Read What Adam Brown Says About IBM Connections App Dev

Yesterday I wrote a blog entry entitled “This is exactly what IBM Connections needs“. The entry now has over 20 comments and there is a comment by my friend and collegue Adam Brown that stands out. Adam and his company ISW produce several software products for IBM Connections including Kudos Badges and Kudos Boards.

Here is what Adam wrote:

I have been watching this conversation with interest. Now that Daniele has been so complimentary around Kudos (Thanks for the feedback Daniele) I can’t help but get involved.

From my perspective IBM Connections/SmartCloud Connections are already platforms for Apps. I am actually very excited about what IBM is delivering in this space.

Can users build Apps/Utilities like Bruce describes? No not yet. But there is nothing stopping ISV’s from building great solutions that extend Connections. I agree there is a place for user built apps in Connections (and we are already thinking about that with team Kudos!). I have more ideas for solutions built on and around Connections than we can possibly execute on!!!

Has IBM provided everything that App developers need yet? No not yet. But they have done a lot and it is improving all the time. I see Connections 4.x like Notes version 3-4. The ecosystem around Notes 4 was just getting started. Some great ISV’s started to built neat apps. Soon after it really started to get some momentum. Connections is the same. There are some great solutions, a few ISV’s building specifically for Connections, but quite a few intergrating their solutions into Connections. This market is developing most certainly, and has a way to go, but it is progressing well.

Anyway I am of the camp that Connections is becoming a platform for 3rd party Apps. I know IBM is encouraging this and if you reach out to them are very supportive.

Personally, I love the work that ISW has done with their Kudos products. Now the question becomes: “How can an ecosystem of more than a handful of ISV’s develop, that produces apps for IBM Connections?”. This is something I would love to see.

This is exactly what IBM Connections needs

[This is a bit rough, but I wanted to get it out there]

Or does it….

Let’s face it, we all love the app dev capabilities of IBM’s (Lotus) Notes. We are able to design, build and deploy apps of all kinds for enterprise users in organizations. In fact, the users we develop these apps for absolutely love them as they help make the job that they do easier. Tie this together with email, instant messaging and IBM Connections services and you create collaborative “system” that people use to get their work done.

There was a point in time in the history of IBM Notes when line-of-business users (LOB) were able to create “utility” apps. Utility apps apps helped LOB people to better serve  their customers. It was a wonderful environment where staff could be empowered to create, with very little programming knowledge these apps.

Now enter the world of IBM Connections. IBM Connections like IBM Notes is a place where people go to get work done to serve their customers. One currently noticeable difference is the way in which IBM Connections lacks the ability to create utility apps. There is no way to currently do this. There are some great developer toolkits available, however these are focussed at pure-play developers.

Now take a look at this video and see how Microsoft Sharepoint users can create utility apps.

I really want to see IBM Connections develop into the portal-of-portals for people to go to and do their work. Currently, it’s another application “destination” rather than the “primary” Lotus Notes like place to go and do their work.

Would you like to see IBM Connections have some capabilities to have users create “utility” apps? If not for utility apps, full fledged apps – an app dev platform.

Random User Generator: Like Lorem Ipsum, but for people

What is RandomUser?

RandomUser is an API that provides you with a randomly generated user. These users can be used as placeholders in web mockups, and will save you time from creating your own placeholder information.

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Learning How to Code with Bruce: The Results

For the past year, I have been teaching a course at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington called “Intro to Programming and Problem Solving (CTEC 121)”. During this time 60 students have successfully completed the course. Here is the class description from the course catalog:

Fundamental concepts related to designing and writing computer programs and procedures. Topics covered include: problem-solving techniques, program design, coding, debugging, testing and documentation. The course stresses concepts common to all programming. Prerequisite: Eligibility for ENGL& 101 and a grade of “C” or better in MATH 095. CTEC 120 recommended.

Typically, 95% of the students who take this class have had no prior experience with programming. In fact, it may even be higher than this.

RECAP: Students in CTEC 121 have never ever written a single line of code.

One other important to thing to mention is that 80% of the students who enroll in this class are not enrolled in a development focussed degree program. Most are from networking, business and other disciplines. Fascinating eh? Read on…

For the Fall quarter I decided to not give a final exam but rather a final practical project. Students were required to build a full-fledged application using the Python programing language. The project requirements included:

  • Demonstrate use of all elements of the structure theorem (sequence, selection and repitition)
  • Use on or more Python libraries
  • Demonstrate the ability to read/write files
  • and many other requirements…

On Monday the class presented their projects to the class and frankly, the students and I were totally blown away by their projects. Remember, these students have only studied programming in the CTEC 121 class for 9 weeks prior to creating their final projects. I wish you all could have seen the students faces when they saw demonstrations presented by the others.

To give you an idea of the types of projects submitted here is a list of some of the apps students created:

  • An app that helps racing pit crews with calculating critical data needed for fueling, tire replacements and more
  • An app that uses the Wikipedia API to read and display random Wikipedia entries using JSON and REST services.
  • A math quiz app
  • A complete graphical version of the game Battleship
  • Several role playing games both text and based and graphics based
  • The game Othello done with the graphics.py Python library
  • A flash card creation and presentation app
  • Several awesome versions of Tic-Tac-Toe
  • An image processing app just like Instagram (complete with an MSI installer)
  • and many others

Congratulations to all of the CTEC 121 students on creating such awesome final projects. You made this instructor very proud.