Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lotus Connections Status Updates comes to Microsoft Sharepoint

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I'm currently preparing for a demo of Lotus Connections for a customer who uses Microsoft Sharepoint heavily. One of their requests is that they want to be able to access Lotus Connections data directly from Sharepoint so that users don't have to jump back and forth between the two applications. By now, you've probably seen my demo of the out of the box integration capabilities between Lotus Connections and Microsoft Sharepoint.

To add to that, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could bring Lotus Connections' microblogging capability to Sharepoint. Since Sharepoint has a web part that renders feeds, the first attempt was to use that web part and point it to the feed of status messages from Lotus Connections. While that was nice, it didn't look pretty at all!

Luckily, the web part allows you to customize the XSL so that the output looks nicer. (XSL defines the way to transform XML into HTML). So I took the original XSL and replaced it with a new one.

For the techies out there, you can download both and compare them. You'll see that I basically changed about 10-15 lines in the original file. For those that already own a Sharepoint site, go ahead and add the RSS web part (which has a bad name cause the web part can handle RSS, Atom, iTunes feeds, and other..), put in this new XSL, point it to the feed of status updates from Lotus Connections, and voilá.


There you have it! Now you can see the team's Lotus Connections status updates in Microsoft Sharepoint in less than 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Bookmark simultaneously to Lotus Connections and del.icio.us

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Earlier today I received a ping from one of my favorite customers. He showed QuixApp a nice bookmarklet that basically lets you do whatever you want. He thought this would be a good idea, for example, to create a bookmarklet that would simultaneously bookmark a page both in Lotus Connections and in del.icio.us.

I immediately answered that this has been available for a while, internally at IBM. The following bookmarklet was created by Sacha Chua and if you are browsing an internal page (e.g. w3.ibm.com/....) then the page is only bookmarked in Lotus Connections. If you are browsing an extranet site (e.g. www.cnn.com... ) then the page will be tagged in both services (you don't want internal/confidential pages to be accidentally saved to del.icio.us, right?).

Before you can use it with your own Lotus Connections deployment, you'll have to customize it a bit. Once you look at the code, you'll see something like this:

if(!location.href.match('.ibm.com'))

The first step is to change that from .ibm.com to whatever your company's hostname is. Next, you'll want to change the Lotus Connections URL. In the code you'll see something like this:

var%20h='http://w3.ibm.com/connections/dogear';

Again, change that to match the deployment of your organization and voilá.

IBMers: Drag and drop it to your bookmarks bar: tag this

According to Sacha, the bookmarklet builder was very handy during the creation of this bookmarklet.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Demo: New BlackBerry Client for Lotus Connections

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Last month, there was a press release announcing the new version (2.0) of the BlackBerry Client for Lotus Connections. While the press release was a bit confusing, it announced that the new client would be available on May 8th. What wasn't clear is that it was only going to be available to select customers.

Earlier today, I stumbled upon this great demo by Fred Clarke which gives a tour of the new client capabilities.

One of the most distinctive changes in this new client is that we now have native applications for all of the Lotus Connections modules. In the 1.x version of the client, only Profiles and Dogear had native applications, the rest required you to launch the browser, which was, at times, slow.

From the looks of the demo, the interaction is extermely fast. I believe this new client will be very powerful for our customers and their mobile workforce. This is definitely going to enhance Enterprise2.0 for the mobile world, something that I haven't seen any other Enterprise2.0 vendors doing. And this is a nice complement to the new mobile interface for iPhone users.

Enjoy! (and thanks to RIM for doing this for us!)

Lotusphere 2010 Recap

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As you may have heard, I had to bail out on Lotusphere 2010 because my son was suddenly hospitalized. Shortly after the opening keynote on Monday, I boarded a plane back home. Therefore, this recap is pretty short.

One of the great things about the keynote is that I got a chance to see it from the "blogger's couch". That means that I witnessed the entire keynote up close and personal from the very first row. Here's a picture taken from my iPhone:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

As usual, one of my favorite things of going to Lotusphere is meeting with all my colleagues. On Sunday we had the Lotusphere Tweet-Up where I got to see friends such as @marciamarcia, @elsua, @sursinus, @vjburns, @idonotes, @bilaljaffery, @alanlepo, @olufsphere, and many many others. We all took a picture in front of the DeLorean. And while I don't have a picture of the tweet up, I do have one with my twin brother (can you guess who's who?):

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

If you also missed Lotusphere, here's a quick recap by DJ Steve Porter:

Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

What's next with Lotus Connections ?

