Connections 7 is coming and it’s taking us off the island!

So for those not knowing yet, HCL is shortly before launching it’s newest release of HCL Connections version 7 and it is looking promising! The main keys of this release are to create a better collaborative experience in Communities, connect the platform to the Microsoft eco-system so you’re no longer working in disparate systems that act as islands but can integrate all the collaborative work you do. Whether it’s in Connections or Teams. And lastly to export content in an easy and comprehensive way to take with you, archive or print.

So lets go through a few of these new features:

Community/ Tailored experience:

Tailored Experience: When creating a new community you now get a step by step wizard that leads you through all the steps needed to set up a new community

Community templates: Part of this new community wizard is that you can now also select a community template to base that new community on! Each organization can set up their own preferred communities templates. These templates don’t only work in regards to allowing you to copy over the activated apps and config of a community but also can include content like pre-populated files, wiki pages, community image, blogs etc.

Community homepage/Highlights improvements: the old ‘overview’ page will be replaced by the highlights page. For that purpose, Highlights has received a redesign and has been extended, allowing it to be much more intuitive to set up and use.

Microsoft eco system integration:

Outlook integration: Redesign of the whole integration means that it is now easier to add files, link to content and generally work more efficient from within Outlook.

SharePoint integration: Allows you to use a SharePoint repository within your community and even replace your community files app with that if your organization prefers using SharePoint for files.

Teams integration: A exiting feature that forms a good basis for the further integration of Connections with the Microsoft world that allows you to show Connections content (Blogs, Files, Forums, Highlights or Recent Updates) in your Teams channel tabs, share content to your community directly from your Team (and vice versa!) and start a chat with a user directly from your profile. E.g. a two way integration option that really allows you to work across both platforms.

Print & Export

Last but not least and one I’m stupidly excited about… It is now standard part of Connections that you can Export activity, blog, wiki, or forum content to PDF. Per entry or per selection (for instance all forum posts after a certain date…).

Print of a 3-page community wiki. It allows you to select the pages and the content (comments, author info, etc) to be included. Making it very customizable as to how you want your output to look

Seeing it for yourself

This presentation from Let’s Connect’s recent online conference goes through the main features and shows screen captures of the main features to give you an idea.

However, if that isn’t enough, you can actually see it live already! HCL has provided an online preview version of Connections 7.0 which allows you to test and see all that is new. Including the Microsoft Teams integration. To request an account go here: HCL 7 Preview

And if that isn’t enough, sign up for HCL’s Digital Week event and get the latest ad greatest directly from the guys themselves.

HCL Connections – Surveys & Rules

I’m often asked about how to best use the Survey tool in HCL Connections to set up questionnaires or polls. Rules often play an important role and often cause questions. So to document how I do this (for myself as well as others who might benefit), I will write down a few tips below.

  1. Where do you find Rules?
  2. How do you see which rule applies to which question?
  3. How do you set up to and show an additional text box when an ‘Other’ option is selected?
  4. How do you set up a rule to show a text when an answer is right and a different one on when an answer is wrong? (conditional showing)
Continue reading HCL Connections – Surveys & Rules

Social Connections Munich – People power your business HCL Connections powers your People!

Back home for a few days now after a great Social Connections in Munich and still recovering from a very nasty cold (so my apologies for this one being a bit after the fact..).

This was the first real conference dedicated fully to HCL Connections since the takeover earlier this summer. Much anticipated by both customers as well as partners. So how was it?

Continue reading Social Connections Munich – People power your business HCL Connections powers your People!

Social Connections Munich: To Dirndl or not to Dirndl…

Well not really of course, but lets face it, it’s an interesting way to start an article about a conference that will be held just short of German October Fest in the heart of Munich. Especially knowing that I might be Dutch but work for an Austrian/German company and just happen to have a dirndl (don’t ask, it was a dare)….

So what am I really talking about? I’m of course talking about Social Connections. The user group for users working with Connections (what was formerly known as IBM Connections). This event is organized roughly every 6 months somewhere around the globe and brings together customers, partners and HCL to talk about and present about the platform. Most importantly though this time is special as it will be the first major event completely focused on the Connections platform since the announcement of the sale of the platform to HCL. It’s also being touted by HCL itself as a flagship event and THE place where they will be talking about the plans they have for the future. Some of which has already been discussed at the Factory Tours and other events as well of course….

Continue reading Social Connections Munich: To Dirndl or not to Dirndl…

Explaining My Drive & File Sync and how it affects versioning

My Drive was introduced to replace the previous sync options of IBM Connections. It offered some additional features like being able to sync not only files but also complete folders. Great! But working with My Drive also often causes a lot of confusion which might need some explaining….

Continue reading Explaining My Drive & File Sync and how it affects versioning

IBM Connections is no more, long live Connections!

