Domino, Notes and videotape
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Yesterday I upgraded Office 2016 manually on my computer. This because I changed my Office 365 subscription to a payment plan that gives me more apps, like Teams and Skype for Business. This made the IBM Connections plugin for Outlook stop working. But thanks to IBM, I managed to fix it. Here’s how you can do the same.

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Ego giving a session at Engage

Ego giving a session at Engage

As I’m sure a lot of you know, I do a lot of presentations and lectures, as well as giving courses and doing user training. I’m especially doing a lot of this kind of work when it comes to collaboration and efficient use of email and calendar. If you want me to come and have a look at your organisation and make you less dependant on internal email, make it easier for your organisation to find information and documents and help you find the knowledge and skills that you have in house, please get in touch!

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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.

 

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!

 

I Became Engaged Again

May 29th, 2018 | Posted by elfworld in Engage - (1 Comments)

Theo HeselmansA week ago today the annual Engage conference started in Rotterdam, on one of the most amazing conference venues I’ve been at so far, the ship SS Rotterdam, which is a permanently moored hotel ship in the harbour. Theo Heselmans put on a stunning conference, where over 400 people attended. They were IBM Customers, end users, IBM business partners, members from other user groups, people from IBM and I’m sure there were other representatives as well.

As a part of the Brainworker consultant pool, I was treated to this trip by Arne Nielsen, who footed the bill. We did a road trip from Norway to the Netherlands, via Sweden, Denmark and Germany both to and from the conference. It was a nice trip, but I think we will fly next year…

Ego in session

Photo: Kristoff Bruers

I also did a presentation at the conference called “30 tips about IBM Verse.” I was so nervous that nobody would come, but it turns out I got a full room with 50 people. And the feedback was great.

Milan Matejic wrote: “Nice Session for everybody who plans to use Verse Client on a regular basis. Packed with lots of information delivered in a funny and energetic manner.” Aww! Thanks!

Notes/Domino v10 and 11

IBM presented a lot of things around IBM Notes/Domino v10 and v11. I’ve written about most of the Notes 10 stuff in this blog posting, but I will mention the new stuff they presented at Engage about 10:

Domino

  • Support for unlimited documents in folders – This really means nothing to me
  • Enhancements in Domino Cluster Administration – This was about time
  • Cluster configuration document – This means you have a place to you configure the files and directories, which have to be clustered
  • Domino statistics and monitoring via New Relic – Great for administrators
  • A lot of self repairing and self healing on the Domino server
  • Roll out automatic updates of the Notes client from the Domino server – Oh yeah!

Notes:

  • Forwarding multiple mails in ONE EML-file including attachments and formatting – Yeah… Outlook could do that ten years ago
  • Scheduled mail delivery – Have to send out an announcement tomorrow before lunch, but you won’t be at work? Schedule it!
  • Mail policy checks BEFORE the mail is sent to the server – This one I liked. You can actually prevent people from sending out confidential emails
  • A new “Team Calender” – This can also be used as a Team Mailbox. But most important: You can overlay the Team Calendar over your personal one! Yay!
  • Forwarding meeting invitations to other persons – Should have been made 10 years ago. But it comes with a twist that the competition doesn’t have: You can set up when you create the meeting whether people should be allowed to forward the meeting invite or not

Sametime:

  • Persistent chat – This means you can log off Sametime in your Notes client, and then continue the conversation, uninterrupted, on your mobile client. And vice versa.

iNotes:

  • Nothing new here, but it was strongly hinted that when the lacking functionality in IBM Verse is in place, Verse will replace iNotes as the Domino webmail platform.

Nomad:

  • What’s Nomad? It’s the ability to run your Notes applications on an Ipad, without the need of any coding! Everything (except mail and calendar) will work! I got to do testing with this on an Ipad, and it worked beautifully

HCL PlacesHCL Places

  • This was the biggest news. Turns out that HCL, who took over development of the ICS portfolio (except IBM Connections), have started developing an alternative to the Notes client. It is more reminiscent of an application with feeds, but it’s still early days.

The first beta of Notes/Domino 10 will be out in June, and the second one will be out in August. We did get to se the new Notes 10 client, and I was severely disappointed. It looked just like V9, but Feeds, OpenSocial Component and Composite Application Editor will be removed. This an attempt to make the client lighter. It also stems from customer feedback that almost nobody was using these features of the client. You can also change the colours of the client in totally different ways than before, but a visual impression is so important, that I really wish the design of the client had been changed.

Notes/Domino v 11 will be out already next year. That version will have a much tighter integration with Active Directory, so that you will be able to create Notes users in AD, and then they will be automatically created in Domino Directory as well. Another vision for Notes/Domino 11 is that of low code. It will be even easier than it is today to set up applications, both for mobile, web and the client itself.

