Tuesday, July 24, 2007

LCS integration and Notes

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I'm diverting this week my attention from Connections to Notes as we are also trying to sell Lotus Notes 8 at the customer.  Our first attempt to integrate LCS with Lotus Connections has not gone well as my team lacks the AJAX skills to get the Microsoft AJAX toolkit going.  So for now, we'll integrate Lotus Connections and LCS using the Microsoft Office Presence Controls.  These controls can also be used in Notes 8!

As you know, the customer has already set as a standard the use of Microsoft Live Communication Server.  And it looks like a business partner has already figured out how to do this integration.  From what I can see in the video, it's very simple.  As long as users have the LCS client installed on their computer (or Microsoft Office 2005 or later), all it takes to do this is 2 changes to the mail template (the NTF file).  Very cool, huh??  This is how it looks on the Notes 8 basic client:

We are going through the details at the customer site this week and will post back results on how the intragion works out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Are you ready for this? Lotus Connections person card in Sharepoint

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Alright, so I finally got the BusinessCard from Lotus Connections Profiles integrated into Microsoft Sharepoint!  How??  Well, that's for me to know and for you to find out!!!  I'm actually bribing management right now to see if I can get at least a $30,000 pay raise.

Ok, I guess I should stop daydreaming, huh?  Let's talk about how this works.  First, as I mentioned in my previous post, most of the HTML for Sharepoint sites is generated by a Windows DLL.  I, of course, got really frustrated that I would have to code my own DLL in order to get this going.  I immediately started to use my network to see if there were any Sharepoint resources within IBM who could help me do this.  I eventually ended up with Jeff Calow, who is an STSM for Composite Application development.  He suggested that instead of doing .NET development, I instead use JavaScript and the DOM (document object model) to parse out the resulting HTML and inject the necessary JavaScript.  I wasn't too happy with the idea, but I figured "this is a POC and we just need something quick-n-dirty" so this should work.

Suneil Berajawala had provided me with a test page that quickly explained how to expose the Business Card in a typical web page.   All that's required is the user's email address and 2-3 lines of JavaScript.  One of those lines of code, has to go in an HTML's HEAD element.  The problem is that Sharepoint doesn't provide a way for me to insert a HEAD element (every time I did, the server would crash because it wasn't able to compile the ASPX page).  Anyway, after pinging Suneil for a while, I found the following tag in the page:

<asp:Content ContentPlaceHolderId="PlaceHolderAdditionalPageHead" runat="server">

and I asked myself:  "Could this be the place where I would insert stuff that would typically go in an <HEAD> element?".  I gave it a try and it worked!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wow, Sharepoint is horrible

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So I'm still at the customer site and one of the things that they want to see is the people card exposed within Sharepoint.  In other words, when somebody sees my name as:

Luis Benitez

they can hover over my name and click to see my person card.  Very cool, huh?  See, it works easily on Blogs!!!!

Well, all it takes is 2-3 lines of HTML/Javascript to get going.  For any web application which follows the standard MVC (Model-View-Controller) paradigm, this should take no more than 5 minutes to implement!  That's because I can simply go into 'View' and customize it to add the required HTML/JavaScript around it. 

With Sharepoint, however, all the HTML creation is done on the server, usually as part of a DLL.  This means that it's necessary to have an ASP.NET developer create/customize a DLL in order to have that generate the proper HTML/JavaScript.  Why does Microsoft make this so hard ?  Or, how can customers like Microsoft so much when it's so hard to integrate with other things!!??!!

I'll continue investigating this and will report back on progress.