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?