The superlatives and positive messages about the Norwegian user group’s (ISBG) launch of IBM/Notes Domino V10 in Norway yesterday has been pouring in all morning. As the leader of ISBG, this makes me immensely happy. And it gives bright hope for the future, and we will use this momentum when we’ve now started preparing for the spring seminar. Read on to see what happened at the launch!
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.
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
In 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
In 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.
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!
A 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…
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:
- 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!
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
Watson 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
The 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
And 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.
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:
Other people’s blog postings:
- Rainer Brandl
- Martin Pradny
- Gabriella Davis
- Milan Matejic
- Daniel Nashed
- Andrew Magerman
- Matteo Bisi
- Paul Withers
As 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.
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.
Sorry 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.
- 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 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
For 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.
- 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
As 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.
The 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!