Will I see you at IBM Think?

It is just over a month until IBM kicks off Think 2018 in Las Vegas. This conference takes place March 19-21 and merges several conferences, including IBM Connect (formerly known as Lotusphere).

After attending 19 Lotusphere/Connect conferences in Orlando (as well as one in Nice and one in San Francisco), I am ready for something new and exciting. IBM Think brings in many different parts of the IBM portfolio into one big conference, where we can learn about new and exciting technologies that we may not been exposed to before. I am looking forward to learning more about AI, security, blockchain, IoT and much more.

But I am of course also excited to learn about the upcoming Notes and Domino 10. IBM and HCL has promised too show actual working code at Think, and will present a timeline not only for what features we will see in the end of the year in Domino 10, but also in upcoming versions.

I have a feeling we will finally see functions and features people have been requesting for many years. A large part of the IBM:ers who worked on Notes and Domino moved over to HCL late last year, and I suspect they have been very busy. Here is an excerpt of a session description:

For those of you who want to integrate Domino applications into modern web applications and cloud platforms like Salesforce, etc., we will show you how. Domino is embracing JavaScript, Node.js and open source to become a full-stack web development platform anyone you hire off the street today can be productive in.

If anyone is interested in attending IBM Think I have a special promo code that will give you a $100 discount. Contact me at texasswede@gmail.com (use the subject “IBM Think Promo Code”) and I will mail you a code. You can also contact any other IBM Champion for a code.

See you in Las Vegas in a month!



IBM Connect – My thoughts and the future

There has been radio silence on this blog since right before IBM Connect in the end of February. I intended to write a recap of IBM Connect after I got back from the conference, but I have just been very busy. I haven’t even had time to post the code from my presentation, but it will be up here shortly.

There has already been several good overviews of IBM Connect, but I want to share how I experienced it, and how the first conference away from Orlando was. It was both good and bad.

The bad part was just some minor things. Like everyone else I found San Francisco expensive, with a lot of homeless people. The venue also lacked some of the natural meeting spots we had in Orlando, when many of us were staying at the same hotel where the conference took place. The restrooms at the Moscone Center could also use a makeover. But none of these were things IBM really could do much about.

What they could have done better would have been to server a warm breakfast and lunch, at least a couple of days. The food in Orlando was great, and at last years conference it was even outstanding, in my opinion. So the breakfasts of cereal and pastries and sandwiches for lunch was a bit of a disappointment.

The conference itself was good. I enjoyed most of the sessions I attended, I learned about future enhancements to the Notes and Domino platform and ecosystem and I got to talk to a lot of people. I also met many of my friends in the community, but there however many faces missing. For the last few years more and more of the long-time Lotusphere/Connect attendees have moved away from the ICS platform into other technologies. It is just a natural progression. We all learn new things, try new technologies and broaden our horizons.

I have done that myself, for the last several years I have moved more and more into pure web development, using tools like jQuery and Bootstrap to build front-ends to data often (but not always) located on a Domino server. But I have also been looking into other technologies. Lately I have been working with NetSuite, an ERP system recently acquired by Oracle. NetSuite is using Javascript both on the server and for the browser, so the skills I have aquired during my time as a Domino deverloper enabled me to quickly start working with this platform. Another area where I have been spending a lot of time is more traditional web design using Javascript, as well as frameworks and libraries like jQuery and Bootstrap. These tools can be integrated into Domino applications, and after you learn them it is not hard to branch out and use them with a different backend.

One of the more exciting things that I brought back from Connect was the fact that Docker is a technology to watch. I attended a workshop that unfortunately had some technical problems, but it at least got me interested in starting to play around with it myself. It was not hard to install it on my workstation, install a couple of containers and start experimenting. If you are not familiar with Docker, it is a virtualization platform that encapsulate software into containers, who can then run on almost any platform. One good way to describe it is extremely lightweight virtual machines, running only one or a few applications. The containers can then be integrated with each other. You could have MongoDB running in one container, MySQL in another one and Node-RED in a third one talking to both of them. By the way, Node-RED is also using Javascript for the coding part.

