Tim Tripcony - "Do I Need to Learn Java?": a brief conversation with a composite character
Mark Roden - When the community comes together we get the right answer
Steven Wissel - Learning a new language or platform
Jeff Byrd - Life without xPages # 3 – a little more JAVA please
I have been reading and watching on the sideline. I no longer write code, so the technical discussion going on here is something I don't feel like I should provide an opinion. Mark, Tim, David and many more are much more qualified. But as the discussion morphs from technical to interacting with customers, I feel I can contribute to the discussion.
Selling XPages isn't actually selling XPages for me. I rarely sell technology. I focus on selling a solution to a business problem, using technology. One of the advantages I have is that I have a broad range of solutions I can sell. Besides XPages and other IBM solutions, PSC has practices that work with SaaS solutions such as Salesforce.com and Force.com, Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM, Microsoft technologies including Microsoft SharePoint and .NET and Azure - even custom Microsoft Office development, and open source solutions around Java, Python, and LAMP. We specialize in integration of multiple of these systems, and do quite a bit in REST and libraries such as Node.JS, Backbone.JS, and Angular.JS. Because of our broad range of skills, I can focus on the solution before selecting a technology. Now, for sure, customers and prospects come to us and say 'we want you to build this and use XPages' or 'we are a Microsoft shop, pick a technology that works within that.' By selling solutions to business problems, most of my job is focused providing confidence that we can solve the problem. It is quite liberating as the selling process.
When it comes to XPages, the shift from 'we can build a XPages app for you' to 'Let's build a great application using this web platform called XPages' started 2 years ago. Our selling process focuses on customer success and user experience. For us, that means design and user experience is key. We have internal designers that focus on design patterns and look and feel. In many ways, the IBM Exceptional Design Experience process is something we have applied to XPages - and everything else. Technically, this means Twitter Bootstrap and a collection of resources such as jQuery, extJS, and other sources. We even use Java - especially with things like Apache Poi and much more. We don't limit ourselves. There is no 'you can only do it this way.'
In the past 5 years of selling, I have never once had a customer ask 'I want you to write this application in Java.' There is always an IT person asking about maintainability, future-proofing, and discussing their available resources. But rarely is it focused on 'please write this system in a specific language.' There is always talk on build vs. buy. Or open source vs. not. Selected Vendor and/or selected platform of course comes up. But never once has anyone said 'you can only write this in Language A.' Opposite that, we have had multiple customers tell us 'We don't have the resources to maintain an XPages application with lots of Java in it. Please design this to target our internal skills as much as possible.' Now, we can attribute that to the maturity of the XPages community outside of the top contributors, but it is reality. We take the stance that it is our job to educate our customers on their options, but not tell them they are wrong. Communication and direction matters, but putting blinders on to tell someone there is only one right way to develop a 'good application' makes no sense.
One thing I find interesting in this discussion is the difference between in-house and consultant and systems integrators vs. ISV's. This is a healthy discussion. I think that learning and sharing experiences on how we all see the technology helps everyone grow. What I likes most about this discussion was the 95% open-mindedness of the community. Comparing this to a discussion even just two years ago, it would have been far less.
To wrap this up, I do agree 100% with David Leedy that as a developer, you should always want to be learning. And always be practicing. I also agree that knowing Java is important, but it's one item in the XPages developer's toolbox. The best customer solutions that I have seen - those built by PSC and by others - use a mix of both and much more. The range of solutions coming from David and Jeff Byrd and Mark and Brad Balassaitis and so many more pushes the community forward. There was a time that XPages didn't even include projects like the ExtLib - look how far XPages has come in just five years!
TL;DR - don't get caught up in which language matters in a solution, focus on delivering the solution that solves the business problem. At the end of the day, the people who write the check really don't care about the language used.
- OneNote for the Mac
- OneNote is free!
- OneNote API and a bunch of apps - including IFTTT!
- OneNote email address
- Web Clipper
- OneNote Eye Lens for Windows phone - and I would love to see this on the iPhone
That is a long list of stuff! This excites me. I use both OneNote and Evernote. Yes, both. Why? Great question.
