A few hours to Lotusphere's 2007 closure.
A plane is waiting, so I'll miss the general closing session. There is
an incredible amount of information to digest and it might take a few days
until I get on top of it. One big difference to last year: nobody was talking
about threats from Microsoft anymore. The new and improved products were
all the buzz. I found the possibilities of Expeditor and composite applications
intriguing. A lot of brains already crack their heads what they will build
with that. In this context:
The old joke goes: IBM doesn't release
prisoners software, software escapes from IBM's lab. And
I've got a quick glimpse of one of these fugitives:
A composite, that automatically can
launch your email (or other) attachments in a preview window with slide-show
capabilities. Since it has escaped, we don't know if it ever will make
it back into the product <g>.
Heisterberg presented on my favourite
Domino topic: DXL. As take away he promised insights into namespaces, Do's
and Dont's and working code. Mikkel quickly explained the perils of using
namespaces and how to use it properly. On he went to explain some uses
for DXL. The first is a backend import of pictures in Notes using DXL.
The next how to deal with image resources. He gave good pointers, that
you need to pay close attention to DXL's details, e.g. Items are broken
into 32k junks, so an image will very likely be stored in more than one
He then went on to run quickly through
the advantages of OO programming. Of course <g> he took a stab on
the limitations we face in OO LotusScript. Mikkel is confessing Java fan
(doc.recycle() anyone). Using his excellent LSDoc
he explained why and how he used OO in LotusScript. But he didn't stop
there. Taking a page from Java's pattern principles Mikkel showed how to
implement them in LotusScript using a base class and some implementation
classes. More of explanation of his LSDoc library.
What I liked
Cool implementation of a callback function
in LotusScript and a cool implementation of "Chain of Responsibility"
in LSDoc's DecisionMaker.
What I didn't like
I would like to see more of the code,
but sessions are time limited <g>.
Bell and John
D. Head delivered the session.
In the opening statement Alan promised to show code, code, code. To build
up suspense Alan promised that Example 8 will blow our minds. John gave
a brief overview of OpenOffice.org and the fact that it implements the
standard for office document. OO uses UNO (Universal Network Object) to
access OpenOffice. The equivalent of a NotesSession in OO is the ServiceManager,
the equivalent to NotesUIWorkspace is com.sun.star.frame.Desktop. Alan
walks though the code to put Hello World into the text editor, the spreadsheet
and the presentation editor. They stressed the point that the code is the
same for similar tasks, so the learning affordance is quite low. The documentation
is very extensive with the developer guide exceeding 1000 pages. However
the API documentation is more geared towards Java and C, so it takes time
to get used to.
On with some example: Complex table,
mail merge and a spreadsheet that uses a Spreadsheet class (courtesy Alan
Bell) to abstract the interaction. Inside the Spreadsheet class works a
list of columns. Columns contain lists of cells and cell is a class where
all the work goes. Alan shows how to transfer RichText formatting from
Notes views to spreadsheets. John then showed the direct creation from
PDF from a Notes document. Then John showed that all OpenOffice examples
run natively in the productivity editors of Lotus Notes 8 (availability
to be determined).
What I liked
Cool usable code.
What I didn't like
Tyler presented how to use Virtual
Machines in an IT environment. He first introduced what a virtual machine
is and what versions of VMware are around: VMware Player, VMware Server,
VMware Workstation VMware Infrastructure 3. The first two are free, the
later two commercial offers. Carl gave a great rundown what virtual machines
are good for including checking behaviour in poor network conditions or
downloading suspicious material from the web. To show off <vbg> he
showed Apple OS/X running in VMware. He then walked through the various
options like creating, starting, stopping or pausing a virtual machine.
He went on to to explain the networking options and some performance tips
(like switch off what you don't need and why).
The next features he covered were Clones,
Templates and Snapshots. You might want to look up the documentation
for the details. A cool feature are linked clones that allow similar machines
to share the commonalities in memory and on disk. The demonstration of
the snapshot features was quite impressive. You can use snapshots in development
to go back an retrieve code you might have overwritten accidentally.
One feature I didn't know is VMware
are VMware teams. Teams are groups of machines that can be started, stopped,
paused or resumed. The most powerful feature however is the capability
to simulate multiple different network connections like slow or patchy
networks. This demo was even more impressive.
Carl concluded how a Domino developer
can take advantage of all this capabilities including WAN clustering.
What I liked
Good introduction into VMware and sharing
of experience what works well.
What I didn't like
I see myself buying new disks to play
more with VMWare.