Also, the Domino Designer might get killed off, so that you can the Visual Studio Plugin for coding instead. The idea is that anyone should be able to code a Domino based solution, without much, if any, knowledge of the Domino platform. With new and improved APIs they will be able to read from and write to Domino. Personally, I hope they also get rid of Eclipse.

It was also revealed that over 200 developers (TWO HUNDRED) were working on the next versions of IBM Notes/Domino. And at one of the presentations, the lead developer agreed with me that Xpages had been a blind alley. Thank you! I’ve been saying that for years. And:  There’s no end of life date for Notes/Domino.

There was also talks about IBM Domino in the cloud. You can already today move your Domino applications to the cloud or run them in a hybrid environment. This will be made even more easy in the future.

Phew! That was quite a lot about Notes/Domino 10 and 11. What else did we learn?

IBM Watson Workspace

Kirti GaniWatson Workspace is something IBM is pushing really these days. They have already made templates for various types of businesses, that will make it easier for organisations to have spaces where teams can collaborate, and have their data analysed in ways that will make it easier for you to make quick business decisions. At least that’s what IBM says. It can also be integrated into IBM Connections Cloud. Contact your local IBM sales person, or partner, to give it a try.

I also attended a few sessions where organisations did presentations on what they are using IBM’s Watson technology for. I especially liked Margo van der Stam’s presentation about what the Dutch tax office is doing by automatically processing letters from the public. It was very interesting to hear about the challenges they have by making the automatic process recognise things like addresses, censoring the names of the sender and decide on the right cause of action. It’s all still in being developed, so there is a manual review as well.

I also saw demos on how to make scripts and customise the templates so that you can add your own actions that you can trigger Watson to do. It is a very promising technology.

Sponsors and partners

SponsorsThe sponsor room was great, with a constant stream of food, snacks and drinks. It was also nice to talk to several of the business partners and sponsors about that they could offer for Office 365, Notes/Domino and IBM Connections.

And speaking of IBM Connections. There was nothing announced about Connections. Less than a year ago at Social Connections in Vienna, it was all about IBM Connections Pink. Now? Quiet. The only times it was mentioned was whenever IBM denied they were only thinking about cloud customers, or when it came to integrating IBM Watson Workspace into communities in IBM Connections.

In addition, I attended a couple of sessions about how to leverage your Notes/Domino data by using various types of technologies and development platforms. Especially Paul Withers talk about Node.RED and the Domino APIs was great. I’ve worked way too little with stuff like this and should really get my act together.

The people that you love

Red PillAnd that was the technical stuff. Another important part of the conference is the social bit. On Tuesday the sponsors and speakers were pampered to a great dinner, with tribal drumming and didgeridoo playing, on the deck of the SS Rotterdam. In beautiful weather, I might add.

On Wednesday Theo took us speakers, as per tradition, on a secret tour. We started the evening at the Dutch Pinball Museum and ended up with a dinner at the Euromast tower.

The next morning Arne and I drove back, and thanks to lots of road construction work on the German Autobahn, we weren’t home in Norway until 3 in the morning. And I had to be at the train station at 04.20…

Once again, Thanks for a great conference, Theo. You give us other user groups something to really strive for! And thanks to all the attendees, especially my fellow IBM Champions and the other speakers, for helping to make it great. See you all next year!

You can see my entire photo album from the conference here:

Engage 2018

Other people’s blog postings:

 

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.

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:

onboardingSorry for being late with following up on the Connect 2017 conference, but the last days in San Francisco just flew by like a whirlwind. And after I got home I was stuck on the couch with flu like symptoms. But now I’m ready to talk to you about the future of IBM Connections, which is pink!

IBM Connections 6.0 is soon ready to be unleashed on the world. And I think it looks very promising. In fact, I was grinning when I was told about some of the new functionality. Here are the highlights from the new stuff that is coming:

  • Much better file syncing with top level folders
  • Onboarding manuals and guided tours for new users to get them familiarised with Connections much quicker
  • Much better control over community layouts
  • You will be able to copy community designs and thus create community templates
  • Integrated notifications which also will work with Microsoft Outlook
  • Improved mobile client with much better search possibilities and a day-at-a-glance summary
  • My Drive view for your synced folders, which also includes nested folders
  • The rich text editor will now be the same for all applications in Connections (blogs, wikis, forums etc)
  • Hide widgets in a community without having to delete them

The point I really, really liked was the fact that you now can make the area that describes what the community is about as large as you like. AND: You can now just paste whatever HTML code you like into that area! This means that you very easily can create your own social intranet without having to skin Connections to fit your internal design guidelines. This is a very smart move by IBM, and I like it! It’s something my previous employer was desperately hoping for, and was promised was possible, only to find out it wasn’t.