For work stuff, I mostly use OneNote. It connects to my ecosystem that I use daily like nothing else I have seen. Tied together with Outlook, Office, Sharepoint, and Lync. That connect is really powerful - but the real power is in the group sharing of notebooks. Using OneDrive or SharePoint, the power of group notebooks is amazing. PSC has teams using OneNote for our projects and the amount of data in there is out of control and head spinning. Yes, Evernote has the ability to share notebooks - but it requires everyone have a premium version. And I find the synching and team collaboration in OneNote has always been it's strength.
For a specific example, our Infrastructure group inside PSC has this team notebook
The Practice Leader owns the notebook, and the entire team has access. So does all of the sales team and the rest of the PSC folks who interact with this practice. Everything is in one place. That clients tab has LOTS of sections (each section is a client) and lots of pages under that. The multi-layered organization allows for a single notebook instead of multiple.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love Evernote. I use it for a lot of my personal stuff. Here is my Evernote Notebook structure
I have a few older work related stuff - and a few shared notebooks with the Collaboration and Enterprise teams. Because Evernote was one of the first to connect with IFTTT, I use it as a way to track what I do on social media. All my tweets and facebook posts are cataloged here - since both services have crappy archives and backup options. I also have a few apps that use Evernote as their backbone - much like many use Dropbox. That won't stop, so I will probably continue to use both. But with IFTTT integration with OneNote revealed yesterday, I might change that (well, once IFTTT gives us the power to select OneNote Notebooks).
Let me break down where I think the pros and cons of both OneNote and Evernote from my usage.
1. The OneNote Editor - the core strength of OneNote is what you can do inside a Note. It's based on the Word editor, but has a lot of great additions.
This is the key strength of OneNote. I will get into specifics on the options here, but you can do so much in the editor. If you use OneNote or Evernote primarily for note taking, then it's hard to not give OneNote the win here.
2. The Insert Menu
Besides the basics with a table and file attachment, you can insert an actual spreadsheet (Excel) or diagram (Visio) into the note. This means flow charts and charting. I don't know how this works with the Mac yet, but this is a great feature. The audio and video recording directly is great, as is the screen clipping and scanned images directly in the app. Quick date & time insertion is great, as is the full equation and symbol engines from Word. Evernote has a fraction of these features. Again, the editor in OneNote is night and day above any other note taking software out there.
3. The Draw Menu
If you do note taking on a Microsoft Surface or another device like a Lenovo Helix, the options here compared to Skitch are very powerful. The key here - Ink to Text and Ink to Math. Both are far superior than anything with Evernote, unless you purchase a third-party product like the Jot pen.
4. The View Menu
Hard to see here - but OneNote allows you to change the page color and the rule lines of any page. You can really customize this - but I like the ability to have a note page look like a note page when I am doing handwriting.
5. Meeting Details
This is a great feature. If you are using Outlook, you can create a Meeting Details page in OneNote with two clicks. Everything imports AND links back to the calendar entry.
A single click in your calendar brings you back to this page. I use this multiple times a day.
6. Section Locking via Password
You can lock down entire pages, sections, and notebooks.
7. Todo Linking with Outlook
This feature allows you to highlight any text in a OneNote note and create a task out of it.
You can see the flag on the task there - that means it is an Outlook task item. You can then open that item in Outlook.
This creates a link between the two. You can assign this to others, just like any task.
8. OneNote Tags in Text
While Evernote has tags per Note, OneNote allows you to tag any text with one or more tags. You can see the long list of tags that come out of the box, and you can full customize these. Here is a use case:
You can see I tagged this with the address tag. What makes this powerful is the next item.
9. Tag Summary
Tag summary allows me to find all the tags in a given collection (current page, current section, current notebook, all notebooks) and you can do it by a time rage as well:
From this, it generates a Page with a listing of all of the tags I selected:
While not a true Table of Contents, its a great way to get a master list of things to do from your note taking.