Two IBMer (Simon Butcher, John Walicki)
and Jean Pierre Dumoulin from PSA (Peugeot) walked us though the current
status, deployment experience and the future roadmap. The feature set for
Notes 7 on Linux is well known with integrated chat and smart icons missing.
The offical Beta for Notes8 will be out in Q1 and will be feature complete
compared to the Windows version. Tested platforms are RHEL4 and SLED 10.
As we all know other distributions work well too.
Pierre then shared how PSA made Linux
and integrated part of their IT strategy. They target about 20k seats within
a workforce of about 200k. They use this Linux deployment to keep Microsoft
at bay. PSA wants users to ask for the Linux Desktop instead of forcing
them to use it, so they used Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop with XGL which
looks good works well.
John walked us through how IBM's philosophy
to emphasise on business value and applications rather than an operating
system. So providing the applications for business and lowering the TCO
brought Linux into the picture. IBM runs a heterogenous environment, so
they can provide Windows, Linux or Macs where ever the are the best fit.
He explained how IBM customized the installation process and the distribution
to fit their needs. He was very clear about Linux not being the prime time
environment for everybody, but a specific - and growing - community of
users. He further shared considerations who could be a member of the community
for the first deployment.
What I liked
PSA managed to get Novell and IBM engineering
working together. Clear message when to use and when not to use Linux and
what you are in for.
What I didn't like
IBM using Redhat instead of Suse (Suse's
headquarter is located in the country of Franconia, where my home town
is located too, so I favour Suse over Read Read -- little patriotism, no
Beth Raven and Chris
Reckling presented on why the
Notes 8 client is how it is. MBR shared the 4 attributes of a world
class user experience:
Raven shared why they used personas
who use Notes in a specific context to achieve specific goals. She used
my favourite story about the princess and the moon to explain that you
have to get into the mind of your users. (ISO
9241-11 anyone). With the help
of surveys and study groups the usability team first settled on a colour
schemes. After that with the help of wire frames the base layout was born.
Taking the possibilities of implementation into account the Notes8 Beta
as of today was born.
A lot of steps were involved here. A
key point was not to phrase "the user can" but "In R8 Samantha
can..", so the personas were used extensively. The step in detail:
- Visual Style: the icons, the colors,
the visual details
- Usefulness: day to day task oriented
work rather than tool oriented
- Execution: Attention to detail, aspiration
- Innovation: Add new features to get
the work done, faster, more accurate and enjoyable
MBR showed a few of the new features including the search, the start button
and the side preview.
- Prioritize features starting from 4000
feature request: Focus groups, surveys, Sticky notes exercises
- Design and hold Design Reviews: Online
documents, Paper specs, Prototypes, Reviews, Reviews, Reviews
- Users First Program: Visit customers
- Usability Test, and Re-Test > 475
test so far.
- Blog and gather feedback
- Attention to detail
- Delighting users with the experience
- Fix usability bugs
- Design Review
- Usability Testing
I think putting users on centre stage
is a welcome departure from the featuritis of previous years towards better
What I liked
What I didn't like
IBM should have started doing this years
- Work closely with the IBM Research Lab
(contributed Activity centric computing)
- Usability test on new features
- New features: Conversations, Filter
dialogue, Sidebars (put things into your peripheral vision --- I want a
wide screen now!), Grouped tabs
The presenters started the session with
valuable performance tips for Linux and the various Notes.ini settings
(I'll update this post later). They then went on to show various performance
results of Lotus Domino 7.x on 64bit operating systems: Linux, zOS, Windows
and AIX. A very impressive number was the ability of a single node W2K3
64bit server running Domino and serving 19k users (up from 12k). For Domino
8 they have designed a new workload with mail filtering, 250MB mailboxes,
transaction logging, standard server tasks and mail journaling. The new
workload almost triples the CPU load on the servers and will give a more
realistic picture of what to expect. Moving on to Sametime, they announced
a paper "IBM Lotus Sametime 7.5 Benchmark Results & Tuning Guide"
I can't wait to see that.
Sametime performs very well on a single
(dual CPU with >30k) box. CPU and disk usage is moderate, however RAM
is critical. So have lots of it. In one test the Sametime gateway had a
Java heap size of 1.4GB with good results. So tweak your JVM settings.
Now the meat... Domino 8 performance
After focusing on memory and CPU in
previous releases. In Domino 8 the focus is I/O. Disk get bigger and bigger
but not dramatically faster. In the current Beta the development team already
has achieved up to 40% reduction in I/O. They aim for up to 50%. When your
addressable memory space in 64Bit gets much bigger, I/O can be reduced
further. There are quite some performance improvements in the queue. However
they will require ODS47, so warm up your compact tasks (or better make
new replicas as I usually state).
