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Social Connections 12 Review

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A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend Social Connections 12 in beautiful Vienna. It was the third time I have attended the conference – Social Connections 3 in Dublin as an attendee, Social Connections 9 in Stuttgart as a speaker and now Social Connections 12 as a speaker. Over the years my focus has changed and this year’s conference was another extension to that.

But before the conference I had time to wander around Vienna. The history and beauty of some of the locations is undeniable, made better by a pleasant sunny Sunday afternoon. I was staying near the Burggarten park, so it was a nice leisurely walk from the station acquainting myself with the vicinity for the coming few days. After a relaxing day it was time to head to the speakers / sponsors dinner and a chance to catch up with old and new friends. With the (hopefully temporary) absence from the calendar of ICON UK, this was the first conference after Engage that I had attended and as good as social tools are for staying connected, there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction.

The conference had the typically strong attendance from key IBMers that is now customary. But the focus of the conference had most definitely expanded, with a strong presence both in the keynote and on the agenda on Watson Workspace and Watson Work Services. But it was good to keep apprised on further developments of Connections Pink, Connections customisation and Project Live Grid. Since the release of Connections 6 earlier in the year the visibility of the pink-ification has not been so obvious. But progress on the middleware phase seems to be laying the foundations for more significant moves ahead. My preparations for Social Connections meant I did not have the time to get involved in the Connections Customizer contest, but that seems another welcome addition to the developer’s portfolio with some strong contributions to the contest even beyond the winners. And Project Live Grid is continuing in its evolution and I look forward to getting my hands on it.

But the main focus for me was Watson Workspace and Watson Work Services. Over the summer other priorities took up my time with quite a bit of new work on ODA. But once the recent releases were out of the door, my focus has turned back to Watson Work Services and the Java SDK I developed with Christian Guedemann. That was the focus of my presentation on the Tuesday morning with some further samples developed and released on OpenNTF shortly before the conference. But it was useful to see what partners have been doing with Watson Workspace integrations and touch base again with some of the IBMers involved. This will continue to be a key focus of my efforts over the coming months, keeping me very busy.

And in the closing session it was great to see the winners announced for the OpenNTF / IBM Connections Customizer contest. This continues the expansion of the OpenNTF brand into the OpenCode4Connections microsite and it was great to see a good number and high quality of submissions. As a board there was particular focus with this contest on enablement and support for contributors, with the previous Connections contest very much in the forefront of our minds. I think we can consider this a success, with some new contributors and some very interesting submissions. It was also an opportunity for me to launch the Open Badge initiative I’ve been working on for some time and this will be expanded further over the coming months, with other OpenNTF initiatives in the pipeline.

All in all it was a great conference to be part of and a very worthwhile opportunity to increase my connections, both social and professional (pun most definitely intended!). Now it’s full steam ahead towards IBM Think early next year.

AUTHOR - Paul Withers

Paul Withers has been an IBM Champion since 2011, has been an OpenNTF Board Member since 2013, has worked with XPages since 2009, co-authored XPages Extension Library and was technical editor for Mastering XPages 2nd Edition. He is one of the developers on OpenNTF Domino API as well as contributor to a variety of other OpenNTF projects.

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