Category Archives: IBMConnections

SnappLinks for IBM Connections adds SlideShare support

slideshareNot long ago we announced SnappLinks for IBM Connections, a set of social link helper plugins for IBM Connections. This week we’re adding a new plugin to the mix, one to embed SlideShare presentations. You’ve seen them all over the web on blogs and articles, and now it’s a matter of a couple clicks to add them to your Connections Blos and Wikis.

Here’s a video introducing them where I grab my IBM Connect 2013 presentation and embed it in my Connections wiki. The video is a little over a minute, but as you’ll see the activity takes about 10 seconds just to get the embed code on the clipboard.

Enjoy! And of course, feel free to contact me if you’re interested…

SnappLinks with SlideShare

Sticking with Quickr a While? Some Suggestions

QuickrLogoTinyAs you contemplate the document-management-collaboration-teamspace-workflow-process world in the coming months and years, it’s likely that many of you will want to wring everything you can out of your investment over the past 14 years (that’s right, 1999) in Lotus Quickr and its previous married and maiden names.

I’ve heard from companies who are planning to migrate to Connections Content Manager 4.5 (coming soon to a server near…me), and some that plan to migrate in and out to everything from PDFs (we do that) to Sharepoint (uh, huh) to IBM ECMs and other collaborative platforms like Liferay.

But for many, sticking with Quickr Domino for the foreseeable future is a very valid choice. Your users know it well and don’t need training, or use the Quickr Connectors religiously, or you have a customization in place that conforms to paragraph 17 section 42 subsection d of the corporate style guide. Whatever the reason, if you intend to maintain a Quickr Domino server I have a few technical and business suggestions to bring and keep you up to date.

Internet Sites Documents

Starting with an earlier fixpack of Quickr 8.5.1 (currently 37), Quickr officially began to support Domino’s Internet Site Documents. Prior to this, we all used the Web Configuration document and standard MSSO / LtpaToken combination. And if you did, it’s not likely you switched because things are working. Switch. Two reasons — if you are still on Domino 8.5.1 (see below) you can add a custom header to provide better support for IE9 by putting it into compatibility mode. But more importantly, when using Internet Site documents, you have the option to have the server automatically compress (gzip) files from the file system as they are fed to the browser, cutting down traffic. And Quickr traffic, and these files, number in the hundreds. Multiply this by hundreds or thousands of users and this represents a significant savings and performance boost.

Domino – Upversion

Starting with Quickr 8.5.1 Fixpack 34, the team separated the Dojo installation to the point where Quickr no longer depended on the Domino Dojo version 1.3.2 being in a specific directory. Don’t get this wrong – Quickr still uses Dojo 1.3.2, but it installs its own copy. This has made the Quickr server more independent from the Domino version, meaning…it’s more likely we’ll see Quickr supported on Domino 9 when the time comes. (That is not an official or even informed statement, it’s just technically more feasible.) So, upgrade Domino to 8.5.3 (FP1, HF618 specifically) and when doing so, be sure you understand that there are two fixpack code streams now – and install the Quickr fixpack for Domino 8.5.3 going forward.

Fixpacks – Do Them

Quickr fixpacks are released every month. I suggest a maintenance release schedule of every two months, one month behind IBM, unless there is a specific fix for you or a showstopper bug (to you!) in a fixpack. Applying fixpacks is easy, despite the best efforts of the documentation to be confusing. Once you’ve done a few of them it becomes second nature and can take little to no downtime. Be sure to read the fix lists and consult the sample qpconfig xml document for new parameters and options, and once in a while even some features.

RTQM

With each fixpack comes an updated release document, and while you may be tempted to skip it, there are often hidden gems, like the time that all the notification templates were updated, or XSRF security was added. Have a look through this document, then, as I suggested above, compare your existing qpconfig.xml configuration file to the newly deposited qpconfig_sample.xml file. You may in fact find undocumented new settings (I know of one for sure, because I put it there!).

