Lotusphere 2004
send me a comment ~ GoogleTrack

Table of Contents

Live Lotusphere Blogging? (Friday, Jan 23)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

Hmm, I haven't decided yet if I'll try to do any "live" blogging from Lotusphere next week. It's tempting, but I have a feeling I'll be swamped, and at night I plan to be very tired. We'll see, we'll see...

In any case, Lance Spellman and Richard Schwartz are both (separately) promising to aggregate the Lotusphere-related blogs, and there should be plenty of action on the Gonzo Lotusphere site.

See you in a bit.

I Have Arrived (Saturday, Jan 24)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

I have arrived in Orlando, and I'm typing this from the comfort of my room at the Swan. I was a little miffed about the extra $10 "resort fee" that they automatically charge for the rooms here, until I found out that this fee pays for high-speed Internet access in the room. Now, I know that there should be all sorts of wireless set up out here, but there's something nice about having a hard-wired connection too.

So anyway, here are a couple of pictures that I've taken so far:

More to come, I'm sure. I just spoke with Brucie on the phone, and we're going to try to hook up for dinner later. Then, it's off to ESPN....

UPDATE: Here's a few more pictures (I didn't take any at ESPN...bad light conditions...):

Also got to meet and/or hang out with such fine folks as Tom Duff, Bruce Elgort, Volker Weber, Ed Brill, Declan Lynch, Rob McDonough, Chris Miller, John Head, John Roling, Carl Tyler, Libby Schwarz, Bill Buchan, Pants, Mac Guidera, and of course Scott "Turtle" Wenzel (since it was his party) tonight. And I think I had a sighting of Ben Langhinrichs, but I still have to confirm...

Lotusphere - Day Zero (Sunday, Jan 25)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

3:21 PM (permalink)

I was going to mention that George Langlais said this morning that web services will be integrated into ND7, but it looks like Declan beat me to it. I was actually sitting right next to Declan at the presentation and saw him scribbling something into his PDA...I wonder if PDA-blogging is a feature that he's stealthily added to Blogsphere?

Anyway, the concept of integrated web services looked unbelievably cool. Essentially, you write a LotusScript class that extends the web services class, and then you pretty much write functions/subs/methods just like you normally would, and it's magically a web service. Notes handles everything for you -- the WSDL, the incoming SOAP request, and the outgoing SOAP message. All you're doing is writing the same kinds of functions that you always have, but now they're also web services, no extra code required. That rocks. If it works right, that could be the reason to upgrade to version 7 on the server right there.

Think for a second how powerful that could be. Everything that you're doing with agents and script libraries right now could become instant web services just by writing a small wrapper class. Everything. All of those agents that do all the funky query string processing? Turn them into web services that use complex data types. Heck, you could turn your e-mail into a web service. I wonder how they're going to handle the UDDI integration...

(UPDATE: I provided more details about this in a later entry.)

11:59+ PM (permalink)

Okay, so maybe it's a little after midnight when I'm posting this, but just to be consistent about the "Day Zero" I'll pretend like it's 11:59 PM...

I gave out a whole sheet of i.blog stickers tonight. Imagine my surprise when people actually wanted to wear those things. I was amazed.

Anyway, here are some funny things I've seen since I've been here:

All in all, a good day though. Got my CULT shirt, met some more bloggers (although still no Jake sightings), and learned a thing or two. I can't wait to find out who the opening speaker is tomorrow -- I've heard the rumors, but we really won't know until the morning.

Oh, and by the way, all you Blogsphere users need to start bugging Declan about all those "hidden" features in Blogsphere. Web services, e-mail posting...he's holding back on you. Those Scottish guys are sneaky like that.

Lotusphere - Day One (Monday, Jan 26)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

10:56 AM -- Engage (permalink)

First of all, sorry about the pictures I'm about to link to. My camera takes very bad indoor and low-light shots anyway, and I was taking pictures of the large projection monitor screen just above me to boot.

Here's the countdown to the opening session.

Rumors of the opening speaker were true: Patrick Stewart. That was a good choice based on the audience, but I sure wouldn't want to be the next speaker after him. No one can be quite as "engaging" as Jean Luc Picard on stage.

