Domino, Notes and videotape
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Very often, the start page of a wiki in IBM Connections tends to look like this:

Text only wiki

This looks very dull. It’s not very inviting for the users and the need for scrolling will make it harder for the users to find what they are looking for. Yes, you can tell the users to search the wiki, but believe me, they won’t!

I’ll admit it straight away: The wiki pictured above is made by yours truly, and it was made to document how to make wikis (am I meta or what?). The feedback from the users was that while my documentation was really good, it wasn’t very inviting for them to start using it. In this day and age, people want easier access to things. They want pictures and graphics, and their cell phones have spoiled them when it comes to no need for scrolling and having big colorful buttons to push.

A few months later we introduced Skype for Business in our company. And when the time came to create a wiki on how to use Skype for Business, I decided to try and spruce up the documentation a bit more. So this is the start page for the Skype for Business wiki:

Wiki icons

This time the feedback was much better:

  • Users didn’t have to scroll
  • The page looked much more inviting with graphics
  • The icons and text gave a good description of what each link was about

Both the icons and the text are clickable links (I show you how to make image links in a Connections wiki further down in this posting) and we took this even a step further in our next wiki. I can’t take full credit for what I’m showing you next. It was shown to me by Erik Borse from the company Item, and I rolled with it and expanded upon it.

We created a wiki to document our internal processes. From the wiki start page (which I cannot show you), you can click on an icon for Strategy and management. This is the wiki page you arrive at if you click on that icon:

Powerpoint icons

Each box is clickable, and it gives the user a quick and easy way to click on further down in the wiki structure. In addition, each box has it’s own unique color. If a user clicks on the orange box, all boxes and colors on the underlying pages will be orange. This way the user knows she is still within the same subject and page structure.

The really good part here is that there’s no need for the users to design those graphic buttons in a graphical tool You can create them in Microsoft Powerpoint.

  1. Start Powerpoint
  2. Go to the ribbon called Insert:
    Insert ribbon
  3. Click on Shapes:
    Shapes
  4. Choose the shape you want. The mouse pointer will now become a cross hair
  5. Click inside the Powerpoint document, hold the left mouse button pressed and then drag the mouse pointer to the right until you the figure has reached the desired size:
    Shape
  6. Release the mouse button
  7. Double click on the shape to go into editing mode. Add the text you want. If the text gets too big, you can either decrease the font size (just like you would change font size in a normal text document) or click on any of the circles surrounding the shape to resize it by pulling back or forth:
    Shape with text
  8. You can change the color of the shape in the ribbon menu:
    Color ribbon
  9. Click on the shape and make sure it looks like this:
    Shape with text
  10. Copy it (Hold down CTRL+C). If you hear an error sound from Windows, click outside the box and the inside it again to mark it. Try again
  11. Go to the wiki article, put it in edit mode, place the cursor in the spot where you want to paste the shape and paste it (CTRL + V):
    Pasted

PS! Making buttons like this from Powerpoint only works in Windows, it will not work on a Mac! 

What will work on both in Windows, Linux and on a Mac, however, is pasting regular images into the wiki article. And now I’ll show you how to create a link to another wiki-article, so that when a users clicks on an image, that article will load. This method works both for regular images and images created with Powerpoint:

  1. Open the wiki article you want to link to
  2. Go to the URL-field, mark the entire text and click copy it (either by right clicking on it or CTRL + C):
    Copy URL
  3. Go to the wiki article you are editing and click on the image you want to create into a link, right click on it and choose Image Properties:
    Image Properties
  4. The following screen will pop up:
    Image Properties Popup
  5. Click on the tab called Link:
    Link tab
  6. The popup will now give you this form:
    Link attributes
  7. Paste the wiki page address into the URL field. Use the Target pull down field to choose whether this link should be opened in a new window or not
  8. Click OK

That’s it. Now the image will contain a link that will open the wiki page you linked to. Save the wiki article and test that everything works fine (it should).

I’m not saying this is the perfect way to construct wikis, but in my experience it does make wikis look nice and easier to use. And it’s really easy to learn how to do it, without becoming an HTML expert. Of course, if you do know HTML, you can make some pretty impressive wiki designs, but I wanted to show you an easy trick which is more achievable for everyone.

Did you like this tip? Leave a comment either here or on the social media platform where you found it! And give me a follow!

