Archive for category IBM
This blog post is a reflection and summary about a product I’ve known and used for a long time, it may be slightly out of place with the current mobile and socially enabled products. However, for all pros and cons, evangelists and detractors, it has note worthy place in history and evolution of productivity software.
While this has improved the capability and feature set of the Lotus Notes client, and made it capable integrating many modern collaboration services into the client.
e.g. Lotus Notes Sidebar plug-ins | integrations:
multiple Lotus collaboration plug-ins:
multiple 3rd party plug-ins:
Check out these Widget recommendation posts:
The Complexity Factor:
Unfortunately, for all this connectivity and integration goodness, the incorporation of the Eclipse framework it has definitely brought a factor fold increasing the complexity of supporting the client. I recently experienced a laptop crash which rendered my Notes client unusable – it shut itself down as soon as I logged in. Only through an operational understanding of the product (from prior year’s experience), and through reading up across many pages of support information, and then not inconsiderably time to recreate lost settings, was I able to restore the client to settings I use everyday. Without those personalisation settings, I would class the product as a hindrance and not a help.
Things of note:
The Client directory structure is now definitely more complex, in fact this is now a combination client – Traditional | basic client executables and configuration data + Eclipse framework executables and configuration data.
<PROGDIR> / (location of core Notes Client and Java executables and base configuration data)
<DATADIR> / (location of core Notes Client and Eclipse personalisation and user specific content and configuration data)
<DATADIR>\Workspace/.metadata (location of Eclipse | RCP Instance Data Area)
Important Documents to read:
- Understanding the IBM Lotus Notes 8.5x client directory structure
- Notes 8 Preferences settings storage
Benefitting from Widget Goodness:
However, there are several good articles on how to create useful widgets or to exploit the Live Text recognition available in Lotus Notes.
Documents worth reading:
- Building composite applications with Notes widgets in IBM Lotus Notes 8.0.1
- Creating Google Gadgets with IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.1
- IBM Composite Applications in Lotus Notes technical education roadmap
- Increase productivity with widgets add-ons
- Using Live Text and Widgets to improve productivity of daily work
I’ve also got Live Text working for UK Postcodes and Telephone numbers, as well as having configured service look ups on names, email and postal addresses.
These list the widgets I’ve added:
Balancing the Benefits:
While the widget plugin interface and customisations delivers the potential to empower and enable a user to increase their productivity via adding varying degrees of personalisation to the client. In reality the use of these widgets aren’t really that accessible and meaningful to a regular information or knowledge worker. These customisations really required too much configuration activity and a reasonable degree of competency and familiarity with client’s inner working and technological terminology.
This is in stark contrast to the modern mobile and browser “apps|extensions” available for almost instant delivery of application or service functions. This renders some of these plugin functions rather aged, as well as appearing very convoluted, but it is in some way exactly that. It shows, that even back then the acknowledgement that these plugin | widget applications did have beneficial function to play, however, achieving the ease and simplicity of app deliver was clearly some way off.
We should perhaps acknowledge the pioneering features or functions that Lotus Notes attempted to bring into the end user experience. Though I think the opinion of whether these were well received, is already known.
Everyone is spends some of their time processing the flow of information through their inbox or in-tray.
Sometimes I’m sure folk feel like their inbox is part of a production line and they need to process stuff as quick as possible before something breaks or hits the floor.
You may feel like you’re in your own version of this classic Mario Bros. game…
I hope you’re not in this persons’ shoes!
(attribution : dpstyles)
Or if you are, it’s not stressing you out.
It’s not uncommon for the number of messages (read or unread) in an email inbox to lead to a feeling of stress – getting behind on your tasks, or getting snowed under.
So unless you’re comfortable with everything in the inbox (everything’s in 1 place) – and you don’t mind that. Then these may be helpful tips to reduce that email stress.
