Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Activities and Quickr Linker

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I happened to be casually browsing developerWorks today. I immediately noticed a Lotus Connections article about integrating Lotus Quickr and Lotus Connections Activities together!!  Unfortunately, I can't Dogear it, but I hope that you find this entry good for now. 

As you know, Activities should not be used as a content repository.  Instead, it's a way to get a deliverable done.   You ask certain people to join in, provide their ideas or revise a document.  They in turn can ask other people to join in and collaborate.  Once a document has been completed, it has to be posted along with the rest of the intellectual capital.  This can be a Quickr place, a Domino database, or some other sort of content repository. 

But how do you easily get content created in Activities into a repository such as a Quickr place ?  Linker is, well, the missing link.  Linker is an Eclipse plug-in which lets you access a "tree view".  You can then right-click on any Activity item and publish it into a Quickr place as shown in these screenshots:

which results in the following:

Now this isn't production code.  Even though it's an Eclipse plug-in and it should run on Notes 8 (a.k.a Expeditor on drugs), the article merely serves as an example on what can be done with the Connections and Quickr API's.  The sample code provided in this article is pretty good and will help our business partners and customers get started on using the APIs. 

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh and by the way, GO RED SOX

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I was so excited about the last post, that I forgot to mention something very important:


I wish I was back in Boston to celebrate along with the rest of Red Sox Nation!!

An easier way to integrate Lotus Connections into Portal

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Amy Widmer, Quickr community leader and all-around awesome architect, sent me earlier today a presentation on a new WebAppIntegrator Portlet.  This portlet has been developed by the Lotus CTO's office and uses a rather unique approch to "integrate" Lotus Connections into a WebSphere Portal environment.  First, you should know that it doesn't use the Lotus Connection APIs.  Second, it doesn't use IFRAME.  So how does it work ?

The idea is that instead of adding Lotus Connections into Portal, we actually add Portal into Lotus Connections.  Let me explain.  This new portlet (available in about 3 weeks in the WebSphere Portlet Catalog) generates one line of JavaScript code that you insert into Lotus Connections.  Once you insert this one line of JavaScript into Lotus Connections, it dynamically changes the branding/look-n-feel of Lotus Connections.  This new look-n-feel is the same as the one for Portal.  Therefore, it's as if Lotus Connections was running inside Portal, but it's actually running separately!  Very cool!!

This approach is actually viable with customers and I know because that's what I did recently at a Large Automotive Customer.  The customer wanted to see how Lotus Connections would work with their existing Portal.  Thus, I rebranded Lotus Connections by changing a couple of CSS and JSP files.  Once I showed it to the customer, they thought I was running Lotus Connections inside of their portal, even though it was running completely independent.  Here's a slide from the presentation which shows how this portlet works.  I can't wait to see a demo of this portlet working!!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Microsoft buys a stake in Facebook -- now what?

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As you probably all know, Microsoft bought a 1.6% stake in Facebook last night. This valued the Facebook startup by another Hardvard-dropout at $15 billion dollars.  Maybe all these Harvard students have a big conspiracy, or maybe Microsoft is simply scared at IBM's Lotus Connections and this is the only way they can get in the game.  I'm sure it's a combination of the two ;) 

I'm a big Facebook user (but only after hours, never on company time). Now that this purchase has gone through, I'm sure many end-users, like myself, are wondering how secure is our data? Does Microsoft now have the right to crawl our data ?  Will they be able to develop some usage patterns based on what I've posted in my Facebook profile?  Or is the purchase simply a way to acquire the software and compete against IBM.  Sure Facebook can't compete entirely with Lotus Connections since it doesn't have all of the same features.  (At most I think it only competes against Profiles).

I'm sure we all know at this point that Microsoft is really bad at innovating.. but they are very good at copying software that already exists and making it prettier.  Should we be concerned, or rather, should the Lotus Connections development team be concerned about this acquisition.  Will Microsoft take the pretty UI from Facebook and make their own version of Lotus Connections?  I'm sure they'll take the angle "our UI is so much prettier -- and end-users know it already"!! And, of course, they won't talk about how our features are much better and richer.

One of the biggest advantages that I see in Facebook, compared to our product, is the easy plug-ability.  Microsoft has never been too keen on letting customers customize their products or integrate them with other stuff?  But maybe this is the beginning of a new era ?  Facebook has also proven that it's scalable, and we all know that Microsoft products aren't.  So is this another way for Microsoft to gain intellectual capital on how to build enterprise-ready, scalable solutions ?

1.6% is a small stake, so perhaps this is just an investment and nothing else... but still, there are so many unanswered questions...

P.S.  I recently saw a Microsoft document where it said that enterprise-ready software was software that could handle around 1,000 total users -- WHAT??  I think the smallest customer I've ever worked with had a total population of 7,000 employees!  And the biggest had 300,000 - now that's big; but I digress.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Social Software does ROCK!!

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Others have said it.  I have said it before.  It's true.  It's undeniable.  You really can't get away from it.  The power that it simply has is .....  undescribable.  "It freaks me out sometimes", as a co-worker says. How powerful is Lotus Connections?  Well here's another story that just happened minutes ago.

9:00am -  My work day starts and I have 23 new emails.  Not bad. (this should not be considerd as an excuse for you to start emailing me overnight :) )
9:10am -  One of the emails is from Ted Stanton, Product Manager for Lotus Connections.  In it he expresses the need to capture recommendations for possible IBM Redbooks on Lotus Connections.
9:11am -  I start composing an email to the community
9:24am -  I send an email to the community relaying Ted's message
10:30am - Barely 66 minutes after my email went out, I had already received 4 different responses!!  3 of them from people in Europe.  AND all responses were from people that I hadn't had an interaction before.

So I'm assuming our Asian counterparts are already in their comfy bed and won't see my email until tomorrow morning.  And for the ones in the Americas? They are probably still parsing through their new email from last night and will soon get back to me.

As I was writing this blog posting, my RSS reader (Google Desktop) notified me that Curtis Ryan, WW Sales Manager for Lotus Connections and co-leader for the Lotus Social Software community, had just written about Communities in the Enterprise.  Communities is making a splash today!

Social Software ROCKS!