Ambuj Goyal gave some high-level talk about the direction of Lotus. Some bullet points:

Mike Rodin, Ron Sebastian, and Doug Wilson also had some good demo-type information about future directions:

That's all for now. Off to the sessions.

2:43 PM (permalink)

Went to a session about the future of Notes and Domino. Highlights:

Notes Domino 6.5.1

Notes Domino 7

Notes Domino 8

Sorry, no crappy pictures this time.

6:21 PM (permalink)

Just got out of the IBM Research session, and about to head over to the OpenNTF BOF, and I wanted to write a quick note before I go.

Sometimes, you have to listen very carefully to a presentation and stay until the very end to hear the offhanded comments that make you sit up and say, "Wait a minute!?!". It's easy to miss things that presenters might think of as unimportant or trivial, but they're very important or interesting to you. Someday I'll probably do a whole blog entry about that, but for now, an example.

At the very end of the IBM Research presentation (which was extremely interesting, because they have a lot of projects around collaboration right now), the very last slide was something they added at the last minute. It just so happens that some Lotus group edged in to the room that they're using to demonstrate the IBM Research project, and they set up a computer to demonstrate a tool that's under development to convert existing Notes/Domino applications over to Websphere and J2EE.

Huh? What's that all about? I want to see that one.

Turns out that they're only presenting it from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM on Tuesday through Thursday, so if you're at Lotusphere right now like I am (and somehow you have time to read this), you need to head yourself down to the Research Lab room between 9:30 and 10:30 this week. It's Lab L4 in the Dolphin.

Aggregation Issues For RSS Readers (Tuesday, Jan 27)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

I've been posting all my daily Lotusphere blog entries under a common blog entry so far -- which means that a single entry essentially keeps getting updated multiple times throughout the day. I figured this would make it easier to read and easier to archive.

However, it occurred to me that this might be affecting some people's RSS aggregators. How is this working for you? Are you getting the updates throughout the day, or does the feed never get updated in your reader as the day goes on?

Just curious. I'm not sure if I'll necessarily change the way I'm doing it (because I happen to like the format), but I'd kind of like to know...

Lotusphere - Day Two (Tuesday, Jan 27)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

11:56 AM (permalink)

Tidbits from this morning:

Angry About the Coffee Service
I know this is probably small, but it really hacked me off this morning. I was heading on over to the Swan for Libby's presentation on Portal, and I got to the conference area at about 10:15 (the sessions started at 10:30). For personal reasons, I really wanted a cup of coffee.

So, I found one of the coffee stations, and there was a small group of about 6 or 7 people waiting to get coffee, and suddenly the Disneybots walked up and literally rolled the coffee station off as we were all standing there waiting to get coffee. They just walked up with big smiles on their faces and said, "Sorry, the break's over" and left with all the coffee.

We were all stunned. So everyone went down the hall to get coffee at one of the other stations, and they were all being rolled away as well. WTF? Not only are they wheeling the coffee away 15 minutes before the sessions are even supposed to start, but they're being rude about it by grabbing the stations right out from under people and leaving these small groups of dazed, caffeine-craving people in their midst.

So I checked my agenda, and it clearly states that the coffee break this morning was from 9:45 AM until 10:30 AM. I'm still fuming about that. Who can I complain to?

IBM Research Lab
I'll try to talk about this in greater detail later, but they have some really cool stuff at the IBM Research Lab station. The Domino to J2EE application had a decent-sized crowd, so I didn't get to see too much about that yet, but I talked to a few guys at length about Donut (an RSS-aggregator for portal, with collaboration) and LiveBook (which allows you to do collaborative markup of HTML pages).

Again, I'll try to talk about that later, but in the meantime you might want to see if they have anything about that on the IBM Research Site.

The Portal Direction
Portal, portal everywhere...

Here's the big difference I'm seeing in the portal message from last year and the portal message from this year:

Last year: Portal is coming, and you'd better learn it because you're going to have to replace your Notes/Domino infrastructure with it someday
This year: Portal is coming, and you'd better learn it because you're going to have to integrate your Notes/Domino infrastructure with it someday

There's a huge difference between "replace" and "integrate". I like the "integrate" message much better. I guess that goes back to Ambuj Goyal's statement in the opening session about "no rip and replace", and the attitude is very, very welcome.

