Domino, Notes and videotape
Header

Adding a file to an activity can a lot of times be very useful. However, if you just simply upload the file into an element in the activity, you have no way to upload a new version of that file. This means that you have to download the file locally, edit it, and then upload it again into the activity. You then have to delete the previous version of the file from the activity, because there will now be two files.

There is, of course, a much better way to do this. You can share your own files with the activity. This means that every time you update that file, the activity will link to the newest version of the file, and you don’t have to worry about old versions.

  1. Create a new Entry or To do item, or start editing an existing one
  2. If all the fields are not showing, click on More Options:
    More Options

    Click on the twisty to expand

     

  3. All the fields are now showing. Find Add File:
    Add File

    Click on this

     

  4. Click on the drop down arrow and choose Link to File:
    Link to file

    Choose Link to file

     

  5. You will now see a window where your files are listed:
    Add Links to Files

    Choose among your own files

     

  6. You can navigate to see more files by using the Next and Previous links on top. You choose the files you want to share by checking the check box to the left of the file name:
    Check Files

    Click in the check box for the files you want to link to

     

  7. When you have selected the files you want, click on Insert Links.
  8. The files are now added to the activity element:
    File List

    The chosen file links are listed in the form

     

  9. You can remove any file by clicking on the x to the right of the file name. When you are finished with your editing click on Save.
  10. The files are now added to this activity element:
    File List

    The files chosen are now linked

     

  11. All members of the activity can now click on a file link to open a file. Remember: This is just a link to one of your files. The members of the activity can’t edit the file and then upload it to the activity as a new version. Only you, and people you have shared the file with and given editor rights to, can upload new versions . But when a new version is uploaded, the link in the activity will lead directly to that version. You do not need to add the link again.
    This is a much better way to deal with files in Activities.

Please let me know in the comments section what you think of this tip, or if you have any suggestions, corrections or other feedback.

 

I’m starting a new series. I will present tips on how you can make it easier for your users to adapt to using IBM Connections. I’ve gone through all the pitfalls you can think of while introducing IBM Connections in our organisation. After four years of using the product, teaching and training people on how to use it, doing presentations of IBM Connections and documenting and creating wikis about it, I feel that I can share some of the stuff that I’ve had success with. Please let me know what you think.

Some people think it’s very hard to follow all the stuff going on in IBM Connections. Nothing could be further from the truth. With one search and a couple of clicks, you usually find what you are looking for pretty easily.

Search Field

When you are in your news stream (usually the front page in most IBM Connections installations) you will find the search field in the upper right corner:

Newsstream

Click on picture for larger version

You start searching by simply typing in the search field:

Searching

Searching has type-ahead

To perform the search you hit the ENTER key on your keyboard.

Notice that the search field will automatically suggest persons who are tagged with the expression you are searching for. This happens no matter what you are searching for. To select a person you just click on her.

Choose what you want to search for

In the pull down field to the left of the search field you can predetermine what kind of content you want to search for:

Choose search

Choose what you want to search for

Click on what you want to search for. Then type the search word or search expression in the search field and hit ENTER. The search will now be performed. Above the search result you will see pull down menus that makes it possible to sort and minimize the search result.

Search result

Here I’ve searched for the expression domino:

Search result

The search result for “domino.” Click on picture to see it in full size

You can now sort the the search result by date or relevance:

Sort search

You can sort the search

Above the search result you can also choose whether you want to show all the contents in IBM Connections that you have access to, or if you just want to show contents that belong to you:

Search filter

Filter your search

Reduce the search result

As you can see, the search yielded 210 hits. That’s a bit too much to wade through. Fortunately you have the possibility to reduce the search results by just a few clicks with the mouse button.

Choose application

After performing a search you will see a menu to the left of the search result:

Search menu

Choose the application you want to search in

The currently active menu item is the one marked with blue. In the illustration above we have chosen All Content.

If you want to search only in Files you click on that menu item:

Search Files

Search result for Files

It will now only display files that either contains or were tagged with my search expression. If I had chosen Wikis in the menu it would have showed a search result with all wiki pages that either contained or were tagged with the search expression.

Tags

It’s very important to train your users in how to use tags, and make them understand how important it is to tag all contents in Connections. This is a perfect example of a situation where tags are very helpful.

As shown above we got 210 hits when we searched for domino. Let’s say I was looking for a file about upgrading a Domino server. I will therefore use the tag upgrade to minimize the search result.

In this example, the tag upgrade is displayed among the top hits:

Upgrade tag

The tag “upgrade” is a link I can click on

I can now click on the tag.

