Last week Julian was pleased to be asked to speak at the autumn ISBG conference in Oslo. The topic was ‘Finding your way out of the Domino maze’, a wide-ranging overview of the challenges that need to be overcome when migrating applications away from Domino, the meanings that ‘Migration’ could have, some of the key technologies to look at including NoSQL, and a brief overview of how LDC Via fits into that picture.
View or download the presentation at these locations:
In all the general busy-ness (coding, designing and earning a living), we’re conscious that there are lots of things to tell you.
2016 has been an extremely busy year for LDC Via: various technical challenges as one would expect. New products to launch — more on KEEP.WORKS in a separate post — together with meetings to chair, proposals to write, and partnerships to forge!
It is of the latter we wish to speak today. Some months ago, we opened discussions with our good friend Andrew Magerman, and these quickly bore fruit: Swiss LDC Via.
As many cloud aficionados are aware, hosting data outside national borders can be a massive issue for Swiss organisations – especially local and national government – and this is where Via hosted in Switzerland comes in. We invite you to explore the service and read more about it at Andrew’s site: Host your migrated Domino Data in Switzerland at ch.ldcvia.com.
Our very own Julian Woodward will be presenting at the ISBG meeting in Oslo this week. You can read more about his session at the relevant agenda page, if your Norwegian is up to scratch!
Julian Woodward, Finding your way out of the Domino maze
Finding your way out of the Domino maze - LDC Via
Migrating applications away from Domino is a complex problem, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In this session Julian Woodward will look at how to scope and plan a migration, examine the technical and human challenges you’ll need to overcome along the way, and compare some of the approaches you can take.
Just 2 weeks into our beta of KEEP.WORKS, and we want our lovely beta testers to know we’ve been listening to their feedback. So, version 1.0.79 went live this week, with the following splendid new features.
A workspace full of square tiles is a thing of zen-like beauty, of course. But sometimes, you need to jazz it up a little with images of your own, to make you feel at home. So it’s now possible to add an image to a database, and that image will display both on the database icon on the KEEP.WORKS workspace, and also within every screen inside the application. And because we don’t like to do things by halves, not only can you upload any image you like, but you can also crop, zoom and rotate it. You can even export it (and, yes, PNG files are supported. “In” joke).
Each database on the workspace now has a gear icon at the top right, to allow you to quickly get to its settings page. From there you can add new users, look at stats, change the title, and — yes — set up a database icon.
You can now enter some css into the global settings area, which will then be loaded as the final stylesheet on every page in KEEP.WORKS. So you can override any of our default CSS settings to turn your KEEP.WORKS instance into a Frankenstein’s monster of bright pink comic sans on a canary yellow background. Or alternatively you could do something useful with it, like adapt our colour and font scheme to match your corporate standards. But that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
Various little bugs have been squished and wiped away. That’s what a beta phase is for.
If you want to be alerted when we open KEEP.WORKS up to a wider audience, simply email email@example.com.
We’ve been asked numerous times to explain a little more about what KEEP.WORKS is, what it does, what it doesn’t do, how it works, and who it’s for.
Before tackling those, let’s talk about why we’ve created it.
There are two main reasons. Firstly: IBM Lotus Notes - there’s a lot of it about, but it’s also on the endangered species list. By which we mean there are many individuals and teams whose Notes applications - that they rely on to run their job/work - are being removed or threatened by an organisation shutting down their IBM Lotus Notes and Domino infrastructure. So KEEP.WORKS is designed to help them have a low-cost migration path. At the very least, it lets them retain their data, safe from the destructive urges of their management and IT people. But more, it lets them continue to work with that data (more on this later). And it’s sufficiently low-cost that it can all pass through on expenses or a company credit card.
The second reason for KEEP.WORKS is that we’ve found that some people have understandably struggled with the migration tooling we provide to move data into LDC Via. That’s been down to a mixture of Domino complexities and LDC Via complexities, but it has been a stumbling block. So KEEP.WORKS is a way of removing that barrier by having us do the heavy lifting. It’s limited to small-ish NSFs - up to 2Gb and 50,000 documents - but that’s plenty for many uses, and sufficient for a serious pilot in the case of larger applications.
Who is it for?
- Individuals who have useful data locked into NSFs but no longer use Notes and may not even have it installed any more
- Individuals whose Notes applications are under threat from shifting IT strategy
- Departments and teams within an organisation that rely on threatened Notes applications to run their operations
- People or organisations wanting to ‘try’ the LDC Via platform with as little learning curve as possible
- Those looking to bring simple Notes client apps to the web
What does it do?
As the website says: you upload your NSF, we convert it onto the LDC Via platform automagically, and then you access and work with your data via a browser or mobile device.
If the NSF you upload is a ‘standard’ Notes/Domino one, we provide your data back to you in a working application. The types of NSF we support here are:
- Personal templates
- Contacts, also known as “Personal Address Book”
- Mail (read-only)
- Team templates
- Document Library
It can take as little as 10 minutes to move data from Notes/Domino into KEEP.WORKS, and have it operational on the cloud and fully mobile-enabled. Additional users can be created using the KEEP.WORKS application.
If your NSF is not based on one of those templates, then we have a point-and-click interface to allow you to build a “no code” interface onto your data, that will allow you and your users to interact with - search, update, export - the data on desktop and mobile devices.
We wanted to keep the pricing as simple and predictable as possible. Partly because we like it that way, and partly perhaps in reaction to the labyrinthine pricing of certain large software businesses (naming no names). So it’s a flat per-month pricing structure, with no additional per-user costs, and no minimum period. There’s even a 14-day free trial period before any cost is incurred, so you get to really kick the tyres before your credit card gets charged: if you don’t like it, or it’s not what you needed, simply cancel the account before the 14 days are up.
See https://keep.works/#pricing for full pricing details.
What doesn’t it do?
We’ve said what it does, who it’s for, and how much it costs. But what about the limitations? Well, first thing first: it’s not a “magic bullet” solution. There have been attempts in the past to automate the process of transforming an application from the Notes/Domino world into a.n.other world. In our view, any such attempt is doomed to failure. Notes/Domino applications are highly complex, and rely on a variety of programming models: @formula, LotusScript, hide-whens, sections, computed subforms, xpages, server-side triggered and scheduled agents, etc. For an older and/or complex application the end result is often a barely-intelligible jumble of code. Any automated conversion is destined to make that less intelligible and less maintainable.
Our approach, as with LDC Via, is to retain the data in as perfect a form as reasonably possible, while removing the reliance on legacy server platforms and obscure and outdated software development tools. We provide a simple point-and-click interface to allow you to define the form layout. Over time we will be providing more options, in response to user feedback, but we wouldn’t want to set up the expectation that you can develop a complex multi-faceted application entirely within KEEP.WORKS: that’s not what this product is for.
How does it work?
KEEP.WORKS is an application built on top of the LDC Via platform. It’s not a core part of LDC Via, which is why it has its own name and website, and is hosted separately from LDC Via. Everything we’ve done on the KEEP.WORKS site uses the normal published LDC Via REST-based APIs to do its work. You could subscribe to LDC Via and go out and build a KEEP.WORKS type tool yourself, if you so chose (with the one minor caveat of the database conversion process that runs behind the scenes - that’s not exposed as API calls).
Well, if you’re one of those who made it onto our beta programme - congratulations, and you will receive an email this week detailing how to create your account. If you’re not … you’ll have to wait until we go fully live in a few weeks time. You can register your interest in KEEP.WORKS at https://keep.works/#register.