Now that my busiest month since Lotusphere is drawing to a close, I wanted to share just a few of my thoughts about two recent conferences I had the pleasure to attend: IamLUG and MWLUG.
Both of these conferences were extremely well organized.
Although each was only two days (not counting peripheral elements, such as the welcome reception at MWLUG and the follow-on day at IamLUG), these weren't user group meetings... they were definitely conferences. As I mentioned in person to some of the organizers of each, what amazes me most is that, while IBM had some involvement in the form of sponsorship, keynotes and the like, the actual organization of the events - choosing and scheduling sessions, communicating with speakers and attendees, coordinating with venue personnel, and all of the many details I can't even think of that are crucial to making events like these useful and enjoyable - all of these tasks were performed solely by members of the community who are passionate enough to sacrifice whatever time, sanity, and other personal comforts they had to in order to not only pull it off, but make it look easy.
No hotel's ISP can survive a horde of Yellowbleeders.
At both events, the wireless held up pretty well the first day, then died spectacularly that night. Then came back up. Then crashed again. Repeatedly. Eventually, whoever was trying to resuscitate it went to sleep, and the external connection was down the rest of the night, revived just barely before sessions resumed in the morning. It was eerie how similarly this played out at both events. Seriously, if someone were to show me crash logs from the two routers that showed identical timeframes between, and duration of, the outages, I wouldn't be surprised. By the time I left Cleveland on Saturday, I was even half tempted to cut Disney some slack for their perennial failure to accommodate our hunger for bandwidth... but only half tempted. If I can get 20 Mb/s down, 4 Mb/s up for $50 a month - as an individual consumer with no bargaining clout - surely a Hilton Garden Inn can afford more than a 384 Kb/s DSL line... and "the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin" has absolutely no excuse: they charge about 4 times that much each night for a single room during Lotusphere, and most of us that stay onsite stay for at least 4 nights. It baffles me that Internet is still such a problem for almost every hotel, yet Chick-fil-A can figure it out... and offer it for free.
I get by with a little help from my friends.
I always enjoy getting to hang out with my Lotus pals. It might surprise some that only know my blog persona, but I'm an introvert. It's often a struggle of Herculean proportions to force myself to interact with others, especially face-to-face. Not so when I'm with Yellowbleeders. Perhaps knowing that we have a common interest reassures me that this is one place where I don't have to fear awkward silence, because we're never going to run out of things to talk about. But I've also been fortunate to encounter at events like these numerous folks whom I would genuinely enjoy being around, even if we didn't share professional interests. So each time I get to attend a user group meeting, a mid-year conference, or Lotusphere, I leave socially rejuvenated as well as professionally inspired. For me, at least, that's the true value of these events: I come back to my day job, keenly aware of why I do what I do; in our industry niche, that awareness alone can be powerful.
A track-within-a-track can be very effective.
A couple of the MWLUG speakers noticed in advance that there seemed to be a natural progression inherent in the XPage-related sessions, and suggested to the organizers that the agenda be scheduled in a specific order to allow each session to segue into the next, creating a sort of "XPages boot camp". The organizers liked the idea, and, aside from a tiny bit of overlap (very difficult to avoid when you're squeezing 45 sessions across 3 tracks into a 2 day event), the result was perfect. In fact, the result was so effective that, in retrospect, I'm actually glad that my "grand finale" demo crashed on me. I know that sounds strange, but it allowed me to witness something I wouldn't otherwise have been able to see firsthand.
You see, the entire goal of my session ("XPages: the Evolution of Possible") was to challenge the attendees to discard all assumptions of limitation - to believe that we can now do anything with Domino, even if we don't yet know how. Some of the demonstrations illustrated functionality that was possible but difficult or hacktastic in prior versions, but the final demo would have shown something that I've never even seen attempted without XPages... something that is a fundamental departure from our very definition of the word "collaboration" in the context of the platform. Those of you who saw it in action at IamLUG know what I'm talking about. To be perfectly honest, if someone had told me that XPages make this not only possible but easy back when I was first learning XPages, I would have been extremely skeptical. Point of fact, I suspect I wouldn't have believed it. After all, at the time, I just thought the big win with XPages was that they let us do joins in views.
