HCL Digital Solutions has published a new “What’s New in Connections 6.5 CR1” video on their official YouTube channel! We are getting Mail and Calendar Integration! Check it out:
Since HCL Connections 6 CR3, we have the possibility to install the “Highlights” Application, which basically is a light version of “Connections Engagement Center”, previously known as XCC and originally developed by TimeToAct Group.
The Highlights Application was well-received by most of our customers and many wanted to at least try out the full version of the HCL Connections Engagement Center.
So the question is, how do you update to the full Version? Well, the XCC or the HCL Connections Engagement Center was never hard to install and maintain, so the Upgrade is also pretty straightforward, that is, unless you are running Connections on Windows OS.
I have done a few upgrades on Linux OS, using the 6.0.2 Version of the setup for Engagement Center. This usually lasts about 10 Minutes and works like a charm. This process is described very well by the official documentation.
Recently, I had an issue upgrading to the full version on Windows platform, with the Connections 6 CR5 Version. Here I had to find out that the “ICECInstaller_Windows.bat” not only fails to upgrade the product, but it also messes up the Highlights Application, which won’t work after the update.
I opened a case at the HCL Support Site and I promptly got an update that the same problem could be reproduced in the HCL Test Environment and that the support is working on a fix for this issue, so stay tuned for that if you are planing an update.
It is possible to update the product manually, which is also a faster way if you know which file to “tweak”, but you may have a Licensing issue, so if you are planing on doing this, make sure to inform and get a confirmation from the HCL Sales Representative or HCL Support.
We have the possibility now to replace Textbox.io editor with TinyMCE. I like this new addition to the product and I did not have any issues with.
Replacing the old editor is really easy, basically you use the same process as updating Textbox.io.
But do take care, some formatting, in Wikis for example, will get lost after you switch the editors. So make sure to fill your test environment with some articles from the production and check with your users if this poses a problem for them.
Yesterday I took part of the Webcast, “HCL Connections: The Future is Bright”, it was hosted by “DNUG” (a big thumbs up for that). In this Webcast Danille Baptiste showed us the future plans for HCL Connections. And indeed I do think that the future of the product is bright. The HCL is planing integrations with Microsoft Products, Salesforce and SAP just to name a few, and finally, a proper Integration with Domino! 🙂
I always thought that I knew about all the “Connections Assets”, add-ons developed by “IBM Services”, well I was wrong, Danielle mentioned at least ten of them of which I never heard about. And guess what, HCL will make them all generally available, they will also be installed as a part of the Connections installation.
The thing I like the most is, being able to see all the information you need on single screen/browser tab, things like that blow me away and I hope this will come rather soon:
Danielle also presented a Roadmap for Connections, at the end of the Q3 we should get the next CR, and towards the end of the year we will get Connections 6.5. From there on HCL plans to deliver a major release every year.
Here are a few more slides presented.
I like the way the product is heading, the HCL recognizes the products strengths and weakness and you can clearly see that in their vision. We will hear more of that and in greater detail at Social Connections 15 in Munich.
As of today Docs 2.0 CR3 iFix 006 is available for download from the Fix Central, it includes the following Fixes:
- Fixed the issue of failing to open files when the browser language setting is en-* other than en, en-us, or en-gb by providing a solution of language fallback to en.
- Fixed the sanity check failure of soffice process on Linux Conversion server.
- Fixed the hang issue caused by some files with specific wmf images.
- Fixed a rare issue that content might be corrupted when multiple editors start editing the same document at the same time.
- Fixed the issue of one specific document that contains empty shape cannot be opened after publishing.
- Fixed the issue of title shown as “undefined” in the dialog of Insert Special Character.
- Fixed the issue that some comment items are duplicated in the view of comments list when co-editing.
- Added Copy Formatting that you can use to quickly copy and apply text styles and list styles by clicking the icon.
- Increased the supported file size to 300 slides and 100MB, and removed the restriction of 3000 objects(such as text boxes, shapes, images and OLE objects).
- Fixed the issue that font size shown in IBM Docs presentation editor is smaller than in MS office.
- Fixed the date time formatting issue in some specific time zones (for example, Dublin Summer Time) after upgrading your browser.
- Fixed the issue that documents cannot be opened in Viewer when watermark is turned on.
Prior to installing this iFix you need to install CR3 for IBM Docs 2.0, iFix 006 includes the updates from all previous iFix updates.
Official Release Notes to IBM Docs 2.0 CR3 iFix006.
IBM Connections 6 Cumulative Refresh 3 was released yesterday. And besides the usual and long Fix List it also includes some new features:
- Possibility to return to the Communities and Files you viewed recently
- Filter recent content in Communities and Files.
- “Pick up where you left of”
- Simplified Navigation and a full-screen option for Files.
- The all new “Highlights” community widget.
- And MORE! For the full list take a look at the blog post from René Schimmer.
It also includes all Features and Bug Fixes from previous releases (CR1 & CR2).
I am happy that the IBM Connections is getting new features on the WebSphere platform, this will certainly make many customers happy who are not ready to implement the Component Pack. By the way the new Component Pack should be announced in the next weeks, so stay tuned.
Recently a customer asked me to review his Connections environment and implement SSO via SPNEGO. He started implementing it, but he couldn´t make to work, so he wanted me to pick up where he left it and make it work. I had a fair share of troubles to make it work and along the way I found some “typical” problems, so I thought I share these issues (and some other I had in the past) with you and hopefully save you some time.