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This week, IBM is holding its annual collaboration conference called Lotusphere and is typically known for setting the vision for the collaboration strategy for the rest of the year. Today, at the opening keynote, IBM announced its plans for continuing to drive its Enterprise 2.0 platform, Lotus Connections, forward.

Lotus Connections, IBM's flagship Enterprise 2.0 platform, will be incorporating numerous new features in the coming months. There are several new capabilities, however, that are worth noting.

During the keynote, IBM reviewed the new features that were added into the latest offering of IBM Lotus Connections v2.5. It also reminded the audience about how it scored a big win with Panasonic dumping Microsoft and moving its 300,000 employees to the IBM-hosted collaboration solution LotusLive. Some of the features that wow'ed the audience were the new iPhone access, the new personal file sharing service, and the new capabilities in community spaces that provide for more targeted collaboration.

Enterprise 2.0 where your eyes are

IBM believes that it's essential to bring Enterprise 2.0 capabilities to the users instead of trying to bring users to new Enterprise 2.0 platforms. For that reason, IBM architected Lotus Connections around the SOA principles and has created free plug-ins so that its Lotus Connections platform is accessible from: Microsoft Sharepoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint, Windows Explorer, Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime, WebSphere Portal, RIM's Blackberry, Apple's iPhone, and Nokia's S60.

The recent integration of Lotus Connections and Alfresco's Open Source Enterprise Content Management solution was also mentioned. This integration is important because it's economical, scalable and an open platform which allows flexible access for programmers. In addition, this integration brings features to Lotus software not available through Microsoft SharePoint, including 5015.2 certified records management capabilities, and content services for Lotus collaboration in the cloud.

Looking forward

At the keynote, IBM set forth its vision for what's next. First, it is going to make it easier for end-users to find and invite colleagues to join their network. Additionally, it's going to continue building deeper integration with other enterprise applications such as Microsoft Sharepoint. A pain point that has been echoed by many Sharepoint users is that Sharepoint creates silos and doesn't do a good job in promoting knowledge re-use. IBM's platform fills this gap and will continue to create deeper links between Connections and Sharepoint to break down those silos and create a unified knowledge source. This means that users browsing Sharepoint will have seamless access to Lotus Connections data (experts, communities, bookmarks, wikis, microblogging, etc). Similarly, as those users are browsing Lotus Connections they'll be able to access data in Sharepoint such as file repositories.

Second, IBM also announced that it'll create even more links into WebSphere Portal. Most organizations that deploy a Portal spend time and effort making it a destination for its employees. By 'socializing' the portal, organizations will have a sure way of attracting users and keeping them engaged. At the same time, the end user benefits because they only have a single user interface to learn and use. They will no longer be required to jump back and forth between disparate application to effectively collaborate.

Mobile continues to improve

Another welcomed announcement was the brand new native Blackberry applications to provide native access to Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr. Mobile access to an Enterprise 2.0 platform is key for end-user adoption according to IBM. What's interesting too is that the applications were built entirely by RIM and since RIM hasn't done this for any other Enterprise 2.0 platform, it validates IBM as a leader in this field.

And speaking of links, IBM also re-iterated the importance of not only engaging employees for internal collaboration, but involving external users as well. Therefore, IBM will be adding some features to create safe social customer communities which increase loyalty and revenue. This will allow IBM to compete more strongly in the B2C segment, which is growing faster than the B2E segment. And work has already started in this aspect. Last quarter, IBM's WebSphere Commerce v7 was released and it includes many social commerce features such as enabling online stores to support product ratings and reviews and all powered by Lotus Connections.

Friday, January 15, 2010

On my way to Lotusphere

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In about 24 hours I'll be getting into a plane to go to Lotusphere 2010 at Walt Disney World. As you know, I'll be speaking at BP301 - How Top Companies are Getting 'Out of the Box' with Lotus Connections 2.5. The session is Wednesday at 4:15pm so that's a sure place where you can find me. Another sure way to run into me is on Sunday, when we'll also be having a massive Tweet up during the welcome reception. I'll be there co-hosting the tweet up. For more details on location and time for the Lotusphere tweet up, see this post.

If this is your first time going to Lotusphere, or if it's been a while, you'll want to listen to the Lotusphere Podcast. There you'll get various tips from fellow attendees on how to come prepared, what to look out for, and how to get the most out of your Lotusphere experience. I've heard that episode 5 of the podcast is the best (yes, that's the one where I'm interviewed).