10. Page Templates
For me, this is the real power. The ability to save pages AND Notebooks with sections and pages is very powerful. You can setup new project Notebooks that have everything in it - including new page layouts. Its a massively powerful feature that makes note taking both useful and streamlined.
1. Mobile Applications
This is a key area Microsoft needs to work on. The biggest issue - the iPad version of OneNote heavily limits what you can do in terms of the editor, OneNote's biggest strength. The web version on Office365 is very good, but the native mobile apps need work. I expect this is something we will see improve as the coming Office for iPad gets released.
2. Integration with anything other than Outlook
Are you a IBM Notes user? Yeah, all that integration above doesn't work. Same if you are a Google user. I would really like to see this work with both the local machine default settings and with web mail options. My guess is that neither of these happen, except through third-party options.
3. Integration with third-party apps
This was an issue until the announcement yesterday, but still a long way to go to match Evernote.
4. Only a Windows application
The release of the Mac client yesterday took this off the table.
5. Requires a Microsoft account for synching
Not an issue for me, but I have heard others say this is an issue. I have a Microsoft account for Windows 8 and XBox, so no brainer here. Evernote requires a Facebook or Google or Evernote login (well, if you use one of the first two it creates an Evernote account for you on the backend). Microsoft could give other login options. But typically not their way.
6. No 'All Notes' view
This is a great feature in Evernote and hope it gets added.
7. No Import functionality
Volker mentioned this. I hope they fix this. The Evernote .enex format is documented and open.
8. File Clipping
The 'Send to OneNote' functionality is good, but it's not as good as Evernote. This needs work - especially around PDFs.
9. No Web Clipper
While not an addin like Evernote has for a browser like Chrome, there is now a bookmarklet that works well.
1. The multiple note selection options
Selecting multiple Notes gives you a great menu where you can email them, merge them, save them as attachments externally, and create a table of contents note. The ToC feature is a great one. I also like that you can move and tag them in mass.
2. The Share Menu
OneNote has no features that allow you to post a link to an Evernote page on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. I also like that I can stop sharing at the source.
3. Encrypt Selected Text
A great feature in Evernote is the ability to select text and encrypt it. The bad news is that if you lose the passphrase, it is lost forever. Ouch.
4. Evernote Tags
Evernote tags are at the note level. And they work just like tags on a blog. Type-ahead works. And the Tag view which shows all notes with an associated tag works great. Very tag-cloud like.
The Atlas feature shows all tags created at a specific location. Very cool for mobile notes - especially if trying to find tags that you created at a client in Boston, for instance.
6. Evernote Market and Addon Apps
For me, this is a huge strength. The sheer number of apps that use Evernote as a backbone is pretty incredible. IFTTT is a great example. Evernote becomes a storage facility for anything you want to throw at it. This ties in to #7
The integration of other apps into Evernote is exceptional. It starts with their own apps, like Skitch, Penultimate, Food, Clearly and Web Clipper. Than you have third-party apps like EasilyDo, Expensify, Postachi.io, Lightly, and DocScanner. The ecosystem is awesome.
8. Evernote Moleskin
Extending the application market and integration, the products like the Jot Script Evernote Edition Pen and the ScanSnap Scanner are awesome. But the best integration by far is the Evernote Moleskin Notebook. With the camera-enabled paper, the smart stickers, and lots of sizes, colors, and even a sketchbook - this is the best paper-to-electronic option out there.
9. Flat Note List
A weakness of OneNote, having a single All Notes view is a great feature. I use this almost daily. Especially with all of the stuff that gets pushed to Evernote automatically.
10. Mobile Applications
The mobile applications for Evenote are great. One thing that makes them great is that the editor works the same across all of their apps - Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, etc.
11. Presentation Mode
Not something I use often (or ever), but you can present directly from Evernote.
12. Web Clipper
Hard to argue about this - the best out there. Great functionality and works like a charm.
13. Evernote File Annotation
A great feature available to any image or PDF - and doesn't disturb the file itself.
