Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lotusphere 2008...Wrapup

(Editor's note...wrote this a few days ago...but as usual too busy to be timely!)

Wow...what an amazing week @ Lotusphere. I still can't believe there are naysayers out there regarding the work being done at Lotus and IBM. We'll be here for a long time and I'm certainly looking forward to being along for the ride! There are many, many great recaps of the week to be found on the internet already, so I won't rehash any of that. From the UI perspective, I am glad to hear that people are getting the message that Lotus is committed to repenting for UI sins of the past. The "OneUI" initiative is a great step forward and will arm us with the necessary ammunition to fight back when the critics decry the "ugliness" of Lotus applications. I've seen or been involved in many potential migration situations which basically came down to the fact that the decision makers thought that Notes was ugly and hard to use. I won't argue that point about older versions, but still many of the "problems" postulated by these decision makers were issues that could have been easily rectified through user training or minor template modifications. Why are so many companies still using these old versions of Notes and thus perpetuating this "pain and suffering" on their users? Because Lotus Notes is rock solid and it works. However, we need to convince these companies to move to Notes8 so that they can not only realize all the incredible advances from a technology standpoint, but so they can also see the gains to be made from the people side. Notes8 creates a compelling user experience and offers many productivity enhancements as well. When you move to Notes8, your users will be happier and more efficient and this in and of itself should help justify the upgrade, since the process is pretty trivial for most companies. We can thank Lotus Notes' long history of backward compatibility for that. I don't mean for this to turn into a commercial for Notes, but after this week's announcements at Lotusphere, Notes becomes even more compelling and hopefully we'll see even more of our friends upgrading now that the first point release (8.0.1) is almost available. Things like LiveText and widgets are going to make the exerience even that much better...I can't wait! Of course, the "OneUI" idea involves the other great Lotus products as well and I'm sure we can expect to see more improvement on this front as we move forward.

From a personal perspective, this was a different Lotusphere for me than in years past. For one, this was my first LS as an IBMer, so that meant some different activities during the day and in the evening. I participated in some customer meetings with Lotus executives and spent time with several customers at night. I was also busy prepping for and giving various presentations. Bruce and I got to deliver the UI Worst Practices session not once, but twice and I really enjoyed that one. A classic (and completely unplanned) moment occurred in the session that was being videotaped. Bruce was in the middle of talking about writing good error messages when the presentation came out of slide show mode and message popped up that his machine was now running on reserve power. Turns out he forgot to plug his Mac in and it was running out of juice! Luckily, Apple's error messages are pretty good, so this provided a perfect example to illustrate Bruce's point. It was also funny to see him fumbling with the cord as we tried to get back on track! :-) On Wednesday, Nathan and I got to provide back to back sessions on UI design and theory. The first session (BP216) was more about basics to keep in mind, while BP217 was a demo and show and tell bonanza. We spent almost the whole time in the Notes client or Designer. Unfortunately, we both *love* to talk about this stuff, so of course we needed more time. We actually had a 30 minute break in between sessions, but level set the audience at the beginning that we might just keep talking through the break and that people were free to talk, ask questions, get snacks, etc. We did end up pretty much talking the whole two and a half hours, which was great fun for me. I love introducing people to this ideas and seeing them run with it and I could have stayed up there the rest of the day. It's become pretty clear to me that this is the space I really want to be in...more as an evangelist and consultant around UI design and best practices. Now my goal is to figure out how to map out that path in my career plans...

For those of you looking for the slides, here are the final packs for BP214 and BP216 in both PowerPoint and ODS formats. We need a few more days to pull together the updated slides for BP217 as well as the downloadable demo database that has everything we showed, so please stand by for that.

BP214 - Yikes...It Looks Like That?! Powerpoint | ODF
BP216 - Interface Matters: Basics of UI Design Powerpoint | ODF

I hosted a Birds of a Feather session around designing the user experience on Monday night. That is definitely an unfortunate timeslot, as it's really hard to compete with free food and drinks and the Product Reception as well as various parties. We did end up with a group of about 8 people or so and exchanged some good ideas. If we do it again next year, I'll see if I can campaign for a better time/day.

It was great seeing old friends at Lotusphere as well as meeting new ones. I feel especially humbled by the kind comments of people who came up and introduced themselves as readers of this blog. For those of you who take the time to read here and those that came to my sessions, I just want to say thank you again. Your time is precious and the fact that you devoted an hour or two to listen to our presentation means a great deal to me. I love teaching and sharing new ideas with other people and nothing makes me happier than hearing about how you have been able to make things better at your job by the little tricks and techniques that my colleagues and I have shared. Thanks also for the great comments on the evaluations...you make me blush! ;-)

I'm going to take a few more days to distill specific product thoughts down into some posts that might be useful, as well as polish off the advanced UI slides, so don't forget to check back here or better still, add Interface Matters to your RSS feeds. :-)

Here's to Lotus, IBM and all of us. I think we're off to a fantastic 2008...Cheers!


Anonymous said...

question: can you make the background for your content plain white so it is friendlier when printing?

Anonymous said...

Come on, guys, hurry up with the demo db! :-) I'm just dying to show layers to my co-workers!

Seriously, very cool stuff...

Anonymous said...

When are the sample DB's going to be available for download it has been a few weeks.

Chris Blatnick said...

Sorry for the delay on the combined demo db. It takes a while to get all of these things integrated and cleaned up. In the meantime, check out this post which has several of the techniques mentioned in our sessions available for immediate download.