IBM will build the next generation of Connections (codename: Pink) on Docker, using Nginx as the web server. Connections Pink is described by IBM as a vision, not a release. From what I understand IBM will be replacing (and most probably extending) the current functionality in steps. This approach makes total sense to me. If you want to read more about Connections Pink, read Gab Davis’ excellent post.

One of my biggest take-aways from Connect is how IBM is heading more and more towards component-ized solutions. BlueMix is just one example of this, where you can build your solutions by picking from a large number of different technologies, all on one host. IBM’s use of Docker is another example.

I see this as being the future: integrate a number of standards based technologies into your solution, running them virtualized on any platform or in the cloud, and then deploy your solution to the users or customers without you having to install half a dozen or more different servers.

What about the future of IBM Connect? Next year IBM will bring together a number of events into one flagship event called IBM Think 2018. This conference will take place in Las Vegas March 19-22 next year, and will include Connect, InterConnect, World of Watson, Amplify, Vision and PartnerWorld. So San Francisco seems to have been a one-time venue.

I think this a good choice by IBM. We all need to expand and break out of our comfort zone. Several of my friends from the ICS community attended InterConnect in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, and hearing them talk about all the exciting new technologies they learned about makes me really want to go. Lotusphere (and later Connect) had a good run for 25 years, but it is time to move on. There are so many exciting technologies out there, and why not learn what exists outside our own bubble, echo chamber or comfort zone?

Personally I can’t wait for March 2018!


IBM Connect coming up – Save $$$ on the conference fee!

IBM Connect 2017 starts in exactly one month, and the early bird special ends tomorrow. But I can still save you some money. Reach out to me or any other IBM Champion, and we can give you a special promotion code to use during the registration to save you $100 off the conference fee. If you use the code before the early bird rate expires tomorrow evening (Jan 20) you get $300 off!

So contact me  (or any other Champion) and we can will give you the code. You can get hold of me on Twitter as @texasswede and of course through email texasswede@gmail.com.

If you haven’t registered yet, it is time to do that. The block of rooms at the special conference rate will only be available a few more days. Nearby hotels are also filling up it seems, but you can still score some good deals.

If you go to Connect, don’t miss me co-presenting  The Great Code Givaway 11: It’s Back! with my fellow IBM Champion and friend Rob Novak. Our session is currently scheduled for Wednesday February 22 at 2pm in Moscone West, Level 2, Room 2006. I hope to see you in San Francisco in a month!



IBM Connect 2017 – I will be speaking in San Francisco

I will be speaking at IBM Connect in San Francisco now in February. Rob Novak has resurrected “The Great Code Giveaway” and asked me to present it together with him. Who would turn down that opportunity? So some time between February 21 and 23 you can see Rob and me on stage at Moscone West. The exact time and location has not been announced yet.

I hope to see you in San Francisco and that you will find our presentation and code useful!

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IBM Connect 2017 – It’s that time of the year!

Registration for IBM Connect 2017 is open. The conference, in the past known and beloved as Lotusphere, has changed some. It takes place a month later than normaland has moved from Orlando where it did take place for the last 20+ years. The new location is the Moscone Center in San Francisco and the dates are February 20-23, 2017.

Another change to the format is that the conference start Monday evening instead of Sunday. Otherwise the agenda looks very similar to what we got used to in the past. The list of session has not been published yet, the final selection of speakers will be made later this month. But I don’t doubt there will be plenty of great sessions woth attending.

I hope to be able to go, this is a great conference not only for learning but also for networking and socializing with other professionals who work with the IBM Collaborative and Watson products.

I hope to see you in San Francisco in February!




Save the date – IBM Connect 2017 announced!

