Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lotus Connections Notifications Plugin for Sametime

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For the last month or so, I've been consumed working on a side project. You see, every once in a while, IBM hosts an internal coding competition which takes place during 24 hours; it's called HackDay. On the last HackDay, one of the best developers for Lotus Connections, Vincent Burckhardt, created a desktop application for Lotus Connections. The application would show an alert periodically showing the activity that your colleagues are doing in Lotus Connections. The alerts would include status updates, uploaded files, recommended blog entries, etc.

There were 2 things that I heard from IBMers that they wanted improve: 1) decrease the memory requirements and 2) enable alert replay (for those cases where you step away). Therefore, I decided to port the application into an Eclipse plugin for Lotus Sametime/Lotus Notes.

Thanks to the Lotus Expeditor framework (which is based on Eclipse), it was actually really simple to get the basis of the application going. Because Lotus Sametime already has a Notifications API and Framework, I decided to build the plugin for that (though it would work on instances of Notes that have Sametime embedded). Once I had the first iteration of the plugin ready, I released it as a private alpha build inside IBM. I had around 12 alpha testers which tested on various platforms/configurations.

I also asked in Twitter for alpha testers to make sure this plugin would work outside of IBM. All of the alpha testers gave me some good feedback, and 8 iterations later we are here today. In all, I've spent about 60 hours creating this plugin (spread over a month).

One issue that I ran into was leveraging Expeditor's Accounts API. I wanted to use that API, but I kept getting NullPointerExceptions when processing an account update. I think the documentation could be improved a bit in this area.

You can view a demo of my plugin here:

Based on the video, are there any additional features you would like to see?

Instructions on how to install the plugin will be available soon as I'm waiting for it to be published in the Lotus Catalog. Stay tuned!

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