Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Accessing Profile Documents in Java

We are adding some new features to our Buddy List Administrator. In addition to an updated user interface, we are also implementing some updates to our core buddylist updating engine - which is written in Java.

As part of one of these updates, our java code will need to read/write a profile document maintained in our configuration database.

Here is a old, but still very interesting, article on Java access to Domino objects

Our Java code either receives the notessession as a value passed from the agentcontext, or we initialize our own notessession is we are running in a standalone (i.e. testing, development, or possibly servlet) environment.

Here is a early article on profile documents and how they can be manipulated using the formula language or LotusScript.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Instant Technologies Needs a Few Good VARs

If you possess Sametime and/or OCS expertise, we need you to call us. Today.

Just about every organization on the planet relies on some form of IM. And an ever-increasing majority are relying on Sametime or OCS rather than assume the risks of public IM systems. Ergo, thousands upon thousands of businesses, schools, and government agencies require our products.

We need your help to find them so we can work together to meet their requirements.

And in cases where they find us first, we need your help to close the deals and implement the solutions.

So if you're a VAR, or if you know a VAR with Sametime or OCS skills, please send a note to info@instant-tech.com so we can discuss how we can work together.

Posted by Dan.

Adam's Sametime Quiz

In response to Adam Gartenberg's Sametime quiz.
This was my first experience with Quibblo, since I generally use zoomerang for our online surveys. In fact, we are looking to integrate zoomerang with our Instant Queue Manager and it may make sense to also include Quibblo.

Sametime 8 Advanced SDK

The Sametime 8 Advanced SDK is available here:

Friday, April 11, 2008

On the History of Convoq

Chris Herot's entry on his experiences and the history of Convoq is an excellent 'in the trenches' look at the life and death of a startup. We, the early folks at Instant (Carl Tyler, Tim Browne), were actively following Convoq - since they formed at nearly the same time as Instant. At the time, we were named Invitrix - a name that I picked since I didn't know exactly what we would do at the time I formed the company.

The Convoq experience follows many of my own experiences at Bowstreet, now owned by
IBM, as well as my post Bowstreet days here at Instant. I would place Bowstreet in the 'too much money' category and the excessive infusion of cash at Bowstreet created an environment that was disconnected from market requirements and customer feedback. At Bowstree, I can vividly remember far too many discussions around a white board and not enough interactions with customers. However, it's difficult when your company is very early to the market with a product that customers may not yet need. Also...when you have a lot of money, there is a need to demonstrate a lot of action - whether or not that action is appropriate.

My own experiences have demonstrated that market timing, combined with an ability to execute, are critical. Instant's initial product (TeamMessenger for Outlook), was simply too early to attract any substantial amount of traction - read real $s. For us (Instant) integrating the dominant enterprise IM platform with the dominant productivity platform was obvious. However, it took a few years for it become a standard requirement in the market.

Unfortunately, we didn't build a big enough moat around our idea and IBM later included similar functionality (although not nearly as complete) for free in their product. While we considered applying for patents - we unfortunately skipped that process - mostly as a result of both time and money constraints.

Some of my summary notes are:
Attention to details
Speed (sometimes you need to speed up, sometimes you need to enter a holding pattern and slow down)

Startups are pretty tricky...thanks Chris for posting such a great synopsis.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Helping Control Buddy Lists

We continually hear from customers about the need to help manage, migrate, and centrally update buddy lists within their Enterprise. Four years ago, we developed the Sametime Buddy List Administrator as a way to help push out 'bots' that companies created using our bot application builder.

Over the years, we've adapted the product to support some of the most common issues that we hear from our customers:
How to migrate users after a merger, organizational change, or directory conversion
How to rename people
How to remove people
How to pre-populate a team with a custom buddy list
How to make all of these changes without stopping the Sametime server

Of course, working with the Sametime buddy list storage architecture hasn't been easy, but it has been a learning process. We've learned the finer details of vpuserinfo.nsf as well as all of the Sametime tool kits. In the process, we've also created an indexing database to help us quickly locate all of the references for a person across all buddy lists. So, for instance, before we rename a user, we locate all references for the person using our buddy list indexing database.

We are always eager to hear other ideas for buddy list management and administration. Based on the feedback that we hear from our customers, the need to centrally manage and administer Sametime buddy lists is dramatically increasing.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Escape Characters in .net calling readviewentries in Domino

One of our applications is written in .net and calls some Lotus Notes databases using the very helpful ?readviewentries command.

The issue is that, by default, readviewentries returns the number of entries specified by a value in the server doc. For one of our customers, this was creating an issue, since they need to return 200 entries.