Earlier today Inhi Cho Suh, the General Manager of ICS (IBM Collaborative Services), was speaking at the user conference Engage in the Netherlands. There she announced the dates and new location of IBM Connect, the conference previously called Lotusphere and until this year taking place in Orlando, FL.

The dates are February 19 to 22 and the location is going to be San Francisco, CA. More details will emerge later this year. I hope that European attendees will still come, despite the little bit longer (about 2 hours longer) flights. I am excited about this move, I think this will work out well despite the changes.

Good-bye Florida, hello San Francisco!


IBM Connect 2016 – My impressions

When I attended IBM Connect 2015, I thought it would be the last time I got to attend the conference that for most of it’s running was called Lotusphere. I attended Lotusphere 1997 in Nice but from January 1998 I attended the conference at Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan in Orlando every single year. After the 2015 conference the contract between IBM and Walt Disney World was up, and everyone expected the 20 year run to be over.

But something happened. IBM decided to do another IBM Connect in 2016, this time at a new location in Orlando, the Hilton. And people came. I have heard a number of about 2,200 attendees. Yes, just a fraction of what it was at it’s pinnacle, with 10,000+ attendees. But still more than previous years.

Dining tents during breakfast

The hotel and conference area was great. You still had to walk between conference rooms like in the Swolphin but you did at least not have to run over to another hotel. The dining tents reminded me of the first 10+ years of Lotusphere, but the food was a notch or two above when we were used to at Swolphin. And it was great to be able to sit outside and eat if I wanted to.

Pete Janzen and Martin Donnelly of IBM
Pete Janzen and Martin Donnelly, both from IBM

The conference was great. There is always room for improvements, but in general the conference team had done a great job. The scheduling was better than in many years, I was able to attend a number of great sessions and I even liked the new simpler badges. The check-in process was automated, and I used a combination of the conference app and the printed conference paper to find my session. I actually liked that, even if I did miss the convenient little agenda booklet one kept in the badge holder.

I also did my first presentation at IBM Connect this year, a 20 minute Lightning Talk in the Expo Showcase Theatre. This was a bit of a challenge, as I had all the exhibitors right there, and the noise from everybody talking to the vendors made the presentation more difficult, both for the presenters and the audience. I hope that everyone that attended (thank you!) got something out of it.

IBM Champions got a lot of exposure

The IBM Champions were represented strong at Connect 2016, and we got a lot of exposure. Champions were featured on the screen before the opening session and also in many other places during the conference. Many sessions were also presented or co-presented by IBM Champions.

Connect2016_BluemixWhen it came to the sessions, I noticed a theme. For the last 4-5 years we have seen a massive number of sessions geared towards XPages. This year the big theme was Bluemix and integration between different services, including XPages. This is where the broad portfoilio of IBM really is beneficial, you can connect different systems with each other. Using Bluemix you can connect XPages to a SQL database or a Domino NoSQL-databas, you can throw in Angular.js or even cool new technologies like Node-Red and then use services from Watson to process your data. A year ago I felt a bit “meh” when it came to Bluemix, but after Connect 2016 I really want to sit down and start playing around with it and see what cool stuff I can do.

Connect2016_RoadmapThe Opening General Session (OGS) was split into two separate parts. It was not until after the 45 minute break we got to see demos and learn more about future plans from IBM. But there were no customer panels and the customer presentations were short, to the point and relevant. I actually really liked this format. Good job, IBM!

Lets talk a little about the vendor showcase. In 2014 the exhibit hall in Dolphin was way too big, and in 2015 it was moved to a very small and cramped room in Swan. This year IBM got it right. I was able to visit most of the vendors, and there was plenty of space to mingle with people as well as during the coffee breaks that took place in the Expo Showcase.

Vendor Showcase
Vendor Showcase

So what are my suggestions for IBM Connect 2017, if IBM decides to do it again? Stay at Hilton, it was a very good location. Move the Lightning Talks to some place where it is less noisy and distracting. Update the badge holders with a pocket for business cards and perhaps even bring back the pocket agenda. Bring back the longer 2 hour jumpstart/master classes on Sunday. Otherwise I am very satisfied with how Connect 2016 turned out!