I really, really wanted to be able to show this demo, because I feel it perfectly illustrates why I get so excited about this stuff. When I realized it wasn't going to happen, I confessed my disappointment to the attendees, stating that a mere verbal description of the functionality just wouldn't do it justice (which is why I'm now being intentionally vague about what the demo was). But then something fascinating happened: as I proceeded to provide a mere verbal description of the functionality, I glanced around the room... undistracted by slides, browser windows, Designer, or anything else I'd been intending to call to their attention, I could simply look people in the eye and tell them an incredible story about what XPages had empowered me to create. And here's the punchline: having listened for two days to some amazing speakers (among others, Scott Good, Dave Leedy, Mike McGarel, and Roy Rumaner,) explaining what XPages are, what technologies are fundamental to working with them (including some we've long been familiar with, like Notes Formula and LotusScript), and what features we can add to our applications that we never could before... I could tell that they believed me. I didn't even have to show them; they didn't ask me to "prove" to them that this crazy thing we would previously never have dared attempt actually works. I simply looked them in the eye and told them, and they knew I was telling the truth. I think that's amazing, and I don't think that would have been possible had the sequence and quality of the presentations leading up to mine not prepared them to discard the very assumptions of limitation I'd been hoping to convince them to abandon. In short, while most (if not all) speakers want every presentation to go exactly as planned, this one unexpected failure turned out to be the best proof I could have hoped for that my session achieved - for at least a few folks - precisely what I'd hoped.
So I want to thank the organizers, fellow presenters, and attendees of both events for helping to make this one of the most fun and inspiring months I've had in a very, very long time. I hope to see many of you again soon...
locating XPage components with XspQuery
Sun, Apr 14th 2013 12:00a Tim Tripcony Several years ago, I wrote a utility Java class designed to make it easy to search for components within the current XPage instance based on various criteria. I've found it enormously useful, and, apparently, so has Keith Strickland, because he added it to org.openntf.xsp.extlib, complete with a few refinements. As an example of how you might use this, examine the following line of code:
List requiredFields = new XspQuery()
.loc [read] Keywords: ldd
your how is not your what
Wed, Apr 3rd 2013 11:36a Tim Tripcony I've noticed a pattern emerging when I'm asked for help with XPages. Here's a representative conversation:
"I'm trying to do [X] and it's not working. How can I do that?"
"What are you trying to accomplish?"
"I already told you. I'm trying to do [X]."
"No, that's how you're trying to do it. What are you trying to do?"
For example, replace "[X]" with "reach into a repeat control from outside it" (since this has become the most frequent topic I'm asked about [read] Keywords: xpages application
my new favorite quote
Sat, Mar 23rd 2013 5:20p Tim Tripcony "We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing of the world. We give little thought to the machinery that generates the sunlight that makes life possible, to the gravity that glues us to an earth that would otherwise send us spinning off into space, or the atoms of which we are made and on whose stability we fundamentally depend. Except for children (who don’t know enough not to ask the important questions), few of us spend much time wondering why nature is the way it is; where the [read] Keywords: wiki
Taking the scary out of Java in XPages: Prologue
Tue, Feb 26th 2013 9:50p Tim Tripcony The discussion following my last post made stark the need for greater availability of information that makes the nature of Java more accessible to Domino developers. Credit for the title of this post goes to Declan, who is considering writing a series of blog posts on this topic. I will be doing the same; hopefully there will be a fair amount of duplication. As David Leedy is fond of stating, it's a good thing when several people share the same information, because that makes it easier for the [read] Keywords: domino
Passthru vs. component - my perspective
Sat, Feb 16th 2013 9:40p Tim Tripcony Paul Withers posted a thorough article explaining the differences between namespaced XPage components (e.g. ) and their corresponding passthru elements (e.g. ), providing numerous examples of what actually happens when these objects are constructed. I've always heard (and often repeated) that passthru elements are more efficiently processed than their namespaced equivalents, so Paul's post inspired me to offer my own perspective.
Simply put, there's practically no difference... but there a [read] Keywords: acl