This is my first external post to this blog, the first of many to engage you in discussion regarding the design of the IBM Lotus Sametime instant messaging client. Following the success of other design blogs, such as Mary Beth Raven's Notes User Experience blog (http://www-03.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/marybeth), I look forward to your input.
Let's get things started with a question about Sametime extensibility. I'd like to learn how you are extending Sametime. Feel free to respond to this blog, or send e-mail privately to (email@example.com)
- what types of plug-ins are you building?
- how well is the Sametime interface supporting the plug-ins you are building?
- how many plug-ins are you or your users adding to a Sametime client and running at once?
Let's start with these questions and I'll post some follow-up questions later in the week. I'm currently looking at how we should continue to evolve our extensibility model and interfaces.
Download a free 90-day trial version of IBM® Lotus® Sametime® 7.5.1. This version extends IBM's award-winning and market-leading instant messaging and Web conferencing solution by introducing new capabilities that include point-to-point video, integration with desktop productivity applications, a tabbed chat interface, client support for Macintosh users, and server support for the Linux® operating system.
Lotus Sametime V7.5.1 is a platform for unified communications and collaboration, combining security features with an extensible, open solution that includes integrated Voice over IP, geographic location awareness, mobile clients, and a robust Business Partner community offering telephony and video integration.
Here are some of the exciting new features you'll find in 7.5.1 over 7.5:
Tabbed Chat - the number 1 request from 7.5. We are providing both horizontal and vertical layout options for a tabs for all of your active chats in a single chat window. If you choose the vertical layout and make the width of the tab column narrow, you can see user photos instead of text names on the tabs.
Save Emoticons with a right click over the image in the chat transcript - add them directly to your favorite emoticon palette.
One-on-one Video! - that's right - get yourself a webcam and start video with your Sametime contacts,
Screen capture annotation - this extends my favorite Sametime feature even further! You can now draw annotations on the captured screen before sending it to your chat partner! Grab a piece of the screen using the screen capture tool icon in the message compose toolbar of the chat window, capture the part of the screen you wish to send, and then click and drag to draw red text on the captured image.
Chat history search - search across all of your chat history transcripts to find specific text
Multi-person chat history - now both one and one and multi-party chats can automatically be saved in the chat history, and searched as well
Spell check entire message at once - not only do typos get highlighted inline, if you want to run a spell check against an entire message at once, like in Notes, you can do it. This is an accessibility improvement based on usability testing as well.
Plug-in scalability - did the novelty of some contact list plug-ins you installed wear off? Now you can easily toggle the contact list mini-app panels on and off using the View Menu>Application Panels> toggles.
Expand All/Collapse All - like views in notes, expand and collapse all groups in your contact list from the View menu, or keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+(+) and Ctrl+ (-)
Primary Contacts - a new contact list plug-in ships with 7.5.1 to let you drag your favorite contacts in and see their photos in the contact list. Choose to see large, medium, or small images, or just a text list.
Edit your language used for spell checking - if your administrator makes the language files available to you, you can copy them into the plugins directory of the Sametime install location on your computer, then open the Sametime Preferences UI from the client and select a new spell check language under the Spell Checking preferences section.
Contact list scrub tool - a tool to help you remove contacts you haven't chatted with in a while to clean up your contact list.
It was great seeing many of you at Lotusphere. As always, your input was excellent, and I look forward to incorporating your feedback in our design work in 2008. If you did not get the chance to attend the conference, you can still provide product input. We'll be doing more usability testing this year, and you can participate in the lab, or remotely via a web conference. If interested, drop us a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up here to be a tester for our other products: http://www.notes.net/usability
We're currently wrapping up our first release of Lotus Sametime Advanced, which introduces persistent chat rooms, new topic-based community chat tools that help you to create and reuse knowledge identified during chat sessions, and an "Instant Share" tool for screen sharing and remote control built directly into the Sametime chat window. Look for this new product by the end of Q1.
Since plug-ins can contribute new actions to the context and tools menus, these menus can quickly get very large. Our new products and upcoming releases will add even more actions, and we're looking for space to consolidate in the menus. I realize the "Alert Me When" actions are frequently used, however we could free up two lines in the menu if we condense these three into one pull right menu as shown in the screen below. How do people feel about this? Does the value in the space saved warrant the extra mouse movement into the pull right menu:
Just curious, how many of you use the nested groups feature in the contact list? If so, how many groups have "subgroups" and how many levels of subgroups is the most that one of your top level groups has?
I have some questions for our fans of the Primary Contacts panel: Do you use the panel instead of the main contact list, or as a supplement to it? How would you feel if we integrated primary contacts as one of multiple views of your contacts which you could select, to display in the single contact panel, to save some space for your other plug-in panels? Do you like having primary contacts as a second view that can be seen at the same time as your full contact list?
