Wednesday, January 30, 2008

LDAP attributes required for Lotus Connections

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A customer asked me today what are the required attributes that must be present in the LDAP in order to log in..  I couldn't find an answer, but in my experience they are:

  • Logon Id (usually something like uid, sAMAccountName, or mail)
  • Email address
  • Password
  • Display Name (usually either cn or displayName)
  • Unique Identifier (these can be changed as per this page):
    • MS Active Directory:  objectGUID
    • Domino:  dominoUNID
    • Novell eDirectory:  guid
    • Tivoli Directory Server:  ibm-entryUUID
    • Sun Directory:  nsuniqueid

Note:  These are the minimum attributes that you need in order to successfully login.  Extra information such as managerId, secretaryId, departmentId, orgId, etc would need to be loaded into Profiles, but it doesn't have to come from an LDAP.  Hopefully that makes sense.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

API Battle: Sharepoint vs Lotus Connections

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Back in the days when I was working on integrating Lotus Connections with Sharepoint, I looked at the Sharepoint APIs.  Searches on Google revealed nothing.   On Friday, a customer actually provided me a link to the Sharepoint APIs.  Interesting. 

Those are the Sharepoint 2007 APIs.  Those must be new since I searched for it about 8 months ago and couldn't find anything.  A customer in the banking industry wanted to know how the APIs compared as part of a collaboration bake-off.  Here are my findings:

Lotus ConnectionsSharepoint
Uses a REST style API; i.e. it works anywhere, from anywhere!!!Only works on .NET applications; i.e. VB.NET, ASP.NET, etc.. (5 web services are available, but that's only about 1% of all the APIs that Sharepoint provides)
APIs are accessible from any device connected to a networkSome APIs need to be run on the server!!!!
You can pretty much CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) everything You can't add/retrieve documents, but you can edit them
Includes a person card that can be added to 3rd party applicationsCan't do it
Results returned in clear XML -- easily reusableResults are propietary (except if you use 1% of the APIs [web services])
Can retrieve results in HTML for easy rendering on other applications (e.g. Dogear bookmarks)Can't do it
URLs are clean and reusable (i.e. RESTful) Can't do it
Provides 'subscribable' search results (i.e. you can subscribe to a particular search so that you are notified immediately when the search results changes!)Can't do it

Who's the winner ? I think it's pretty clear...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm back from Lotusphere

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I'm now back home and for the past couple of days I've been trying to think of how to blog about the upcoming changes to Connections in version 2.0.  For now, I've only been able to come up with 'WOW'.

Kudos to the development team for what they've been able to accomplish since release 1.0 back in June 2007.  I'm very excited that the development team has taken a LOT of the feedback from the field and implemented for 2.0. 

Activities seem like a whole new product.  Communities has so many new functionalities.  And I must say that I love the Homepage and the consolidated view in Profiles!  I want to start demoing to customers!!!

Again, congratulations to the development team.  !!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Live from Lotusphere -- the Opening General Session

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Here's a recap of what's going on at the Lotusphere Opening General Session (refresh to get the latest updates):

Factoids for Lotus products are being displayed on the screens (e.g. "93% of all customers are using the 2 most recent releases of Notes/Domino)

7:54am - The Orlando Symphony Orchestra took the stage to hype things up.. (Symphony, eh?)

There are TVs everywhere. This is so exciting -- it's my first Lotusphere ever!!

7:56am - The orchestra continues playing...

People continue to pile in.  This room probably fits 3500 people.  It's insane.  I think I'm one of the lucky ones as I get to stay in Dolphin hotel.  Only a couple of seconds until 8am.

8:00am - "EMERGENCE", the Lotusphere theme for this year has come up on all the TV screens as the orchestra exits "to the left" (Disney reference)

8:03am - GM, Mike Rhodin is introduced to the crowd!!!  Applause everywhere.  He says "how appropriate we begin the day with a little 'Symphony'"... I told ya!  His Lotus Connections Profile is shown on the TV screens.

8:05am - Just like Steve Jobs @ MacWorld last week, he wants to start by looking back at 2007.  He lists:  9% delivery growth for Lotus.  He rhetorically asks if people know who the guest speaker is ?  He hints at somebody from the Sports industry.  And the guest speaker is:  19th time Emmy award winning sports caster Bob Costas!!!

8:09am - Bob pokes fun at himself since he's not as famous as Neil Armstrong (past Lotusphere guest speaker)

8:11am - He says how cool Boston is with all their awesome sports teams:  the Pats go to the Super Bowl, the Red Sox are world champions, and the Celts have a good chance of winning this year's NBA championship!  He compares the Red Sox to the Cubs and how much better the Red Sox are.  The Boston attendees go crazy!

