Engage 2019 was even busier than normal for me, so I’m going to split out the debrief of my sessions from a blog post about the conference itself. Similarly, I’ll cover the OpenNTF round table on the OpenNTF blog. There is some overlap, particularly as the OpenNTF round table reinforced personal views, had some synergy with experiences when preparing one of my sessions and fed into other discussions with HCL and the community.

Introduction to Node-RED

My first (non round table) session was an introduction to Node-RED with Fredrik Malmborg. This wasn’t the only Node-RED session during the conference and, although there are challenges setting up and integrating with Domino using the domino-db modules in a production-ready environment, it’s a product high on my radar and high on HCL’s radar.

I also demoed a Docker installation of Node-RED, styled for Domino and authenticating against Domino. This is openly available on GitHub, with a readme detailing how to install, troubleshooting and linking to a Domino server on Docker. I only have a Windows PC, so it’s only been tested on Docker for Windows. Note: the URL of the Domino server you’re authenticating against should be set as an environment variable when creating the Docker container. Normally, it would make sense for the flows and configuration to be in a separate Docker volume. But for a demo, it makes much more sense to have everything self-contained. As a result, it’s not intended as a development environment, but as an easy-to-set-up demo environment.

One of the samples, posting JSON as an Excel file to Connections was actually for my modernisation session, so won’t work standalone.

As I mentioned in my session, when preparing I found the world map didn’t load in Firefox. Chrome was fine. I didn’t have time to investigate further, so bear that in mind.

Modernising Your Domino and XPages Applications

This was one of my most packed, innovative and thought-provoking sessions. I didn’t cover in detail the options for REST and thoughts to bear in mind, but that’s been covered before in my session at Engage last year and Serdar Basegmez had a session later that day specifically on REST.

Again, there is a demo database for this, an extension of the Extension Library demo database (a.k.a. Node Demo database). This covers extensions to the XPages interface to add export to Excel and an IDMA interface for mobile devices (landscape or portrait, though portrait is best) with ability to email yourself an Excel export. This last one also uses the NotesHTTPRequest POST call. If you don’t have a mobile device yet, you can display that interface in Notes Client, by just overriding the initial Frameset settings which generate an error for desktop – and so re-route to the default “all views” layout.

There was an additional demo, which was a modification to the DQL Explorer database calling Node-RED to post the selected results as an Excel spreadsheet to Connections. There is a degree of hard-coding required for that, so a number of issues to address for a production environment. It also requires following Luis Guiriguay’s instructions for installing a development version of the DQL Explorer application using Node.js – so outside of the NSF it gets packaged into for deployment. As a result – and because it’s probably a kind of “modernisation” that is not currently of interest – that’s not included in the repository.

AI: What Is It Good For?

My last session was a short overview and discussion around the history and future of AI, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of what is more usually machine learning. Obviously there were no demos here, but there was some interesting discussion that arose afterwards, particularly around how ready society is to pre-empt and manage the impacts of AI.

Overall, it was an enjoyable set of sessions, with several technological firsts for me. All the technological aspects ran smoothly – well, apart from deleting my Node-RED environment a few hours before my session! It showed the benefit of source control and Docker.

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