Ask HCL Session Replay from CollabSphere 2019
Watch the replay. The questions and answers are transcribed below. Many thanks to all the people from HCL for being available and answering the many tough questions brought up. I did my best to transcribe the questions and responses. If I did not get it right, please post a correction in the comments and I will update the blog post.
Questions and Responses:
- I have a need for users to be able to monitor multiple identities for email. Helpdesk, HR, Marketing, and business partners who work with multiple mailboxes. This is needed for both the Notes client and the Verse app.
Response (Andrew Davis): HCL is focusing their energy into apps, not email. They are porting the Notes client to run within a browser window, so just like you can have multiple gmail accounts running different identities in different browser windows, you will be able to do the same with Notes clients.
My Feedback: I believe downplaying the significance of email in the collaboration software war is a dangerous decision and worthy of a blog post all its own. But regarding this specific issue, the ability to run multiple browser window clients will generally work well for the Notes client requirement and will be exciting to have. (I saw the process in a demonstration in an earlier session), but not so much for the mobile verse app. Still, we are making progress!
- Can you give us some statistics on the number of customers and business partners?
Response (Richard Jefts): They have about 1500 business partners and over 15,000+ customers and over 10 million applications actively in use. They are working to expand that number.
- Asking about what solutions are coming to integrate with tools to handle legal holds on mail data, etc.
Response (Andrew Manby/Richard Jefts): They are actively working with external vendors to improve integration with backup, anti-virus, eDiscovery solutions. They believe HCL solutions currently offered today provide security and compliance functionality that other companies can’t. Regarding Connections, they have OEM integration for compliance and auditing. HCL will also be working on developing functionality within the product.
- Domino 10 is missing functionality to extract data from Domino into Excel (NotesSQL ODBC driver)(spelling?)
Response (Andrew Manby): That functionality does exist in V10 and there is a technote on it. See one of us one-on-one. DQL will also provide even richer integration with 3rd party vendors that have their own ODBC solutions that integrate with Excel, Tableau, Power Tools, etc.
- What is happening with xPages?
Response (Andrew Davis): 2 new technologies that solve some of the problems that xPages solves, such as Nomad Web which bypasses the need to web enable apps, and Sandstone (a new term for me). Given that xPages is still unmatched for what it does using a graphic UI builder to modernize apps, we will continue to maintain it and support it. Ram Krishnamurthy is rebuilding the development team for xPages in Designer. There are still challenges. xPages is based on JSF and Java which are standards that all other software vendors are moving away from.
- When can we get access to try out LEAP for Domino?
Response (Andrew Davis/Andrew Manby): Visit the HCL LEAP Sandbox today. It will be shipping in Q1 2020.
- Customer case number xxx, Data palate (?) in xPages is not working.
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): Glad you’re here so we can discuss in person. We cannot reproduce that issue, please see me afterwards.
My Feedback: THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD COME TO COLLABSPHERE! Nothing better than working directly with the developers one-on-one to solve your problems.
- Siri on my (the person asking the question) iPad detected that I was traveling to Boston on x date and asked “would you like me to add it to your calendar?”
Response (Andrew Davis): Most providers would not like to provide Siri with that level of access to your information. There are other means of adding those travel notifications to your calendar (Difficult to hear the entire response)
- What is going to happen to all the technotes and forums that are currently on IBM websites that are about to go away?
Response (Andrew Davis/Danielle Baptiste/Tim Clark): We are very much aware of the problem and are in the process of recreating the content on HCL websites and working to make it crawled by Google. If you find problems, please report them. They are considering moving the knowledgebase back into a Notes database like it once was.
My Feedback: Many people have been asking for the knowledgebase to move back to Notes for a long time. This allows you to replicate the database, mark documents as read, and then monitor new documents as they show up unread. It’s why Notes is so powerful and so much richer than any web interface.
- Business Partner revenue for selling software licenses has been dramatically reduced from what we were making through IBM. What are you doing to correct this?
Response (Richard Jefts): We are working to clean things up because the data we received from IBM was inaccurate. As licenses are done this year, we will have a baseline for future licensing.
- Any plans to make it possible to have multiple instances of Designer running or multiple windows in Designer?
Response (Andrew Davis): Our investment in Designer is focusing on the Nomad strategy. They are hinting at (no commitment to ship) they will be able to run the admin and designer clients inside the Nomad web technology. With that you will be able to run multiple instances of any of these clients.
- It appears that the intent is for business partners to get 10% of software license sales. With IBM that opportunity was as high as 47%. That means now I have to sell $1M in licenses in order to make enough revenue to pay someone to handle software sales. Because there are many small deals in this space, that makes earning that revenue very labor-intensive. I tip [waiters] 20%, so I pay my servers better than you pay your partners. Is your intent to run the small business partners out of the software sales licensing business?
Response (Richard Jefts): We are 100 days into this business as a startup. We recognize we don’t really have a partner program yet and what you see today is not where we will remain.
- Will we see single sign on across HCL websites?
Response (Tim Clark): Given our list of priorities, it is the strategic decision to not take this on at this time. We have chosen other priorities for now as a startup company.
- Regarding Connections plugins for Notes, when will we get updates and what is the way forward?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): the Connections plugin for V10 on Mac is not working and we are actively working on getting it released in the next few weeks. The Windows version has been released.