The future for Connections beyond 6.0 is Pink! Now, what does Connections Pink mean? It’s not the next version of Connections, per se. It’s more a new way of developing the platform, developing towards and with the platform, the way it will be updated and a new way to work, not only with Connections but with Watson and the ICS portfolio.

Highlights:

  • The deployment of updates will be container based and continueous instead of usual 18 months release cycles
  • There will be no more need for huge and costly upgrades to “the next version”
  • The experience will be more consistent between the web version and mobile apps
  • Cloud and on prem-customers will have a more similar experience than today
  • Much better separation between service layers and presentations, which will make it much easier to do your own customisations
  • The APIs will be improved heavily. This means it’s much easier to replace Connections applications with third party applications
  • The new APIs will also make it easier to develop your own solutions to work with Connections

Connections PinkConnections Pink is also a new development platform which makes it easier for people to contribute by creating your own extensions for Connections. It’s a completely open ecosystem which is made for developers, with a new technology stack. This is probably the most exciting new thing coming out of Connect 2017. The plan is to make this available from September 2017. Personally I can’t wait to play around with it.

It will also be amazing to combine this with the development platform for Watson Workspace. Just think of the possibilities you will have to analyse usage, data and a whole lot of other parameters. This is exciting, and I truly hope IBM will communicate this out to its customers. And most important: Use their IBM partners to help people understand what it is and all the possibilities it gives you!

Oh by the way, it was great to see that the Connections sessions were filled up. It’s obvious that a lot of IBM’s customers now are using IBM Connections. Wonderful

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!

 

The 2016 autumn meeting in the Norwegian IBM User group (ISBG) was held on November 30th at BI (Norwegian school of finance) in Oslo. Even if I wasn’t second in command for the user group I still would say this: It was a very strong and varied agenda! Here’s a summary:

Salesforce App Cloud and IBM Domino – same, same, but different

ISBG - RenŽ WinkelmeyerFirst one out was René Winkelmeyer from Salesforce.com. He’s a former star in the Domino environment, but left for Salesforce last spring. He works there as a Senior Development Evangelist. There were those who questioned why ISBG would invite Winkelmeyer to give this lecture. The reasons are that IBM has bought one of the largest Salesforce consultant companies in the world. In addition, Salesforce is very compatible with the IBM Collaboration Solutions.

Several people who used to work with Notes/Domino are today working with Salesforce, and there are also those who work with both platforms. Winkelmeyer explained the differences and similarities between the platforms.

Differences:

  • Salesforce is cloud only
  • Salesforce does not have email but you can integrate email functionality into your applications
  • Salesforce is based on relational databases
  • You are automatically prevented from publishing bad code

Similarities:

  • The structure is similar: Organisation, database and forms
  • Security model similar. You can control access and permission all the way down to fields
  • Salesforce has its own versions of forms, views and Xpages
  • Both have variations of agents
  • Both have validation and rules

Winkelmeyer then did a demo where he showed how a Salesforce applications worked seamlessly inside a community in IBM Connections, including sharing of files. He then showed how he could copy an email from IBM Verse and into an application in Salesforce. This is made possible via the APIs in Connections and Verse.

Winkelmeyer’s main point was that the philosophy where you bind yourself to one system or platform doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. Today everything is about integration, not to mention web and mobile based solutions.

Download his presentation here!

Finding Your Way out of the Domino Maze

ISBG - Julian WoodardJulian Woodward is a legend in the Notes/Domino community. In the past few years he has worked for LDC Via, a London based company specialising in helping companies lift their data out of Domino. In his presentation, he walked through the challenges that comes with such a migration, whether you want to leave Domino completely or stay on Domino and only move out of the Notes client.

The challenges are both technically and for the business. For the latter you have to consider budgets, strategies, politics and infrastructure. Very often the organisations are very surprised about how tightly integrated the Notes applications are in the daily business, and how vast they really are.

On the technical side the challenge is that IT wants more standardised applications and systems and less specialised systems that are developed in house. This demands a lot of restructuring and in a Domino environment this can be especially challenging. You have Notes agents, server integrations (both between Notes applications but also with other systems and platforms), APIs and server add-ons. Scheduled agents are especially tricky as no other systems have that.

Woodward then presented a series of scenarios for moving from Notes or Domino. All based on his experiences in his work in LDC Via. These scenarios included everything from starting all over on a new platform to archiving data from Notes and use lookups to find information. His main advice was:

  • Find out the scale of the project and then do one thing at a time
  • Map out what the most important applications are
  • Both interview and observe the users while they are working in today’s systems, this will help immensely in determining the scope of the project
  • List the reasons for moving
  • How long will a new application last? Is it really worth it?