Invest time in reading the Documentation about the Technology you plan to use
On the second thought invest a lot of time. The configuration will make sense only if you know the basics about Kerberos, SPNEGO and WebSphere Security in general. It will also help you a great deal troubleshooting and things like a WireShark trace (yes it may come all the way to that) will make much more sense. I strongly urge you to read the following article:
I never found a better article explaining how SPNEGO works in combination with WebSphere, it´s old, but it´s good.
I also recommend using the WebSphere documentation instead of Connections documentation (where it makes sense of course), I think that it is generally more in depth and more up to date. Which is OK I guess because Implementing SPNEGO has a lot more to do with WebSphere than with Connections Applications.
Make sure your environment is up to date and there are no discrepancies between the Test and Production environment (a Test environment is essential). And keep it that way, I mean if you hit a “brick wall” in the Test Environment, do not go ahead and update the Production because a new Update came out. This will save you a lot of headache. Different versions mean different problems, so the chances are you will be trying to solve different problems in the Production than in the Test environment, when implementing SPNEGO, while the Production is down and someone is waiting for the whole thing to go online again.
Make sure Test and Production environments are the same
Here is where the details matter, I know that it is not always possible to have the exact same copy of a Production environment as a Test environment, but make sure that at least the things like DNS, Shares, User Access Rights… are the same as in Production. Difference between “CNAME” Alias and a “Host (A)” Record can have a lot of impact.
We had an issue, this will surely be a plague of the Test Environments, where the WebSphere Server Hostname, Primary Administration User and the URL for Connections Access, had a “Name-Clash” (as described in the URL pasted above) so make sure you check that and/or consider when building a Test environment.
Do it Step by Step
I have made a mistake doing to many configuration changes at once, which essentially made it impossible to discover which part of the configuration led to an error. SPNEGO Implementation can be a combination of many different Configuration changes like: Primary Administrative User change, DNS changes and so on. So as my friend Martin Leyrer advised me, split the configuration in small steps/tasks, do one step, resync, restart and test and only after you are 100% happy with the change proceed with the next step.
Do you really need Kerberos?
As much as I know, SPNEGO is a “web friendly” version of Kerberos, right? So, it always made sense for me to do the Kerberos Configuration part in WebSphere before continuing with the SPNEGO part. Well I was wrong, the only Use-Case where you will need Kerberos implemented for IBM Connections is when you want to use IBM Connections Mail Plug-In with Exchange, which is not developed for Connections 6, so there´s that…
If you just want to achieve SSO from a Domain joined PC, then SPNEGO part will be sufficient. In that constellation Kerberos could just be another source of issues as Charlie Price made me realize that two months ago. 😀
LTPA Errors going through the roof
We had an issue with LTPA, basically everything we tried to do in Connections GUI produced a mass of LTPA Errors in the logs. I tried everything, regenerating the LTPA Keys and so on, I contacted the support team, but we could not solve the issue. So, I asked Sharon Bellamy James for advice and she told me to export the LTPA Token from WebSphere and import it again, this solved that issue. The GUI looked much better and there were no LTPA Errors anymore.
Service Principal Name
When creating a Service Principal Name, never use “HTTPS/” in the “KTPASS” command, even though you are accessing Connections via “HTTPS”, only use “HTTP/”. For Examle:
ktpass -out c:\Node1.keytab –princ HTTP/connections.axians.local@AXIANS.LOCAL -mapuser connections_user -mapOp set –pass Password1 -ptype KRB5_NT_PRINCIPAL
If you need more than one keytab files and Service Principal Names, use a separate AD User for every one of them.
Delegation User Setting
This is quite easy to forget, no matter what you do, Kerberos won´t work if your Service User Account used in the “KTPASS” command does not have the following setting set:
Although, I am not 100% sure you need to do this when you are Configuring SPNEGO without doing the Kerberos part in WebSphere. I will surely test this next time when I have a chance.
Disable TAI Authentication
For SPNEGO to work with WebSphere as it should, you need to disable TAI Authentication:
Go to Security –> Global Security –> Custom Properties
Than enter the following:
I hope this is going to help someone, if you have any Tipps of your own, please share them in the comments below.
A Jump Session about Connections Engagement Center (ICEC) will be held at 12th of September. For details and “.ics” file, take a look at the following page:
If you would like to know what ICEC is all about, than the following video is a good start:
Since yesterday a new Cumulative Refresh, for Connections 6.0, is available for download. It includes some new Features like OAuth Support for the mobile App, GDPR Support and a ton of bug fixes. Use the following Links to access the official documentation:
Today I attended an IBM Webcast, translated to English “Path to Pink”, it was held by Martti Garden and Matthias Schneider. Personally, I found it exciting and very informative. The IBM is keeping their promise and continuously delivers new Connections “Pink” parts.
I will skip the talk about technology and components on top of which Pink is being built, as well as the reasons why this is done, I am sure most are familiar with this part.
After a brief introduction with OrientMe, Connections Customizer and “Pink Metrics”, all these components are already delivered as a part of the pink package. We got a bit of insights what is coming next and a demo of some components which are not published yet.
For example, IBM Docs is coming as a Container, I personally liked the Docs Editor, which can be used in Files, Blogs and Wikis. It has a powerful export feature, which lets you export a blog to a wiki article.
“Pink Profiles” also extends the functionality of the Profiles application, many customers will like this, as it brings some highly practical functionality which was desired by many.
“Pink Middleware” will be delivered to allow new plugins and applications to be integrated in the Pink package easier.
“Pink Note”, “Connectron Client” (was also demonstrated) and “Pink Content” were just some of many terms mentioned.
For sure, these are very fun and excitement times to work with IBM Connections. I like the path were Connections is developing and the effort put by the IBM to develop the workplace of the future.