While at Lotusphere, there are many sessions and places so it may be worth planning your schedule ahead of time. If you have Lotus Notes, you can download a Notes DB with all the sessions and add the ones you want to your calendar. For mobile access to the session DB while at the conference, you have a couple of options:

iPhone/Blackberry/Android: Point your mobile web browser to: http://lotus2010.com (plug: this is using the Portal Mobile Accelerator)


iPhone/Android: Point your browser http://ls2010.ontimesuite.com/


Want to go native ? There are also native apps for both your iPhone and Blackberry. On the iTunes App Store, search for LSMobile and in the Blackberry App World search for, well, LSMobile!

So stay connected and follow @LotusKnows on Twitter for news, announcements, prizes, and more during the conference.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Terms & Conditions for Lotus Connections Login page

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Recently, I was working with a customer who wanted to ensure that their users agree to some terms and conditions before being able to log on to Lotus Connections. It turns out that this customization is not too bad. I had heard from Mitch Cohen that jQuery was a nice library to do this.

I did some searching online to see if someone had done something similar. I found this awesome article: Modal Confirmation Dialog on Form Submit: Javascript, jQuery, and Thickbox. It basically shows you how to do the same thing in 3 different ways. I chose to use jQuery for this little project.


Here's step-by-step how I did it:

  1. Download the jQuery libraries. This link did it for me: http://jqueryui.com/download/jquery-ui-1.7.2.custom.zip
  2. Extract the files to a directory in your HTTP server. I put them in a directory called jq in: C:\IBM\HTTPServer\htdocs\en_US
  3. Go to <WAS_PROFILE_ROOT>\installedApps\<cellName>\Homepage.ear\dboard.war\auth
  4. Save a copy of login.jsp
  5. Open login.jsp with your favorite text editor
  6. Add the following before the closing </HEAD> element

     <!-- Include jQuery -->
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/jq/jquery-ui-1.7.2.custom.css">
    <script type="text/javascript" src="/jq/jquery-1.3.2.min.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="/jq/jquery-ui-1.7.2.custom.min.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript">
    $(function(){
            // jQuery UI Dialog    
    
            $('#dialog').dialog({
                autoOpen: false,
                width: 400,
                modal: true,
                resizable: false,
                buttons: {
                    "I Agree": function() {
                        document.lotusLoginForm.submit();
                    },
                    "I do NOT agree": function() {
                        $(this).dialog("close");
                    }
                }
            });
    
            $('form#lotusLoginForm').submit(function(){
                $('#dialog').dialog('open');
                return false;
            });
    });
    
    </script>
    

  7. Now go on to the end of the file.
  8. Just before the </BODY> element, insert the following code:

    <div id="dialog" title="Terms and Conditions">
      <p>
      <span class="ui-icon ui-icon-alert" style="float:left; margin:0 7px 0 0;"></span>
    
    <p>Lorem ipsum,blah blah blah</p>
    <p>If you agree, click <b>I Agree</b> below.</p>
    <p>Otherwise, click <b>I do NOT agree</b>.<p>
    </div>
    
    

Download Lotusphere presentations from Dropbox

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Via Alan Lepofsky's blog I discovered that Volker Weber has setup a shared DropBox folder for downloading Lotusphere presentations. The idea is to make it easier to download presentations for Lotusphere by crowdsourcing the process of putting all presentations into a single place. If you want to sign up to help, click here for details...

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three books you should buy

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As we get ready for Lotusphere 2010, I thought I would make you aware of a couple of books that have been published recently and I recommend you buy.

First, there's IBM Lotus Connections 2.5: Planning and Implementing Social Software For Your Enterprise. This book was written by a set of Lotus Connections experts ranging from product managers, developers, and services specialists. It covers everything from business value of social software, to adoption of social software in the enterprise, to deploying and customizing Lotus Connections v2.5. I was the technical editor for this book, so you know the content is good.


Second, there's Web 2.0 and Social Networking for the Enterprise by Joey Bernal. This book also has a foreword by Jeff Schick and you may remember that I gave away a copy recently at the Tri-State LUG. Joey and I worked together under the same manager when I used to work in the IBM Software Services team. He asked me to be a technical reviewer for chapters 1 and 4. Chapter 1 is around definitions on Web 2.0 and Social Networking, while chapter 4 is about Social Software for the Enterprise.


Last, there's The Social Factor which has a page dedicated to me! The author of the book, María Azua, interviewed me to learn more about my story of Why I Love Blogs. She liked my story so much that she included it in page 50 of the book. My former teammate, Laurisa Rodriguez, wrote a chapter for this book. ComputerWorld lists this book as one of the 5 must-read books for social media marketing.


Enjoy!