- Will we see a new iteration of Greenhouse and a public Sametime community?
Response (Danielle Baptiste/Andrew Manby): We are working on setting up a Connections trial environment. The intention is to make Sametime also available in that environment. The Sametime and Connections teams are working to on guest access to make sure that it is a good experience before we release something.
- We have had many problems with accessing Flexnet. What is the plan if those are not fixed?
Response (Richard Jefts): They will be fixed. That team has a backlog of feature requests and changes that we need to make. The product has a lot of flexibility to it, so we are also in the process of configuring it to best meet the need. Initially we didn’t have all the experience needed to implement it properly, but that has been addressed and the team is working to fix it.
My Feedback: I have found that when I had issues, I brought it up with their team and they were very responsive in their efforts to get my account corrected.
- Will we see more attention to improvements in the Admin client?
Response (Andrew Manby/John Paganetti): We are looking at this in the V12 timeframe and this is closely tied to admin user management and the app store. As mentioned earlier, there is the potential that we will see the admin client appear in the web assembly later. We have added the ability to post admin client enhancements in the aha product enhancement website and there are a lot of 3rd party tools already available as well.
- Regarding educational material, documentation, training: Many of us started programming in the old days when we had the useful help database, but that has gone away. What changes will we see in code samples, documentation, and other education material?
Response (Jason Gary): We need to get more in the model of having quick tutorials, and 2-minute videos that people can watch the concept and immediately apply what they learn. Over the next 12-24 months we will be heading more in the rich media direction vs trying to recreate the help as it is in the Notes client today. Also moving toward interactive learning materials that pause, ask questions, etc. Also, you will see that increasingly we are moving toward API explorers that pop up. Effectively the API explorer is the documentation.
- We would like to get back to having Knowledgebase as a Notes database where it can be replicated and unread marks can provide the ability to see what is new (via unread marks) and mark things read. Can you bring this back?
Response (Tim Clark): It’s a lot of work to bring that back but we can have the discussion to consider it.
- Repeatedly one of the most requested items in IdeaJam has been a free Community version of Domino to enable developers to learn without needing to buy a server license.
Response (Andrew Manby): We are working through the legal team to bring that back.
- Can we get Swiftfile and MTBF integrated into the product?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): We are close to getting Swiftfile performance good enough to include in the product.
(John Paganetti): I originally created MTBF for internal use and then found it of great value and gave it out for free. It may be a good candidate for posting on OpenNTF or handing it over to someone to refine. It is all written against the SDK so there are no hidden secrets in it. If people want it now, join the Client Advocacy program and make the request and I can get it to you. Meanwhile we will look at how that could be added to the product.
My Feedback: You can find the Windows and Linux versions downloadable here in my blog post: https://davidhablewitz.com/2011/04/27/mtbf-for-windows-64-bit-os/
- Will we see integration between Verse and Connections?
Response (Andrew Manby/Danielle Baptiste): We are already actively working on cross-platform integrations. better integration between Sametime–Connections and Sametime–Verse. We have a robust integration strategy that also includes integrating Connections with Sharepoint and O365.
- Do you have any updates regarding the relationship between HCL and OpenNTF?
Response (Tim Clark): I just got approval from the CEO’s office to sponsor with the exact proposal that the OpenNTF team requested. So all of it will be covered as of January 1, .
- Can you get rid of Modal dialog boxes?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): There are some cases where it cannot be avoided, but there are some where that makes sense. Just let us know via the aha idea website.
My Feedback: One that comes to mind in particular is editing location documents in the Notes client. This should behave the way it used to before Eclipse (and the way it still works in the admin client). The idea website is at
- Can we get a resizable info box (Properties box)?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): That is actually a very complex component that is not a Windows standard control; it is a Notes custom control. The ROI is very expensive considering end users generally do not use that box.
My Feedback: As an admin I find myself using it often and frequently guiding end users to this during support calls. Alt-Enter.
- What is the plan for a future large-scale conference hosted by HCL (HCLotusphere)?
Response (Tim Clark): Do you want us to spend our budget on one big annual event or do you prefer us to sponsor these smaller user group events (CollabSphere, Engage, DNUG, etc)? (The audience responded overwhelmingly in favor of supporting these user group events.) We (HCL Software) are still a startup. Our view is also that we (HCL) have not earned it yet to kick off a big event. For now, the focus will be on these local user group events.
Keep track of this post of questions and watch what we see come from it. I expect that unlike in years past, I won’t find myself asking the same questions all over again and wondering why nothing has changed.
I was honored that HCL allowed me the opportunity to moderate this session. IBM’s attorneys would have never let that happen. That difference alone makes a big statement about how the new keeper is so different — and in a positive way — from the old. Moderating was a lot of fun and I thought the panel did an amazing job giving us answers that were sincere and for the most part acceptable or at least understandable. I appreciated the panelists’ candor. Feedback I heard from the attendees was very positive. I believe this is a good example of what we can expect from HCL going forward. I have ideas for improving the session in the future. One thing I will be sure next time to have water (and maybe a beer) available at the start for all the panelists. I must have done something right because afterwards I was invited to do it again at the HCL Factory tour next year.