The international attendees around me are not laughing.. maybe Bob's speech is too American ??  Bob looks pretty old on the big screen TVs
  Anyway, he keeps talking about the greatness of the Pats.      

8:20am - Bob says that there's too much information out there and compares that to sports statistics.  He says that it would be great to have a better way to disseminate information and quickly access information that's pertinent to you when you need it.  He mentions Portal and connecting to people.  Bob feels like the 'Emergence' theme is like his next assignment @ NBC: covering the Olympics in Beijing later this year.  "The Chinese are the emerging power".

8:25am - Bob is done.  Mike Rhodin comes back to the stage!

8:26am - Cites a survey where almost 99% of CEOs claim that they need Collaboration to forge ahead. There are 3 styles of collaboration:  Document-centric (take a document and share it via email), People-centric (communicate via a mobile phone  / Sametime and demand immediacy -- can't wait for an email response), and Community-centric (what some of 'your children are using today in college and high school).  Mike tells the story of how he looked at his daughter's Facebook page and she was having an argument with a friend right on her page.  Other friends, including those from out of state, were mediating the argument.  Mike says that we as a corporation need to provide a social tool otherwise employees will use consumer sites.  (i.e. use Lotus Connections and not Facebook).

8:36am - Repeats that we need to innovate to increase revenue since cost can't be reduced anymore.  Asks people if they remember Knowledge Management and people nod.  He says that instead of managing knowledge we need to unlock the potential of people and set it free.  Shows a couple of Google search results (they return half-a-billion search results!!!).  This is clearly an overload of information.  Tells people are driving while looking in the rearview mirror (a slide comes up in the TVs with a Microsoft logo in the rearview mirror.. the audience goes crazy!!

8:38am - Atlas comes up in the screen and he briefly talks about discovery of connections.  Now shows Lotus Connections and how we pivot from point-to-point.  Says that most importantly, we need to get information in context and  shows Notes 8.  Announces that IBM and RIM (Blackberry users) can completely access Lotus Connections and show / provide information when they need it, where they need it.!

8:40am - Microsoft logo comes up on the screen with a lot of money in different currencies and then it all gets destroyed.  He says that Lotus Symphony is clearly needed to provide affordable word, spreadsheet and presentation solutions and spend typical Microsoft Office money on other things -- like research & development.  The CTO of SAP comes on stage!!!

8:41am - Mike asks him if there's a way to collaborate.  UPDATE: The CTO of SAP, Vishal Sikka, says yes and announces Project Atlantic.  Atlantic is a solution that enables all employees to access SAP data right from Notes 8.  No more training needed on SAP.  Customers can do leave requests, expense accounts, manager reporting, workflow approvals, etc.. all from within Notes 8.

If it runs on Notes 8, that means it runs on Expeditor, which means that it can potentially run on mobile devices.

8:46am - A preview of Atlantic is given.  I have to say, it looks beautiful!  A sideshelf plugin starts the application.  The data looks like its rendered in a Notes form.  The sidebar populates itself with Sametime Live Names and provides access to links to related documents (presentations, spreadsheets, help guides, etc).  Mike thanks SAP for their assistance developing Atlantic.

8:50am - Alistair Rennie takes the stage to talk about Notes/Domino 8.  Russ Holden and Jeff Eisen join him on stage to debate what's moving faster:  Domino or Notes (they are the chief architects of each respective product).  The debate starts!!!  Jeff shows all the cool stuff in 8.0.1 including DWA on the iPhone.  He says 8.0.1 will support Ubuntu and the Mac starting now (with the beta versions). Now Russ starts to defend Domino and shows statistics of improved Domino performance (I/O, CPU, etc).  Jeff says that that's ok.. and wants to show a demo. 

DWA on iPhone runs very fast!! I need to figure out how to become a beta tester

8:55am - The demo starts by showing the Quickr plugin in Notes 8 ( a guy named Ron is doing the demo.. I missed his last name).  He can now pre-configure call-in information for calendar invites.  There's a new widget palette in the sideshelf.  Most of them are Google gadgets.  To add them, simply go through the New Widget Wizard and you have four choices: Notes App, Web page, Google gadget and (one more I missed).  He adds a Google gadget to the sideshelf in 20 seconds!  Jeff asks to show how this can be shared through Collaboration.  You can email widgets to other users and they can drag-n-drop to the sideshelf and it runs in seconds.  He shows Live Text.  For example, you can select Atlanta in an email, right-click and get any information for Atlanta.. weather, traffic, etc (based on what widgets you have installed).  Opens Firefox and goes to DWA -- it's AJAX to the max.  Street addresses are automatically highlighted and linked to Google Maps.  It's pretty impressive.. it looks like you are running the client inside of Firefox!!  He has an iPhone and demos accessing DWA from the iPhone.  The UI is pretty simple, but fast!!!!  It has all the information you would need when on the road.  Back to Alistair.