My Tips for helping to deal with Email:
- Use the sender and subject lines – to help decide how much attention you need to give a message before it’s opened
- Use filters or agents (rules) to mark unimportant (email subscriptions |newsletters) as read as soon as they arrive or move them out of the inbox – saves you a mouse click or two [Gmail is brilliant at this]
- Use your preview function – to scan through email
- Get your folder structure right (it helps you track where you are with categorising and prioritising your work – especially if you receive tasks | actions via email)
- Use buttons or shortcuts to move messages into folders quickly and simply – again saves you a mouse click or two (then the email dealt with… but you can come back to it later if needed)
- Turn off the New Mail Alert pop-up or sound alert (especially for busy times when you’re concentrating on something else)
- Reduce the frequency to check or update the inbox (make it every 15 or 20 minutes instead of 5 minutes for example)
Organising your Mail File Folders:
Your approach to this will be reflected in how you think of email. Do you treat it as personal knowledge repository (it’s not what email was created to do, and there are better options), or if you see it as part of your general information processing and flow? If you see it as information delivery and processing service that can really help shape your strategy to sort and categorise the messages you receive.
Personally, I now treat email as a temporary information|content store, a processing station for sorting out each message as it requires.
I see 3 main categorises of messages:
- Actions - processed by prioritising and then action
- Knowledge - processed by keeping & moving to appropriate content store (not email!) or disposing
- Responses - processed by keeping & moving to appropriate content store (not email!), an action or dispose
Therefore I have the following folder structure in my mail file:
Follow Up : – Actions I need to respond to
Keep : – Medium to Long Term messages that need to be referenced infrequently for a particular topic (folder names make that obvious) – delete or purge once no longer relevant
Processed :- Where messages that have been read, actioned (if required) are moved to – eventually deleted.
Subscriptions :- Where newsletters, collaboration system notifications, subscriptions are moved to – rapidly deleted (after 10 days).
Useful Toolbar Buttons:
As a Lotus Notes user, there are couple of additional tweaks to the client UI that can be helpful in speeding up the processing of email.
Lotus Notes has a configurable Toolbar:
This can configured via the Preferences section: (via File > Preferences > Toolbar > Customize) or right click on the Toolbar and customize
The useful Toolbars to customize are:
- Navigate View
- Read Document
These appear automatically in context (in any view or folder or when reading a document) – as they are context sensitive.
I’ve set up a couple of “move to folder” buttons:
They use the formula:
@Command( [Folder] ; “Folder Name” ;”1″ )
So use this as many times as you need for the folders you have.
I’ve also added a button for showing only unread mail – helps clear away the clutter.
That uses the formula:
@Command( [ViewShowOnlyUnread] )
Again it saves a few mouse clicks – the current action in
is rather hidden away and fiddly to use.
Formula Language Text Annotation notes:
Black font:- Formula language and key variables – only change if competent and knowledgeable about Lotus Formula language and structure.
Red font:- Indicates Lotus Notes folder name to be inserted into code to give destination folder of processed documents.
I’ve also written about another customisation of the Lotus Notes toolbar here: Filing knowledge into services via Email – this provides a more thorough “how-to” on creating Toolbar buttons for yourself.
So there you go – nothing perhaps that is new and ground breaking but a helpful reminder.
What are your hints and tips for dealing with email?
However, I had mentioned in passing using Evernote with Lotus Notes in the last couple of days.
As far I know if someone done something with Lotus Notes as a development project the place to look is OpenNTF.org (which is looking great a Domino web app!) So my searches for “evernote” didn’t reveal any results. So I checked the most popular downloaded projects. (Of course you do, if good and free it will be there)
I was drawn to File Navigator – since I’ve been using the sidebar in the full version of Lotus Notes, the missing item has been direct interaction with OS file system. And now it’s available! Of course, Lotus Notes has supported drag and drop across folder windows on to notes documents to add attachments. But File Navigator is great because it’s there in side bar… so much better!
So now it sits in my sidebar with my Sametime contacts and calendar, and I don’t need to move to OS folders to interact with the documents I’m sending or receiving.
How easy was it to install? Super simple…
The File Navigator catalog page (with the screenshot) has an icon on the top right like this:
You simply bring up the “My Widgets” sidebar area: (update your preferences if required)
Then drag the icon to the sidebar panel… it downloads in the background, you accept the install and restart Lotus Notes.(then you can hide away “My Widgets” sidebar via your view menu options).
You need to be running Lotus Notes 8.5x in the standard (using eclipse).
