Richards, Storyteller & Enthusiast, Social Smarter Work – IBM
Richardson’s talk was about how conventional we become with age, and how divergent thought is less and less encouraged as you grow older.

He referred to a Dutch study showing that children, when asked where they wanted a third eye, always said “on one of my fingers,” whilst adults wanted to have it in the back of their head. People who don’t go by the book shouldn’t always be held back. Let the rebels be rebels. They aren’t always trouble makers.

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It’s not Social Business, it’s Just Good Business
Louis Richards, Storyteller & Enthusiast, Social Smarter Work – IBM
Richards also held the next presentation. He is not fond of the word social. – It’s not social, it’s just good business, was his mantra. – We have always built relationships at work and we communicate. It’s just that we are now able to do it digitally, and preserve it.

He encourages everyone to start sharing their knowledge:

  • Do not frown upon people sharing things via blogs or other media
  • Share your knowledge and encourage others to do the same. If you die, your knowledge and skills should be easy for others to get hold of
  • Don’t ask people for the information, search for it in the blogs, wikis, files and forum postings (if you have such tools)
  • Do not force people to report all the time. Let them do their jobs and then share their information with you

Like me he abhors meetings. – Too much time is wasted on meetings. The way to go about it is this: Share a file. Invite people to a meeting and refer to the shared file. If a very few, or nobody downloads the file, cancel the meeting.

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Sales Tool on Ipad/Iphone, Based on IBM Domino

Einar Ellingsen

Einar Ellingsen

Einar Ellingsen, ICT System Consultant, TINE SA
Tine is Norway’s biggest producer of dairy products and the company is owned by the biggest farming organizations. They have been running Notes/Domino for years, and on the very same day that we attended the conference, they launched their brand new intranet, running on IBM Connections.

Einar showed us a very impressive solution running both on Ipad and Iphone. It could also run on other solutions since it’s 100% web based. Before 2008, TINE had loads of paper forms that needed to be filled out for each order. In 2007 they started a project where Lotus Notes databases where used. These were replicated locally to each sales person’s computer.

The entire solution was developed by Einar, and I was very impressed. Here are some key elements:

  • Every sellers has their own calendar for appointments
  • There’s a built in chat function so that sellers within a region can communicate easily
  • You could snap a photo of an exhibition in a store and upload it directly
  • You could use a scanner to read the barcode for any product
  • You could generate KPI’s for a region, for a store, for a certain product within a store and so on
  • Orders are generated and sent to a mailin database. From here they are generated to XML files and sent to the EDI-server
  • There are help files and movies that the users can look at for assistance

Technology used:

  • SQL
  • HTML5 (no framework, just best practice)
  • Lotusscript and Java agents
  • Google Chart Grid
  • Google Maps
  • REST
  • Cumulus
  • FTP for transferring of orders to the EDI server
  • Ajax
  • Pic2Shop for reading barcodes
  • A-PDF Text Extractor
  • ImageMagick
  • The API in IBM Connections

Einar finished his talk by showing us the new Tine intranet, which is 100% IBM Connections.

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Simplifying the S’s: Single Sign-On, SPNEGO and SAML
Gabriella Davis, The Turtle Partnership

Gabriella Davis

Gabriella Davis

Let’s face it: IBM Notes and related products is a nightmare when it comes to having one username and one password. We all know this, and we have fought with this limitation for years. And the users hate having to log on several times after logging on to their computer.

Gabriella described the three techniques that we can use:

Single Sign-On: The Notes client is using the Windows AD credentials.
SPNEGO: The user logs on in Windows and AD generates a SPNEGO-token. When a user tries to access a Doino web site the web browser will send this token to Domino, which in turn contacts AD for validation of the token. If the token is valid, the user name will be returned, and since it found the user’s name, the system knows that access should be granted.
SAML: This is the future. It works on all platforms, not just windows, and it’s a standard. A user logs on to Notes. The user will then be sent to an Identity Provider which will ask for credentials (if the user is already logged on the credentials will be returned). The user is then sent back to Notes with all the SAML information. Notes will then use the SAML-service provider to check this information, and whether access should be granted.

The drawback with SAML is that it’s still not supported by IBM Sametime or IBM Notes Traveler. A solution can be to combine SAML with SPNEGO, because SPNEGO is supported by both Sametime and Traveler.

She also described using OAuth to let IBM Connections communicate with third parties like Facebook, LinkedIn and so on.

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Quo Vadis – Where Do You Want to Go Tomorrow With IBM Notes/Domino

Christoph Adler

Christoph Adler

Christopher Adler, Panagenda
Panagenda has a great product called the Marvel Client, which we unfortunately don’t use at my company. However, Christopher’s talk was on more general topics. He talked about a company’s attitude towards Notes.

He also touched upon the fact that in the past you were a Notes/Domino administrator. Today you are responsible for a whole bunch of collaborative solutions. And all of them communicate with Notes!

He also talked about the importance of continuous upgrades and that whenever someone talked about changing email systems, you had to be aware of the fact that a lot of solutions in Notes are tightly integrated with the Notes mail template. Quite a few companies have burnt themselves on that fact.