9:05am - Alistair introduces Domino 8.5.  Russ says that he doesn't want to beat Jeff so "I'll take it easy on him".    Starts with ID Management, a new data store which will reduce mail files by 35%, introduces Lotus Protector (an applicance to get rid of Spam and Virus -- developed in conjunction with Internet Information Systems [an acquisition IBM made last year]).  Alistair says Russ is now winning and asks Jeff if he has anything to add.  Jeff says that he still wants to see a demo.  With SAP added, "Jeff is now in the lead.  Russ, do you have anything to add?".  Russ introduces, and is about to demo, Domino Designer 8.5 which can now develop Web 2.0 applications.  Maureen Leland takes the stage!  Shows a typical discussion DB and how it generates a nice-and-pretty web 2.0 user interface (it's really nice!!).  The Designer 8.5, of course, is built on top of Expeditor/Eclipse.  You can add AJAX "very easily".  Shows how to change the look-n-feel simply by changing the CSS.  A class browser has been added to make it easier when navigating LotusScript code.

Everytime a speaker is presented, their Lotus Connections Profile comes up.  Pretty cool.!!!

9:10am - Kevin Cavanaugh takes the stage.  Talks about Lotus Symphony.  In Feb 2008, Beta 4 of Symphony will be delivered. Announces a Road Show for Symphony.

Kevin's screenshots are on a Windows Vista machine!!!

9:14am - Bruce Morse takes the stage to talk about Sametime.  Tells Happy Birthday, 10 years, to Sametime.  Shows a video of using Sametime in radiology to make quicker, accurate diagnostics.  Very cool!!

9:26am - Ron demoes Sametime Advanced and the integrated Broadcast Suite tools.  Picks up the hotel phone and "calls my PC".  An alert comes up (with Caller ID) and he picks up the call in the PC!!  Nice!!  Shows how easy it is to create rules so that calls are automatically routed to the right number.  Rules can be based on ST status, time, location awareness, etc.  An incoming call into your PC can even be re-directed anywhere.  A call comes in, and he redirects the call from his PC to his cell phone and leaves the stage!  The audience laughs...

I still don't know who that Ron guy is, but he's pretty good at demoing Lotus products

9:27am - Larry Bowden takes the stage.  IBM WebSphere Portal is now the market leading portal product.  Announces agreement with SunGuard and GoPro to use Portal for their needs (multi million $ contract!).  Tells people should expect even more accelerators in 2008.  Says that 2008 is all about the power to the user.  Users can customize their portal in whichever way they want.  Asks users to join the WW public beta of Portal 6.1 (says that half of the customers are already there). 

9:36am - Ron now starts to demo a "local government portal".  Starts by showing Lotus Connections Profiles Person tag in a Portal.  Shows integrations with Lotus Forms -- shows drag-n-drop of one portlet into the Form portlet and -- the form data is automatically populated!! Audience "awwwss.. ".  Shows how to easily design a form in Lotus Total Forms in his browser.  Moves on to show Dashboard applications -- the pages render very fast!

Ron is demoing inside Firefox with the Vista-aero theme.  It looks pretty slick.  My battery is at 33%.  I hope I can make it to the end of this session.

9:38am - Jeff Schick takes the stage.

9:40am - Talks how web 2.0 makes it easier to produce and consume content.  "We have 10's of thousands of customers who have team spaces".  Quickr 8.1 in March.  Suzanne (missed her last name -- is that Minassian?? Looks like her based on her profile picture) takes the stage.  Something like Cattail comes on the screen!!  FilesNet and Symphony will have plug-ins into Quickr.  I'm still suspicious.. I'm pretty sure Quickr 8.1 has Cattail in it!!  You can tag files, subscribe to people, comment on files, send links to others right from Quickr, and rate documents.  Quickr 8.1 will use the Lotus Connections Person tag.  Shows easily moving a document into FileNet and start the workflow right within Quickr.  Then adds a file to a Lotus Connection Activity

My battery is at 25%.

9:49am - Jeff is back.  Starts to talk about Lotus Connections R2.  In 2008, Connections will support many more languages.  IBM on-track to be the first in the world to embed language support in the services provided by social software.  Connections will be integrated to Yahoo! Answers, Facebook, Confluence!!!!  Customization will be easier.  R2 will have Attention Management, which will drive attention to what's upcoming and important to you.  Lotus Connections Activities will work offline.  Suzanne adds a Yahoo! Answers widget to her Connections homepage!!  Demoes search where you can select which services to search (from a single input box).  A Profile will be integrated into Lotus Quickr via the Person tag.  Shows a video of accessing Lotus Connections from her Blackberry.  Retrieving a user profile takes 3 seconds!  Communities will have a Forum and you can save chats from ST into the Forum.  Communities will also be integrated with SocialText and Quickr.  Demoes easier Activity usage and template creation.  Once an Activity is marked as complete, you'll have a wizard to publish information into a Quickr place.