Connections Glue: A New Twitter Client for Lotus Connections

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Since late November, a new microblogging client for both Lotus Connections and Twitter has been available. You may remember that I some time ago I had blogged about another microblogging client for these services called Bluto. As far as I know, Bluto was the first available microblogging client that incorporated both Twitter and Lotus Connections.

With all the craziness of my job during the 4th quarter of the year, I didn't really get a chance to play with Glue until the new year (read last week). After using it for a week now, I have to say that Glue is very cool! One thing that I was never happy with Bluto was the way it handled replies. In Connections Glue, you can actually see the conversation threads within Lotus Connections. Another thing that I like a lot is how the threads are sorted. In Connections Glue, threads are sorted by the date of the most recent comment. Therefore, active threads are always kept near the top and allows you to engage in conversations and not miss it (which would typically happen in systems like Facebook or Twitter).

You also have the ability to:

  • Search for People by tags, name, etc
  • Search for Files
  • Preview images directly in Connections Glue
  • Email contacts

Here's a quick demo of Connections Glue. If you are an IBMer, you can download it for free (and I extremely recommend it). Others have a 30 day trial.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lotusphere Tweet Up - Details for your calendar

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For the 3rd year in a row, the Lotus Social Software Community will be getting together at Lotusphere. I'm going to be co-hosting the event along with Brian O'Curran, Sonia Malik, and Bilal Jaffery. If you'll be at Lotusphere, be sure to join us at this year's event:

What: Lotusphere Tweet Up

Where: Meet @ the playground between Grotto Pool and position N in the map.

When: During the Opening Reception, Sunday night January 17th @ 6:30pm

Why: Because our photos may be out of date.

For more information, see: http://planetlotus.org/61b548. See you there!

Track usage in Lotus Connections with Google Analytics

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Lately, I've been working with many customers that are deploying Lotus Connections in the extranet. One of their common interests is being able to see and report on usage, page views, unique users, etc.

One easy, and free, way to do this is by using Google Analytics. And, as it turns out, it's very easy to add Google Analytics tracking to Lotus Connections. To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. Open an account with Google Analytics
  2. Get the code to add to your site. Typically, it looks something like this:

    <script type="text/javascript">
    var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
    document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
    </script>
    <script type="text/javascript">
    try {
    var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("XX-YYYYYYY-Z");
    pageTracker._trackPageview();
    } catch(err) {}</script>
    


  3. Create a common footer file as explained here: http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/ltscnnct/v2r0/topic/com.ibm.connections.25.help/t_admin_common_add_footer_section.html
  4. In the footer.html, add the tracking code from step 2 above to the very bottom of the file. Make sure you replace the code in red with your own 'page id' that you get from Google Analytics
  5. Save footer.html
  6. Restart Connections.
That's it! Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'll be speaking at Lotusphere 2010

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Last week I got a call from David Stephens to ask whether I would be willing to join them on stage on session BP301 - How Top Companies are Getting "Out of the Box" with Lotus Connections 2.5.


Here's the session abstract:

Join Workflow Studios, Stuart McIntyre, Chris Miller and myself. Your Lotus Connections 2.5 deployment doesn't have to be an island! You can mix Lotus Connections with other social software components and create a solution that feels right for your company. Believe it or not, there are ways to theme and brand your site without breaking your install! Do you have in-house productivity tools? Integrate them! We'll explore some best practices for managing your customizations and deploying them, and with these you can be more innovative in how you use the tool. See how a variety of customers, from different markets and backgrounds, have created unique approaches to managing profile information, status updates and external network integration. You'll leave this session armed with the knowledge needed to use Lotus Connections "outside the box"!

The session will be at Swan 5-6 on Wednesday at 4:15pm-5:15pm. Hope to see you there!

Change the default login page in Lotus Connections Homepage

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Today is a short blog post to share a cool customization that I've been asked about a lot recently.

One of the most common questions that I get these days is how to configure Lotus Connections so that the default page after login is the 'My Page' tab of the Homepage instead of the 'Updates' tab. The 'My Page' tab is the one that contains the widgets and that was the default in the v2.0.x days. In v2.5, the development team added activity streams and that's what's shown immediately after login.

Luckily, this has already been documented by my friend and co-worker Gerard Muecke. To see how this is done, check out Gerard's blog post: Changing the landing page after login in Lotus Connections 2.5.   

Enjoy!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Connections Upgrade and Migration Webcast on Jan 13th, 2010

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Next week, I'm going to be one of the panelists at the Connections Upgrade and Migration Webcast on Jan 13th , 2010. The event is free and is open to everybody.

