Each year I bring with me a large collection of questions and enhancement requests that I first vet in the Meet the Developers lab. Those questions which I either don’t get a satisfactory answer or get an answer that I think others would like to hear, I will bring them to the Ask the Product Managers or Ask the Developers sessions. Often questions would be asked in one session that really needed to be answered by someone in the other session. That wasted time. This year they combined the two sessions, which was great for streamlining the process and more people got to hear all the questions (and answers). One other change on my part: I tried to provide most of my questions in advance, so they could have time to research the answer or at least make sure the right person was on stage to answer it. (often the person who would have the answer wasn’t present.) Yes, it does mean IBM isn’t so much “in the hot seat”, but this got more complete answers as a result, which is what we really want.
The room was smaller too, with only one aisle and thus, only one microphone. I like this because it makes it easier for people to queue up to ask their questions. While I asked the first question, I made it a point to let others go ahead of me whenever they got in line. This worked well as I was able to keep the conversation going with questions while waiting for people to come to the microphone to ask a question. Here is a list of my questions from this year and the responses I got for them. (as best I remember, anyway)
1. Can we get a roadmap published for Connections Cloud? (See this article for a detailed explanation)
I was able to provide this article in advance and the response was that they definitely see the point to my request and the value it would provide. Expect to see this one addressed soon.
2. We need a migration path to Connections Cloud that removes all servers from on-site. This requires a solution to 3 items:
– Mail-in databases and Rooms & Resources
– Importing Holidays
– A Relay Host service to route mail from on-site applications to the Internet
RESPONSE: We have had these requests by others and are actively working to address them. The relay host presents additional challenges and may be more difficult to resolve.
3. The administrator console for Connections Cloud is fragmented and awkward to work with. Authentication occurs in three places. Can this be made more seamless and provide improved functionality for administrators, including such things as Message Tracking?
RESPONSE: The request for Message Tracking had not been seen before, but that should be possible and makes sense to have. We are going to work to improve the administration console too.
5. Once moved to Connections Cloud, the client version information is no longer maintained in the Domino Directory and there is no way to make Smart Upgrade work in SmartCloud Notes environment. Can these please be addressed?
RESPONSE: We should be able to capture and push back the client version information. As for the Smart Upgrade, they are using a new upgrade process with the browser plugin and expect to port that over so it will be available as a method for upgrading Notes clients in the future.
6. A fix is needed for overlaying Google calendars on the Notes calendar. This broke several months ago when Google pushed out their new process for accessing calendars. They had warned this was coming more than a year ago.
RESPONSE: We have a fix, but it did not make it into the next Fix Pack. We are in the process of determining how to make this available.
7. We need the ability to use groups from the Domino directory in the contact list in Connections Cloud Chat.
RESPONSE: Great recommendation. The developers will look into making that happen. (I also spoke with the developer on this and was already thinking of how to solve this issue)
(asked in the lab only) 8. Administrators need a way to change the mail/calendar delegates for users in Connections Cloud. Currently the process is very awkward and involves the admin logging in as the user to perform the delegation. The developer flagged this one as a critical item and we should see a fix soon, so I did not ask this in the session.)
9. We need a graphical user interface for administering Connections (Thank you Ray Bilyk for asking this question!)
RESPONSE: I forgot exactly what they said. If you remember, please post it in a comment.
10. When will it be possible to launch the video chat from the embedded Sametime client in Notes?
RESPONSE: I just don’t remember what was said here. I got to ask so many questions this year, I felt like I was co-hosting the session. That may be the closest I get to presenting at this conference. I thought the overall attitude in the room was warmer and IBM was more receptive of the feedback from the people asking questions than in years past. Next time I will be sure to record the audio of the session so I can give a more accurate recap. If anyone has a recording of the session, please let me know.
Here are a few more questions I didn’t get to ask.
10. Allow voting down ideas in Connections
11. Allow viewing all ideas posted by a particular person in Connections
12. Provide a Top Innovators list in Connections, similar to IdeaJam.net
If you like these ideas and want to see them implemented, be sure to log into Greenhouse.lotus.com and find them and vote them up. Also (and more importantly) open a PMR and ask that they add your company to the request for the SPR that I have already created for these.
(Long article. Jump to the meat at the end if you don’t want the full story) If you left before the end of the conference, you missed the best part. Thursday always holds the crown jewels: GURUpalooza, Ask the Product Managers, and Ask the Developers. Each of these sessions have a panel on stage and give attendees a chance to ask any question they wish or give their suggestions. If you were there, you already know this is my favorite day of the conference. No surprise given my love for product design and chronic divergent thinking (I don’t think outside the box. It’s more like there is no box.) This can be a curse at times, but on Thursday I revel in it.