There was the opportunity to learn more about IBM’s developing story around ‘cloud’ within IBM the Lotus software brand. The techjam at IBM South Bank, was attended by representatives from the IBM business partner community and some larger SI’s.
As the event coincided with recent announcements around the Lotus Notes 8.5.1 client release (announcement details) and the availability of LotusLive iNotes (not sure why that is the service name – when it’s not really anything to do with Lotus Notes). This seemed to be a good moment, to gain fresh insight on this part of the Lotus roadmap and an understanding of the market place from the IBM view point.
The day comprised of talks around the following key areas.
IBM’s Cloud Story – Wayne Leone
Wayne introduced the IBM cloud strategy a tier delivery model of IAAS, PAAS and SAAS. He also outlined their development of capability in helping their customers make the most of type of cloud model they want to use, whether private (on-premise internal cloud solutions), public (using standardised services from a provider) or hybrid (spanning both private and public types).
He gave some insights into the development of their cloudburst technology. Particularly interesting with the intention to incorporate TSAM (Tivoli System Automation Manager) into a forth coming release, to allow existing suitable hardware within the client footprint to be incorporated into the ‘private cloud’ delivered by cloudburst and managed through the same interface.
This will be an interesting feature as centralisation and efficiency of ‘cloud’ services administration is key to making the some of promised cost savings compared to running distributed systems, especially as the client can continue to leverage that hardware investment that they previously made.
Jon outlined Headshift’s established credentials in helping businesses grasp and take advantage of social software technology. Primarily by their consultancy expertise in supporting the business through process and cultural change needed to occur by bringing to light and addressing the most relevant and compelling use cases.
He underlined that social software technology is first and foremost about people. The advantage comes as social software enhances, augments the human interaction within or across businesses, and helps change business approaches from high-friction process centred organisations into lower-friction, people centred rather than process.
When adopted correctly (not just implemented) this makes business agility a tangible reality, but this should be recognised it’s as a by-product of unselfish and deliberate acts of collaboration and sharing information, and knowledge within the context of business process at hand. Social software just provides an enabling platform, primarily to make visible artefacts and social interaction meta data that was hidden or non-existent before hand.
Jon gave some very useful thoughts and comments to how assist on the work of user adoption. He described the categorisation of the user population in 80% of indifference and job focussed workers. a top 10% of natural adopters and pioneers, and the 10% of perhaps change averse luddites. There is sometimes a disproportionate amount of attention or effort spent on finding and supporting the top or bottom 10%, when the best business advantage will be realised through the careful support of generating compelling use cases for the large majority of workers.
It is important that the ROI is rarely measured hard dollar savings or gains, but rather very compelling and powerful anecdotal stories of how the approach moved the business forward. This is achieved in the making the tools and use cases to culture and processes that exist in the business. Successful adoption by busy people doesn’t come through full immersion within the collaborative environment but through small steps such as tagging, commenting, files or content as part of a person day-to-day working routine.
By moving to a culture of trust rather than control is an important aspect of the cultural adoption of social software by an organisation. Understanding and encouraging the time spent in ‘virtual’ water cooler, as much as expecting a more flexible workforce in terms of extending working hours, as this brings a further blurring of the work life balance.
Once the adoption has got momentum it will then become natural for the business to drive the next level of adoption or integration with other line of business applications or processes. The significant of offerings of enterprise grade social software solutions, means it is easier to drive adoption through the top-down sponsor and use as an example tied in with the viral ground-swell adoption from the bottom up.
The LotusLive Portfolio & Partner Value – Richard Bye
Richard is the Business Unit Executive in EMEA for LotusLive, and was transitioned across into IBM through the acquisition of the OutBlaze messaging assets in Apr ‘09.
He echoed the cloud strategy model given by Wayne and described how IBM were making their products and services conscious that a “one size fits all” isn’t what customers want from their cloud providers. That they expect an enterprise class service, offering attractive variations in services levels and feature sets. That will help businesses take advantage of cost efficiencies as they deliver the features and services that make sense to each segment or section of their workforce. Regardless of the service choice, that they should share, common features of enterprise grade security, scalability, availability, accessibility with the self-service and on-demand nature of a cloud service.