4:26 PM (permalink)

I just learned something small but nice about Notes 7: shared view columns. Think shared actions, but they're view columns instead. Finally.

Actually, what's almost nicer is the way they [said that they] implemented it. It's totally backwards compatible, so not only can pre-ND7 clients see and use the views/columns just like they're supposed to be able to, but if a pre-ND7 Designer client is used to edit the view, the column becomes "un-shared" and you can do whatever you'd like to with it.

I think Declan or someone mentioned that feature already, but I can't remember if they talked about the backwards compatibility or not. The Internet connection at the hotel is unbelievably slow, so I'm not going to try to look for the reference right now. See the Turtle's "News" page for a funny little story about slow Internet access here...

11:59+ PM (permalink)

I had every intention of going right to sleep tonight, but I think I just need to pour a few things out of my head first (and I hope it's quick, because it's quite late yet again)..

Okay, that's all for now. Sorry if some of those things are a little vague...a few of them are kind of pointers for me that I need to expand on some of those subjects at a later date when I'm not so tired.

Lotusphere - Day Three (Wednesday, Jan 28)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

6:03 PM (permalink)

Good grief, I've been on the move today. Almost all my sessions were in Dolphin today, so I didn't have much chance to run back up here to my room in Swan between sessions to give you any updates. It didn't help that I had a piece of metal in my sock all morning (I thought it was just a blister at first), so I was certainly keeping my walking to a minimum.

About to meet up with everyone to head out to the party at Universal, so I won't talk much now, but maybe when I get back tonight. I just wanted to let you know that I'm still up and about (as opposed to hung-over and asleep).

11:59+ PM (permalink)

Oh gosh, I'm going to crash hard at some point. Between sitting in sessions all day and not sleeping much at night, I'm kind of looking forward to getting back home for a good night's rest. I sure will miss this place, but another couple days and it would probably kill me.

There were two really important things from today: learning about web services in ND7, and finally understanding how Lotus Workspace and WebSphere Portal all fit together. I'm sure I don't have time to write about them both right now, and I think that the portal discussion is going to take a little extra research, so for now, web services.

Web Services in Domino 7
ND7 will have the Apache Axis engine embedded/integrated into it (probably much like Xalan and Xerces are in there and available right now, although they usually tend to be wrapped quite a bit when you use them). This is a very good move on Lotus' part, because they will be using a standard implementation of SOAP instead of trying to program it themselves.

To implement a web service, you will just need to create a new "Web Service" design element, which looks essentially identical to an agent. You can use either LotusScript or Java as a programming language. From what I understand, the web services are written by creating a class that (implicitly) extends a web services class, and the web service design element automatically handles the WSDL generation as well as the incoming and outgoing SOAP requests. A couple of graphics for you:

an example of a simple LotusScript web service (sorry for the fuzzy picture)
the flow of a web services request on the server

In order to call a web service, there will be two new Domino URL commands: ?OpenWebService and ?WSDL, both of which do exactly what you think they would. Some of the finer points about the web services:

Now, that last one is really the sleeper feature in this whole scenario. Think about what that means. You could set the web service (again, think of it as an agent) to "run as web user", and you could execute code based on the user who's calling it -- or you could rely on normal Notes security to work in conjunction with Readers fields, or whatever. Instead of having to program all the access and security into your code, you just let Notes handle it for you.

Or as another example, let's say you wrote a web service (agent) that runs a server console command and returns the result. You wouldn't want just anyone to be able to call that service, would you? Of course not, especially if you set it up so that one of the input parameters was the free-form command that should be sent. Because the web service knows who's calling it, you could lock it down using the regular Notes ACL. If the user can't access the database, they sure can't run the agent/web service. And you could get fairly granular with that, all while using regular old Notes ACL security.

