Ben Langhinrichs

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February, 2018
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Genii Weblog


Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Thu 1 Feb 2018, 02:23 PM
Day before yesterday, Rich Schwartz let me know about a question raised on StackOverflow having to do with XPages, rich text and missing doclinks. It appears that when Domino converts a document with a large number of doclinks, it stops including them after some indeterminate number. By the time I visited the question, Stephan Wissel had already responded and mentioned AppsFidelity. (I love it when that happens! Thanks, Stephan!) I have included the question at the bottom of the post because things disappear over ime, and this blog has been around for so many years I've learned to save things.
 
Of course, then I had to hurry over and test huge bunches of doclinks, because what if AppsFidelity didn't help? Fortunately, it handles them fine, so I made a video showing the problem (missing doclinks with native XPages), the odd rendering the developer mentions (Notes links on the web?), and the solution (AppsFidelity!). 
 
If you would like to try AppsFidelity out for yourself, just request an evaluation license.
 
 
 
 
 
StackOverflor question about XPages and missing doclinks

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Thu 25 Jan 2018, 01:22 PM
I made a very brief demo (53 seconds!) to show two different ways tabbed tables could be rendered by the Midas LSX or AppsFidelity. While your users may not add tabbed tables to rich text, it is quite likely your developers have added them to forms, so when you want a snapshot of a document, or want to display it on the web or in a mobile app as a rendered document, or email the document, the tabbed tables must be handled.
 
Try forwarding a document with a tabbed table either in the form or in the rich text itself, and you will get a "flattened" version where every row is shown. Depending on whether your client or server handles the MIME, the tabs may be lost completely or added to a separate row. With the Midas Exports engine, you can get a similar, but more well-rendered version of this "flattened" look. That is the default, and is certainly preferred for email or printing.
 
But the Midas Exports engine can also generate a JavaScript version of the tabbed table which allows for a look-and-feel much closer to that in Notes. It is preferred for archived snapshots (in MHT or HTML), as well as for apps that won't edit the content but do want to display it on the web or in a mobile app. This demo shows both approaches.
 
 
This is the first in a planned series of very brief demos showing how the Midas Exports engine handles different optional rendering to meet whatever needs you may have. Using only standards-based HTML, CSS and JavaScript means that whatever your intended target, it will almost certainly support the rendered Notes content.
 

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Tue 23 Jan 2018, 02:21 PM
Today, we released Midas LSX 5.53, which while a minor point release has some major enhancements for support of Asian and other multibyte character sets in attachments and text. While we have supported Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Korean attachment names, the process for getting them to work was cumbersome and required that all attachment names used the same font, which was not ideal. Now, there is improved automatic font recognition, so file attachments are both legible and appropriately size even if you have a mix of Japanese and Cyrillic, or Vietnamese and Korean and English.
 
While you might not think of your rich text having tabbed tables, your forms often will. Most customers who export content to SharePoint or other systems, or simply for archival purposes, want to have a working snapshot of the rendered form, and that means tabbed tables and other complex form elements. To that end, we fixed a bug and enhanced the specialized handling of tabbed tables with Javascript. Simply setting TabbedTablesInCSS='yes' will generate the CSS and Javascript code necessary to make even nested tabbed tables work the way they do in Notes.
 
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Fri 12 Jan 2018, 09:39 AM
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I was very pleased to receive notification today that I have been named an IBM Champion for 2018. Thank you, IBM, and thank you to those who nominated me and supported my nomination.
 
While I have had mixed emotions about the concept (see my 2013 post, I am not an IBM champion), my thinking has evolved over time. I am still, first and foremost, a champion for my customers, and I will not hesitate to call IBM out if I think they are in error. On the other hand, the reality is that my products and customer base are very IBM-centric, and working more closely with and advocating for IBM ICS products will serve those customers better than standing outside the fray.
 
With the announcement of Notes/Domino 10, we have an opportunity to take the really terrific parts of the Notes/Domino and make them more relevant and appealing to the world in 2018 and beyond. Being an IBM Champion will help me articulate that vision better to my customers and others.
 
A company of the size of IBM has to contend with a lot of competing voices and visions. While I'll never reach the influence of even a small corporation, being an IBM Champion may enable me to influence IBM's ICS directions in some small ways.
 
Being an IBM Champion doesn't have to mean drinking the Kool Aid. For me, it may mean nudging both large, cumbersome IBM and cynical, disillusioned partners to work together to see if we can snatch some small victories from the gaping jaws of decline. If that is not the optimistic view IBM would like to see from its champions, so be it. If that is not the negative view some partners would like to see from me, so be it as well.