Here's some information on the event:

Abstract
IBM Development and Support are hosting a Tech Exchange webcast and call on the topic of "Upgrade and Migration From Lotus Connections V2.0 to V2.5". There is no charge for participating.

Details:

Title: Upgrade and Migration From Lotus Connections V2.0 to V2.5

Date: Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Time: 9:00 am - 10:30 am eastern US time (2:00 pm GMT)
Webcast access: https://www.lotuslive.com/en/join?schedid=4419191
Audio by phone:
Toll free US: 866-803-2143
Toll call US: 210-795-1098      
Confirmation Code: CONNECTIONS
Please dial in 5-10 minutes early to allow time for registration of all participants before the presentation starts.

Open Mic calls are Question & Answer sessions with a panel of subject matter experts covering your questions without going thru a slide presentation.

The slides will be posted as a reply to this topic when they are ready.

You can submit your question in advance via this forum. Questions should be of general interest. Troubleshooting of specific problems should still be handled by Technical Support, not by Webcast calls. We will collect questions, which have been posted to the forum as a reply to this topic and address as many of them as possible on the call. We will also take questions not submitted in advance.

You will need to provide your name and company affiliation when dialing in. You will need a touch tone phone to be able to ask questions. The presentation will be recorded and (in potentially edited form) made available via a web page to be linked from the Tech Exchange page.

You can find an up-to-date schedule of upcoming Open Mic calls and Webcast calls, as well as links to slides and recordings from past calls, here:
http://www.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=899&uid=swg27011126

For more information, see this post. See you there!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Updated: 10 principles for Enterprise 2.0 implementations

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About 19 months ago, I worked with the founder of BinaryPlex and creator of HiveMind, Tim Bull, to put together the 10 architectural principles for an Enterprise 2.0 implementation. Based on our experience since then, we have updated these principles. You'll notice that now we've removed 'architectural' from the title and now formally using the Enterprise 2.0 keyword. You can read the entire story in Tim's blog entry.

So here they are:

Principle 1: User controlled privacy, common security
Social software is by it’s very nature social! While user privacy is important and should be available at their discretion, authentication schemes should remain based on common standards to promote sharing and connectivity. In general, open read access is preferred. Complex, multi-factor Enterprise SSO solutions are generally NOT very compatible with social media goals even when they do integrate (e.g. they often break RSS, prevent mashups etc).

Principle 2: Identity reuse
Options should be provided to allow users to share profiles and identity without re-keying lots of information, externally this could mean Open Auth schemes. In Enterprises, identity should be able to be integrated into directories and other authoritative user sources.

Principle 3: Ubiquitous Online Access
Social Software should be considered an online access solution (ie. limited facility required to access the information in an off-line capability), but access should be facilitated from multiple points including mobile devices, not just a particular browser.

Principle 4: Don't create silos
The value of a trusted network dynamically increases with its sizehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe's_Law. Ensure that your implementation is targetting the greatest number of users.

Principle 5: Modular services with integration based on common Open Standards
Services should be designed to maximise simple re-use and allow users to mashup up modules to meet their specific requirements. Support for protocols like ATOM, RSS and REST architectures is key to enable this.

Principle 6: Configuration not Customisaton
Social Software is evolving quickly, extensively configuring the software, not customising it by modifying core elements allows rapid roll-up to future versions and capabilities as these improve.

Principle 7: Build for Rapid Growth
Social Software is difficult to control and pilot, so system design should allow for a rapid uptake and changing usage patterns. Build with added headroom above what you might normally size for a pilot system. If you're inviting 1000 users, allow for 2000.

Principle 8: By the People, For the People
Be very clear on the aim and purpose of the system and make sure you remove barriers to adoption that prevent and hinder people sharing information with each other. This includes promoting Internationalisation and Ease-Of-Use UI's (no-one ever received training on LinkedIn). The counter to this is that you have an Enterprise Centric Approach where the information and its use is driven and mandated by the "good" of the Enterprise which is quite different in principle. In social media implementations, Enterprises are the benefactors of the outcomes of human interactions; it's the people who are the consumers driving the benefit.

Principle 9: Limit Content Creation Work-Flow
Social software solutions promote the sharing of information and activities, deriving value from the flow of this information through the eco-system. Approval processes hinder the value of this conversation, reducing the incentive to participate in the system. Strong requirements for content-creation work-flow potentially suggest that either social software is the wrong solution for the business, or that the business is not yet culturally aligned with social software.

Principle 10: People not Documents
Social Software is about people connecting to people and discovering and carrying on a conversation. It's not a document centric publishing and storage platform (although it may potentially extend to that if documents aid the conversation).