He described the feature set and background of each of services that comprise LotusLive. In particular described the credentials of the OutBlaze messaging assets that were brought into IBM, and what has gone into the formation of LotusLive iNotes. He then described the opportunities for business partners to interface and play a part with IBM in the delivery of a LotusLive service.
LotusLive technical view – Anders Sabra
Anders gave a very comprehensive overview of the underlying technology of LotusLive, and how and where it is delivered from. At the moment the main data centres are located in the US, however they have local caching points of presence located in all major geographies. They also have plans to expand upon the location of the main data centres to locations outside of US in 2010.
He talked a lot about both the care to ensure the integrity of the security model at the infrastructure and application level, incorporation AES 128 bit encryption, mandatory use of HTTPS (SSL) connections, and secure encryption of traffic for the LotusLive Sametime instant messaging service. But more importantly the care taken to make choices for security in the user interface, simple to understand, action and intuitive to the types of security and controls functions user want to put on files, or services available in LotusLive.
He described the nature of application integration available in LotusLive utilising standards such as SAML, Opensocial, OpenID, so that SSO hand shakes are possible between LotusLive and the integrated application. He gave the example of SalesForce.com, and others. There are now well documented REST APIs for all LotusLive services, that provide powerful and extensive methods of interacting with LotusLive services. Examples of that include the client side integration of Activities into the Notes 8.5.x client.
Anders gave descriptions of mechanisms and processes for serving LotusLive webmail (Notes or iNotes) in a hybrid model, where there is a mixture of on-premise and cloud served mail. LotusLive services support and integrate with directories based on Domino, Active Directory and other LDAP Directory sources, and so can serve both Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange messaging environments.
He also described the migration process for the ingest of mail and other data services into LotusLive and how partners or SI’s can play a part in the provision, support of services around that.
Demo of LotusLive Engage and LotusLive iNotes – Baiju McCubbins
The final part of the day was a demonstrate of LotusLive Engage given by Baiju. This provided a great insight into how LotusLive is helping to bridge the gaps in collaboration services especially for those working with contacts outside of the corporate firewall.
One of the compelling features of the LotusLive model is the availability of guest accounts that can be given to contacts outside of the subscription service. Guest users can receive shared files, and tasks & actions through activities. They can then interact with those files and activities in a limited manner, such as comment, download or create child entries within that activity, they can even upload up to 25MB of files. The advantage of the guest account is that it enables subscription users to interact and involve whosoever they need to to help achieve their business objectives, this is a self-service function at the discretion of the user and circumvents any need to involve IT administrators or invoke complex business processes to involve that 3rd party individual.
IBM have obviously worked hard, to bring to the market an offering that meets the expectations of the enterprise, while incorporating features that provide differentiation against it’s competitors. IBM’s recent announcements make it clear that is ready to compete with both Google (comment) and Microsoft (another review) in offering cloud based collaboration services, with perhaps only Cisco remaining to reveal it product set and strategy there is a lot to look forward to as this market place evolves.
Today, I’m in the Chorley office. My 1st visit for a few weeks.
As well as catching with other colleagues in the office.
This Techjam for System Integrators had a packed agenda covering the latest and greatest news from the IBM Lotus Brand.
In the month of the LCTY events in the UK, this was a great primer for those events.
The agenda for the day was as follows:
Introduction and welcome message
Jamie Goodhead – Business Unit Executive, Lotus Software
A welcome message from Jamie to introduce the team and give a brief overview of the event.
Lotus strategy update
Brendan Tutt – Portal & Social Networking Business Leader UK & Ireland
An overview of Portals and Social Networking discussing the current software offerings and planned releases.
Brendan gave a summary of the Lotus product portfolio and their focus on the themes of ‘collaboration in context’ and the breadth of integration and delivery mechanisms available through the Lotus software stack. He highlighted the continuing interest for customers to explore and take advantage of more social and community based collaboration tools while leveraging their existing data sets and business processes.
He made reference to the current Lotus Connections 2.5 beta programme, estimated for gold release around Q3. In particular the continued evolution of services that Connections will offer. And of course to the launch of LotusLive Engage the Lotus SaaS collaboration offering, which currently includes elements of Connections and Quickr and in future will incorporate more of the IBM Lotus product set.