1. The Evernote Editor - it's the weakest part of Evernote actually.
It can do basic formatting and a few things like bullets, lists, a checkbox that links to nothing, really basic tables, a line spacer, basic file attachments and a voice recorder. Tags are for the note and there is also a basic reminder option. Reminders are only visible within the app or sent to your evernote account email. Really, this is the core weakness of Evernote - if it has one. What you can put inside the editor is far less than OneNote. Some people will say this is about simplicity - but it's the biggest limitation for me.
2. Encryption limited to text
Direct from the Evernote User Guide: "Note: While you can encrypt the text content of a note, you cannot encrypt an entire notebook or note."
3. Tags are limited to Note level
You can not tag specific text. I am so used to doing this in OneNote that I find it a huge limitation.
4. Evernote Integration with productivity tools (Outlook, Notes, etc.)
The integration with Outlook is not just less than OneNote, but it's buggy and clunky. As an Outlook addin, it often crashes Outlook. But Evernote doesn't integrate on the platform it is running on well. This isn't just about Outlook. It doesn't integrate with Notes, Mac Mail/etc., Apple Mail and Calendar on iOS, etc. This is a big weakness. I am glad Evernote has a great backend API, but I need front-end integration in my day to day life.
5. Search Criteria Limited
You can only search in the current note or all notes. No other option. I think the ability to search and navigate as tags as seen as the reason not to expand this, but it pales in comparison to OneNote.
So that is a lot of opinion and information. Reality is I will still use both. I like that Evernote works as a giant collector of information across the various hats I wear, but I also love that OneNote is now a more viable alternative. I hope that OneNote being free, a Mac client, and an API that can build an ecosystem forces Evernote to ramp up its internal development. The Evernote editor needs a lot of work and there is quite a bit of missing functionality - for me at least. I am not sure I will ever just get to use one or the other - but competition is good for both products. Happy note taking.
For all of my friends and followers in Chicago - if you work for or participate in a not-for-profit, this free technology seminar is for you:
Clearing up the Myth: The Cloud and Nonprofits - Free Nonprofit Technology Seminar - Please join us on February 26th at 10 AM and invite your nonprofit friends and colleagues.
At this seminar you will learn:
- What exactly IS "The Cloud"?
- Why do I need to know about cloud computing?
- How will it help my organization?
- What and who are cloud providers?
- What about security and storage of data?
You're invited to attend a FREE cloud computing seminar hosted by Lumity. You’ll learn everything you need to know about what the cloud is, how to transition to it and how to use it once you’re there. Mark Litwin, a Technology Solution Professional will guide you through the process so you leave with a full understanding and the confidence to make the change.
What is "the cloud"? It's a server that’s accessible to you anywhere there is internet, not just at your office.
Who needs the cloud? The cloud is great for organizations who don't have an IT expert on staff, whose employees and volunteers work off-site or who want to save money and still be up-to-date.
No IT person on staff? No problem! Cloud computing requires very little IT knowledge or work.
You can register for the event here. Hope to see you there - but note, this is only for not-for-profits. Thanks!
So in my session with John Beck at IBM Connect 2014 - I put this slide up and just watched the reaction of the room.
So I am just going to let this generate some discussion before I post more about it later this week ...
IBM Connect 2014 is over and many are writing their impressions on the conference. I won't go into rumors or thoughts about the future in my musings, but there are a few things I would like to recap. The first is the Opening General Session, otherwise known as the OGS.
Reading the other thoughts on the OGS out there, I realize I am in the minority on my reaction. I thought the OGS was exactly what IBM has been trying to achieve the past few years. I thought it hit the target market very well and the main audience for the OGS - the press and analysts walked away quite happy. The old school, die hard Notes administrator or developer who comes to Connect, or still calls it Lotusphere, is not the target of the OGS. They haven't been for years. Let me explain why I think that and then give a few thoughts on the OGS itself.
