Engage – A Great Event !

A week has passed since the Engage conference at the Elisabeth Center in Antwerp. I had a few days’ vacation right afterwards which gave me time to reflect on what was another hugely successful event organized by IBM champion and community hero Theo Heselmans. Over the past number of years Engage has grown into what is for me, the most important conference in the IBM ICS calendar. Looking back for a moment, I remember my first Engage conference, or BLUG as it was known at the time, which was held in Brussels in March 2009. I had two app dev presentations focused mostly on XPages, and Ed Brill commented afterwards in his blog article that they were “packed”.  What is particularly rewarding eight years later is that the event was twice the size, ran for twice as long, and my sessions were still packed!

My first presentation was at 9am on Tuesday morning when Barry Rosen, Brian Gleeson and I delivered a session entitled Domino Application Development: Present and Future. Barry kicked off with a summary of the Notes/Domino roadmap and investments and handed over to me to talk about the Feature Pack model as our new continuous delivery vehicle for app dev. Brian and I then traded demos on the new features delivered in FP8 focusing on RDBMS support, Bootstrap integration for responsive apps, document encryption for XPages web apps and Domino Designer enhancements. Since IBM Watson Workspace is a hot topic Brian also demonstrated how easy it is to integrate it with Domino via XPages by pulling and pushing data updates back and forth using simple REST APIs (and then made this even easier by using the Watson Work Service Java SDK from OpenNTF). This presentation segued nicely into the Domino App Dev round table at 11.30 – 12.00 … but which actually ran to 12.30 with an overflow of attendees. The discussion was positive and we left with a long list of issues to evaluate right across the app dev spectrum – and we have already started to work on them!

Theo Heselmans - Engage OGS

Right after lunch it was time for a different type of app dev session – this time it was Maureen Leland and I delivering Connections App Dev – Building at the Speed of Pink. Anyone listening to Jason Gary extol his vision of Pink lately can’t help but get excited at the prospect of a radically different and better IBM Connections offering coming down the pike.


It was the job of Maureen and I to present how app dev fits into this brave new world. I kicked off with the fundamental tenets that everything in Pink needs to be customizable and extensible, that every feature needs to have an API, and that ad-hoc situational apps must be an intrinsic part of the collaborative Connections experience.  This led to a set of demos that extended the Pink Important To Me (ITM) bar. These customizations were based on an extension point design mechanism managed by the Application Registry. The demo showed how to insert your own ITM entries and define your own behaviours. This in turn was followed by a demo of how to customize IBM Connections Cloud as it stands today, based not on extension points (because it doesn’t have any) but on a resource injection project code-named Muse. No sooner was I finished than Maureen showed off how to create situational apps using Project LiveGrid and then went on to demonstrate new JSON-based Connections APIs that modernized older ATOM-based interfaces. I guess that covered a lot of ground in one hour and we finished with just one minute to spare!

Overall I think Engage had a great app dev track. Unfortunately when you are presenting a lot you don’t get to see as many sessions as you would like, but I know that community stalwarts like Christian Guedeman, Philippe Riand, Paul Withers et al were very pleased with their presentations.  At the closing session came the best news – Theo announced there would be an Engage 2018 conference, probably in mid-May, although he wouldn’t say where … what a tease!