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Tue 2 Jan 2018, 01:03 PM
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I am no expert, so these are my impressions from a slew of outside conversations and insights (right or wrong) gleaned at conferences and on Twitter and Medium. But with those caveats, I think this is going to be a very important year for IBM, as they start to regain profitability and reach the decisive stages of various technologies they have bet on or invested in. These are on no particular order.
 
Cognitive computing - After a few years of shaking out the generalities and calming down the hype, it is high time that the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning effort either bears fruit or fades in importance, at least as far as Watson is concerned. IBM has some tremendous technology, but has wandered about somewhat in terms of vision. Sometimes it has aimed too high, sometimes too low, and sometimes it has shot itself in the foot by not properly looking at the last foot (between the user and the keyboard and screen). With the experience they've gained, they either find a way to do this better or they likely lose out to competitors whose technology may bot be as grand, but whose vision and usability are greater.
 
Blockchain - While not in exactly the same place, Blockchain is an area where IBM similarly needs to find a way to fish or cut bait. In this case, I think it is less of a vision issue and more of a nuts-and-bolts issue. I think IBM is fairly well placed to make a strong play in blockchain-related business, if there is really such a thing. IBM deals with the kinds of companies with the size and scope to possibly benefit from Enterprise blockchain technology, but there need to be a compelling business case, and probably some real investment in scalability. Blockchain can be extremely slow and intensive, but IBM has the talent to find solutions to those bottlenecks. (I imagine they are already working hard on this.) While I think everybody knows there is a blockchain bubble, there is a case to be made for real opportunities on the other side of the bubble bursting, and IBM may be positioned well to sweep up the opportunities once the smaller players collapse along with the bubble.
 
Data analytics - This is a more mature technology, and IBM seems to be doing fairly well at it. The opportunities for growth and profitabilty are in more synergy with cognitive computing and cloud computing, as well as with IBM's slew of other services and technologies. While I think IBM is pushing in the right directions, I think they could do more to integrate data analytics across the various technologies.
 
Cloud computing - This has become the key to IBM's recent rise, as I understand it. It is the area about which I know least, even as it seems to be the area where IBM has had the most success, but I think the key opportunity for IBM is to leverage its different technologies even better. If IBM wants to be more than a commodity competitor with cloud computing, it needs to recreate the success it had in a past generation of fulfilling more of the enterprise needs on the back of cloud computing. I think they know this and are working hard on it, but a lot rides on their successful execution.
 
Note: In relation to these areas, Genii Software currently has some valuable add-on technologies with regards to cognitive computing and data analytics, mostly in the area of smart data extraction and cleanup with the Midas LSX and AppsFidelity. We will be continuing with these directions, but keeping an eye out for how we can provide products as adjuncts to cloud computing and blockchain as we see needs arise. We are always open to suggestions or requests for features and products to assist companies in using the IBM products, as well as those of other enterprise-facing technology.

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Fri 22 Dec 2017, 10:07 AM
There was a Domino 2025 Jam a few hours from here, but I didn't make it, already sucked into the flu I am still battling. (My wife works in a preschool, so avoiding illness is nigh on impossible.) I think there was a virtual Jam, but I didn't join in. It isn't because I don't care. I do. It isn't because I am jaded and snarky and disbelieving either. I think IBM is genuinely trying to solve this peculiar problem of a product that won't die and that still provides so much value even in an age that seems to have moved past it.
 
I didn't go because IBM does not need my vision. 
 
I am a backend person in a frontend world, and while there absolutely need to be backend people making all that frontend stuff possible, Domino 2025 is not going to be about the backend or it will probably fail. I've met with IBM, given my thoughts on API support and extension hooks and stuff like that. They'll either listen or not, but I don't want to take up one second of airspace from the people who can talk about all the fancy new stuff. My stuff will continue to be important, but IBM mostly has to not screw it up, and not hide it too carefully. Maybe they will, and maybe not.
 
[Note: my "backend" and "frontend" terms may be deceptive. I live on a command line and in a text editor. Somebody doing graphical or low code development is "frontend" to me. Not meaning to disrespect or categorize or anything, just differentiate. My products impact the frontend, especially AppsFidelity, but have no user interface of their own.]
 
Given the current efforts and energy, I would now give Notes/Domino a 30% chance of becoming at least somewhat relevant again. That is a huge advance over the 1% chance I would have given it a year ago, I am already seeing customers putting new money into Notes/Domino projects they've let stagnate for years, or consider (gasp) new projects. So, I am a believer, albeit a practical pragmatist as well. I will continue providing migration tools and services, but am also working with more customers on projects meant to stay in Domino (and sometimes Notes).
 
I am a believer, but I won't Jam about it. I hope all of you better suited to the task will take my place.
 
 
 
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