As we approach the end of 2008, 'tis the season to start looking ahead to Lotusphere. I look forward to the opportunity to meet you in person if you are attending in 2009.
I'll be presenting information on Sametime Advanced features, and I'd like to include information about best practices and real world examples of how Sametime Advanced is helping you to meet your business objectives. If you have any examples of how you are using Sametime Advanced in your organization, or desciptions of new extensions, customizations or deployment configurations you would like to share, please e-mail me at email@example.com, and we can help our fellow Sametime community members in mindshare at this year's Lotusphere and throughout the new year.
The Lotus Design Team is here at Lotusphere, with a user experience and usability lab, in room Asia 4 of the Dolphin Hotel. Stop by and test drive new product interfaces, and future prototypes, and give us feedback on your experiences with existing products. I'm in the lab, showing new interfaces for a browser-based version of Sametime IM, Sametime Advanced, and an iPhone interface for Sametime IM. I also invite you to attend a deep dive on Sametime Advanced, where I'll be covering UI features, and developer Alan Cooke will be providing architecture and implementation best practices. The deep dive is tomorrow at 4:15, session title ID405, in the Dolphin N. Hemisphere (rooms A-C).
Amy Travis is also in the lab, showcasing 8.5 Sametime eMeetings.
We're also giving away a free registration to Lotusphere 2010 in a raffle - the entry requirements are that you stop by the lab and test drive one of the many Lotus products showcased there by the actual product designers.
Looking forward to meeting you, and reinvigorating this blog in 2009!
Do any of you connect to multiple server communities, and if so, do you enable the community icon in the contact list? We are re-evaluating this design element and want to know more about why you choose to show it. If we were to remove this preference option, and therefore, the display of the icon from the contact list and the business card, would you miss it? Would it prevent you achieving a goal with the contact list?
You may have heard about our latest release of Sametime 8.5, which focuses on numerous improvements to our emeetings capabilities. Now you can take advantage of reservationless meetings, and access meetings easily through a new panel in the Sametime content list. Read more about the meeting improvements here: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/sametime/web-conferencing.html.
While meetings are in the spotlight for this release, there are a few new views in the Contact List that I'll mention. We've heard you ask for an easy way to view your recent contacts, and now you can. From the Primary Contacts panel, use the view menu in the panel title to switch to the new "recent contacts" or "frequent contacts" view. This helps you quickly start chats with those you talk to the most, or find someone new who you might not remember from a chat a few days ago. You can also adjust whether to show the contacts as a list or photo.
What are your thoughts about the Sametime status icons for contacts who are logged into Sametime on a mobile device? Does this effect your decision to start a chat with them? Do you need to know they are on a mobile device?
The Lotus User Experience Team is looking for people who share files in online meetings to participate in a brief study.
seek your input on what is important to you when you share files from
your local system, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections, LotusLive, or other
file sharing applications in Sametime Meetings. Your responses will be
used to assist us as we consider how to improve file sharing in online
meetings. Rate the 16 features at http://tinyurl.com/files-in-online-mtgs
Question for users of Sametime Advanced- Are you using the FAQ feature for Chat Rooms and Skill Tap broadcasts? If so, how many FAQs are you seeing for individual chat rooms and broadcast communities? What are the maximum numbers you are seeing, and is it common for the number of FAQs to grow larger than, say 5, for an individual chat room or broadcast community?
The Sametime contact list and chat windows display a status bar at the very bottom. This status bar is an extension that can be written to by third parties. I'm curious to know how you may be using this extension and if you could provide examples of the content that you are writing to this space.
Hi, We're looking for input and your thoughts about opening meeting room windows. If you are using the Sametime web-based meeting room manager to find/search for a meeting room to join, do you want to open the meeting room in a new window, new browser tab (if your browser is set to use tabs) or reload the room in your current browser view when you click the join meeting button?
Hi, Some of you may have seen the Connections business card used in the embedded version of the Sametime livenames in Lotus Notes. The business card appears when you hover over a livename with your mouse cursor. This business card shows the contact's photo as set in Lotus Connections. The Sametime "Primary Contacts" panel allows you to set your own custom photo for a person. What are your thoughts about how this should relate to the business card? Which photo should you see in other places where the livenames and business card appear outside of primary contacts (such as the inbox, or regular Sametime contact list?)
Hello, The Lotus User Experience Research team is gathering information on how you use and manage your contacts, as well as your thoughts on the future of contact management. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey and provide us with input to the future design direction of Contacts.