At GURUpalooza, the panel consists of all the conference speakers who are not IBMers (not counting Susan Bulloch who hosts the session and Mat Newman who recently transcended the independents to become an IBMer). The big selling point of this session is you won’t get marketing fluff and they won’t skirt the question; just direct, truthful answers. And if they don’t know, they will candidly say “I don’t know.”
Then comes Ask the Product Managers. Originally started at Connect 2013 by Ed Brill, probably in response to the many questions that were more befitting of the product managers than the developers, as they were more about product direction than specific bugs or features. This is where all the hard questions are asked that the audience tries to put the panel on the hot seat. Since Ed started his new role in Mobile at the end of the conference last year, this session was hosted by Kramer Reeves, Director, Product Management, Messaging and Collaboration.
Third comes Ask the Developers. This session has a long tradition of being the final session before the closing session. It has taken on a more light-hearted atmosphere as most of the toughest questions have already been fielded in the Ask the Product Managers session, hosted by John Woods, Director of Development, Domino and SmartCloud Notes.
To paint the picture, these Q&A sessions are all held in the Swan. they open up the 5 large conference rooms to make one large, wide room. There are 4 wide isles between the chairs and at the front of each isle they set a microphone for anyone in the audience to line up in front of and take a turn to ask their question. The rules for these sessions are all the same: Each person gets to ask one and only one question and must then go back to the end of the line at one of the mics again to ask another question. Questions are taken from each mic in a round robin format. I took my usual spot at the mic in the isle directly in front of the stage.
I believe these sessions were recorded this year and are available for replay on the web. I am working on getting a complete list of all questions asked in each of the sessions. Meanwhile, here are the questions I asked this year. I am hoping that by publishing it, next year we can reflect back on what happened over the year and see if our input made a difference.
1. Roaming is not officially supported by SmartCloud, even with the data stored on a local server. Do any of the Gurus have personal experience using Roaming with SmartCloud that can speak to any issues using it in a SmartCloud environment?
A: No one on the panel has experience with it yet.
2: What is your opinion of the impact adding Kenexa to Lotusphere has had on the conference?
A: As expected, the responses spanned the board. Great that it draws people from line of business (HR users and decision-makers) so they can see what solutions are available and not rely on IT staff to spread the word. Bad that the Opening General Session had all the technical details of substance removed to appeal to the non-technical audience. Interesting to see them focus on the solution and not the technology behind it, but unfortunate that they made no references whatsoever to what software was used in the case studies they showcased. Also disappointed that the party at a park was moved to Tuesday night because the kenexa sessions only ran through Tuesday. I expect there will be much controversy on this conference merger for a long time to come.
Ask the Product Managers
1. While the “Hollywood Squares” style multi-camera web conferencing is a great stride forward, most of us still operate our web conferences from a meeting room with a group of people. When will Sametime support a roundt able camera like the competitors have?
2. We need SAML to work with Sametime and Traveler.
3. The Notes admin client hasn’t been updated since R6.5. Can the UI be updated and possibly include integrated tools to administer SmartCloud?
4. When will we see migration tools to move from Microsoft Outlook and Office 365 to SmartCloud?
Ask the Developers:
1. In the user preferences on the Basic Notes Client Configuration tab, Additional Options list, Can you add numbers to the list so it is easier to find and to refer to the items?
2. SmartCloud web mail has a button to mark messages as SPAM. Can this function be added to the Notes client experience?
3. SmartCloud does not update the person documents with the users’ client version. Can this functionality be added?
4. The Notes Workspace originally designed by Ray Ozzie has proven to be a great design by being copied by iOS and Android. Can the workspace be revitalized and clean up the functionality? Dragging and dropping icons between tabs and 5. adding applications to the workspace are examples. (This one actually got HUGE applause and was noted by the team.)
6. Add official support in SmartCloud to use Roaming with the data stored on local servers.
7. Add support for middle initials in SmartCloud.
8. Allow the customer full control over all SmartCloud system-generated emails sent to users.
9. Improve the SmartCloud administration website and consider integrating it into the Notes Admin client.
Here are more suggestions I made in the Meet the Developers lab during the week:
1. Provide functionality to remove the icons of the old mail files when a user is migrated to SmartCloud.
2. In the SmartCloud OPT tool, add the test to count the number of messages in the inbox and the number of folders in the mail file before migrating to alert to possible performance problems.
I’m sure I offered many more ideas, but this it what I remember. What are your thoughts about these? Do you have ideas of your own? Please share them here. Or better yet, Call IBM technical support and open a PMR for it. From that they will create an SPR and if enough people request it, you will almost certainly see it in the product. You should also post them on IdeaJam to get more visibility. Just know that IBM doesn’t monitor that website. They only listen to PMRs and Lotusphere attendees. Don’t think they are listening? Think again. The Purge Interval Replication Control is just one example of a feature I pushed for that made it into the product (after presenting it in the Meet the Developers lab and at Ask the Developers session).