Lotus Domino XPages
Chris Moore – Technical Professional
Creating XPages to bring Domino Web Applications into the Web2.0 arena. A deep dive into what XPages are and how this will impact customers.
Chris gave an excellent overview of the advances in web application UI and design efficiencies provided by Lotus Domino XPages technology. XPages is a web application feature bundled in the Lotus Domino 8.5 server release and equivalent development tools provided through the Lotus Notes 8.5 designer IDE client. XPages allows the rapid design and deployment of a modern Web2.0 UI (look & feel) to Domino Web applications, with extensive re-use and leverage of existing design elements and techniques but without requiring extensive training or additional knowledge for Domino application developers.
The Lotus Domino server now comes with XPages and dojo options available for selection through the server set up wizard. The Lotus Notes 8.5 designer client, is a full eclipse based IDE (still only available on Windows – more platforms to be released). The designer client provides all the tools and elements to create the XPages design elements within the Lotus Domino database.
Relative to traditional methods of delivering a web application XPages demonstrated how easy to was to take existing design elements (fields, forms & views) and create new presentation elements, and methods and events linking those together. Within 10 minutes, Chris showed a simple workflow of adding documents to a view through an XPages form, and the options to select and delete documents through the view all via XPages elements in a web browser.
In future releases we should see elements of XPages extended to other Lotus products for rapid UI customisation and development.
A reference to Declan Lynch can’t be missed when discussing XPages for more information look here: Declan Lynch’s Blog
Stuart McIntyre – Collaboration matters
Stuart will provide valuable insight into how customers have implemented Lotus Connections.
Stuart gave an excellent presentation of experiences of Lotus Connections implementations. He provided a good overview of how the need for organisations to evolve into a more collaborative culture could be supported and enabled through the use of software such as Lotus Connections. He described clearly how each facet or service of Lotus Connections played a key part in enabling a particular area of collaborative working; and introduced how other elements of Lotus portfolio such as Lotus Quickr and Lotus Sametime played a vital role in supporting collaboration.
He often referred to use cases, where a single service or couple of Lotus Connections services was of primary importance to that particular client. As well as how that service had then enabled that organisation to evolve it’s method of working or overcome business challenges to increase time to market or introduce a more innovative business culture.
He also shared that how important it was to try and get as much data and content as possible into the Lotus Connections Profiles service as possible, even for pilots or POCs. Pre-populating that service though the use of TDI is a vital booster to aiding user adoption and participation within the environment.
Apart from a great technical overview, Stuart also stressed the importance of user training, and helping clients progress through the necessary cultural changes to enable a successful implementation. Much of the user training focusing on the why and value of participation rather than the how to do it.
For those wanting to know about Stuart and his excellent work check out : http://collaboratewith.me/
Rob Enright – Technical Sales specialist
Rob will provide an in-depth discussion on Lotus Websphere Portal and how portal can surface valuable data in Lotus Domino and Lotus Connections and the new features of WCM.
Aggregation – bringing separate applications together a single presentation layer, combining tailored user access through the use of role based security and personalisation.
Integration – using portlet technology and client-side aggregation to wire-link together different applications to provided contextually relevant data to the user. e.g. a financial and CRM applications delivering information about the same customer within the portal to the user (financial – invoices, dates, amounts, CRM – contact details, last interaction)
Innovation – the use of mashups & widget technology such as ‘live text’ to provide a technology platform to enable a more innovative culture (accessing social software application, Google widget data), and allowing Line of Business to make situational relevant applications; without the burden and overhead of working through the IT organisation as well.
Rob gave a good summary of evolution of use cases and technology of IBM WebSphere Portal. Citing the main stages of Portal use:
Ray Davies – Technical Sales specialist
Lotus Foundations 1.1 was released last week. This in-depth session will discuss Lotus Foundations.
Ray gave a fantastic and insightful introduction and overview to the recently released class of autonomic and appliance based Lotus product called Lotus Foundations.
He outlined the various options that are currently available, especially focusing on the Branch office version. Describing the phenomenal about of technology crammed into such a small, robust and self-contained device. Particularly interesting elements being the autonomic features, centralised configuration and management, extremely rugged & robust, deployment, back-up, self-heal and upgrade processes. Another feature of interest being the appliance has the potential to receive customised application packages that once delivered, are included into automatic deployment and configurations processes; so that end-users literally receive new application features or elements in a transparent manner.
