Domino, Notes and videotape
Header

If you have your files in a cloud solution like Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, IBM Connections or Google Drive, you can connect Windows Explorer directly to these services. By doing this, you get direct access to your files from your Explorer window, as if they were stored locally on your computer. You can even access them while offline. Here are all the services I’m connected to:

Cloud services

 

PS: You can click on any of these images to see them in large versions if you want to see a more detailed view!

If I’m composing a new email in my web browser, like in Office 365, Gmail or IBM Verse, I can easily just take a file from any of these services, and drag them straight from Windows Explorer and into the email. Here I’m dragging a Dropbox file over as an attachment into a new email I’m composing in IBM Verse:

Drag from Dropbox to Verse

 

This works just as well in Gmail, Office 365 and most other web based mail services.

However, if I try to do this with a file in IBM Connections, it doesn’t work:

Drag and drop from Connections

 

Someone asked me about this a couple of weeks back, and I told him how you can get around this. Yes, you can drag and drop files in IBM Connections from Windows Explorer and straight into the email. To be able to do this, you must add the file to My Drive in Connections. Here’s how you do this:

  1. Find the IBM Connections file under My Files in Windows Explorer:
    My Files
  2. Right click on it and choose Add to My Drive:
    Add to my station
  3. A window showing you the synchronisation will pop up and then you will be told that the file has been added to My Drive. Click OK.
  4. Find My Drive in the left side menu of Explorer:
    My Drive in menu
  5. Find the file you just synced and simply drag it over to the email, and everything will work just fine:
    Drag into Verse

So you can achieve the same functionality with IBM Connections files, just as you can do with files from other cloud based services.

Note: Mac users will always be able to drag and drop directly into web based email services because they have to add their files to My Drive in order to be able to access them at all.

 

IBM Connections is a social software tool running in your web browser. Think of Facebook with profiles, groups, pages, likes and comment fields. Then add files and forums and you have a pretty powerful social tool for doing business much more effectively. Via tagging it’s much easier to find, share and discuss files and information, than on intranets or file shares and network drives. Intranets are usually only used for one way information and with network drives you either search for hours on end for a file until finally someone must tell you what drive and folder the file you’re looking for is located. If the other person can remember it, that is…

When working with IBM Connections, as I do in my job, it would still be very impractical if I only could work with files by downloading them in the web browser before I could open them and work with them. Therefore IBM has developed plugins that you can use either from Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office, Open Office, Outlook or IBM Notes.

The Explorer and Office plugin is especially useful and the one I use most. When installed you get an icon on the desktop:

Connections desktop icon

This is the desktop icon for IBM Connections

 

 

 

 

You also get an IBM Connections icon on the taskbar and in Windows Explorer:

IBM Connections in Explorer

IBM Connections in Explorer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This  gives you direct access to either your own files, files in communities you are a member of, files others have shared with you and so on.

There’s also a ribbon in Microsoft Office:

IBMConnectionsRibbon

IBM Connections Ribbon in Office

However, in several companies they decide to rename IBM Connections to something that reflects the company name or something that reflects the goal of the tool. In my company we renamed IBM Connections to bConnect. This means Brunvoll Connect and it’s to symbolise that this will help us be better connected.

When I’m training my users, I’ve discovered that the fact that I have to use the terms bConnect and IBM Connections interchangeably is a major source of confusion for the users. IBM Connections in the Office ribbon or Explorer doesn’t mean a thing to them, whereas bConnect does.

With the latest release of the Connections plugin I can now rebrand it to fit my own needs. So here’s the desktop icon:

bConnect Desktop Icon

bConnect Desktop Icon (Yes, I do have Star Wars background)

Here’s the taskbar icon:

bConnect Taskbar

The bConnect Taskbar icon

Here’s how it looks in Windows Explorer:

bConnect Explorer

bConnect Explorer

Here’s how the ribbon in Microsoft Office looks:

bConnect Office ribbon

No more confusion. Everybody knows what bConnect is

And here’s how the Save & Send selection looks in the File menu in Office:

bConnect Send To in Office

bConnect Send To in Office. Complete with our own logo. Pretty cool, eh?

So how did I do this? This is where it gets a bit tricky. You have to do some changes in the Windows registry. My suggestion is to get your Windows administrators to do this so that they can push this out to all users, instead of every user having to do it by themselves.

This is easily done via Microsoft System Centre Manager. The registry settings will be pointing to the icons you’re using, so these images will also need to be distributed. The best thing would be to put them locally on the computer when the plugin is installed, via an installation package created by your administrators.

IBM has published a recipe on how to do these changes manually in their wiki for the plugin. However, if you want a peak at the what the registry settings should be, here’s how I did it in 64 bits Windows 7:

I first went to the start menu and in the search field I wrote regedit:

regedit

I then hit Enter and in the regedit tree I navigated to the node HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> Wow6432Node -> IBM -> Social Connectors -> Branding

In my case Branding didn’t already exist so I right clicked on Social Connectors and chose New -> Key

Regedit key

How to add a new key

I now wrote Branding and hit Enter. After it was created I right clicked  on it and chose New -> String value. I gave it the value Main Title and hit Enter. After it was created I right clicked on it and chose Modify:

Regedit value

Choose Modify and then write the name you want to replace IBM Connections with

The point here was to replace IBM Connections with my own title, so in my case I wrote bConnect.

When I’d  done this I right clicked on Branding and chose New -> Key. I repeated this three times and gave the new keys the following names: Monitor, Office and ShellExt.

When this was done I created a new String Value under Monitor called System Tray Idle. When I modified it I filled it with the complete file path to an ico file that is 16 x 16 pixels. This is the icon that will be displayed on the taskbar when the plugin is idle.

I now moved on to Office and created a new String Value and called it Backstage SendTo Image. After choosing Modify I gave it the file path to a 32 x 32 pixels bmp file. This is the icon that will show up under File -> Save & Send menu in Office.

Finally I created a new String Value under ShellExt, called it ContextMenu Image and gave it the file path to a 13 x 13 ico file. This is the icon that will show up in the context menu that appears when right clicking on a file.

However, I wasn’t done yet. To change the desktop and Explorer icons, not to mention the title from IBM Connections to bConnect, I also had to navigate to the node HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{21034BDC-B57E-400b-A5D5-2B1E98502805} in regedit.

Here I right clicked and chose Modify first on Default and then on InfoTip. If any of them don’t exist, create them. The process is described in detail above. I gave both the value bConnect when I modified them.

In my case Default Icon was already listed under {21034BDC-B57E-400b-A5D5-2B1E98502805} but if it doesn’t exist, you create it as described above. I modified the default entry and gave it the path to a 256 x 256 pixels ico file.

And there I had it. Everything was now branded, both in title and with our company logo. And hopefully my users will be happier and less confused. As long as I remember to only say bConnect, and not IBM Connections