If I didn’t immediately spot the upgrade tag in the search result, I could have clicked on the pull down menu item Tags in the left hand menu:

Tag cloud

Tag cloud

After clicking on upgrade it would now show a search result showing only contents that contain both the word domino and the tag upgrade:

Final search result

With one click we now have only 4 hits!

So with just one click on  the mouse button, we went from 210 hits to 4 hits!

Please let me know in the comments section what you think of this tip. And let me know if you have questions regarding IBM Connections

Intranett 2015

December 16th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Connections - (2 Comments)
Intranet 2015

Me holding my presentation. Photo: Tiina Manninen

On November 26th I attended conference at Vika Atrium in Oslo, where I did a presentation of IBM Connections. I also got to see several presentations of Intranet solutions from other companies, as well as gaining some insights on where intranets are going now. Because an intranet is no longer just a web page.

Development

When intranets were introduced at the end of the 90s they started as static web pages where management provided information for their employees. After a while it also turned into a portal, where you could find links to other internal systems and resources.

But when social tools like Facebook really started to make an impact, it became clear that an intranet like that wasn’t very valuable. It was just a static web site which nobody would read. This prompted companies to develop intranets that were more interactive. The content wasn’t just produced by management any more, it also started to become more user generated.

This lead to some changes:

  • Leaders started to blog and gave their employees the possibility to comment, ask questions and reply
  • Instead of just sending out information about events, happenings and news, the employees could take more control of the flow of information
  • The intranet wasn’t just a news site any more. It became more like a dash board, or control panel, where employees start their working day

As the evolution of the intranets and social tools went on, the intranet now turned into a repository where all the flow of information, documentation and other communication took place, and were stored. And that’s when users started to demand the possibility of using the intranet on their phones and pads. So now the trend is that an intranet project also includes development of an app for mobile devices.

In my company

In my job, we are somewhere inbetween a full social intranet and an old fashioned intranet. Our intranet solution is now four years old, and it has severely cut down on internal emails sent out to all (that almost never happens any more). But the communication on the intranet itself is very one sided. That’s where IBM Connections comes in.

IBM Connections gives us a news stream, the possibility to upload and share files with full version control, to share bookmarks, to create complete wikis with documentation and information, to move discussions to forums instead of emails and plugins that makes it possible to work with content directly from Microsoft Office, Windows Explorer and IBM Notes (or Outlook if you use that as your email client). All the content have version control, can be commented on and, yes, even “liked.” By tagging content it becomes much easier to find when searching for it.

We also have blogs, and our CEO is blogging several times a year to give us a summary of our company’s situation. People can then comment, ask questions directly.

The process of adapting to Connections is still going on, and I’m in charge of the training. But we are seeing the fruits of the process now. Files that used to be hidden on network drives are now much easier to find (and it has access control). More and more people are now asking questions and have discussions in open forums instead of using email, where only the “lucky” ones that are included in the “to” or “cc” field can take part. We also have projects and processes where communications and sharing of information and documentations now happen in communities, instead of being hidden away.

In that regard, IBM Connections is now a part of our intranet, at least if we use the definition of a modern intranet. And it will in the long run be our complete intranet. I’m currently testing out using the news stream from IBM Connections to create a standard startup page that will open when you log on in the morning. It will consist of official news streams that you can’t remove. But it will also be possible for the users to have control of what they want to see and not.

And since IBM Connections has a complete mobile app, both for Apple devices and Android devices, we have that covered as well.

My presentation

In addition to touching on the ideas mentioned above, I also gave a live demo of IBM Connections, directly from our servers. I demonstrated both the web edition, the mobile edition and how the plugins work.

What was funny was that I could present functionality that other companies in the room had spent millions on. Not, that’s not right: They had spent millions and still had only half of the functionality I presented. I was asked on how much development cost we had on it, and I could say: – None!

It all comes out of the box. You only need to purchase the licenses for Connections, and get it up and running. That’s it. You can do development on it since it has a very open and well documentet API. But if you want to you can just start using it. And: The mobile app is included. You will have no development costs for a mobile version of your intranet.

I got great feedback from people after my presentation was over, and I have received a couple of emails afterwards where people have told me that they wished IBM could be this good at selling their own solutions. Personally I just like presenting things I like to use, but I should really get a commission from IBM for this, shouldn’t I? 🙂

ISBG Scholarship

October 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in ISBG - (2 Comments)

Ego ISBGLast Wednesday the autumn meeting for ISBG, the Norwegian IBM user group, took place. ISBG is a standalone forum for customers and users of IBM’s software solutions for collaboration. In my employer’s case that means IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Notes Traveler (email, calender and contacts on mobile and pads), IBM Connetions and IBM Sametime (but we are moving to Skype for Business soon).