Collaboration Space Lifecycle

Quickr places that are designed for project work are temporal in nature (I love throwing ST:TNG terms into my blog), but more often than not at the end of their usefulness they sit on the server taking up space, processor, indexing time, and resources. Just like the more granular corporate document management lifecycles and retention policies, the lifecycle of Quickr places and their documents, collaborations and bastions of tacit knowledge should be planned as well. We have tools to export to PDFs, which may or may not work for you, and there are other storage options out there…

Tools and Apps and Workflows, Oh My!

Once you’ve settled on an updated Quickr instance, it’s time to add in some moderate helper tools, optimizations and easily pluggable customizations to enhance the user experience. Sitemaps, widgets to do pretty much anything, custom notification templates (branding), themes, views and HTML forms are all part of the more mature, high-ROI Quickr environments I’ve worked with for 14 years. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that you get more out of software when a) people like using it and b) it helps get their job done faster and better. So consider some of the free and paid add-ons out there. A few are in my post below (well those are more full-blown apps). One was even done for a rocket scientist. Honest.

 

Lotus Quickr is only Mostly Dead

So you’ve heard by now that Lotus Quickr is dead. Doornail, zombie, Betamax, rotary dial, dead. Somebody came back from what used to be called Lotusphere, said there were no sessions, saw a tweet and now has you scrambling for an answer to the pressing, urgent, mission critical need to provide a replacement. Dead, I say!

MiracleMax“Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.”
-Miracle Max, The Princess Bride

A side effect of thundering silence, which is what we heard about Quickr for a year, is a desire for new direction. I recognize that, and of course counsel clients to be best of my ability when they are making strategic, tactical, or weekly conference call decisions.

So, I shall put my powers of deductive reasoning to work here and provide you with my view of the situation and perhaps, some direction.

Quickr is far from “dead.” In the IBM software world, “dead” takes place over a period of years and takes the shape of changes to the official product lifecycle status. First we’ll see a version reduction (there are two, some could argue three, versions) with the older versions being withdrawn first. In our case, Quickr for Domino has version 8.2, and two slightly different versions of 8.5.1 – one that runs on Domino 8.5.1 and one that runs on Domino 8.5.3. By “withdrawn” I mean that the lifecycle status will change to what they used to call (and I still do) “EOL” or “End of Life” then eventually “EOS” or “End of Support.” When a product hits EOL, it is removed form IBM’s offerings and no longer sold, a letter is published about its withdrawal from marketing, and maintenance is no longer extended. EOS comes later, as customers can actually buy a product until the EOL date and expect support. Even after EOS, companies can purchase extended support contracts to keep themselves covered for longer term use.

SecondOpinion

OK, here’s one:

“First of all, I want to make it very clear, that Quickr is going to be continued to be supported for a very long time. So, there is no immediate action required on the customer side to do something right now. You can all continue to use Quickr.”
-Rene Schimmer, IBM (Ask the Product Managers, IBM Connect 2013)

But really, all that is just the mechanics of availability. What about you thousands of Quickr customers? Well IBM has laid out a roadmap, and that is a partial migration to IBM Connections Content Manager 4.5, to be released next month, and a utility to migrate Quickr for Domino or J2EE libraries to it. Problem solved! Well, for some of you.

When you start classifying your current use of Quickr, the answer you’re after gets a bit more complex.

Customizations
You see, many companies (I claim 50%) have some sort of a) non-library, b) custom, c) workflow, or d) extranet use for Quickr. Or a combination. Here’s a sample from memory: Quickr is used for law firm caseloads, extranets, group calendars, marketing campaign tracking, oil exploration scientific taxonomies, network procedure tracking, drug approvals, multi-phase editing cycles, leave approvals, insurance certificate delivery, employee timesheets, global trademark legal processes, quality assurance reporting, global feedback management, training delivery systems, on-demand surveys, trade ministry envoy support, and presidential speech delivery.