You might want to head over to notesbench
to compare various systems.
What I liked
No nonsense presentation of sizing information.
Good cheat sheets for Domino performance tuning.
What I didn't like
I would have liked to see some early
Domino 7 - Domino 8 comparison charts.
"See me, feel me, touch me, heal me"
- The opening song prepares for some more wizardry.
Mike Rhodin is addressing the crowd:
2006 was the best year for Lotus ever. Two years of double digit
consecutive growth helped Lotus to outgrow the market (so much about a
dying software <g>). In Q4 Lotus grew 30% year-to-year. There supposed
to be almost 7k attendees at Lotusphere (you might want to calculate
yourself). If you can't make it
to Orlando you can attend Lotusphere in Cyberspace.
The guest speaker is none other than
America's first man on the moon Niel
Armstrong. He shared the story
of manned space travel and IT from his very personal experience in a very
humorous anecdotical way.
Back to Rhodin: He's preparing the crowd
for the new announcements. He claims that the single benchmark for Lotus
offerings will be how much more productive Lotus can make their users.
He is stressing the importance of collaboration and the perils of failure
to collaborate in a highly diverse workplace, where "Office"
more and more refers to a mental state rather than a physical location.
New ways to work require new ways to collaborate. "eMail, that is
for my grandfather" seems to be the motto for younger generations.
To foster change and speed adaption of new tools they need to be
Cool intuitive and easy to use. If that happens new ways to work are adopted
in a viral fashion. Accelerating change requires new ways to make applications
available, so the new term of "Application assembly" will take
On with the presentations of Lotus Products:
Sametime being first.
IBM had announced Sametime 7.5 on last
year's Lotusphere and managed to deliver the client, the public gateway
and the mobile clients. Building on that momentum new capabilities for
Sametime are announced to be available in Q2: Video Chat, Linux Sametime
server, Linux clients, Mac clients. Sametime's new motto is UC²
(Unified Collaboration Square). All customer/partner messages played revolved
around voice/video integration. The demonstration shows the new tabbed
chat feature with the user's picture as tabs and the full video chat capabilities.
Sametime allow to convert any chat directly to a call, access your voicemail
and integrate your local and mobile phone systems.
The number of Notes users stands at
130 Million users. Already 100 companies use Lotus' build in SAP integration.
More than 500 large organisations moved from other offers to Lotus Notes.
IBM had announced the Notes client code named "Hanover" last
year. Today the code name is officially dropped and Lotus Notes and Domino
8 are officially announced. The demonstration runs slick with a short flight
though the enhanced mail experience, the mashup (composite) applications
and the IBM productivity editors. The capabilities to convert everything
into PDF got loud applause. The tab preview is way cool. Domino will get
enhancements: Message recall, optional 64Bit support, integration into
IBM's email archival. Domino will allow to authenticate against more external
Lotus Quickr (the artist formerly
known as Quickplace)
(someone drank the Flickr cool aid ---
goodbye Quickplace). Quickr comes in various edition. The personal edition
is available for any Notes users through a web interface. Quickr serves
as a mountable, replicatable file system. The personal edition of Quickr
is free for existing Notes customers!!!! For teams there is the Quickr
standard edition that comes with a huge set of templates for different
tasks. Quickr Standard edition replaces Lotus Quickplace. Existing Quickplace
customers (under maintenance) will get Quickr Standard edition for free.
Quickr will support various repositories including FileNet and even Microsoft
Sharepoint. Quickr can be accessed from a browser UI, from your file system
(Explorer) and within Sametime. You have the new capabilities to "Chat
about a document". When dragging a file from Quickr into a Notes email
it will allow you to send a document link instead of the document itself.
The marketing pitch "Quickr is simply the easiest way to share".
Portal is the biggest integration tool
available today. IBM has integrated over 1000 Domino applications with
Websphere Portal. Portal6 allows to integrate Google gadgets. Portal6 has
been around for a while, but today IBM announces IBM Websphere Portal6
Express. Portal6 Express will install very fast and provides a ready sample
for an Intranet and Extranet to get started. I'm curious if the claim "It
installs faster than it takes you to watch your favourite sit-com"
will stand the test of real world scenarios. There will be a personal portal
that allows you to access Portal off-line (DOLS anyone?). The demo showed
the document integration and web2.0 capabilities.