In my previous blog posting I showed you how you can save a Facebook posting so that you can read it later without worrying about it disappearing. A lot of IBM Connections users don’t know that you can actually do this in the activity/news stream in Connections as well.

Let’s say you are at work. While you are looking through your activity stream in the morning, you see a posting that you feel the need to follow up on later. Unfortunately you know that because of the hight volume of traffic on your Connections site, there is no way you will be able to find it again in the activity stream. Not to worry, you can save it and find it, very easily, later.

In the web browser:

  1. Under each posting in the activity stream, you will find a link called Save this:
    Save this
  2. Click on it. It will now tell you it is saved:
    Saved
  3. Go to the left side menu in Connections and find the menu item called Saved:
    Saved menu
  4. Click on it and all your saved items will now be listed:
    Saved items
  5. You can now click on any saved posting and interact with it or open it, just like if it was in the regular activity stream

If you want to remove an item from the Saved list you hover your mouse pointer over it and click on the x that will appear in the upper right corner:
Remove item

After clicking on it you will be asked to confirm that you want to remove it from saved.

On a mobile device

You can also save things and view them later in the IBM Connections application for your mobile or pad. These screen shots are taken on an Android Galaxy S5 phone. Unfortunately my application is in Norwegian, but I think you will be able to follow the logic anyway.

  1. Find the posting in the activity stream:
    Activity stream on cell phone
  2. With your finger, press down on the posting and keep it pressed until this window pops up:
    Save on mobile
    The top most selection (Lagre) means Save. Click on it.
  3. You will now be told that it’s saved.
  4. Go to the main menu and find the menu item called Saved
  5. All your saved items will now be listed:
    Saved mobile
  6. You can now interact with this posting just as if it had been in the normal activity stream

To remove it from the saved list, press with your finger on the posting until a pop up window appears. Choose Remove from Saved. The posting will now be removed (you will not be asked to confirm).

I hope that helps you keep afloat on all that you need to follow up on in your Connections environment.

IBM added support for libraries (derived from Content Manager) in IBM Connections 4.5 Unfortunately the Files-plugins for IBM Notes, Windows Explorer, Microsoft Office 2010, Outlook or Open Office do not support libraries. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has received complaints from users about this.

Then I remembered that at the IBM Connect conference last year, it was also announced that IBM Quickr was discontinued, and that companies using Quickr instead could use libraries in IBM Connections. We used Quickr at my previous employer, and there we had a great plugin that made it possible to work directly with files that had been uploaded to a Quickr Place. You could also create new files, as well as folders, and you could also rearrange files and folders and even rename them. The plugin was used from Microsoft Office, IBM Notes, Explorer, Outlook and IBM Sametime. I don’t think it exists for Open Office.

So I downloaded the IBM Lotus Quickr Connector, and did the following (click on the screen captures to see them in a larger and slightly more readable format):

1) Closed IBM Notes and all Microsoft Office programs that were running

2) Double clicked on the downloaded file and started the installation:

Places plugin install

Start of installation

3) I chose the language for the installation

4) Clicked Next.

5) Agreed to the license rules (we all read through these, right?)

6) Got to the screen where I chose what programs the plugin should be installed for:

Choose the software that will be using the plugin

Choose the software that will be using the plugin

7) As a default, all of them are selected, so you have to deselect the ones you don’t want. I did this by clicking on the small arrow to the right, and then I chose This feature will not be available:

Deselect software you don't want the plugin to be installed for

Deselect software you don’t want the plugin to be installed for

8) In my case I only wanted the plugin for Microsoft Office, IBM Notes and Windows Explorer:

The result of my choices

The result of my choices

9) I clicked Next. I was then asked about the location for the plugin, but I wanted it installed in the standard catalogue, so I just hit Next again. On the next screen I chose Install and the installation started to run. If you do this, and you still have one of the programs that will be using the plugin open, you will be told to try again after closing said program down.

10) After the installation I was told to restart my computer, which I did.

Now I was ready to configure the plugin. But here’s the trick. I was going to tell the plugin to connect up to our IBM Connections server, and not a Quickr server. We don’t even run Quickr at our company.

Here’s how you set up this plugin to work with your libraries instead of a Quickr Place:

You can do this from any of the programs that will be using the plugin, and you only need to do it once. So if you do it in Outlook, you will not have to do it again in Office later. Most people will probably do it from Windows Explorer. The process and all pop up windows will look the same no matter where you do this from.