I gave two presentations. The first one was a very technical one where I explained how you can make it possible for users to log on to a web-based Domino solution without having to register those users in your Domino Adress Book. You only need to register them in Active Directory. I will do a blog posting about this, but you can download my presentation here.

In my second presentation I told how we at Brunvoll have used wikis in IBM Connections to document our processes. We are in the process of being certified with several new ISO certifications, and those demand that we document our processes. I demonstrated how we had used graphics and design to make the navigation through the contents and structure of the wikis more inviting and sexy. I also told what we liked about the wikis in IBM Connections, and the things we find are lacking in the wiki applications.

The reception was very good, and several people thanked me afterwards for teaching them that you actually have version control in the wikis, just like you do with files.

I’ve also received a lot of good feedback about Brunvoll and the fact that we share our experiences and knowledge like we do in these forums. That’s really nice to hear.

 On the top of all this I was also given ISBG scholarship, worth 20 000 NOK ($2300), so that I’m able to go to the annual IBM Connect (formerly known as Lotusphere) conference in Orlando, FL, USA in January. I was very happy about this, because I had received word from my boss that there probably wasn’t money left on the budget to send me this time. A colleague of min will also be going on Saturday January 30th.

The scholarship is given out every year. The person who gets it is obligated to blog every day from the conference (which I do in this blog anyway) in addition to give a presentation at the ISBG meeting in February. And I’m not shy about talking and holding presentations, so no complaints from me there.

I will during next week blog about some of the presentations from the ISBG meeting.

 

Summer holiday and a huge load of journalistic assignments made me postpone and postpone, and postpone yet again, my summary of the Norwegian IBM User Group’s spring seminar, which took place at Farris Bad (a spa resort) at the end of May. I will therefore here do a short summary of the last sessions I attended.

Single, integrated social content management system

content_navigatorJoar Lyngaas (now retired, I’m told) from IBM talked about content management within IBM Connections. In my company, we use FileNet and CCM. This makes it possible to define document types with meta data, as well as creating a work flow for reviewing documents before being published. What Joar went through went deeper, and for my company, which is very much looking at a content management system for our documents, this was very interesting.

I have to say, though, that IBM’s acronym confusion continued. You have CCM, CECE, ICF, IBM ECM and so on. What I have gathered is what we need is CECE, IBM Connections Enterprise Content Edition. What this will give us is:

  • Check in and check out of documents
  • Meta data
  • Classification
  • Security
  • Advanced Search
  • Review process
  • Data integration

Another important factor here is IBM’s Content Manager, which we now will be able to use for administering the various document types, and it will also give us a widget/app that will work both in Microsoft Office, in IBM Connections and even in a widget IBM Notes.

This session was the most useful for me during this seminar, and we have already invested in three development licenses. We will make web versions of our biggest IBM Notes applications, and via the API for CECE, we will probably use it for storing of attachments and files and other documents used in the sales and service process.

See presentation

IBM Domino App Dev Futures

MartinDonnelly

MartinDonnelly

Martin Donnely from IBM talked about Bluemix and the possibilities that you have by using that cloud service to lift your old Domino/Notes applications to the web and mobile platforms. He also talked about Xpages and Javascript support that will be improved.

Honestly, Bluemix and Xpages is something my company have decided not to pursue. We will be using Domino as nothing more than a platform for storing the data, and then we will use the REST API in Domino to get the data.

See presentation

Tricks Every Super Domino Admin Should Know

Gabriella is always very knowledgeable and fun to listen to. She went through a lot of tips on how to secure the Domino environment, as well as very good tips on things you can do with Domino Administrator. I learned some new stuff:

  • Color coding of events in the logging
  • Domain Catalog
  • Starting Domino with Java Controller
  • Database Management Tools
  • Enhanced Fault reporting

See presentation

Driving success with social business through an effective adoption approach

Five StagesAlan Hamilton from IBM then talked about one of the biggest challenges Social Business adopters like me face: How do you do user adoption properly, and get people to use solutions like IBM Connections? But this also goes for adoption of any new system, because after 70% of the project budget is spent, that’s when you start user adoption. And neither time nor resources are enough at this stage.