And with that, the first day was over, for me anyway. I couldn’t partake in this year’s competition or murder mystery. I had to finally prepare next day’s presentation and I therefore also missed the spa bit. I did go down to dinner, and it was magnificent!

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Stay tuned for day 2!

Marvel's Thor

The PWC conference hall certainly had decorations to my liking. How did they know?!?!

The Norwegian IBM user group meeting took place in Oslo Monday October 14th. For the first time I did a presentation, (yay!) but I will give a short report about the entire meeting here.

The meeting took place in the brand new PricewaterhouseCoopers’ building in Bjørvika in Oslo. The auditorium had certainly been decorated to my liking.

IBM Sametime 9

Bo Holteman, Unified Communication & Collaboration Specialist IBM Collaboration Solutions – Europe (boy, his business card must be long), presented the new Sametime package.

In short the higlight can be summed up like this:

  • No more licenses when connecting external users to the system!
  • The licensing model is simplified. There’s now three models: Sametime Communicate, Sametime Conference and Sametime Complete, where you can get an additional module for Sametime Unified Telephony.
  • If you have a standard Sametime license today you will be able to get Sametime Complete, which contains everything of the already existing Sametime Standard, Sametime Advanced and Sametime Unified Telephony Lite
  • The menus have been simplified to reduce the number of clicks
  • In video conferences all video images are showing, instead of like it is today where only the active speaker is shown
  • Scaleable Video Quality: No more lagging. The client tells the server how much bandwidth it will need
  • Maximum 6 video feeds at any one time, but hundreds of people can take part in a meeting
  • You can now run a presentation from a Community in Connections.
  • Easier to integrate chat solutions on web pages, this makes it easier to create chat solutions for customers and agents
  • IBM will come to your company and hold a 4 hour free workshop on how to upgrade

So what’s the catch? Well, this:

  • The server setup is even more complex than before! You’d think this would be impossible, but I’m not kidding.
  • In addition. the SVC makes it necessary for you to have two more servers! AND: THEY HAVE TO RUN LINUX!
  • The video conference solution for pads and cell phones is not ready yet, but will be released sometime during Q4
  • There are currently no plans for integration with Files in IBM Connections

Bo gave a good demo on both a PC and on mobile devices to demonstrate the functionality, and I’ll give Sametime 9 this: It really does work and looks great!

Download the presentation (in Danish)

Geno does social business for a better life

Geno is owned by ca 10 500 Norwegian farmers. Their main task is breeding and developing the NRF-cow (Norwegian red cow). Tore Søgård, IT manager at Geno, and Erik Borse from Item Consulting gave a great presentation on how to introduce IBM Connections into your organisation.

This was very useful for me, since I’m in charge of the training and I have the responsibility of introducing our users to the product. I got a lot of great input for our own approach to this, as well as a confirmation that we are on the right track.

Also: Item is our new partner on our IBM Social Collaboration tools, and it seems that we are in good hands. I did an entire blog posting on my internal IBM Connections blog at work on this presentation alone.

Download the presentation (in Norwegian)

Know Your Notes Client

Notes education

Remember to train your users in the use of IBM Notes!

Now it was my turn. I gave an hour long pep talk about all the cool features of the IBM Notes client, as well as how one should go about training ones users. My point is that a lot of people hate the Notes Client because it’s either badly administrated, or that people have no training using it (and sometimes it’s a combination of these two.) If someone put you in front of a complicated CAD program, or gave you Photoshop, and just said: “Get to work,” you wouldn’t be very productive.

I also think a lot of companies sin when it comes to Microsoft Office and Outlook as well. There are tons of hidden features in those products that would enhance your users productivity if they were just told about them. Train your users!

My presentation, was very well received, and people told me that they had both learned new features after having been Notes users for years, as well as been give ideas on how to train their users better. This reception made me very happy. Not least that a lot of people liked the idea of doing what I do at my company: A weekly Notes tip blog posting.

And thanks to Mat Newman for the inspiration to do this.

Download the presentation (Party Norwegian, but all screen captures and menu choices in English, so you should have no problem following it even if you’re not Norwegian)

The Euroka Moment: The Knowledge You Need to Understand Xpages

Paul Withers, IBM Champion and OpenNTF Director, now gave a talk on the underlying JSF framework of Xpages. Really insightful and good.

Download the presentation (in English)

The OpenNTF Domino API: Making Domino Work the Way You Want

This is a new community drive API that really simplifies how you use Java in your applications. A real eye opener for more than one developer, I think.

Download the presentation (in English)

Aftermath

After this IBM treated us to dinner and Paul Withers and I struck up a chord and sat talking during dinner, and continued on the train to the airport. We also took in a cup of coffee (hot chocolate for me) before our planes took off. Paul is a great guy and I think OpenNTF is in good hands.

As I left for my gate I realised that I had been sweating like all hell for a few hours, but everyone had been telling me it was cold.  On the plane in the seat next to me, was a nurse. She cast one glance at me and said: “You got a fever!” Then she told the stewardess she would take care of me during the flight. Nurses are heroes!