My Connect 2016 presentation & demo database

Connect2016_DemoDesignAs I promised, I would post my IBM Connect 2016 presentation on my blog.

Presentation (PDF): {link} 

Demo database (ZIP): {link}

You can also find the presentation on SlideShare.net.

To the right you see the database design, you want to look in the Agent section for the agents and in the Pages section for the HTML pages.

Note: You need to sign the database with an ID that have the proper rights. Otherwise the code will not work.




IBM Connect 2016 – Receptions and parties

Henning Schmidt have a great overview of the many social events going on at IBM Connect 2016, starting this Saturday with BALD (Bloggers Annual Lotusphere Dinner) at 3pm. If you are going to the conference, read the list here: http://www.schmhen.de/2016/01/26/ibm-connect-2016-reception-and-party-overview/.


Hope to see you in Orlando, it is now only 24 hours until I head to the airport for my flight.

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IBM Connect 2016 – Travel Tips

Many of you going to IBM Connect 2016 in Orlando in a just two weeks are coming from other countries. There are a few things you may want to be aware of.

First of all, if you need a visa to enter the US you have hopefully already arranged that. If you are covered by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) you don’t need a visa but need to fill out an electronic ESTA application. Normally you find out at once if you are eligible. The ESTA application is valid for two (2) years, assuming you haven’t changed passport, name or something has happend that makes you ineligible for ESTA (for example arrested for a drug related offense). You may want to look up your old ESTA to make sure it is still valid. I have been told that the ESTA form has changed and now requires more information than before.

You also need a passport with a machine-readable zone on the biographic page and it must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner in order to be allowed to use the VWP. It is also a good idea to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you intend to leave the US.


After you get to Orlando and pick up your luggage, you need transportation to the hotel. Mears Shuttle is $33 for a round-trip ticket to Hilton Orlando, or $29.70 if you order on their website using the promo code WEB10.

If you need a rental car I can recommend Turo (formerly RelayRides). It is a peer-to-peer car rental, usually much cheaper than a traditional rental car. You need to create an account ahead of time, since you must send copies of your drivers license to the site before you can rent. I have used the service several times, I rented two cars for 10 days in Hawaii in 2014, a SUV in Denver for an extended weekend and several times I rented a car locally for a day for some transportation. You can see it as Uber for car rentals.

If you haven’t got a hotel room yet, and if the Hilton is over your budget (perhaps you pay for the conference yourself), Days Inn across the street has much more reasonable rates. I got a room for $59/night.

Hope to see you in Orlando!


IBM Connect 2016 Special Event

The traditional Lotusphere/Connect Special Event (a.k.a. Wednesday Party or Party in the Park) is back after last years on-premises “party” which scored even lower than the infamous 2001 event at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The event was moved from Wednesday to Tuesday back in 2014, so it will be taking place Tuesday, February 2.

The event is back at the 2011 location, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmead. Since then Universal have opened a second section, Diagon Alley. It is located in the next-door park, and connected with a train, the scarlet painted Hogwarts Express. As a park visitor you need a park-to-park ticket to take the train and experience both parks, but my guess is that the Connect 2016 attendees will be confined to the Hogsmead side. It’s nothing wrong with that, the ride inside Hogwarts is great, I personally like it better that the Gringotts ride in Diagon Alley.

Last year I visited the parks the days before the conference, and below are some pictures I took then. Enjoy, and perhaps we will share a butterbeer in Hogsmead in a month!


Orlando 2015

Update: The Special Event moved from Wednesday to Tuesday back in 2014, I updated the text above to clarify this.


My session at IBM Connect 2016

As I mentioned before, I will be presenting at IBM Connect 2016. My session will be on January February 2 at 5.00 pm and the location is the Solution EXPO Theater.