We store the URL to retrieve the values in a .net application config file. So, we simply wanted to update our ?readviewentries call to include the &count=200 value.

Here was our original entry:
http://stsample.instant-tech.com/itsample.nsf/lcspendingconversion?readviewentries" />

This was our first try (which of course fails since we need to escape out the ampersand)

After escaping the ampersand with amp; the new key is something that looks like:


Problem solved...

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Joy of Marketing Intelligent Software

I am entering week 3 as a member of the Instant Technologies team. In my first two weeks on the job, I saw something I never saw before - marketing literature that actually undersells the products.

Marketing all too often favors style over substance. How many 'games of the year' were played in the NFL last season? How many movies are touted as 'the year's best film!'?

One of my key mandates here at Instant Technologies is to update and refine our marketing messages and our marketing materials. It's a big job, but it's shockingly easy - our software architects have built a suite of well-designed products that sell on their own merits.

My main job, therefore, is simply to raise awareness....to make certain that prospective customers think of Instant Technologies when they need a solution for Sametime or OCS. In so doing, I will remain true to our core marketing philosophy: Promise only what you can deliver.

What does this mean for your business?
  • No hard sell - Our marketing is centered around your real-time communications dilemmas, with clear and concise statements of how we solve those dilemmas.
  • No bull - The features listed in our materials are real, and the benefits we describe are based on real-world feedback from customers just like you.
  • Software that meets or exceeds your expectations.
Posted by Dan

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Next up...Skitch

After browing the twitter site, I stumbled on Skitch. On the surface, it looks like Skitch might be a good tool to help our remote teams share UI mockups and quickly play with some different product design ideas.

Typcially, we use gotomeeting, share our screens, and then I use snagit to capture images. After an image capture, I jump into ms paint and start doing some design updates.

It might also be a nice plugin addition to our TeamSessions - Sametime persistent chat rooms.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Popular Twitter Clients

With the growth of twitter, here is an interesting article on the most popular twitter clients. I'm not surprised the the web continues to be the number one way to post to twitter (56%), however, it was interesting to see IM as the second most popular mechanism to post.

As I think about twitter, it seems to be a very neatly crafted presence platform. Albeit, a presence platform that takes a different shape than the enterprise platforms like Lotus Sametime or Microsoft OCS.

For now, twitter seems to be grafting onto the early adopters (no surprise) but I am curious what a twitter migration into the enterprise application area might look like. Assuming that an existing presence platform might be slightly repurposed, or extended, to support some flavor of an internal twitter like network.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On Communicating Remotely

We have been working with teams in India, and other locations, for more than 5 years. The more I interact with India the more I wonder about the experience Indian developers have had with the Sametime and OCS platforms.

We make heavy use of Sametime, OCS, Sharepoint, and Goto Meeting - all on a daily basis. In many ways, the extensive collaboration platforms have enabled our teams to dyanically assemble, work on extensive projects, and share content and information as if we were sitting in the same building.

However, over the years, I've discovered that a daily phone conference is a fantastic way to keep projects on track.

Here's the general pattern when my remote communication 'escalates'.
1 to 1 IM
Group IM
Group IM + Conference Call
Conference call with shared Goto Meeting screen sharing

If things get complicated, I might move from basic IM to a shared call with screen sharing in less than 2 minutes - and that includes assembling multiple people from different locations.

Twitter in the enterprise

Twitter api is here:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some very useful tools

As we assemble a nice set of offerings that help us run the company, I thought I should mention some services that I find especially useful:

Constant Contact - can't find a better customer email subscription service

GotVMail - 800 service for phone service with 800 number, hunt groups, and custom greetings

Prominic - Remotely hosted Domino servers - with full configuration and installation.  

Entellium - CRM with strong customer service and nice user interface

Ad Words - The best marketing dollars that we spend

Mailstreet - Remotely hosted exchange and sharepoint (ahhh...it's just great having someone else worry about mail availability and uptime)

What are the common themes?  Well, in all cases, someone else is focusing on delivering a specific service at a great price.  They focus on their core competency (like email hosting) and then we spend more time building software and less time managing operational services (e.g phone system, mail, CRM).

Blogger v. Typepad

What's the difference between blogger and typepad?  Well, on the surface, zero cost and Google level infrastructure are 2 big advantages for blogger.  Of course, I'll still need to configure the custom URL (blog.instant-tech.com), but that looks like a manageable issue.

Typepad seems to have 'sexier' templates, but I've read some posts on the availability of the typepad servers.   

By the end of this week, I should have a good idea of whether we will use blogger or typepad.