Lotus Foundations devices are specifically designed to serve business processes in the field where reach and reliability of network or power can compromise business processes, interactions or revenue streams. But where on premise skill sets are not IT orientated and therefore deployment, and operational support activities need to minimised & simplified in the extreme. These appliances can become the ultimate field end point, providing a reliable service point to that location without the burden or overhead local delivery of IT administration and support, and with a truly robust remote configuration management and self management features.
For more about Lotus Foundations visit: Lotus Foundations
Conclusion: It was a great opportunity to meet up with some of IBM Lotus innovators and discuss the products and the business challenges they helped to solve.
Disclaimer: Elements of this blog post relating to Lotus products features current or future, are subject to change at the discretion of IBM and should not relied upon. For further information about these products, please contact your relevant IBM representative.
Well it’s fairly simple really…
I’ve only had one employer since graduating from UMIST (University of Manchester) with an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering. I did a year out with Careforce, a Christian volunteer organisation for pre or post graduates. I worked in a hostel for homeless young men in Manchester for year.
It was during that year out that I applied for various graduate posts in both engineering and IT companies. I’m grateful that the opportunity came from an IT company. My observation of and contact with engineers, is that is a more static and conservative industry in which to chart a career; and can be more vulnerable to pressures within an economy.
My first experience of a Notes client was within my 1st week at work (after all that induction stuff). I had to complete and sign-off on a number of CBTs (Danger, Danger! – Notes newbie!); before being let loose on a Notes 4.5.3a client on a Windows NT4 workstation. My first role was an NT4 (Windows) administration and support for customer of ours.
From there I went through a series of short-term placement (6 months); in VMS/Vax Administration (learnt DCL); was a business analyst for a pre-Y2K infrastructure refresh and desktop rollout. It was during that time as a business analyst I meet my friend and colleague Stuart. My final placement was in the Notes administration team that Stuart was soon to become team lead; I was glad to be offered a permanent place on the team, and so as they say “the rest is history.”
One thing I’ve always found to be an advantage with Notes is its independence of workstation credentials (Workgroup/AD etc). I think I’ve spent at least half my years or more working a customer Windows domain or network; but always (apart from serious power or network outages) be able to connect to my employer’s Notes/Domino domain. Also as an Notes administrator it was necessary to run multiple ids and domains; I wonder what the record is for the number of Notes domains managed from a single client?
I’ve worked with Stuart in various administration and project roles for around 5-6 years. Achieving Dual PCLP in both Notes 5 and Notes 6. As my career has advanced my role has been increasingly project based with a good dose of infrastructure or architectural know-how required.
Since the start of 2008, I have been in my new role as a Technical Product Manager. My particular area of ownership is team project or workspaces; so I look after solution offering from an engineering point of view for products such IBM WebSphere Portal, Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Lotus Quickr etc.
Ok, this debate is nothing new.
http://itcomparison.com/Mail/Exchange2k7vslotus8/Exchange2k7vslotus8.htm (Last updated: 09-01- 2008)
Unfortunately… these guys (http://www.itcomparison.com/aboutus.htm)
“IT Comparison team consist of many IT Professionals who work for
several enterprise firms. Our team has first hand experience with most of
the products compared on this site. ”
…remain to some extent hidden; and this review is one of the few software comparisons available.
However, presuming they are who they say: Then I welcome and the review/opinion of a group of professionals, who should be interested in providing an objective review and remain independent of the vendors.
Also the format is also useful… providing a rating and comments about certain performance and functionality aspects within the product.
I hope that this site continues to provide this type of output. I wonder why they feel need this type of site; aren’t there already sites/forums like this available!
Their home page: http://www.itcomparison.com/index.html
However, as their forum uncovers in 5 posts; the sides of this debate are so loyal/stubborn I think it will be hard for an honest objective review to receive that type of acknowledgement from both camps.
Just a note that I’m presenting at :
My topic is:
CSC – The CSC portal: keeping focus on content and collaboration
Speaker: Charlie Hope, CSC Lotus Collaborative EMEA Technical Lead
So I guess you can work out who my employer is!