Last night I finished the slides for my session. The sample database with code is also done, but I plan to add some bonus stuff in it. How much I will add depends on my workload at home and at work. But I hope you will feel it worth coming to my session and downloading the sample database.

I hope to see you in Orlando. You can still register if you haven’t yet!


Connect 2016 – People, not technology

For the 20th time I am heading to the conference previously known as Lotusphere. IBM has renamed it Connect, but to me it still is the same conference. The focus may have changed from Notes and Domino to Connections, Cloud and Mobile, but the people is largely the same: a mix of developers, administrators and managers who all are interested in or using the IBM collaboration products.

As a wise man said: it’s not about technology, it’s about the people. And I am looking forward to the people. I have many good friends in the Yellowsphere community (I don’t have a better name for the IBM Collaboration Software community), people I admire and have learned much from over the years. I hope that speaking at Connect 2016 (a first for me) will help others like I been helped in the past. That is why I enjoy helping people out in the forums and on Stack Overflow, and why I blog and share code: a way to give back to the community.

Lotusphere/Connect is a way to connect with the community. Every year I leave the conference revitalized and energized. I have been hanging out with my peers, sharing a couple of adult beverages, having dinners with some of them and — most of all — getting ideas and inspiration. Working as the only Notes developer at a company gets lonely, and Lotusphere/Connect is the one of the few time of the year I get to “talk shop” with people that do the same thing as I do. No mater how understanding and technical my wife is, when I start talking about some cool Lotusscript class or the benefits of list over arrays her eyes glace over and she is gone…

As I write this, my workplace is migrating from Notes to Outlook/Exchange for email. A pilot group (including me) was migrated last weekend, and the rest of the users will be migrated this coming weekend. Applications will stay in Notes for a long time, though. They are not going anywhere.

Even if I would have switch to a different platform for development at work, I hope to still be involved in the Yellowsphere community. I am also working on some cool side projects where I use Domino as the data backend but where the browser based front-end is built using modern web technologies like Bootstrap and jQuery. So I hope to be doing things with Notes and Domino for many more years.

So if you haven’t registered for Connect 2016 yet, hurry up. We are getting close. I booked my flight and my room earlier today and for the first time since 1999 I will not be staying at the conference hotel. Instead I found a good rate at Days Inn across the street, about a 5 minutes walk away away and at 25% of the cost. Since I am once again paying out of my own pocket, I could not justify the cost of staying at Hilton where the conference takes place.

If you want to listen to my session “AD-1100 : Break Out of the Box – Integrate Existing Domino Data with Modern Websites” it takes place at 5pm on Tuesday February 2 in the Solution EXPO Theater. It’s a 20 minute long (or should I say short?) Lightning Talk.

I hope to see you in Orlando in January and February!


IBM Connect 2016 coming up!

Connect2015_People1In the end of January it is once again time to head to Orlando for the yearly conference that for many years was known as Lotusphere. For the last few years it have been renamed IBM Connect (as well as ConnectED in 2014), and last year most people (including me) thought that 2015 was the end of this conference.

But perhaps due to the popularity of the 2015 edition, IBM decided to have the conference again this year, but in a new location as the contract with Swan and Dolphin (where the conference had been held since the first one in 1993) had expired.

The fountain at WDW Dolphin
The fountain at WDW Dolphin

The new venue is Hilton Orlando. It is closer to the airport and there are also more restaurants around than at Swan and Dolphin. It is close to SeaWorld as well as to the Universal Studios theme parks. Personally I am excited about the new venue. “Swolphin” (as Swan and Dolphin often was referred to) started to get old and worn down, despite a refresh of the rooms back in 2003-2005 some time. Yes, after this many years (18 in a row for me) Swolphin started feeling like a home away from home. You know where everything is, you know the staff and the shortcuts between hotels and sections within the hotel.