I did get up and ask what their plans were to expose/wrap the ability to call a web service from Notes -- especially since the Axis code was already going to be embedded -- and they said that they were focusing very hard on getting the web service provider/consumption piece working properly first, so that would come later. And that's fine by me. I can already call other web services using COM objects or whatever right now, and I'd certainly like to see the provider piece come together. Especially because it really looks like they're designing it "right", as far as the Notes programming paradigm goes.

Lotusphere - Day Four (Thursday, Jan 29)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

8:14 AM (permalink)

This will probably be my only post today, but I'll timestamp it just in case. I'm checking out in a few hours and loading up my luggage, although I do plan to stay until the closing session this afternoon.

After going to Universal last night, several of us were sitting in the lobby of the Dolphin hanging out, and you could tell that the decompression had already begun. Not nearly as much activity in the lobby bar, and of the people who were there only about half of them were drinking, and many were yawning through conversations and checking their watches a lot. And there was definitely a lot less energy in and around the breakfast hall this morning.

I plan to follow up in the coming days with some "Lotusphere in Review" entries (I have three different ones planned at the moment), but for now here are a few quick tidbits before I head out to the labs to try to talk to the developers:

Off to the labs...

Lotusphere - Final Numbers (Friday, Jan 30)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

A few of the Lotusphere numbers they gave in the closing session:

I don't think the total number of attendees included the number of IBM people there, or the number of people registered as vendors, so there were probably several hundred more people than that wandering around.

Also from the closing session, they seemed to make a big deal about the fact that Lotusphere 2005 is already on the calendar. I didn't really get the excitement around that (and based on the scattered applause, other people didn't either). Was there ever a doubt? Was there some secret internal IBM plan to cancel the event after this year? I mean, if the future of Lotusphere was truly in jeopardy, then I guess I'd be excited, but...

Oh well, whatever.

Lotusphere in Review - Part One (Saturday, Jan 31)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

The first installment of my "Lotusphere in Review" series of entries is just going to be some comments on the Virtual Lotusphere that we had this year. Please keep in mind that it's the first installment not because I think it's the most important subject, but simply because it's the easiest one to write about.

When I say "Virtual Lotusphere", I'm talking about all the almost-realtime reporting back of the things that were going on during the week. Now, I'm not saying that this is anything new. The Turtle has had his Gonzo site going for years, and there have been scattered other people who use the web to report back on Lotusphere as it's going on, but the thing that was different this year was the scale. The Domino blogger community is getting bigger, and along with that come the variety of opinions and observations that you get about Lotusphere (both during the event and in the days and weeks that follow).

Don't worry, this isn't going to be a "bloggers are so cool" entry. I'm not trying to comment on blogging specifically, but more on the implications of what it means that people are trying to "report back" about what's going on as quickly as possible. People like Declan could literally sit in the sessions with their laptops and their wireless connections on, and post the information to their sites real-time. You could even download the slides (if they were available) or take pictures and post that information as well.

I don't really think that all the presenters quite appreciated that aspect of things. I'm not saying that the information in the sessions is supposed to be secret somehow, but I have a feeling that next year's Jump Start sessions (for example) will offer a few less details, just so there's not so much "spoiler" information available before it's officially announced in the days to come.

I also understand that a lot of the information offered by many of the bloggers this year was (as a commenter on Volker's site said) a bit "clubbish". That complaint can be partially applied to my site as well, but I offer no apology for that. Here's why:

Another thing to keep in mind (which is obvious, but I'll say it anyway) is that you need to take all the "news" that you read on blogs or blog-like sites with a critical eye. For example, I did my best to reproduce the things that I was seeing and hearing about the future of Notes, but you need to research these things yourself. Read the "real" news sites. Search the Lotus website. Talk to your IBM rep. Download the products and start to test them out. Anything you read is either an interpretation or an opinion, and you should always apply some critical thinking to both of those things.

A final question here is whether or not a large amount of blogging about Lotusphere actually "cheapens" the event somehow. I suppose that depends on what you think of as cheap.

If you think that blogging is inherently "cheap" in the first place, then yes it does -- although if you think that then you're probably not reading this in the first place. If you think that what made Lotusphere special was some aspect of eliteness, and people who didn't pay to come shouldn't be able to participate or find out what's going on, then I suppose blogging also makes it cheap in that way too.

