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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:

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!

 

IBM ChampionsLast year I was quoted on Twitter saying “If you hated the word social, get ready to hate the word ‘cognitive’.” Boy is that word thrown out a lot by IBM these days. Not least the opening general session at Connect 2017 here at Moscone West in San Francisco.

This year the OGS was split in two. A wise decision, since they used to be too long at previous conferences. The session started with a DJ/singer who mixed music, both on her own and with Watson. She then invited the three lifetime IBM Champions up on stage, Gabriella Davis, Theo Heselmans and Julian Robichaux. After sampling their voices she had a bit of fun and mixed them into the music.

Inhi Cho, general manager of IBM Collaboration Solutions, then took the stage and talked about Watson and Cognitive, as well as about our community, which she joined last year. She is a really impressive presenter and it’s obvious that she is really knowledgeable about big data and cognitive. We were given a few demos of what’s coming with IBM Watson Workspace, as well as the way they are embedding Watson, Watson Workspace and cognitive into the ICS Portfolio.

In Connections, Sametime and Watson Workspace (there’s even an upcoming plugin for IBM Notes for this!), you can ask a robot for assistance as well as questions for help about topics. Look at this screen, for example:

Chip

Think of the possibilities here. New employees can get the information they need just by asking. We even got a demo where the presenters spoke into their microphone, and told the system to reschedule their meeting and inform the other participants about it. They also asked questions for help about certain topics, which was answered by the bot. The bot also replied, by audio!

Watson Workspace functions a lot like Slack. But as a lot of us know, the conversation becomes very cluttered, very fast. With the help of Watson and cognitive, you can simply ask for the highlights from the conversation. Watson knows what the highlights for you will be, based on your work habits, your interests and the general tone of the conversation.

Watson can also help you analyze your email,s blog postings, forum postings, comments, documents and wikipedia entries. All in all, everything shown are very impressive solutions. Now all IBM needs to do is to get them out there, promote them and get companies to use them…

Stay tuned for my summary of OGS Part 2.