IBM Connections Information for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)
Last modified date: December 9, 2011
Copied from Connections Cloud wiki and rebranded from LotusLive to Connections, October 2014.
Original Author: Martha S. Hoyt, IBM Product Manager
Connections is a social business platform that delivers cloud-based collaboration and social networking services. These services are accessible to ISVs for extension to another cloud or on-premises service or application. Connections provides high-value collaboration services such as: file-sharing (Files), project tracking (Activities), contact management (Contacts, Profiles), Communities, email and online meetings.
This document describes why and how an ISV can integrate their services or applications with Connections. It is primarily targeted as ISV developers, but can be leveraged by any type of developer.
I. Benefits of Integration with LotusLive:
The most fundamental benefit for ISVs is leveraging Connections services to enhance cloud/online or on-premises applications. The additional functionality available through Connections can strengthen an ISV business case and open an application to a wider customer audience. An ISV can add integration to one or more services through an Application Programming Interface (APIs) and/or User Interface (UI) extension points.
A. Example ISV Use Cases: (see these samples, review entire API set for more ideas)
1. Files: Use Connections Files to share and track documents outside a customer's internal application and help them share more content securely with vendors and other third parties. Connections users can invite anyone to read, comment or revise documents, they don't always have to be subscribers.
2. Meetings: Instantly launch an online meeting from your service or application, invite others to join, take notes and start tracking action items. Post presentation files and share with the meeting participants.
3. Activities: Create a project space that anyone can join to share information, documents and to-dos.
4. Contacts: Access a user's contacts in Connections to help simplify invitations to your service or application. LotConnections usLive can synchronize contacts with both Microsoft Outlook and IBM Notes.
5. Email: Point an application to the email environment as with any other Domino server. Customize the email template to improve an enterprise's productivity only through special email features.
6 Communities: Create a new community and add members to it which enhances the social business aspect of the application, enabling members and participants to interact efficiently through discussion forums, project activities and private sub-communities.
B. Overview - Making the Integrated Application Available to Users:
1. An application can call into Connections APIs to pull data from LotusConnections Live services and Connections can link to external application from its UI extensions.
2. An ISV or third party Application: If an ISV's application meets the criteria for deployment, the application or service can be listed in the Integrated Third Party App catalog so that any company in the the Connections directory can enable and use the service. The catalog is visible only to Connections company administrators in the Administration console. Note: Subscriptions or licenses to the application or service will need to be purchased by or made available to the customer directly from the ISV. IBM does not have a way to resell ISV applications at this time.
3. An Enterprise or Organization Internal Application:
a. Background. An organization is the highest level object or construct in the Connections environment. An organization must have at least one administrator. The administrator can add users and assign roles to users. A user can be an ordinary user, an administrator or an application developer.
b. In the administration area of the organization, internal applications can be registered by administrators or application developers and be accessible to any other application developer or user in that organization. Any application on this list is accessible only by users in that company. It will not be available on the list of publically available commercial applications.
c. In addition to registration of an enterprise application, the developer may create extension points in the user interface of their company. More information is available lower in the document.
II. Who can participate?
A. IBM Business Partners: ISV partners who want to build integration to Connections and make their integration available to other customers and users of Connections are required to be IBM Business Partners and should be at the Advanced or Premier Business Partner Level. There is a mandatory review process for every integrated ISV application before it can be made available to the Connections environment.
B. Business Application Developers: Any company may develop integration with their own Connections company and user data. There is no external review process for this type of application or service integration because it only impacts the individual company.
III. Developing integration to LotusLive
There are two environments to work with when building integration with Connections , the Production (http://www.lotuslive.com">www.lotuslive.com) referred to as E3 and the Integration Development and Test environment (http://www.test.lotuslive.com"> www.test.lotuslive.com ) referred to as C1.
A. Choose the right environment to get started based on your requirements
1. Connections E3 : This is a production environment. You may start developing in this environment if you want to do integration from Connections to an external app or service when the data or information you want resides inside of Connections . Use this environment when you want to work with your company's data only. You may use the Connections APIs to access the services of Connections and the data for your specific company. There are also user interface extension points available for this environment. You may build integration to another service or application, but it cannot be made available to any other users of Connections except those in the specific company where the service or application is registered.
2. Connections C1: This is a pre-release environment with no service level or free technical support available. Use this environment when you have a solution that you want to make commercially available to a broader customer audience, not just a single company. And, you would use this environment for developing solutions for both integration into Connections and from Connections . APIs and UI extension points are available.
- Note: Development can start on C1 with your own company account where you can add users and files for testing and development purposes. After development of your integration, you will work with the Connections product team to make the integration to your service or application available to other companies on C1. Then, after sufficient testing, you will submit your integration to the Connections product team for security and usability reviews prior to deployment to the ISV catalog or Marketplace.