The Lotus User Experience team is looking for people who collaborate with people outside their company, company, institution, agency, university, etc. If you work with clients, partners, colleagues, or service providers outside your company or institution, we are interested in understanding your goals and the tools you are using to collaborate.
Please take a few minutes to complete a brief survey (https://www.ibm.com/survey/oid/wsb.dll/s/ag2cd). In 5 – 10 minutes, you can provide us with invaluable insights into your goals, the tools you use to collaborate for work, and the importance of various collaboration tools.
If you know others who would be interested in participating in the research in organizations such as sales, marketing, customer relations, or procurement, please forward this invitation to them.
Thanks in advance for your help! Velda Bartek Lotus User Experience Research
For those of you who use Sametime on mobile smartphones, do you find yourselves needing to connect to multiple server communities? If so could you describe how often this occurs, and how many communities you need to connect to?
We've had some requests to better differentiate the server community icons shown in the My Status toolbar, and the contact list (if you choose to turn them on in the contact list preferences). These are used to help users know which contacts belong to different server communities, as well as what your current status is set to for each community.
Do you have any thoughts about the following proposal:
We're hoping to see you this year at Lotusphere! Here is a list of Sametime UX breakout sessions.
ID501: What's New in IBM Lotus Sametime Amy Travis and Rob Ingram Tuesday, Feb 1. 1:30 - 2:30 PM
ID504: IBM Lotus Sametime Mobile: Native Meetings and Messaging Joe Scherpa and Steve Babin Tuesday, Feb 1. 4:45 - 5:45 PM ID507: SUT Today and Tomorrow Tracee Wolf and David Marshak Wednesday, Feb 2. 10:00 -11:00 AM
ID503: Lotus Sametime Meetings: Today, Tomorrow and Beyond Amy Travis and Ron Pontrich Wednesday, Feb 2. 1:30 - 2:30 PM
ID510: Using Voice and Video in IBM Lotus Sametime Jodi Rexford and Tracee Wolf Wednesday, Feb. 2. 3:00 - 4:00 PM
We've had some requests to change the default icons used to represent the different the server communities, so that when new communities are added, we don't show the same icon across the status bar at the top of the client. We are looking into a full refresh of the default community icon set.
Here is one set that we are considering. Do you have any comments on the following? (the preference to show them in the contact list is enabled in this example as well)
Hi, If you are a desktop user in a meeting room, would you want to know if a participant was using a smartphone? If you were mobile, would you want others to know you are mobile? Should there be any difference for smartphones vs. tablets? Thanks, -Joe
Listen to an overview of the Sametime sessions in our Unified Communications and Collaboration podcast. A great podcast to listen to on the plane to help you figure out what sessions to attend at Lotusphere 2011! Our product managers and designers provide a sneak peak at each of the sessions.
We've all been busy preparing our talks, demos, prototypes, mockups, surveys, breakout sessions, and more and we're ready to see you next week in Orlando for Lotusphere 2011. It is going to be great - we are all incredibly excited!
Amy Travis - Sametime Meeting Rooms, and general Sametime integration cross product integration Tracee Wolf - Sametime Telephony Jodi Rajaniemi - Voice and Video in -Sametime Meetings Velda Bartek - Usability and Research Joe Scherpa - Sametime Instant Messaging, Sametime Advanced, Sametime Mobile IM and Meeting Rooms
First ever - Meet the Design team in a Chalk Talk!
We are having a "Chalk Talk" on Tuesday , Feb. 1, and 10:00 AM in the Usability Lab (Asia 4 in the Dolphin Hotel) where you can meet team members and see the current design questions we are tackling.
If you can't make it this year, sign up for user feedback and research activities (in person and remote!): www.ibm.com/software/ucd/lotusur
I'm off to pack my bags after one more dry run of the mobile breakout session...
Take a look at the upcoming Sametime IM apps for Android and iPhone, and the Meeting Room app for Blackberry. We have a few look and feel designs and icon sets to test out and we want to know what you think!
I'm thinking about status settings and how they affect behavior.
you find the "In a meeting" status helpful? Does it change how you
interact with other people, when you see that status by their name? For example, are you less (or more!) likely to IM someone if they have that status?
currently support 4 settings: Available, Away, In a Meeting, and Do Not
Disturb. Do you ever wish we had more settings? If so, what would you
want to have available?
You are on the phone with a co-worker, and while you are on the phone with that coworker, you also open a chat with that same co-worker.
Conversely, you are chatting with a co-worker, and decide to have a phone call, but you still use the chat channel with that co-worker while on the phone with him or her.
If these sound familiar to you, I'd like to hear from you! (And if they don't match how you work, I'd be interested to hear that, too!)
