Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The WildFire Is Spreading...And It's Hot! Update Your Status Across Multiple Networks From Lotus Notes!

A new OpenNTF project hit the ground running today and it is hot! I installed it this morning and think it's a great piece of work. The project is WildFire, a Lotus Notes 8.5 sidebar application that allows the user to update status messages across a ton of different social platforms. Networks supported in this initial release include Facebook, Twitter, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Connections and many more! While this type of client for allowing simultaneous updates of your micro-conversations is not new, the implementation, interface and integration with the Notes client is top notch. Installation was smooth and it worked as expected right out of the box. Having the ability to selectively update given services or all at once right from the Notes sideshelf is a great value proposition, especially considering that it's free!

Here's a screenshot of WildFire from my Notes client with the services I've configured so far. I love the fact that you are not locked into a single instance of a given service. For example, I have my embedded Sametime client configured for 7 different communities, and if I wanted to, WildFire would allow me to update my status across all of those.


Configuration of WildFire is extremely simple. Once installed, the application options appear in the standard Notes Preferences dialog. You simply add a new service and select the Account Type (Sametime, Connections, Facebook, etc.). Each account type can be given a unique name and it is this name that appears in the WildFire UI. For a given account type, the credentials required vary somewhat, but it is all very easy to understand. You can also group your various accounts together (e.g. Personal, Work, Friends, etc.). This allows you to selectively send that hilarious, NSFW video to your buddies from school but not to your work associates with just a single click. I especially like how it pulls in your information for Sametime from the communities you already have configured. Making it easy to get up and running quickly is a great user experience feature!


To update your status, you type your message, select the service(s) you want to update and hit the Post button. Simple stuff, but the simple tools are sometimes the best. I believe I'll find this over time to be a big time saver.

Check out some other screenshots of WildFire:








So who is behind this awesome piece of work? It's available on OpenNTF, the Lotus Notes open source community, courtesy of ISW, a Premier IBM Business Partner located in Australia. Thanks to Andrew Welch, Adam Brown, Joel Thirgood and anyone else involved in this great project.

There's a lot to like about this application and if you use more than one of the many social networking tools out there today, it is worth your time to check out WildFire.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Folder Name Issue Causing Java UI Rendering Problem In Notes 8 Mail File

I was working with one of my customers and was told about an interesting problem. They are currently in the process of upgrading to Notes 8.5.1 and so far, most of the client upgrades have been nice and smooth. One user had an unusual issue that was causing a bit of angst. After being upgraded and getting the new mail template, most of his folders were not visible in the UI. Here's what it looked like. Notice anything odd?


A quick check using File - Go To confirmed that the folders were indeed still in the database. However, this was the only way the user could navigate to these folders. Looking at the folders in the Admin client did not give us any additional information. Without digging into it too much, we first performed the normal triage procedures (compact, fixup, etc.). These did not yield any positive results. Neither did replacing the design or creating a new database copy. In fact, I went as far as to replace the design to something totally different, then replaced back to the mail template. Nope...same result. Time to get sleuthy.

I received a design copy of the database and began to look at it a little more closely. One odd fact was that some automatically generated folders that Mail Attender created were there, but that was it. These were prefixed with a "-", so I tried adding a new folder with a "-" in front. One worked (-A Test) and one didn't (-Test). Ah...interesting. This caused me to look at the navigation in a little more detail and I realized that the entire UI was not rendering. There should have been some additional options under the folders like "Archive", "Tools", etc. Since the first folder I created appeared under the folder list in the navigation pane but the other did not, this clued me in that perhaps Notes was hitting a folder name it did not like and that caused it to cease rendering the rest of the UI elements at that point. I opened the database in the Notes 8 Basic client and everything appeared fine, so I was pretty confident that this was a bad name or corrupted folder. Sure enough, when I opened the design, I found the offending folders.

There were two folders that used a nested name and each of them were wrapped in parenthesis. They were named:

-To Be Deleted\(-To Be Deleted)\(--ToBeAutoDeleted\Meetings)

-To Be Deleted\(-To Be Deleted)\(All Documents)



As soon as I renamed these folders to remove the parenthesis, everything started working as expected and the entire navigation UI was rendered correctly.

I started playing around a bit and it seems it is the second set of parenthesis after the second backslash that cause the problem. So,

Interface\(Matters)

doesn't cause things to break, although it still results in strange behavior in that "Interface" appears but doesn't do anything.


Interface\(Matters)\(Rocks)

breaks everything. No folders or additional UI elements below "Interface" show up at all.

Interface\Matters\(Rocks)

is OK, as is

Interface\Matters\(Rocks)(Hard)

But

Interface\Matters\(Rocks)\(Hard)

blows everything up again.

So...there you have it. Avoid making folder names with multiple levels that are surrounded in parenthesis when using the Java UI. I just wanted to document this in case anyone comes across it again in the future. I haven't checked if this is a known issue yet, but I'll be sure to pass it on to development.