Download his presentation here!

Judicial demands for cloud services

Grete Funderum Stillum is a lawyer and partner with Brækhus Drege Lawyers DA. She gave a session that many were surprised was on the agenda. This was a about corporate law and not technology. The feedback afterwards, however, was great. People found it very interesting and felt that we should repeat it during the spring meeting. She received a lot of questions during the presentation, so it was clear that she struck a nerve with people looking to move into the cloud.

Funderum’s point was that organisations often forget the judicial demands coming into play when moving into the cloud. Her message was that this should be one of the main concerns already from the start of such a migration project. One of her examples was that standard agreements with cloud providers very often were non negotiable.

She also pointed out that you are responsible, and not the cloud provider. However, it was very beneficial for a cloud provider if they had expertise about this so that they could guide the customer.

Personal data is something that the law is very strict about (but strangely not when it comes to cookies!) and it’s also a difference between sensitive personal data and regular personal data. The Norwegian watch dog Datatilsynet has specialized forms and guides on how to take care of this.

In May 2018 a new EU regulative will come into play. This will make it necessary to document your internal control on data security in your organization.

The presentation can be seen here, but in Norwegian only.

Time for the Digital Workplace

After a lovely tapas lunch it was time for a presentation from Swede Erik Näslund. He works in EGBS which specialises in transforming IBM Connections into a social intranet with focus on user needs. Their philosophy is that if you need to train your users to use a system, you’ve failed.

As an example, he used his cell phone and Ipad. Most people are able to start using them without any form of training. Why aren’t your tools at your workplace like this? In the future robots and automated processes will perform more and more of the routine labour we perform today. We should therefore concentrate more and working with knowledge and creative jobs. Instead we are using a lot of time on chores like registering hours. Näslund says this is completely unnecessary. – My cell phone already know I’m in Oslo, when my plane took off and when I’m back at the office. I still have to register this manually in our internal systems at work. This should happen automatically.

He pointed out that even if the death of email was greatly exaggerated, people still don’t read their emails. They only read the first four lines. The solution is very often to install IBM Connections and share information there. The result is that 10-20% of the employees adopts to using Connections. This is not productive.

So then you start training your users and start choosing super users and so on. You then end up with a 40% adoption rate. The reason is that people are not interested in learning about files, communities, profiles etc. The way we think when we want to introduce a collaboration tool is completely wrong. The processes and people should not have to adapt, it’s the product that should adapt to the users way of doing things.

Digitalisation of the workplace is not an IT investment, it’s a continuous project. Adapt the technology, not the users!

You can download Näslund’s presentation here!

IBM Softlayer in Norway

softlayerThe first thing Kjell Langeland from IBM Norway pointed out when he started his session was that even if Softlayer was the foundation of IBM’s new data centres, the service is now called IBM Bluemix. This autumn they opened a new data centre at Fet in Norway. Such data centres are called Bluemix Data Centre and what used to be called Softlayer is now known as Bluemix Platform.

The customer can rent a physical server. With the help of wizards she can set up and configure the server (operating system, surveillance software and so on). You can also rent on an hourly basis pr month.

IBM and VMWare is now conduction a strategic cooperation where IBM can rent out VMWare licenses in Bluemix.

So far  the Norwegina data center has gained 100 customers, and a lot of well known platforms and companies are using the service.

There was a big interest in this session, and Langeland received a lot of questions.

You can see the entire presentation here!

Updates from IBM Norway

Vidar Svendsen and Emmar Hoel from IBM Norway then showed us what the latest news from IBM are. Main points:

  • Watson Work
  • Box as a file service inside IBM Connections
  • The cooperation between IBM and Cisco which makes it possible to use WebEx as web meetings inside IBM Connections. You can also use Jabber and present Files and files from Box inside WebEx meetings
  • Information about IBM Connect 2017 (previously known as Lotusphere) which next year will take place in San-Francisco

You can get all the details in their presentation here!

Competition and pizza

We finished up with a Kahoot quiz which this time was a pop quiz. I won but as second in command at the ISBG board I only won fame and glory. Julian Woodward got away with the prize.

After a raffle and some more prizes Hogne thanked everybody for coming. He then asked for help in promoting ISBGs activities and said that the board of ISBG appreciates any feedback from their members about the future of ISBG. It’s obvious that the bar is set higher these days for traveling to conferences. All ideas are welcome.

The day was rouned up with IBM Norway treating us to pizza and drinks, so we all went full home. Full of both knowledge and food.

The next ISBG meeting is the spring seminar in June of 2017, but you shouldn’t be too surprised if there are other activites before that. Stay tuned!

A huge thanks to BI for lending us a conference room and for a splendid lunch, and heart filled thanks to IBM Norway who always are supportive of our conferences.