Next month, as part of Workflow Studios ongoing Notes 2 the Next Level Lunch & Learn series in Houston (2/20) and Dallas (2/21), I will be presenting The Lotusphere Mashup (100 hours of Lotusphere in 1 hour). Taking every available resource, we’ll try to cover the whole show from product announcements and technical sessions to products, labs, and the FUN happenings at Lotusphere. This will be presented in SpeedGeek style with over 200 slides, 10 videos, and a hundred or more pictures. If you’re interested in attending, see the registration form. For those organizing Lotusphere Comes To You events this Spring, I’ll make this a travelling road show as long as someone picks up the expenses. For topic coverage, read more, and if you have stuff for me to add/use, by all means, use the comments to let me know.
Another drive-by snippet from the Developer Lab – I asked if any further development was being done on the Domino version of Web Content Manager and the answer was no. It is still supported and they will fix bugs as needed, but no active development is being done on it anymore. Effectively it is now end-of-life. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but I got the impression that support should continue for another 18-24 months, and that a formal conversion tool will be available to take content from it to the Portal version. A conversion of design would not be a part of the tool, and rightly so, as it probably wouldn’t be relevant as the Portal UI framework is significantly different from what would be built for a standard website.
As I wandered through the developer lab at Sphere, I saw a sign talking about Workflow processes in Portal 6. With a company name like Workflow Studios, you can imagine we’ve had a few people ask us about Workflow tools over the years. I’m quite familiar with the 3 premier tools in this space including Lotus Workflow, which I’ve sold and taught classes on, ProcessIt!, my personal favorite and one we resell, and Percussion PowerFlow, which has a lot of fans and is a good tool, but whose architecture I fundamentally oppose.
So I was curious to see how Workflow was being approached in Portal 6. There are many similarities to Lotus Workflow. The developer I talked to used terms like “binder” and roles, and then admitted he had been part of the Lotus Workflow team. This led to a discussion over the enterprise capabilities (and therefore complexity which limits end-user acceptance) of the product. Fortunately, as these features are a “technical preview” in Portal 6, it is not yet full-blown, and therefore still approachable by the average business user. I’d like to see it stay that way as, for all it’s capabilities, Lotus Workflow adoption was challenged by that complexity. So, at this point, there are no BPEL capabilities, and users setup workflows from an end-user portlet with simple role capabilities.
The product uses Process Server under the hoods, which leads to some licensing issues. Since Process Server is bloody expensive, the team wasn’t too keen on Workflow being available at the lower end of Portal technologies (ala Express or Extend). As such, it is only available in the Enable flavor (the only thing more expensive than Process Server in the portfolio). At that end of things, you’re more often talking about Enterprise accounts who may already be likely to be involved in Business Process Integration tools and full blown MQ/Process Server implementations. It will be curious to see where this version of Workflow finds its market. I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
In my blog post the other day, I talked about stumbling on the “Desktop Connector” but I couldn’t remember the name. I went back by the lab and they told me it is called the Desktop Integrator. And while it ships with Portal Document Manager, it’s only within the Quickr context that it picks up the additional capabilities of being able to work directly against Notes Documents. This is through one of the 3 Quickr connectors that ships with it, the Lotus Notes connector. The other two connectors are the Microsoft Windows Explorer connector and the Microsoft Office connector. Get more details at the press release here.
This will be really useful in the Web Content Management product we’re building as it will provide for better integration with the built-in doc libraries within the product. However, I need to take a deeper look at the whole Quickr context and it’s licensing boundaries to see whether it would make better sense to tie directly to Quickr rather than doc libraries.
Blogger BOF started off with a bang as probably 1/3 of bloggers present were still up from last night. Summary and opinion: The blogger community has blossomed and prospered from their participation in the Notes blogosphere. While it’s still growing, this has become a very tight knit group of folks who clearly enjoy what they do, and that they are in fact a community within the larger Lotus community.