I was quite lucky to participate in three years of the IBM Connect / Lotusphere blogger program. Besides the great seats at the OGS, we were invited to the press conference after the OGS, a blogger Q&A, the press party, and other press events during the week (my favorite was the guided tour of the Research Lab). It always surprised me that so few people went to the press conference right after the OGS - typically it was a handful of the bloggers. But seeing how that works - and the questions asked - it made me realize what the OGS it. The #1 goal of the OGS is to capture the attention of the press and analysts at the event. The first 30 minutes - the band, the overview by the current general manager, and the guest speaker is to get the energy level up and get people out of their email. It's an attention grab. Once they have their attention, it's about 90 minutes to sell the IBM vision for the upcoming year. Yes, there will be individual briefings across the year and other events. But in the ICS / Social Workforce / Collaboration segment of IBM Software, this is it. It's the State of the Union. It can't be too specific or detailed. Or even technical. It needs to paint broad strokes and cover many topics. It has to show vision and highlight enough detail that you can see how the vision will come into place. For instance, IBM Mail Next. I doubt that was real-world code ready to work in any level of production. I am sure it was more than a flash demo (I asked), but it was also very demo made. But it showcased enough specifics that you can buy into IBM's vision to shake up and redefine email - and what 'social email' is all about.
You then had four customer stories. The individuals from each company highlighted how they used IBM technology, but with very little specifics. It was definitely the 50,000 foot view. But all of the stories resonated in specific ways that change was happening within using IBM technology.
I was sitting in the first section with the IBM Champions, and right on the aisle. I could hear the discontent of many in the section. I watched the Lotus faithful get very antsy on Twitter. But I also saw a press and analyst group that were happy and excited about what they saw. You can see their reaction by reading what has been said in the press. Across the major sections - IBM Talent Suite (Kenexa), Digitial Experiences (IBM Websphere Portal et all), and IBM Mail Next - there are very few bad pieces of press. If IBM's goal was to create a State of the Union for the press and analyst attendees, I think they met that challenge and met it well.
The other side of the coin is the folks who attend for technical content. They are administrators for Notes and Domino or Connections or Websphere Portal. They want to see details. They grimaced at the Greenwell Company info - because we knew Nicole and Luis were IBM employees. They wanted the days of old were Maureen would demo Domino Designer on stage. It is obvious those days are gone - in most cases, the demos we saw were totally canned and sometimes seemed automated. This audience had to wait until follow-up sessions to get more specifics. I told a few IBMers that all the questions about IBM Mail Next and what it ran on - which Jeff Schick had to call out in his keynote directly after the OGS was Domino - and was repeated every chance IBM had - including at Ask the Developers and by Ronnie Maffa at the Closing General Session - could have been avoided. All that was needed was a logo in the bottom section of the IBM Mail Next demo that said 'Powered by IBM Notes & Domino technology' and that would have satisfied the technical crowd.
I think the OGS was good, maybe the best OGS in a few years, but it still had plenty of room for improvement. I think the Tuesday morning keynote was out of this world awesome - great stories, great inspiration, a fun musical act to start (Marian Call) and an amazing talk by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Tuesday could not have been much better. Part of the reason - it was almost 100% focused on the talent suite / Kenexa technologies.
One thing - I believe one of the best decisions IBM made all week was to bring in Jay Baer as host. Jay hosted the Business Partner opening session, the OGS, and the Tuesday Keynote. Jay kept things moving, worked well with a teleprompter but never stiff, and engaged the audience. When he reached out to co-worker Brad Balassaits about the OGS Keynote game many IBM Champions were playing, Jay highlighted that he was listening, reading on Twitter, and engaging. It was the perfect level of social collaboration at an event about social collaboration. Props to whomever at IBM decided to bring in Jay.
I understand why many did not like the OGS. I have a laundry list of things I would have improved myself. But I think the OGS did exactly what IBM was trying to do - reach out to the press and analysts and paint out their vision. In that, it was successful. The question is can IBM figure out how to target both audiences equally in future years.
As the year closes, my anniversary at PSC Group is upon me. 13 years since I walked in with the intention of working here about six months. It's been a great 13 years with no end in site. Looking forward to a great 2014!
