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It’s Time To Customize IBM Connections!

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IBM Connections’ new capability, Customizer, is coming out soon! As the name suggests, Customizer is designed to help web developers modify the IBM Connections user interface using standard web technologies like JavaScript and CSS. In doing so, it opens an avenue that has mostly been blocked off – insofar as IBM Connections has traditionally been a commoditized out-of-the-box offering that did not lend itself well to customization. So how is that changing and how can you try it out? We can’t wait to show you.

A Brave New (and Pink) World
Part of the Pink vision for IBM Connections is extensibility – i.e. that IBM Connections becomes a highly customizable and extensible platform. New Pink offerings like OrientMe, ImportantToMe and so forth achieve this by exposing customizable feature sets as extension points which can be configured in a no-code/low-code manner to rejig the user experience and other built-in component behaviours. But what about traditional Connections apps like Communities, Homepage, Profiles, Files etc? These offerings don’t have extension points but customers would still like to modify aspects of their look, feel and behaviour – and that’s where IBM Connections Customizer comes in!

What is Customizer?
Customizer sits as a proxy between IBM Connections and the end-user, which gives it the ability to intercept and modify requests and responses, and thus customize anything that flows through it. So for instance when Customizer sees a user request for Communities it can ask the IBM Connections App Registry if any customizations exist to modify the response. A customization typically takes the form of injecting JavaScript and/or CSS into the response to modify the UI layout or behaviour. The full workings and capabilities of Customizer are described in this online documentation so you should dive in there to get up to speed with all the cool things you can do.

Can You Use Customizer Today?
Yes! There is a Customizer Pilot Program running from now until Customizer officially ships which means you can have your IBM Connections Cloud organization enabled for Customizer and start experimenting with UI extensions immediately … well, generally within 24 hours ☺  Not got an IBM Connections Cloud account? No problem – you can create a free trial org on IBM Connections Cloud and request that it is Customizer enabled.

Three Great Reasons To Get Involved Now!
IBM in conjunction with OpenCode4Connections.org are running an event to jump start community involvement with IBM Connections Customizer. You have one month (Sept 14 to Oct 12) to get set up for Customizer and create some nifty Connections customizations – anything you care to imagine! Then you can submit your customizations to OpenCode4Connections.org for evaluation and the top three entrants will be rewarded with iPad Minis. Winners will be announced at Social Connections in Vienna on October 16/17.

What To Do …
1. Get yourself a Customizer-enabled org – your own or a temporary trial account
2. Use the online doc videos and samples to get up to speed with Customizer
3. Experiment with some customizations in your IBM Connections Cloud org
4. Submit one or more customizations to opencode4connections.org for evaluation
Good luck – there’s never been a better time to get customizing !

Useful Resources
https://github.com/ibmcnxdev/customizer
https://opencode4connections.org/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1O9l88q_bo&list=PLEjl4yzB6ckEs6QzdF2ZmG0tRQuZa4JCb

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Christoph Stoettner

Hi Martin, can you explain a little bit more of the technical implementation? You write customizer is a proxy, so from my technical point of view, this means that it will generate the html output of the Connections site, which is in the moment rendered by clientside javascript. If it is a proxy, I think that it could be a bottleneck and needs to be sized properly. Or is it like jquery or dojo more a injection of code into a page and rendering is still browser based? Thanks in advance
Christoph

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