I'm especially curious to know what you are doing in the chat window that you can't do via the phone. Transfer files? Screen captures? Type something that your phone partner is having trouble understanding? Send links? Type something that you don't want to say out loud? :-)
Hi, I'm Lauren, the lead end-user writer for IBM Sametime. Amy and I are going to spend the next few days covering some of the cool new features in the 8.5.2 release.
Today I wanted to tell you about using audio and video in Sametime meetings that open in a web browser.
With Sametime 8.5.2, meeting rooms that open in a web browser now have many of the same audio and video features as do meeting rooms that open in a Sametime window. This means that people who join meetings from outside your company, or people who don't have the Sametime client, can participate in audio/video calls.
If your company has these capabilities, when you are in a meeting room that opens in a web browser, you can use the call icons under the
Voice and Video area of the meeting room to call in to your meeting and then perform
For example, here's what you might see under Voice and Video if you are the room owner or a room manager; click the Green phone icon to start the call.
And, here's what you might see after the call has
started - icons to hang up the call, put the the call on mute and so much more:
Note: The specific
call icons that the meeting room owner sees depends on
the call capabilities you have and whether or not you are the
meeting room owner.
With Sametime 8.5.2, we've introduced a great new security feature, "managed access," that lets people join your meeting rooms only when you or a room manager is there.
You can select this option either when creating a new meeting room or by changing the room settings of an existing meeting room.
This picture shows where this setting appears when you create a new meeting room:
This same feature is available for meetings accessed from a web browser: People who try to join your meeting when you're not there are put in a "waiting room", and they must wait until you're there before they can see any content in the room.
Use this feature whenever you don't want people in your meeting room when you're not there!
As a follow-up to the earlier entry on status settings, we would like your feedback on how you use instant message status
information when you contact others in a business environment. This
brief survey should only take a few minutes to complete. Your input is
very important to our process and will be used in combination with other
data to influence additional user experience work.
Sametime 8.5.2 now supports "widgets" and recognized names and numbers. If you have this capability, this means you can hover your mouse over an underlined name or number in chat history or an open chat window - or even in IBM Notes, such as in a Notes calendar invitation - to perform additional actions on that name or number. For example, you can click an underlined telephone number or name to select an option to start a call.
Some great new features are in place for chat history in Sametime 8.5.2:
View all chats in the order they've been received
Files and links are pulled into their own tab, for easy tracking
When searching in chat history, restrict your search to entries from a single person
Here are some pictures to illustrate these features: In addition, system administrators can turn off presence in the chat history window, with this preference (set in plugin_customization.ini or the managed-settings.xml):
With Sametime 8.5.2, we've made it easy for everyone to see who is the active speaker during a call with multiple people. In the picture below, the orange frame around Amadou Alain's picture shows that currently he is the active speaker on this call:
If multiple people are talking, each speaker's image will be framed.
With Sametime 8.5.2, there are some new features that will help meeting room owners and managers manage their meetings.
First, we've added a new End Meeting button in the global toolbar so that meeting room owners
or managers can simply click the button to close the meeting room. This
action ends the meeting for all participants, so they no longer are in the room, and no longer see any room content. The room owner (or manager, depending on who presses the button) stays in the room, so they can be ready for their next meeting.
Here's what this new button looks like in the toolbar:
We've also added a feature that allows meeting room owners and managers to remove a participant from a meeting. From
within a meeting room, a room owner or manager simply right-clicks a
participant's name to remove that person from the meeting:
Users who are removed will see a notification that they've been removed, and they will no longer see the content of the meeting room.
When someone is removed from a room, there may be a "lockout" time, during which that person will not be able to re-enter the room. System administrators set this timeout period on a per-server level, using this configuration setting:
With Sametime 8.5.2, meeting rooms that open in a browser window have significant enhancements, so you can do almost everything you can do when using a meeting room that opens in a Sametime window. These enhancements include:
Audio/video and telephony capabilities - Depending on the call capabilities available to you, in a meeting room, click the and select to join the audio call using
your computer, telephone, or video device (if video is available). When setting up your own meeting rooms, you can also choose to use audio/video and telephony for your meetings. See this blog posting for information about the new support for audio and video features in meeting rooms that open in a browser window.
The ability to create and send polls - In the meeting room Library, click the Create a Poll icon to create a new poll, or click Send Poll on an existing poll to send it to meeting participants. After the poll closes, the results are posted to the Discussion area of the meeting room.
Highlighter and pointer tools when sharing slides - In a meeting room, click Tools to select a color to highlight slides you are presenting.
Jump-to slide navigation - When sharing a document, type in a number to jump directly to that page: