Connections 5 Customisations – Problems With Stylesheets

This weekend we upgraded a site with heavy customisation from Connections 4.5 to Connections 5 CR1.  Part of that migration was using the lc-migrate tool to export and import the artifacts and ensuring the customisations (customizations for any google searches!) were in place.  All seemed to be fine for a couple of weeks but then suddenly our custom stylesheet was replaced by the default Connections 5 theme.

That made no sense, no changes were done and the css and images were still in the right place under /customizations/themes/defaultTheme – where they had always been.  Looking at SystemOut everything seemed fine.  I cleared the temp folders (/profiles/AppSrv01/temp and wstemp as well as /config/temp) and tried updating the version stamp using wsadmin (LCConfigService.updateConfig(“versionStamp”,””) and restarting EVERYTHING but no luck.

Luckily my subsequent PMR ended up with Susan who remembered an internal PMR that referenced changes in how customisations work.  Specifically that relative URLs for images no longer work either when used in stylesheets so


has to become


The detail for this isn’t in the documentation that I could find but this IBM’er has a great blog piece on it

Paul Godby Connections Customization

In addition the defaultTheme folder (as specified in the documentation) no longer works for custom stylesheets. You have to use a folder called gen4Theme and move the stylesheets in there.

Luckily I was working with the amazing Mark Myers on this who pulled out the stops and got the CSS changed and working (dynamic sizing and all) overnight.

..aaaannnndd we’re back in business.   Go Team!

p.s. the reason it had looked fine for us for weeks across several people/ machines and browsers was caching of the original design elements.

Connections DB Schemas

A fantastic visual representation of the key relationships in Connection database schemas by Mark Myers.  None of this is documented by IBM publicly so this is entirely Mark’s effort to take apart and document.  Some of us have tried it in pieces but this is by far the most comprehensive and useful attempt to document the underlying architecture I’ve seen.

Another one for the bookmarks…

Dukes of Hazzard Analogy

I was talking about development and customers today, and remembered an email I once sent to a customer a long time ago.

The customer was complaining that the system that we had developed and that he had been using for a few years did not do a certain thing. We should add it for free because it should have been included from the beginning as it was an obvious requirement.

I used this analogy in my reply:

Imagine you are the Dukes of Hazzard. You have been getting in and out of your car by the windows for years. The doors were welded shut and you did not spend the extra money to strengthen the car while still allowing them to open. However, you always get in and out by the windows so you have never minded this. Now you would like to open the doors and want the mechanic to make this happen for free because obviously doors should open.

He accepted this argument, and gave us the money to fix the doors.