PSC Group has released a brand new video customer testimonial on our work with TCA Holdings, LLC and our SharePoint 2013 work. You can learn more about the solution and the experience our customers have with PSC Group by watching it here:
You can read more about the solution here
If you are interested in any more information about the solution, or how PSC Group can help your company achieve results such as these, please contact me!
One of the amazing aspects of my job is that I get to work with amazing people. Today shines the spotlight on that. Besides being named a 2014 IBM Champion, I am beyond honored to be working with 4 others who were named IBM Champions today.
Kathy Brown is a returning IBM Champion, and Andrew Barickman, Mark Roden, and Brad Balassaitis are new for 2014. Congratulations to the entire team!!!!
Getting the email this morning that I was accepted as an 2014 IBM Champion. It is both an honor and a challenge. Being an IBM Champion is about representing the IBM Collaboration Services in the wild as best as you can. Thanks for those that nominated me. Here is the entire list.
I was honored to be asked to speak at The Sales Association Midwest 2013 conference in November. The event was focused on sales best practices, tools, and techniques for sales organizations and individuals. It was a great experience for me - especially since it was a brand new audience and community. Looking forward to giving this presentation more in 2014!
I am once again honored to have the privilege to speak at IBM Connect 2014. I am speaking with John Beck, Business Unit Executive, IBM, but this year we decided to start fresh. Our topic is "he Mobile Disruption - Why XPages Development is Targeting Mobile First." This is an executive / strategy focused session on how mobile is becoming the primary development platform choice. We will look at this topic from the perspective of an XPages platform, but expect IBM MobileFirst, IBM Worklight, and IBM Websphere technologies to show up in the presentation.
See everyone in Orlando in January!
The section of the IBM Connect 2014 session "AD214: What's Next? Application Modernization Roadmap for Socializing IBM Notes and Domino" that is my section has been posted to Youtube via Social Business User Group. Check it out here:
There was a very interesting posting on TechCrunch by Semil Shah this morning entitled Rethinking the Seductiveness of Mobile-First. The artcile talks about some reasons why an application should be targeted at the web first, not mobile. Here are the high level points he makes:
- Some markets make mobile-first simply unnecessary or unviable.
- Relatively speaking, easier to recruit web developers versus mobile developers.
- Faster cycles for iterations, testing, and moving toward product-market fit.
- The web provides a strong foundation to build a brand and harness virality.
- Mobile can be thought of as an extension, not the foundation.
What I find interesting about these points is that it sounds almost exactly like the old rich client vs. web discussion 10 years ago. For instance, if a market is not mobile viable, how viable is the web? Why not use a disconnected model like the Notes client?
Mobile-first is the future, across every vendor and technology. In 10 years, we won't even think of mobile as it's own segment, mobile will be first. What happens in 10 years is anyone's guess, but the idea of carrying a laptop and a tablet and a smartphone will probably morph into carrying a device that has different modes of work: home, work, in transit, etc.
CIO posted an article last week covering Gartner's The Top 10 IT Altering Predictions for 2014. The list has a few things that does apply to the readers of this blog. Let's look at the list:
- Mobile Device Diversity and Management
- Mobile Apps and Applications
- Software Defined Anything
- Smart Machines
- 3D Printing
- The Internet of Everything
- Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker
- Cloud/Client Architecture
- The Era of Personal Cloud
- Web-Scale IT
I find the list a bit self-predicting. Much of this is obvious. But what they say about #2 Mobile Apps and Applications is interesting:
Developers should look for ways to snap together apps to create larger applications. For the next few years no single tool will be optimal for all types of mobile application so expect to employ several. The next evolution in user experience will be to leverage intent, inferred from emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behavior.
No matter if you are building on XPages, SharePoint, Salesforce.com, or an open source technology, this should both resonate and help you focus. Buidling reusable applications that can tie together is going to be key. user experience matters. And 'no single tool will be optimal for all types of mobile application so expect to employ several' should inspire you to stay open minded.
A good read for your Monday morning.