Ytria tools just saved me half a day

I mentioned yesterday that we are planning to release the UKLUG Site Template onto OpenNTF later on in the year, having been through the process of "shrink wrapping" a database with IdeaJam I was dreading the process of just adding some consistency to the look and feel of the Notes side of things. It's the silly little things like consistent fonts, colours and layout that take ages and ages. Enter the Ytria tools called ViewEZ and ActionBarEZ, in 10 minutes I was able to apply a consistent look and feel to the entire database and I'm free then to spend the rest of my Saturday afternoon on more interesting things instead.

So thanks to the Ytria guys for making my weekend better. If you're a Notes developer and you haven't tried them out then you really do owe it to yourself to have a look.

Two free XPages workshops

I've been at Staines today working with Tim Clark and Chris Freestone preparing for two XPages workshops which will be held at IBM Hursley at the end of November and start of December. I'll be helping out on the first (and possibly the second one) and they should be pretty good, especially if you want an introduction to getting started with XPages.

The first session details are:
25-27 November 2008
IBM Innovation Centre, Hursley
Cost is FREE
Registration is from the IIC events pages

The second session details are:
9-11 December 2008
Hursley Technical Exploration Centre
Registration: Please email hurtec@uk.ibm.com to resgister.
Cost: Free

Hope to see you there.

Have you checked out the Domino Designer "Wiki"?

The content of the Domino Designer Wiki is really starting to get very useful. If you don't check there when you have a dev problem then you really should add it to your list of "go to" places. It still doesn't gell with what my understanding of a wiki is (a wiki should be editable and have automatic cross linking in my view) but setting that aside it's useful stuff so go have a read.

Continuing XPages progress and first public demos

Another week of developing IdeaJam in XPages has passed and we're really making progress.

A lot more behind the scenes coding this week that improved voting, but also the first drafts of the Idea screens in read and edit modes, plus a lot of the supporting screens that are accessed from the header menu. So some screenshots (these are as much a record for me as for the blog as I suspect it will be interesting to look back on how quickly we were able to progress with this stuff in the future):
IdeaJam in XPages Progress IdeaJam in XPages Progress IdeaJam in XPages Progress

Both Bruce and I will be doing presentations this week. The boss will be at NEOLUG on Thursday and I will be presenting with a certain Mr Mooney about what's new in 8.5 at UKLUG in London. It should be interesting, Paul is the veteran expert speaker but he gets all the boring admin content (;-)) while I, as the newbie inexperienced speaker, get to talk about XPages. If you're coming along to either user group you'll get to see whatever point we've got to in the development. Always good to try and demo *very* alpha level code, come watch as I try to explain the error messages!

In all seriousness, development is progressing very nicely, of course we are encountering issues, but with a combination of workarounds and help from IBM we hope to have a really classy extra string to the IdeaJam bow in the next few months.

If you listened to the new 1352 Report podcast (and if not, why not?) then you may also have noticed that Bruce mentioned a new tool that we plan to have ready in the next few months as well, called TaskJam. There will be a lot more to come on that as we make progress.

Anyway, this week is going to be good fun, if you're coming along to UKLUG then say hi to me if you see me around.

Continuing XPages Progress and some lessons learned

Well we're now 9 days into the porting of IdeaJam to run in XPages:
IdeaJam in XPages Progress
The screenshot hasn't changed an enormous amount but you can see that voting is working properly now and I have added the view filtering so that you can look at individual IdeaSpaces. All of those bits were surprisingly easy once I had worked around a couple of bugs. And these are my lessons learned for the week...

Firstly, the new server side @DbLookup() javascript function does not work in conjunction with the @DbName() function if your database is in a sub directory. THis is obviously a bug which will be fixed before 8.5 goes Gold but it took me a while to work out. Anyway, there are two current workarounds, first just work in the root of the server (which is what I'm doing) or you can hard code your database path using the following format: @DbLookup("xpages//DbLookup.nsf", "RefData", "Test", "Value").

My second problem took a while longer to track down and I'm sure it's an edge case but it's a doozie - I have a custom control which contains a <tr&gr; element that gets repeated in another custom control. What I learned is that you do not set styles on the html element directly, you must assign a class name to the element and define the style in CSS otherwise the Designer client hangs while trying to rebuild the project. It's a better way of doing things I guess, but I wanted to be lazy!

So those two are the downsides so far, and they're going to be fixed, but on the upside I have still not written *any* client side javascript myself and I've only had to write 2 agents (to handle voting requirements which can't run under the rights of the authenticated user). That is hugely impressive when compared to the "classic" IdeaJam which can amount to 100kb of Javascript... read big performance improvements for the user. I've also managed to reduce the number of views required to run IdeaJam from 15 to 5 due to the different ways that you can apply filtering and reuse views for different tasks... read server side performance improvements.

There is still a lot to do but real progress is being made, and (as Bruce will tell you) I am enjoying this so much that I can be found playing with XPages most of the time now!