B. The Connections Production environment (E3): http://www.lotuslive.com"> www.lotuslive.com
http://www.lotuslive.com/en/businesspartners/info|www.lotuslive.com/en/businesspartners/info]] (see item 2. under “Becoming a Business Partner” on the right side of the web page)
2. Development and testing application integration to E3: Using your app and “Internal Apps”
i. An application which requires data from Connections . Consider the examples in section I.1.A. Above.
ii. Development of code which leverages the Connections APIs to get the data. (See information in Developer Resources in the wiki: Resources
iii. An Oauth key and secret for your app that you'll put into the code for access to user's data (see 2b. below )
b. Getting an OAuth Key and secret,
- i. Why do you need an OAuth key and secret? Connections uses an Internet standard technology called OAuth to enable a third party to request access to a user's data and for a user to acknowledge and approve that access. This technology enables Connections to maintain enterprise-ready data security.
ii. Go to the Administration Console in your Connections account. This is available to users who have the Administrator role only. The Administrator Console link can be found in the Administrator's account in the upper right corner of the black navigator bar.
iii. Go to the “Internal Apps” page and you'll see “Register App”.
iv. There are more instructions in the Administrator's Help from the Help dropdown in the upper right corner.
3. Making your app or service available to company users or other customers using Connections
LLP@us.ibm.com. The review and deployment process to production for an application or service may take several months due to the review cycles and release schedules.
b. For enterprise developers: Your integrated application can only be made available to the users in your company. There is no review required by the Connections product team. If you want another application to be accessible for your company users inside of Connections, you may use the Organization UI Extensions.
4. Getting Help
a. Technical assistance is available through IBM Developer Resources (IDR) and is fee-based:
If you've already purchased support packs or incidents, here's a link to start:
c. Additional information about the LotusLive APIs and the API Explorer tool is found in the LotusLive Support wiki under Developer Resources
C. The Connections Integration Development and Test environment (C1) : http://www.test.lotuslive.com"> www.test.lotuslive.com )
1. Restrictions: C1 access is only available to IBM Advanced and Premier level Business Partners.
2. Registration: request access on the Connections Business Partner Register Interest Form which can be found here:
e. API Explorer: a. Enables you to interact with the API so you can quickly understand and use the APIs. For each API call, it shows the construction of the request and the response that will be returned. It is available on C1 Connections Labs and soon on E3.
6. Functional Testing:
You will be required to do functional verification testing (FVT) of your integration with Connections and provide your test cases to the Connections FVT team for independent verification as part of C1 Certification. The tests by your team must be completed before you may submit your application for broader review by the Connections product team and/or your beta customers.
7. Application or service review by IBM:
When your FVT is complete, you may submit your application to the Connections product team to request a formal review for C1 Certification. You may submit your application by sending an email to LLP@us.ibm.com with “Request for C1 Certification” in the subject line. The response to this email will include an invitation to join a Connections Activity where the tasks for deployment onto C1 will be tracked. C1 Certification includes reviews of your integration by the Connections Product team in the following areas: :
b. use case
c. user experience
d. test plans
e. support plans
f. beta customer plans
8. Deployment to the development and testing environment:
When C1 Certification is complete, you'll be given a date when your application can be made available within the Application catalog on C1. Adding your integrated app to the catalog is necessary to make it available to any beta testers you have and for broader reviews inside C1, if desired. Prior to deployment you will need to provide the following information:
a. name and description of your applications
b. icons and logos in a variety of formats and sizes with permission for IBM to use them on the Web Site and Apps catalog pages
9. Betas on C1:
You are required to have at least one customer test and provide feedback on your integrated application while you are working in C1. Contact LLP@us.ibm.com for best practices and information about running a beta on C1.
10. Support planning:
You are required to work directly with the Connections Level 2 technical support team to determine how customer issues will be directed to you once you have deployed to production. These plans need to be in place at least four weeks prior to production deployment.
11. Deployment to the production environment catalog:
When your integrated app has been thoroughly beta tested and certified on C1, you may contact the Connections product team again via email at LLP@us.ibm.com and with “Request E3 Certification” in the subject line. E3 Certification includes a second pass at the materials provided for C1 Certification for any changes plus:
a. wiki content
b. how-to video
c. customer reference, if available
d. press release plans
With E3 Certification in place, you can be scheduled for deployment in the next logical release of LotusLive. There is an intermediate staging server for verification testing onto which you must deploy your integration prior to final deployment onto E3. When you have E3 Certification, you will receive more information about the LotusLive staging environment.
12. On-going development, deployment and support:
After your application is deployed, it is your responsibility to test against any future changes to the feature set and API set of Connections . The Connections product team will provide information to you in a timely fashion so that you can prepare in advance of any Connections service release dates.