On the other hand, if you think that blogging makes it accessible to people who otherwise couldn't be there, then it's quite valuable. If you think that it helps to generate excitement about Lotusphere in particular and Notes/Domino in general, then it has a lot of value on that front as well.

Me? I think it's nothing but positive, although I'm pretty biased. I really enjoyed Lotusphere, and I enjoyed it even more knowing that I was involved somehow, even if it was just by keeping up the blog.

Lotusphere in Review - Part Two (Sunday, Feb 1)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

Here are the main areas of focus that I heard at Lotusphere (I'm sure there were others, but these are the ones that I picked up on):

Notes is not dead
Rumors of the death of Lotus Notes have been greatly exaggerated (with a nod to Samuel Clemens). Notes 7 will go beta in Q2, there are large plans for Notes 8, and Lotusphere 2005 is on the calendar (much to no one's surprise, I hope). Notes will not be replaced by Portal, it will integrate with it, and the Notes 8 client will actually be a component of the Workplace client.

Portal is the major IBM initiative
The whole IBM world is getting portalized. The big thing to realize here is that Portal (and when I say that I mean WebSphere Portal) aggregates technology, it doesn't specifically replace it. So the two things we have to understand as Notes people are:

Collaboration and Awareness are main parts of the Portal paradigm
Everywhere you went, they were talking about collaboration and awareness. Even the IBM Research Lab was bursting with projects that dealt with those two subjects (with some interesting implications, like how much awareness is too much...). We Notes people tend to think of awareness in terms of Sametime, but IBM is trying to integrate that with the awareness capabilities of Portal too. They talked of SIP/SIMPLE integration, and there was even a lot of excitement about the IP telephony integration that was possible. Within Portal itself, you need to understand the <person> tag -- this gives you automatic awareness capabilities in your Portal applications.

Open standards are very important
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's very important to the future of familiar products. Lotus technologies have long used proprietary techniques (often because there was no open standard at the time, but proprietary nonetheless), and IBM is on a big push to migrate that over. Like using IMAP for calendar integration, or SyncML for replication, or writing a SIP to VP gateway to integrate Sametime with Portal. This may mean a big change to the internals of Notes and Sametime as we get closer to Notes 8.

Web services are coming
I've probably already talked more about web services in my recent entries than most people care to hear, but [I think] they're very important coming down the pipe, especially with IBM products. That's going to be the main way that disparate applications talk to each other in the future (which makes it exciting that it will be built in to Notes 7). No more pouring through API documentation for all the different products you have in-house. Just point to a WSDL file and find out what you can do. And if you need to add an interface? Expose a new web service. Try to get your head around loose-coupling, because you'll be using it soon.

Lotusphere in Review - Part Three (Tuesday, Feb 3)
[ permalink ] [ e-mail me ] [ >> ]

Here's what should be the last of my Lotusphere in Review entries (hold the applause, please). This is focused on general suggestions that I have about the whole event.

First, let me say that I think the whole show was extremely well planned. Good signage (except at Y & B), tons of helpful people, lots of refreshments, etc, etc. However, we've all got opinions, and here are mine. They're all pretty minor, really.

1. More time between sessions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
I realize that most people don't try to go to sessions during every single time block during Lotusphere, but there's got to be a better way to plan around the meal times. For breakfast, the morning BOFs ended at 8:00 AM but breakfast ended at 8:15. For lunch, the morning sessions ended at 11:45 AM and the afternoon sessions started at 12:15 PM, which wasn't horrible unless one or both of your sessions were in a different building than your assigned dining location. For dinner, the afternoon sessions end at 5:45 PM and the BOF sessions start at 6:15 -- all the way over at Y & B, which was a healthy walk.

Now, I would understand if all of the sessions only had 30 minutes between them, but they didn't. There was a 45 minute break before the 10:30 session, a one hour break before the 2:30 session, and another 45 minute break before the 4:30 session. So really, the only short breaks were during normal meal times. Isn't that a little backwards? Seems like it to me.