He described five stages of user adoption:

  1. Vision: You need a vision when you start a project. You need to have a plan. What do you want to achieve with this project?
  2. Leadership commitment: Make sure the ones taking the bill are on board with what you are doing. Refer to business cases and tell them why this project is important and will increase your earnings and improve efficiency. Without leadership backing, you will get nowhere.
  3. Use Cases: Define what improvements and benefits you envision for your organisation and focus on  them. Then define what improvements and benefits you foresee for the individuals in the organisation. The good old “what’s in it for me?” is something that the users will ask or wonder about. Define what’s in it for them and focus on that. Use examples on where you think things would be improved.
  4. Plan: Recognise that not all users are the same. Identify the early adopters, the ones that will be ahead of even you, the ones that need prodding and the ones that will never adapt no matter what you do. Plan how you will deploy the solution, how you will train your users and how you will support them.
  5. Iteration: Do points 1-4 over and over again during the entire process, and improve. The old days of the waterfall technique are long gone

This session hit pretty close to home with me, as we are still going through them. Slowly improving, but not quite there yet.

See presentation on Slideshare

How to do more with IBM Connections through integration and expansions

Runar Brastad from Item consulting did a very good presentation on how you can use the very open APIs in IBM Connections and the Social Business Toolkit to both fetch data from Connections, as well as post to Connections from external sources.

This was a very interesting session, and I got several ideas that I’m testing these days. The plan is to replace our intranet with IBM Connections, and use the API’s to fetch data on to our own custom made start page, as well as to information screens that are in place all over our company.

And that was it. Phew!

External users in IBM Connections

External users in IBM Connections are easy to spot

One of the main reasons for using tools like IBM Connections is that you can share information with a lot of people at the same time, without having to use email. This means that the information is open for everybody who has access to it. This instead of being hidden in someone’s inbox, upon which you have to ask them to forward you a message, a file, a task and so on via an email.

This works very well internally in your organization. It does not help you minimizing email contact with your customers, business partners, suppliers and other people outside your organization. In turn, this often forces you to use email instead of Connections also inside your organization since projects with external partners mostly also involves several internal people.

In IBM Connections 5.0 you can get around this by inviting external users into communities on your IBM Connections server. If you do this, you can share information also with external people, without having to resort to email. Garbriella Davis from The Turtle Partnership gave a very good presentation of this during the ISBG meeting in Larvik.

The first thing on any administrator’s mind is security. What is it that an external user can and cannot do? An external user cannot:

  • See public content
  • Create communities
  • Follow people or add them to their network
  • Search for users
  • See anything under Recommended
  • See the menu selection Profiles
  • See @-mentions
  • See already existing tags (but can add new ones)

An external user can:

  • Only access the community he is invited to
  • Use, edit and share files in the community
  • Post and reply in forums inside the community
  • Comment and like content inside the community
  • Only share files directly with the community, or with users inside the community if he knows the exact email address

Only selected people can create external users and communities for such users. It’s not open for anyone to do this. There are also other issues that must be addressed:

  • How should external users be registered
  • Who should be given the rights to do this
  • What sort of password policy should you enforce
  • Where should the users be registered
    • It’s recommended that you use a separate LDAP-server or a separate branch
  • You should turn off Anonymous user access on all IBM Connections applications
  • Make sure reader is not set to Everyone on any IBM Connections applications
  • Turn off public caching in LotusConnections-config.xml (you should do this anyway!)

You can also set up self registration. This means that you can create a community for external users and then send out invitations to join it. When the external user clicks on the link in the invitation, he’s asked to register. Domino is very good for self registration and there are Xpages based solutions for this.

Other security information:

  • All communities with external users are clearly marked with a huge yellow sign
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via the web version of Connections, you are given a warning
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via one of the plugins you are not given a warning. This means that one should have well established routines around this
  • A community with external users can be converted into an internal community where no external users have access.
  • You cannot take an existing internal community and convert it to an external community, not even if the community is a former external community that was converted to an internal one

Sharing information with external people does have its pitfalls, but I think these pitfalls are far outweighed by all the benefits.

The annual spring meeting in the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG) took place in Larvik, at Farris Bad, last week. I will in the coming days present my experiences and thoughts about

Hugutette RancHuguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe – IBM, talked about the strategic cooperation that IBM has with Apple, Facebook, SAP, Weather Channel, Twitter and other media outlets. IBM’s part of this is using Watson as a tool for analyzing the data. This is in turn used to create a better experience for the users, as well as gathering data that the companies use to decide on their future strategies with their tools.

Christopher Crummey, Executive Director of Customer Experience and Evangelism – IBM Enterprise Solutions, then took the stage. He has been working at IBM for over 25 years, and he discussed the soChristopher Crummey called New Way of Working.

He gave us some data about IBM:

  • 80% of IBM-ers do not have their own office
  • IBM has done 110 acquisitions in the past deacde
  • All users can bring their own devices to work, no matter what operating systems they are running
  • IBM has their own app-store and apps are pushed down to your device and computer
  • IBM automatically configures their employees phones, with one click and 6,5 minutes of waiting
  • They do not have phone support. All support is gathered in a community in IBM Connections where people can easily gather it

The fact that the users have a huge influence and control over how they want to work, where they want to work and with what tools, had increased user satisfaction.

