The last few days at Engage have been very interesting and extremely useful. The event began on Monday for me, with Red Pill Now’s Take-5 Modernization workshop. The event was very well received, reinforcing my experiences from the face-to-face Domino Jam and since, namely that design thinking is a powerful and effective approach for engaging a diverse set of individuals to achieve better answers to more complex questions. The facilitators (plus “Mat Newman” in the corner) helped direct the teams well and keep it entertaining, in fierce competition from the room’s temperature!

From the OGS, my first comment has to be big thanks to Theo for his lovely gift for me and Roberto Mazzoni, following our announcement as IBM Lifetime Champions. I know from previous events what’s involved in getting that particular Trappist beer and I look forward to enjoying it (though I’m not sure I’ll find it on Untappd to check in).

The announcements around Connections and Watson Workspace were combined under the heading of Intelligent Workstream Collaboration. These include templates coming to Watson Workspace in the next quarter timeframe and “intelligent meetings” to follow. These will be significant enhancements for the business value of the product. There will be enhancements also to Connections, though an injection of pace is needed to keep it prominent in ICS announcements.

It wasn’t the only new name during the event, with HCL’s ICS efforts coming under the umbrella name “Collaboration Workflow Platforms”, which neatly and effectively markets the strengths of the products.

Both IBM and HCL announced cloud Domino offerings, with IBM’s Domino Applications on the Cloud being available now with per NSF and Bring Your Own License pricings. The announcement of a future “free edition / tier” offering is clearly designed to appeal to new JavaScript developers, startups, small businesses etc. It will also fit well with a resurgence of Domino as a low code environment in the Domino 11 timeframe. It’s good to see IBM being ready with offerings to support coming features.

HCL’s offering is SaaS-based and includes HCL Advisor, a cloud planning and remediation tool. There are aspects of Notes Client applications that are not well designed for remote servers (NRPC is very chatty), so this will be useful. And the ability to drill down on usage by department will help enterprise IT departments cross-charge for their Domino infrastructure in a way that’s never been available before. It will be interesting to see if that functionality comes in the future for on premises. It may even be part of the improved statistical reporting that will come with Domino 10, I’m not sure.

Also on Tuesday I was delighted to receive one of the “golden tickets” to HCL’s CWP factory in July. It’s going to be a fascinating and interesting event along the journey to Domino 10 and beyond.

In terms of Domino news, the biggest was by far the announcement of HCL Places. Thomas Adrian has proven with Intrapages that Domino can do file sharing, news streams, people etc. So there should not be a doubt that those services can be delivered successfully and scalably without resorting to other technologies. And there will be customers for some years that cannot share content into the cloud for AI. This taps into those needs. And an app dev platform needs a compelling app at its heart, as Iris did with email and Salesforce did with a CRM. The choice of app and services at its heart will be compelling to non-Domino developers (the kinds of people HCL and IBM are trying to attract), startups and SMBs. These will add significant benefit to the “one client to rule them all” for chat, email, client apps and web apps. Personally I’ve been looking for the right client and technology for offline apps. XPiNC promised much, but quirks, challenges around deploying extensions and deprecation of XulRunner have left it as an unsatisfactory solution. The announcement of Nomad (Notes on iPad) has further challenged the idea that XPiNC could be the answer for the future. Offline Notes Client + web app for connected reporting in a single client as a seamless solution could answer the problem of providing offline while still giving the quality of visualisations expected by today’s users. It’s far from certain HCL Places will be the right fit for this use case. But there are some compelling use cases for customers and, whilst a big gamble, it’s one HCL cannot afford not to deliver on.

More news also came about Domino 10, with two betas, a closed beta in June and a wider beta in mid-July. There will also be a beta for Notes on iPad, or Nomad as it has been named.

There was more information about the NodeJS and Loopback aspects, with access to the underlying Domino data being via gRPC. This is very good news, not only because the speed has been benchmarked as being significantly quicker than other options, but also because it means it can provide a secure API gateway because data cannot be put directly into the NSF via HTTP. This approach will also mean HTTP/2, which is very good news. To give an idea of what that means, use developer tools to look at the amount of HTTP requests made to the Domino server on loading an XPage. HTTP/2 allows aggregating and pushing of content from the server rather than relying on the browser to request it. So it could significantly speed things up. I’m sure there are many other benefits. We’ll hear more about NodeJS and Loopback during June’s Domino2025 webinar.

Russ Holden delivered a session on the TCO enhancements with Domino 10. The increases of limits are very welcome. There are a lot of admin-related self-healing and repair enhancements that are good to hear about. But the part I’m very interested in getting to grips with are the publishing of Domino statistics for external monitoring, most easily by New Relic.

We also got more information about Domino 11. Replacing full text indexing with another option (specific technology still to be decided) has been pushed back to Domino 11. But Domino Event Publisher is particularly interesting to me. It’s a concept I played with at IBM Connect last year, tying into the work Nathan T. Freeman did in ODA to hook into DOTS message queues. I’m sure optimisation and flexibility will be extended, but it provides massive potential for pubsub processing around Domino data. As an example, think about publishing information whenever a document is created, saved, etc. Currently we might send emails on save. but pubsub would allow greater flexibility for notifications, across applications, varying depending on user etc.

The biggest announcement for Domino 11 was more a vision for discussion rather than a specific roadmap of features and functions. It was about low code development on Domino. The vision is intended to cover single page apps, proofs of concepts etc, so goes beyond what Project Live Grid would have done. And low code is at the heart of Domino, Domino is more pervasive than Connections Cloud, Domino is better aimed at SMBs for whom low code is particularly appropriate and IBM’s planned vision for a free entitlement for DAC fits nicely into this area. It will be interesting to see and be involved in where this goes, but it’s yet more excitement around Domino.

HCL already teased more announcements at DNUG next month, which looks like very interesting and strong news. There are still areas of app dev with scope for more announcements too. And the IBM marketing team (from which Marco Mazza and others were present at Engage) will also be doing more to build excitement around the products. And we should not forget how quickly all of this has moved, with little over six months since the announcement about HCL. These are exciting times indeed!

2 thoughts on “Engage Debrief”

    1. The world of app dev was very different in 2010. By this date in 2010 NodeJS was less than a year old, initial release according to Wikipedia of May 27 2009. Compare to JSF, initial spec November 2004. Visual Studio Code was only announced in 2015. Compare to Eclipse ‘s initial release in 2001. I’ll reiterate what I said on a previous blog, XPages was the right decision at the time, most definitely excited me at the time and still has a relevance.

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