Lotus Expeditor (and friends)
To unify development for Notes, Websphere
and Sametime development and mashups Lotus makes available Lotus expeditor.
The big news: Bundled with Domino Designer 8 developers can use Lotus Component
Sametime, Lotus Expeditor and/or the Notes client. The demo actually proved
how to do that. Mental note to self: Download expeditor.
Touted "The industries fist Ready-for-Business
social software" Lotus Connections (code name Ventura) features:
All these components are fully integrated
delivering more value that separate component. The big question: what size
does an enterprise need to create enough gravity to take full advantage
of these tools.
One final observation: Not a single
IBM logo on screen. Only Lotus.
- Activities - fully integrated into Sametime
and the Notes Client (but not off-line yet) -- a shared task and
link list. Add to activities from Notes, Microsoft Office, your browser
or Sametime. Sametime even sends you a little alert when new stuff is added
to your activities. The difference to your regular 2do list is the integration
into all the applications you use. The quality of the integration will
be key for the success of activities. Activities features a read/write
Atom REST interface, so the bets are that it will work well (after the
teething phase of course).
- Profiles: a comprehensive people directory.
This component has been developed inside IBM over many years and powers
IBM's award winning w3 intranet blue pages. Think LinkedIn or Xing for
- Blog Central: A comprehensive Blogging
solution - Blogger.com for the enterprise.
- Dogear: Social Bookmarking, think del.icio.us
for your company. Dogear plugs into your search and your browser, so you
can see who has bookmarked a specific page.
This year I'm assigned as a room monitor
in the afternoon. This limits my ability to select sessions I want to visit.
On the other hand I'll see topics I wouldn't have considered. PHP wasn't
on my radar. To run PHP you can download a LAMP or WAMP package that installs
everything ready to go in a single installer. You also can get bits and
pieces yourself that will take about two to three days to understand all
this. Of course you simply can sign-up for a PHP hosting package.
The sites demonstrated used cPanel
and Fantastico, which is a ready made set of scripts. The presenters walked
us through the various applications that are included in the script collection.
The advantage of PHP is not the language itself but the gazillions of ready
made scripts that you can use at your convenience.
So the big question is: when would you
use PHP and Domino together: in a nutshell if there are ready made components
PHP seems to be a valid option. Of course you need to consider a lot of
stuff: where will the stuff live, how much data gets passed back and forth
and is single sign-on needed. The session went on to discuss the if you
should have one or two servers. Instead of theoretically musing about that,
they showed this using a few demos. Two boxes is pretty straight forward.
A single server requires to configure Domino to run on a different port
(81) and use Apache's
They then went on and discussed how
PHP and Domino can share data. Suitable methods could be HTTP, ODBC and
ADO (this one is Microsoft only). Again they used ample examples that illustrated
their points. ODBC and ADO seem to be limited to Windows and the HTTP example
used Windows only (XMLHttp Object) too.
Next topic was the concepts you can
use to implement Single Sign on. A bit fluffy here. But
see for yourself.
What I liked
Good overview why you want or don't
want to mix the two environments.
What I didn't like
Code examples for HTTP were windows
Ralf Heindoerfer and Pete Janzen delivered
the session. Ralf's accent identified him as fellow German. I would bet
he came to IBM as part of the Prozessware acquisition.
Composite Application Workflow is part
of Portal 6.0 extend and is G.A. with Portal 126.96.36.199. The aim of Portal
Workflow is to shield users from the complexity of workflow standards and
allow for an easy creation of collaborative form/document based workflows.
Pete explained how Composite Workflow differs from the Process Portal and
the Process Server. While workflows in Process Server/Portal are created
using RAD (Rational Application Developer) or WID (Websphere Integration
Developer), workflows in Composite Workflow are created in the workflow
Ralf further refined the scope
of composite workflow and provided the rationale for using a portlet as
the main UI. This was followed by clarification of the principles. A workflow
will feature one task page for every task in a workflow. These task pages
are dynamically provisioned in Portal, which is a novelty. When a workflow
instance is created a binder is created that holds all information for
this instance (where have I seen
that before <bg>). An interesting
insight: Portal 6 uses the Eclipse extension architecture on the server
side, so a common way to extend functionality is to use Eclipse Extension
The Portlet UI is pretty straight forward
form based and should be suitable for normal mortal business users. Of
course the sellers will miss the bells and whistles of a graphical editor.
What I liked
Simple no nonsense workflow creation.