Christopher admitted that IBM has never been good at design, and that’s why they partnered up with Apple. They’ve already launched a long list of apps for services like the police, health care and others for the Ipad. Here IBM provides the data and everything working in the background, while Apple provides the user interface. He compared this to building a bathroom:

IBM is the plumber and electrician, while Apple is the decorator.

They use Watson to analyse the big data. This can in turn be used to find out about user behaviour. For instance did a huge analysis of customer data for a phone company find out that it was the weather that was the biggest catalyst for whether a customer switched cell phone provider or not.

How could the weather influence such a decision? Further data analysis would be needed, but it could be down to the fact that a storm cut people from a certain provider off, while another provider was still online. The user would then change provider because of this.

This underlines the importance of staying on top of traffic, user habits, purchases and other activities that generate data.

Using this inside your own company is also a good idea. Make it easy for people to start working, to share ideas and to communicate. It’s especially important that the leaders in an organization leads the way here and invite everybody to start communicating. This will fuel engagement and drive innovation for your employees and users.

Then it was lunch time. Stay tuned for more blog postings about ISBG in the coming days. I will also continue my Whither IBM-series.

IBM Listens

May 28th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Social Business - (5 Comments)

I’m at the Norwegian IBM User Group meeting in Larvik Norway, and several representatives from IBM Norway are here, as usual.

Some of them had read my last blog posting, and came up to me and said that I had been a bit unfair and that they wanted to remedy my impression.

So their suggestion was that I would, via a hybrid solution, be given the opportunity to test IBM Verse with my existing mail environment at work. This means that I will be able to give it a proper test, and have a full scale email environment for Verse to do it’s analytic work on.

This shows that IBM, at least in Norway, are listening and engaging with their customers. That is something I really respect.

I will do a new blog posting about Verse after testing it for a while.

Whither IBM? Part 1

May 26th, 2015 | Posted by elfworld in Email | IBM | Social Business - (3 Comments)
IBM Verse

IBM Verse

There’s a lot of people in the IBM user/partner community (in the old days lovingly known as the Lotus/Domino community) who have been asking one single question for quite some time now: Where is IBM heading?

The big thing at the last Lotusphere in history, back in Orlando in January, was IBM Verse. The new email solution that would blow all other email solutions out of the water. Then, after a few months, IBM Verse was opened in a beta release. To say we were underwhelmed would be an understatement.

Here’s why:

  • You could not import another email account into IBM Verse, you had to start from scratch with a new IBM Verse address. This makes it much harder to test the analyzer that would help you sort your mail, what is important to you and who you are most in contact with
  • You could not connect IBM Verse to other email and social media solutions to import contacts
  • The main point of IBM Verse is the close integration you will have with IBM Connections (IBM’s collaboration solution for business), IBM Sametime (chat, video and telephony) and between email and calendar. Sadly, since you can’t integrate this IBM Verse beta version with the servers at work you have absolutely no chance of testing this full integration
  • The chat service is only for the beta version of IBM verse, rendering the chat client useless since you don’t have anyone to chat with
  • If you click the calendar icon you are not given a fresh new and modern calendar interface, instead you are taken to the INotes calendar (web-interface for the Domino mail)
  • Some of the icons are incomprehensible until you hover your mouse pointer over it. An umbrella for the “Out of office?” Makes sense if you live here in Molde and tt’s summer, I guess…

Compare this to Microsoft’s new outlook.com solution:

  • A slick, modern and new web interface which is very easy to understand and use
  • You can use an existing email account inside outlook.com with no problem and it will help you to identify important mail and contacts. Personally I tested with my gmail account
  • You can import contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn, flickr, Twitter and a whole lot of other solutions
  • You can chat with and make to with any Skype user
  • You can chat with your Facebook contacts, MSN contacts (yes, really), Google chat contacts and several other chat services
  • Icons, colors and interface makes sense and is easy to understand
Outlook.com

Outlook.com

IBM Verse started out as IBM Notes 10, but the design team decided that improving the good old Notes client, which takes hundreds of gigabytes on your PC, was not the future.

I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Even if I have to say that Outlook 2016 is a really, really good client (I don’t care what you say, Outlook has never been a good mail client, but the calendar became good in Outlook 2010), there is no point in moving from one dinosaur to another dinosaur. The future of email is, as with most other collaboration solutions, in the web and with mobile apps.

And if IBM want their customers to choose their email solutions and integrate it with their collaboration solutions, they must do something. Fast.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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.