1) I opened Microsoft Word and found the new ribbon called Places:

A new ribbon will appear in Microsoft Office

A new ribbon will appear in Microsoft Office

2) I then found the Configure button and chose Add Places…:

Add New Places

Add New Places

In Windows Explorer you would have done this by right clicking on the new Team Places icon which is located beneath the list of all your disks and network drives:

Add Places in Explorer

Add Places in Explorer

3) The following screen appears:

Logon screen

Logon screen

4) Now, this is where we do the trick. Instead of entering the address of a Quickr server, you enter the address of your IBM Connections server. Trust me, it will work! Then it’s time to choose your Authentication type. You do that in the pull down menu. In our company we use Integrated Windows Authentication, so I chose that (this means that our users only have to log on to Windows, they don’t have to log on to IBM Notes, IBM Sametime or any plugins). If your company doesn’t have this you choose Basic enter your User ID and Password. Hit Next.

5) On the next screen, all libraries that you have access to in IBM Connections will be listed. They will not be sorted by community, however, so I always instruct my users to include the community name in the name of the library:

List of libraries

List of libraries

6) Then you just check the libraries you want access to and hit Finish. They are now accessible directly from all the programs where you will be using the plugin. If you want to add or remove places later, you just choose Add New Places again and add or remove to your heart’s delight.

But there’s one more thing you need to do before you can use this 100% seamlessly. Open up your IBM Connections site in your web browser. Then navigate to a community containing one of the libraries you just chose. Open the library and scroll to the very bottom of it. You will need to activate that the Quickr plugin should be allowed to check in and out documents from the library:

Here the plugin is activated

Here the plugin is activated

If it looks like it does above everything works just fine. If not, the link to the right of Subscribe to this library will tell you that you need to activate it. To do so, you click on that link and confirm your choice in any pop up windows that might appear. When it looks like it does above everything is fine.

Another way to check if this is ok is to open up a file in the library. If the button the left says Download, it’s not ok:

Only a Download button is showing

Only a Download button is showing

If the button to the left says Edit, everything is hunky dory:

The file can be checked out

The file can be checked out

If you click on Edit the document will be checked out, downloaded and opened in the correct program. You can now edit the file. Every time you save, it will be saved directly into the library. You can also check the file in from the program you are editing the file in.

PS! You need to have at least write access to the library. If you only have reader’s access, you will naturally not be allowed to check out or check in files.

I hope this was useful for you, and that you now will be able to work directly with files in libraries, until IBM starts supporting libraries in the regular Files plugin.

 

Natural Notes color

I’ve pimped my Notes client and I change colors, depending on the season. Click to see a larger version

Sometimes you just got to have some fun with your work tools. I like to pimp my Notes client with the help of Panagenda’s Marvel Client: Skinning Edition. This makes it possible for me set my company’s logo as the background for my workspace in my Notes client, as well as changing the database icons. You can download the files and instructions here, but be warned, this might be overwritten by your administrator. It depends on how your setup is.

In addition, I’ve installed the Eclipse plugin called Themes for Lotus Notes. Just follow the instructions, and you will be able to do like me, change the color of your Client, depending on the season. And since it’s summer now, at least according to the calendar, my Notes client these days is green.

Have fun!

Notes tip #1: Import Holidays

March 30th, 2013 | Posted by elfworld in IBM | Notes | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

Aren’t there times when you are looking through your Notes calendar and you wish that public holidays could be marked, so that you don’t accidentally book meetings on days that no one is at work? At least here in Europe that’s a problem, what with all our public holidays. And if you work at a company that have branches all over the world, or as in the case of my company, employees are travelling all over the world to meet people, it’s often useful to see when other countries have their holidays.

This is how you import holidays into your Notes calendar:

  1. Open your personal calendar inside Notes
  2. Above your calendar, next to the New button, you have a More button. Click it and choose Import Holidays…Import holidays
  3. This screen will pop up:
  4. Holiday Group
    You can choose to import the holiday of any country in the list by checking the check box to the left of the name of the country. In this example I’ve chosen Norway:
    Chosen Norway
  5. Now all the Norwegian holidays will be imported. To check this I go to December to see if the public Xmas holidays have been setXmas holidays

    The Norwegian constitutional day is also in place:

    17th of May

    Also holidays that occur on different dates each year is in place. Here’s Easter:

    Easter calendar

This is how easy it is to have full control over holidays, both in your own country, and other countries. This is of
course also replicated over to your cell phone if you wish.