9:57am - A demo of Atlas begins.  Enters "lotus connections" and a visual network of people is displayed -- Gene Leo's photo comes up!!!  I think I saw my picture too.

My battery is at 21%.
  Do you think I'll make it ?

9:59am - Back to Jeff.  Today Lotus Mashups are introduced -- a graphical browser based tool so that business users can create new applications.  A widget library (which automatically discovers new widges) is part of the app.  This application is based on open-standards.  These mashups can surface in any environment:  Notes 8, web applications, etc.  Suzanne demoes Mashups.  She starts Firefox and easily drags a couple of widgets (organization hierarchy, salary feed and benefits feed) and wires them together.  A Domino widget (created with Domino Designer) can also be added to the mashup. 

10:03am - Back to Mike Rhodin.  Hype up music plays.. Something big is happening...

Did we buy Microsoft??

10:06am - We didn't buy Microsoft.  Today we announce Lotus Foundations -- appliances targeted to SMB customers.  A single Lotus Foundation appliance will have Domino, Quickr and FileNet on it.  Mike makes a reference to a MacAir and how Steve Jobs pulled it out from an envelope.  Mike, from an envelope, pulls out one of the servers!!!!  It's probably 6x8 inches!!!  WOW.  Announces Bluehouse, a SaaS for companies less than 500 employees.  Small customers will pay IBM to run a hosted collaboration service -- it will have everything: Connections, Quickr, Messaging, etc. Ron starts to demo Bluehouse.

10:11am - To register to Bluehouse, all you need is your name and an email address -- nothing else!  Goes to "Store & Share" a place to collaboratively work on documents.  From a spreadsheet he brings the New Live Chart wizard which makes it very easy to add charts to a spreadsheet online.

10:15am - Mike starts the closing statements.  Asks people to visit the Product Showcase.  Announces the Best in Showcase and the CTO's Innovation Award winners.  Thanks the audience for coming to the 15th Lotusphere and people exit!

My battery is at 12%.. I made it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Did you know...?

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I had a ping earlier today from a co-worker asking about Single Sign On for Lotus Connections with the Windows Desktop.  That means that a user logs on to their Windows machine, opens a browser and then goes to Lotus Connections and... VOILÁ!  They are automatically logged on!

How can this be done?  We use a technology referred to as SPNEGO (Simple and Protected GSS-API Negotiation).  In the old WebSphere v5 days, you had to purchase TAM/WebSEAL because it had the add-on that could parse the SPNEGO token (similar to the more commonly known LTPA token) and automatically sign you on.

Well, WebSphere v6.1 already includes this SPNEGO parser/connector/plug-in out-of-the-box, for free!  Therefore, all you need to do is configure it and off you go!  Here's how it works:

So another tidbit you can use to up the value of Lotus Connections (or any other application that runs on top of WebSphere v6.1) -- free SSO with the Windows Desktop!  (though I would still recommend some services to configure this...)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Decisions, Decisions -- Individual or Team Blog?

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I'm currently part of three internal team blogs:
  • WPLC (Lotus) TechWorks Team
  • Lotus Social Software 
  • ISSL Communities & Enablement
when it comes time to Blog, where should I do it ?  On my own individual blog ?  Or one of the team blogs that I'm a member of?  Are there any best practices out there to help you decide ?  To see, I did a quick Dogear search and all I found were links to Microsoft team blogs.  So two conclusions can be drawn from this:  (1)  People don't care about internal IBM team blogs and/or (2) People care too much about what our competition is doing smile .

Sometimes being a member of more than 1 blog causes me to post in the wrong Blog.  But that's my bug, I would say. 

I checked a couple of trusted Blogs, but couldn't find any best practices.

I've been writing this blog on and off for the past hour and I can't think of any reason why to post in a Team Blog, except to disseminate some sort of, well, team news.  Except, you could always disseminate the news on your individual blog.  If you only use a Team Blog to disseminate news, it's probably not going to be as active as your individual blog (news are boring, aren't they?). 

For example, the team blog for the Connections community only has 1.5 posts / month.  My guess is that not too many people are subscribed to it and only use it for reference.

So is a team blog an effective way to distribute news ?  Wouldn't it just be easier to post in the team's Quickr place and then subscribe to that feed?  As I keep writing this, I keep convincing myself that team blogs are not useful.  Perhaps it makes more sense to have an external team blog (e.g. were users/customers/partners don't have access to individual team members' blogs ?

Thoughts ?  Do you have a team blog?  If so, does it have a lot of traffic ?  Do you post a lot to it?  Should I have posted this in the TechWorks team blog? wink