The below is my private opinion and in no way reflects the opinion of either my company or the customers I work with…

So anyone who has anything to do with IBM connections will have already heard this and must be fully aware but yes, the sale of the IBM Collaboration portfolio (including IBM Connections) was finalized by the first of this month. This means that from now on IBM Connections is…. Connections.

Continue reading IBM Connections is no more, long live Connections!

ConnectionsExpert 2.0 released!

It’s summer and that means that news is sometimes announced during a period while people are about to go – or just coming back from holiday. This happened to me when ConnectionsExpert 2.0 was released just before I went on holiday. Which meant that I wasn’t able to share my excitement over its inception as much as I would have liked to and that’s also why you are now reading this blog post with a few weeks delay. Don’t worry though, my excitement over this release is still the same!

So what’s ConnectionsExpert?

For those that don’t know, ConnectionsExpert is a tool from panagenda that allows you to gain deep dive information about the health status, usage and adoption rates of your IBM Connections environment by collecting and displaying key metrics and monitoring information about the platform and its usage. As a team we’ve been working hard to further expand the features of ConnectionsExpert and that has resulted in this new release! Continue reading ConnectionsExpert 2.0 released!

Indexing support for Activity and Forum attachments in IBM Connections 5.5

Sometimes with large updates you miss the little things that make the difference… One I missed with the release of Connections 5.5 was that apparently the indexing on attachments has been added for Activities & Forums now:

in 5.5: “IBM Connections supports the indexing of file attachment content from the Files, Wikis, Library (Enterprise Content Manager files), Activities, and Forums applications. Content from file attachments in Blogs is not searched.source

Was: “IBM Connections supports the indexing of file attachment content from the Files and Wikis applications. Content from file attachments in Activities, Blogs, and Forums is not searched.source

For most people probably not a big thing but it means that now at least one will be able to search for content in the documents that were added as attachments to forums and activities. Something that was often causing headaches to users who couldn’t find back information they were sure they had added to IBM Connections.

It’s still wise to train your users to upload files to a community or personal files first and share them from there (as it allows things like locking, version management and commenting) but all in all still a very nice little feature of 5.5 that had slipped under my radar!

 

busy weeks! Zurich & Stuttgart

It has been a busy month all over but the last two weeks have been extremely busy. Both with a major project at a customer going live this weekend as well as with two conferences last week and this week. I had a great day on October 28th at the IBM Client center for SNoUG the Swiss Notes User Group and congratulate the SNoUG team on their effort of setting up a fantastic event. I really enjoyed it and found the sessions, connections I made and information I got from the sponsor booths extremely helpful.

I also want to give a big thanks to the team, speakers, sponsors and attendees of Social Connections in Stuttgart who helped make that a great event. After having left the SOCCNX team at the end of SOCCNX 5 due to work pressures and missing the last three events it felt like a warm bath to join the team back for SOCCNX 9. Organizing an event like that with 270 attendees, 65+ speakers and 22 sponsors in a remote location (ok for me) like Stuttgart always is a big challenge but I think we can say it was a big success and completely in line with all the other Social Connections events!

Below I’ve attached the slide decks I used for my presentations both at SNoUG in Zurich on October 28th 2015 and the one in Stuttgart for Social Connections. As the last one was only a short (15min) one the slide deck for that one is significantly shorter than the first one. Enjoy!

SNoUG:

Social Connections 9:

IBM Connections: Default follow on public files is it logical?

At one of my customers a user complained about the fact that every time he opened a publicly shared file it would automatically ‘follow’ that file. This meant that every subsequent ‘like’, change or comment to that file would show up in his timeline. Of course he could ‘unfollow’ the file but found it irritating that it would follow it at all without him making that conscious decision.

After testing and a little digging by our admins it turns out that indeed this is the default behavior for IBM Connections and can be managed by changing a setting in the files-config.xml:

<emailNotification>
    <addOnMediaDownload enabled="true"/>
</emailNotification>

So no big deal but we did have a bit of a discussion as to why this setting is there in the first place and if it is logical. Yes, there is a case to make for auto-follow as that will ensure you keep track of subsequent changes to that file. After all, a publicly shared file that you don’t follow or isn’t in a community that you follow is sometimes hard to track but at the same time it can be quite annoying. In an environment with thousands of users and where public files are shared and mentioned in other sources like the intranet, auto-following a file simply because you opened it once, can cause lots of updates in your activity stream by other people ‘liking’, commenting or editing the file. Information you might not be interested in at all as you only just wanted to read it that once.

To be honest, I think this is one of those settings that can be interpreted either way. The bigger discussion now is do we disable it? This user clearly finds it annoying but what about all those other users? Do they want to auto-follow or not? The setting is org-wide so any change will influence all. You can’t just change the default behavior of a system used by thousands of users without annoying at least some.  I guess this is something that will have to be decided by the the business.

So what do you think: Is auto-follow indeed the logical behavior or not in a Enterprise Social Network and how does your organization handle it?