2. Leave the coffee out!
If you've read my earlier entries, you already know that I was scorned by the coffee service. In a grand stroke of diplomacy, I'm going to assume that the coffee nazis were simply sent out too early, and they were simply doing their jobs by so rudely whisking the coffee away from the people who were patiently standing in line waiting for a cup.

However, in order to avoid such a disturbance in the future (because if that happens to me again in the future, there will be a disturbance), here's what I propose: leave the coffee and other drinks out until 10 minutes after the next session starts. That way the people who are running late can still grab a beverage, and the Disneybots won't be so guilt-ridden by having to swat people's hands away from the forbidden drinks.

All that being said, I was very pleased that Starbuck's was the coffee being served (well, that's what it said on the carafes anyway). I'm not even a big Starbuck's drinker, but after 4 hours sleep and 6 hours of technical sessions, I appreciated the extra octane.

3. Provide POP3 access to the Lotusphere Online e-mail system
That way I could have checked my Lotusphere mail using a mobile device of choice, instead of having to fire up the laptop and suffer through the questionable Internet connections that were available to interface with the questionable Lotusphere Online system (and that's all I'm going to say about that).

4. Make the names bigger on the badges
Here's an approximation of what the badges looked like (on the left), along with what I think they should look like (on the right):

Notice the difference? Which one is easier to read, even as a thumbnail picture?

I understand that a few people have extremely long names, so you couldn't use a larger font for everyone, but 99% of the people would benefit greatly from that little change. Even if you just made the first name nice and big, that would help (as Ben Langhinrichs pointed out when I was discussing the matter with him). I'm bad with names anyway, and if you've got poor eyesight to boot then the small names were pretty hard to read.

5. Ease the rope burn
This isn't something that I think Lotus should necessarily provide, but I think it would be a great vendor giveaway. I wore a lot of t-shirts during the day, and after a while I was starting to get rope burn around my neck from wearing the required Lotusphere badge and badge holder (I know, "poor baby...").

By Wednesday, I would have whipped out a credit card and purchased an enterprise product license from any vendor who was handing out some sort of barrier between the badge holder rope and my chafed neck. You know, like the leather padded things that fit on the strap of your laptop bag so it doesn't dig into your shoulder? Something like that only smaller and proportioned for my neck. And preferably without small flashing lights (like one of the annoying vendor giveaways that shall remain unnamed).

6. Make the pocket agenda easier to read at a glance
Let me start this one by saying that I really liked the pocket agenda. Very handy, great reference. But I have a small suggestion. Here are images of two of the pocket agenda pages:

And here are those same two pages with a minor modification:

All I'm asking for is a better visual differentiation between days on the agenda. When I was walking through the halls and flipping through the pages, it was just hard to figure out what I was looking at sometimes. I know that's kind of a whiner think to say, but if I'm making suggestions anyway then I may as well get that off my chest.

7. Daily Agenda sheets
Okay, this one isn't a suggestion so much as something that I think would be a nice luxury (maybe there's not a difference, but in my mind there is).

Have you ever been on a cruise? I went on one last year, and every morning they had these printed sheets with the daily activities, the weather, last minute announcements, reminders, etc. It was really nice to have all of that packaged together and ready every morning, so we could pour over it at breakfast. Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here's a mock-up I did really quickly:

Again, that's just something I see as a nice-to-have, especially as one more way of announcing the last minute repeat sessions. And you wouldn't even have to worry about color printing 5000 sheets every night. You could just have a bunch of template pages (like this) printed up ahead of time by a print shop, and then print out all the daily agendas on those templates using a regular black-and-white copier.

Something else that would be nice to have on there (which I thought of later, and I'm too lazy to redo the mock-up) is a timeline view of the day's events. Something like this:

That would be a cool at-a-glance way of seeing what was going on during the day.


All rightie then, I've probably overstayed my welcome here, so that's all for now. Like I said, overall I think the whole event was very well orchestrated, so hats off to all the people who obviously put a lot of time and effort into it.

And since I'm on the subject of suggestions, I'm open to any suggestions that you (my loyal readers) might have about how I could report back more effectively next year. Assuming I get to go again next year...