Same concepts as in Lotus Workflow
What I didn't like
This workflow currently is only available
for Portal not for the Notes 8 client. Also looks like some more work needs
to be done regarding management of completed workflows.
Business Rules allow to refine access to
information. Business Rules can govern access controls and visibility control.
Visibility rules allow to show information that is most relevant to users
without restricting them to access the other information. So a visibility
rule might only render your division's financial results on the start page,
but allows you to navigate to other results on a different page. Rules
can include policies and are composed in a on-line form visually and are
driven by picklist. You can use your own meta data to create rules (carried
forward from Quickr). To include data from SQL or LDAP sources for rules
there are wizards in Rational RAD to write the rules. A new source for
personalization information can be Atom feeds. There will be a white paper
personalization coming soon, that covers among other topics the Atom integration.
The presenter showed an example how Atom was used to integrate Filenet
data into the personalization engine.
Once the data sources are defined, personalization
requires to be displayed somewhere. Websphere Content Management (WCM)
is fully integrated with the personalization engine and can use personalization
The personalization engine is fully
extendable, so you can create your own criteria with terminology out of
your business domain. Things like: PremierCustomer (Yes/No), SalesPerformance(Numeric),
CompletionStatus(Percentage) etc. The presenter described how to use little
Java wrappers to call web services and make their results available as
rule input in selection rules.
What I liked
Deep technical information what you
can do with personalization.
What I didn't like
Rather dry presentation.
Mary Ellen Zurko and Simon Hewett delivered
this session. They opened the session, with the reiteration of the importance
of Open Standards. Java security standards are open, flexible and mature.
They have been around for many years and are not bound to a specific operating
environment. In Notes 8 all the Java security standards are available since
it is build on Eclipse and Expeditor. Buzzwords are: JCE, JSSE, JAAS, Keystore,
Account integration and JAR signing.
Simon walks us through JCE and JAAS.
In Notes 8 the JAAS module uses the Notes.id to obtain an LTPA token for
the user. This way you automatically are logged into Domino, Sametime and
Websphere once you typed in your Notes password. The accounts (which we
have since R5) have been extended beyond POP3, HTTP, LDAP. You can
add different account types and account properties. Accounts don't require
to provide username and password, but feature extended options. You can
specify to use Domino single sign-on or use the account information of
another account or roll your own. Pretty cool.
Now Mary talks about the secure provisioning
of Eclipse Plug-ins. It is a good head start allowing to securely deploy
applications. For a Notes developer that is a mouthful to understand. So
look up your standards. A very powerful feature is that you can use Domino
policies to determine which signatures are accepted and what applications
can be installed.
What I liked
Comprehensive implementation of OpenStandards
but specific to Lotus Notes.
What I didn't like
I missed the code samples.
If you ever have wondered what a composite
application is, this session sheds light on it. In the beginning definitions
were given: A composite (application) is a collection of components brought
together for a business purpose. A component is a application that processes
and renders data (like a nsf) and a component view is the visualization
of these data. One big difference to classical application is that there
is an additional step before you use an application. Developers build components
in various ways (Domino, J2EE, Java etc.). After that a Assembler (a person)
wires the components into a application. Since the assembly is a rather
business driven exercise you can leave this step to power users. This allows
to combine components in ways that haven't been predicted by the component
So Composite applications are the business
equivalent of the more free wheeling web 2.0 mashups. The major difference
here: Notes Client components are not limited to HTML and URL linkage.
IBM choose WSDL as definition language to wire components together. This
relieves you from learning another interface standards.
The session gave a further overview
of IBM's offerings to create components. They range from developer-only
to user-suitable tools: Rational Application Developer, Lotus Component
Designer, Domino Designer, Portlet Factory and the template editor.
At the core of the composite application
sits the Property Broker. So every component calls the Property Broker
that links published properties with published actions. E.g. a published
property in a Notes view could be emailid and an action in a view could
be GetCustomerByID. The very moment you select a document in a view the
view reports the view reports the change of the emailid to the Property
Broker. The Property Broker then calls all defined actions that have been
literally wired to that property.
The demonstrations for both Notes and
Portal were pretty slick.
What I liked:
Components bring the flexibility of
Web 2.0 Mashups to the enterprise. Re-using WSDL as wiring protocol is
a smart choice. The ability to mix'n match Portal and Client fosters reuse.
What I didn't like:
Properties and Actions currently need
to be a 1:1 exact match. The property broker can't do transformations (e.g.
just add the customer number from component 1 to an URL and then feed it
into component 2). Here is work to do, that has been done
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