Connections 5.5 & Docs 2 -What, When, How

Yesterday IBM announced that Connections 5.5 and IBM Docs 2.0 will be shipping very soon.  Today in fact (that’s the “when”). I’ll hopefully be downloading and installing sometime next week – the good news is , from looking at the system requirements, the architecture and core software versions remain the same as 5.0.  That makes an in place upgrade easier and – my preferred route – a side by side install less work.  For instance the supported version for WebSphere right now is 8.5.5 Fixpack 4 – with Connections 5.5 that becomes 8.5.5 Fixpack 6.

Detailed system requirements here for those of you wanting to get right to the meat of things 🙂

I’ve been stalled on Connections101 awaiting this release so I’m going to be documenting my experiences installing a) as a fresh install and then b) as an upgrade on that site.  I am also going to be able to talk about upgrading to Connections 5.5 in my Connect 2016 talk in Florida in January

Plan & Complete a Connections Upgrade

Tuesday 2nd February at 5.15pm (eek!) in Lake Mizell AB

So this upgrade has been touted as “containing all the new features we’ve been gradually adding to the Cloud” – IBM did a webcast earlier this week going through all the new features and you can watch the replay here with the slides and audio.

Based on the features shown on the webcast (no software yet so I haven’t tested, no documentation yet so I can’t verify) this seems to be an important upgrade, it plays catch up with functionality that should have already been there (nested folders FTW!) but, importantly, introduces a lot more  simple customisation to bring the display in line with what you are working on.  That last sentence reads a bit marketing speak but stick with me, here are a few of my highlights

  • Nested Folders in a browser, mobile and the desktop plugin. It’s been  one of the biggest customer requests and from what I’ve seen the development team have worked hard to ensure each platform has sensible approach to working with them
  • Improving search by introducing the ability to prioritise your own content higher in search results along with the system prioritising  your own recently visited content
  • Administrator enforced password on the Connections mobile application.
  • Customising Communities so they match their content better.  Communities have always been pretty much a one size fits all design and these new features are going to enable each Community owner to strip out what’s unnecessary, create a layout that highlights what’s most important and use the best understood titles and terms for the content.  You can now benefit from
    • having different multi column layouts
    • renaming applications to something more appropriate and meaningful (changing the words “Forums” or “Members” for instance)
    • hiding applications you don’t need in that Community
    • moving Communities around, making them parent or sub Communities after they are created.  This is going to allow us to better group, archive and consolidate information highlighting  more immediate and current Communities better

      All of this will hopefully encourage a feeling of personalisation and ownership amongst members.

Those are just some of my highlights – the search and Community changes alone will I think provide a good reason to upgrade.  There are many more features I haven’t mentioned and which are covered in the webcast.

At the same time as Connections 5.5 ships, IBM are shipping Docs 2.0.  IBM Docs isn’t part of your standard Connections licensing although the file viewer component is.  If you haven’t used Docs it’s essentially simultaneous co-editing of any Microsoft Office or OpenOffice files within Connections.  I can upload an Excel spreadsheet into a Community and then everyone can work on it at the same time, seeing each other’s edits in real time and updating different versions.  The editors don’t need to have Excel installed and this is all done through a browser without any need to download the file.  I have several customers using it who really like it and if you are using, or plan to use, Connections for content editing or management I recommend you take a look.

So that’s it – my high points.  Once I get started installing I hope to be in a position to talk to customers about deploying or upgrading in a few weeks’ time. I expect to be discovering more goodness along the way.

I’ll be blogging my activity on Connections101 and I’m sure we’ll all have a lot to talk about in January at Connect  – you’re coming right?