Let’s say you have some level of customization, but at the end of this article believe you should still migrate to Connections Content Manager. You’ll need some services to get your Quickr server data in order, or migrate the customization work and data. That effort might be an item of value for you, or it might not. It will take individual analysis to come up with the best strategy.

Size Matters
There are indeed customers who may fit the use profile but do not have Connections today, are running Quickr on a single Domino server or cluster, who in order to migrate need multiple high powered servers, a services engagement for installation and configuration, and a need to acquire or hire WebSphere skills. If you’re a small shop or operate on a smaller budget, this could be a challenge.

Extranets
As a replacement strategy IBM is offering a solution that does not YET have an extranet or external user story. Quickr Domino is very often used for these purposes. In fact this was the original marketing message for QuickPlace in 1999. Also, when Quickr customers use local users, the additional burden of converting to an LDAP solution comes into play.

Conclusions
The best advice I can give a Quickr customer is more like a meme: STAY CALM and CHOOSE WISELY. It’s a bit obvious. IBM has said that Quickr Domino will be around and supported for many years to come. It’s just not going to get new features. It will receive what they’re calling “currency updates” which means support for new browsers and operating systems on the client end…at least what can be supported based on the architecture. For those who choose to follow the migration roadmap, I propose an analysis of the current environment, feature comparisons and a readiness check for your Quickr environment.

So to migrate or not to migrate? Start asking these questions.

  1. If you have no customizations but use Quickr for document storage only, plus for migration
  2. If you already have IBM Connections, plus for migration
  3. If you don’t have IBM Connections but do have WebSphere skills, small plus for migration
  4. If you have customizations that are functional or business process oriented, plus for Quickr stability
  5. If you have an extranet, plus for Quickr
  6. If you have a small installation and no IBM Connections, plus for Quickr
  7. If you want some stability for several years while you work it out, plus for Quickr
  8. Keep in mind there are a few other options besides the roadmap — other products for collaborative document management
  9. More than likely, you have mixed answers

A final thought – being up to date on Quickr will be key to that “stable” environment, if sticking with Quickr is your choice. And once you’re there, there is no harm in investing in add-on products, MODERATE customizations and additional support services to enhance your business processes and client experience. Quickr is quite flexible today, and the stability of several years of support for the same version means your risk associated with ISVs and customization is actually lower now than at any time in the past. Think about that as you make your choices for 2013, 14, 15, 16…

On Becoming a Connections Developer

I had the pleasure of presenting at IBM Connect 2013 last week on this topic in the Show and Tell track. Normally I keep presentations a bit closer to the vest as they’re reused in parts throughout the year. This one, though, is more instructional in nature and I thought wider distribution would be a good thing.

Jerald Mahurin and I put some 200 hours into preparation for the session, not including the slide prep. Believe me when I say that this track is quite intense. I had perhaps four hours of material, fit into two hours, noted on arrival that I only had one hour forty five minutes, and had to start ten minutes late due to the OGS overrun (saw it coming…)

My goal with the session wasn’t to show everyone exactly how to code for Connections. That’s a job for weeks or months. Rather I wanted to get across some key points:

  1. What tools will I be using?
  2. What languages, toolkits, and big concepts must I understand?
  3. What can I do with them?

This third point was key to the session’s stated goal, which is the ability to “frame” business problems and integration possibilities with skill and speed. Like we do with Domino applications — we know at a glance what we’re going to build in most cases, and how. Never mind that there are 50 options in the Designer navigator, we know how all those pieces fit.

So, please enjoy what I call the “ridiculously long” presentation. I might suggest breaking your reading and exercises into several smaller sittings. Don’t forget to stretch. Do not go into the water until one hour after finishing.

Of course, feel free to use the form at the end to contact me! I’m happy to help with strategy, consulting, development approaches, and integration possibilities.