So a new location makes Connect 2016 more exciting, it will feel like a new conference but hopefully with many of my old friends attending. I have already found several interesting sessions using the session tool. Philippe Riand and Jesse Gallagher will for example talk about the Darwino application development platform, which allows you to integrate your Domino applications with IBM Bluemix an IBM Connections. Another must-attend session is called IBM Domino App.Net and talks about how to utilize Bluemix to build XPages applications in the cloud.

In addition we of course have all the sessions we have come to know and love: UserBlast with Mat Newman, Admin Tips Power Hour presented by Chris Miller, Spark Ideas, and of course the Opening General Session (OGS) with a secret guest speaker as the tradition requires.

HP_GringottsAfter the fiasco last year with the Tuesday evening special event the organizers went back to holding the event in one of the local theme parks. For the second time it will be held in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmead, which is part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Last time I had a blast, so much that last year I took a couple of vacation days to visit Hogsmead again as well as the then newly opened Diagon Alley extension over in the Universal Studios park next-door. You need a park-to-park admission pass to visit both parks, but that allows you to take the Hogwarts Express between the two parks.

ConnectSessionLetterFor me personally Connect 2016 is a milestone. It will be my 20th Lotusphere/Connect and for the first time I will present a session!

This is not a full one hour session, but a new format called Lightning Talk. Those are shorter 20 minute sessions, and not all of them are listed in the session tool on the conference site yet. I think this is a very interesting concept, and I believe it will be successful. I can see myself attending a number of shorter sessions like this to get a good overview of a particular subject, then go on and learn more later.

My session is called “Think outside the box” and I will show how you can connect to a Domino backend from a traditional web application and retrieve data in JSON format. This data can then be used to populate fields/values on a page or used in jQuery/Bootstrap plugin like calendars and data tables. This is a version of the presentation I did at MWLUG in Atlanta, but shorter and with some new content added.

I hope to see you at Connect 2016 in Orlando, perhaps even at my session. If you haven’t registered yet, it is time to do it now. Stay tuned for more posts here leading up to the conference.

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More on IBM ConnectED 2015

This morning Kristin Keene, Events Manager for ConnectED,  talked more about the upcoming IBM ConnectED 2015 in January at the monthly ICS Community webcast. IBM realized that the last few years they been swinging over too much to the business side, and is now going back to a much more technical conference. As I mentioned the other day, some tracks are new, some are renamed and some are gone. As an example, ChalkTalks replaces the old Birds of a Feather, but will take place throughout the day, not just morning and evening.


The keywords mentioned was “smaller and more intimate”. The conference will be at Swan only, to condense it and make it all in one place to make it easier to connect with IBMers and other attendees. Opening General Session will be Monday morning as normal, but in the Swan Ballroom.

IBM Connected 2015 schedule
IBM Connected 2015 schedule

As opposed to previous years, the number of IBM attendees will be greatly reduced, to around 300. Most of them will be subject matter experts, speakers or staffing the labs. All IBMers will be invite only, not coming as regular attendees as in the past. The lab decisions are still a little bit up in the air, according to Kristin, but the Meet the Developer lab will be there as usual. The special event (previously an evening at one of the local them parks) will this year be more of a special party, as she put it.

Registration for connect is already open, the call for abstracts just opened this week and close on October 10 (probably extended to October 15). The full agenda will be finalized on November 15, and the presentations are due on January 1 from the speakers who were chosen.

Kristin also said that IBM does not consider this the last Lotusphere/Connect/ConnectED, but she does not know exactly what will happen after the contract with Dolphin and Swan expires after the 2015 conference.

You can read more details here.

Hope to see you in Orlando in January!


#ThrowbackThursday – JMP 101 from Lotusphere 2012

I recorded this video of the session JMP101 IBM Lotus Domino XPages JumpStart at Lotusphere 2012 in Orlando. The conference, later renamed IBM Connect and now renamed again to IBM ConnectED, will take place again in January 2015. Perhaps this video will get you inspired to do some XPages development, or you can show it to your boss as a good example of what you can learn at ConnectED.

Hope to see you in Orlando in January!


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