Session contents below…
Ray Bilyk, aka Lion King, lost his HP brick yesterday. This morning an announcement was made before the blogger BOF and lo and behold, Nathan Freeman had picked it up and had it with him. A scene scarily reminiscent of Borat soon ensued with a giant bear hug from Ray.
I had a great time today. I met Chris Kergaravat, User Studies Specialist and her team in the Useability Labs. They put me through a session on Lotus Component Designer. At first, I was feeling pretty embarrased as they put me through the ringer to find and use certain features. In the end, I really enjoyed working with the tool and helping explain my own expectations as I worked through various situations. The way our community grumbles about things in the user interface around Lotus products, it really is enlightening to see how these teams focus on every little detail of the way the tool operates.
My biggest surprise was how thoroughly ingrained the Domino Designer is in my psyche. I’ve done a lot of work in the Eclipse environment and am very familiar with how you “get around” in it. But in this environment, as soon as I started thinking “Domino things” and saw some similar structures in terms of UI, I immediately forgot about Eclipse-world and started projecting expectations of Domino Designer on this tool.
Spent time in the labs with the developers today and dug into several things, but the one that gave me a thrill is the littlest piece of code. I believe they were calling it the Desktop Connector or Enabler (I’ll reconfirm tomorrow). This is a downloaded tool that enables Portal Document Manager and Quickr to push documents back and forth from Explorer and MS Office. It also adds options to the right click menu and to menu options in Office products.
I must admit when the Portal guys said they were pushing docs back and forth to Office, I immediately jumped and asked how they were getting around MS god-awful MSDIAPP.dll implementation of the “Microsoft Data Access Internet Publishing DAV”. I’ve been working on a Domino WebDAV integration project for some time and had come to the conclusion that as far as Office was concerned, it was a lost cause. Now, I have a new little tool to look at that will eliminate WebDAV from the picture AND allow direct integration at the document level. Outstanding. This one’s for you Jason and David .
Notes from the ID305 Sametime Gateway session. Summary: The gateway will allow communication with other Sametime communities, using current or older versions of SIP Gateway, as well as communication with other external communities such as AOL, Yahoo and Google. The connector protocols are extensible plugins that will allow for 3rd parties to add capabilities in many areas including but not limited to: security, logging, message interception and translation. If needed, it sounds like a plugin could even be created to add additional protocol capabilities. While current capabilities are limited to chat and presence, future versions will support audio and video as well. (Hopefully this will also be something the administrator will be able to lock down as desired, but not addressed specifically).
Since I was pretty good about alcohol consumption and going to bed early, I actually went to the BD Day Opening Session which I’ve never done. A few good themes emerged, such as more concise and simpler marketing messages, recent strong sales trends, and strong interest and leadership in bringing social networking technologies into the business community.
What particularly struck me though was the amount of Portal business Notes 8 is going to spur. For businesses that take advantage of Notes 8, they are inevitably going to buy Portal. Too often in the past the Notes community has treated this as a negative scenario. What’s the ROI, why are you canibalizing Notes development etc…With Notes 8 we’ll finally see the native integration, not quite seamless yet but the evidence is there, that makes it obvious how Portal fits in. I would like to be a Portal sales rep in the next 18-24 months. Good times for them ahead.
I made a late appearance to Jellyrolls for the birthday bash, for which I was soundly scolded, and was immediately rushed up on stage to don a feather boa and have disparaging songs sung about my manhood. Although I couldn’t disagree with the line about when I wore a dress, or does a skirt count as a dress, maybe there’s a loophole. Mucho congratulations to Bill on his 40th bday!
I’d like to thank the Workflow gang, Dwight Wilbanks, Jason Freis (whom I’m keeping awake with this typing) and Francie Whitlock for their bday gift tonight. They teamed up with the Client Genie guys to give Bill, Coen Aukema (also his bday tonight), and myself a helicopter ride over Orlando this week. Watch out for moons flying over the Dolphin, lol. You guys really outdid yourself and I’m sure it will be a great time.