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Inside Mobile Design and User Experience

Thoughts on mobile and social business applications, design, and user experience, by Chris Reckling.

Orlando, FL, also known as Lake Buena Vista, or on my phone location as Bay Lake...Wednesday morning, January 29. It's hump day at IBM Connect - that means the Wednesday night party happened on Tuesday this year at the Hollywood Studios. Everything is turned around! It's been great meeting customers and friends from over the years both in the hallways and in our Design Studio on site in Asia 4. If you are at Connect and haven't made it to the lab, then why not today?? Most people enjoy spending time with the people behind the designs and we love getting feedback and finding out how you get your jobs done. (Plus, we have comfy couches when those feet start to bark at you.)

Here's some photos of the studio we set up - lots of activities there, or just come to have a quick talk or take a survey. What you will witness are many of the techniques we are using in IBM Design Thinking that Phil Gilbert talked about in his keynote speech this morning.

If you are not at Connect and want to participate in a Sametime Meetings survey - try this.

Ron and Kelly prepping for discussions with admins
Image:Update from Connect 2014

Michael's board for understanding a workflow in Exceptional Digital Experience
Image:Update from Connect 2014

Talk to us about collaboration with a scenario map.
Image:Update from Connect 2014

Try out our new Connections mobile app!
Image:Update from Connect 2014

That's it for now. I have a talk - ID401 - at 4:15 today in Dolphin S. Hemisphere III on Connections mobile - 80% demo!

See you around,


Chris Reckling | 29 January 2014 10:04:49 AM ET | | Comments (1) | Permanent Link

IBM Connect is just around the corner - yikes! Once again, the user experience and info management teams will have a lab in Asia 4, to the left of the elevators to the partner showcase - also known as, 'the same place as the previous years'. IBM Design Thinking is a big emphasis for us this year and indeed, across all of IBM. We will have a number of activities in the studio for you to participate in, as well as the usual one on one feedback sessions we typically do.

I will be speaking on Wednesday, 4:15 pm (or 16:15 if you prefer) during What's New in Connections Mobile, with my colleague Baan Slavens (Product Mgr). During that session, we only have 27 slides, including all the obligatory titles, disclaimers, and conclusions!! That means more time for DEMOS. I plan to roll up a comprehensive look at all the things you can do with the current product (which by the way, you can use against the site when you get your IDs), then unveil a look at our 2014 release plans. We are using the IBM Design Thinking tools to plan and execute on this release, so inevitably, you will start to hear us talk differently about our products.

To hear more about IBM Design Thinking, go to Ethan Perry's session, AD102 IBM Design Thinking for IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. Wed at 1:30 pm. Despite the title, the description says: IBM Design thinking focuses on creating great experiences for our users. Come learn how we discover and envision new design concepts to provide a compelling, integrated experience that works for you.

Here's the flyer that will go in the backpacks. The photobooth is back! The mobile team will have a short survey to fill out (on an ipad, of course) to understand when and where you use your device at different times of the day. One of the primary principles of design thinking is to understand the user, so there are a number of interactive activities to help us do that - and they're fun, too!!
Image:Visit the Design Studio at IBM Connect

See you there. If you can't make it to Orlando this year, check back on this blog for reports during the week.


Chris Reckling | 10 January 2014 07:00:00 PM ET | | Comments (1) | Permanent Link

Getting a jump on things, last Friday the Sametime Chat app for Android was updated for Sametime 9. The new apps add audio and video chats so now you can easily move from text chatting to a richer communication mode.

Congratulations to Tyler (our designer) and the dev team for getting this out to the market.

Here are a couple of screenshots of the app for tablets and phones. Dare I note that you must be running Sametime 9 with the appropriate server pieces enabled? You can try it if you have a Greenhouse account by following instructions at this link.

Image:Sametime 9 Chat App for Android   Image:Sametime 9 Chat App for Android

You can see there is a new option on the business card - Voice Chat.

And here are a couple of the tablet screens showing the video chat.

Image:Sametime 9 Chat App for Android

Image:Sametime 9 Chat App for Android



Chris Reckling | 18 November 2013 05:30:00 PM ET | | Comments (2) | Permanent Link

November 5. Today IBM released updates to the Connections app for Apple iOS and Google Android. This update primarily adds support for Connections Content Manager, an alternate file database available in communities. The other features worth noting are an indicator for when the device loses the network connection and support for Mobile Iron on iOS.

In these examples, the Connections Content Manager (CCM) is being used inside a community on the Greenhouse. It adds features to your file sharing such as drafts and approvals. In other aspects, we wanted the files in a library to act just like Connections files do for sharing, liking, previewing, and commenting. The library I am using is called "Contracts" and is part of our sales community.

Image:Connections Mobile 4.5 Now Available
Figure 1. Contracts library selected in the community.

Image:Connections Mobile 4.5 Now Available
Figure 2. File details with approval actions.

Image:Connections Mobile 4.5 Now Available
Figure 3. Android phone list of files and folders.

Image:Connections Mobile 4.5 Now Available
Figure 4. Android phone folder list.

Try it on Greenhouse and would love to hear if you are using this inside your company, too!

Chris Reckling
Mobile UX Lead

Chris Reckling | 5 November 2013 12:30:00 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

Last Friday, IBM released updates to the Connections mobile apps for Android and iOS. The main new features include a much better Media Gallery and Wikis experience. (Android already had the wikis done, so this part is only new on iOS.)

Here are a couple of screens to give you an idea of what it's like. It's a much more immersive experience than we've done before and works well in both tablet and phone form factors. Tapping on a picture brings it full screen with a slider at the bottom (or you can swipe left/right to move from picture to picture).

Image:Connections Mobile 4.4 Now Available

Image:Connections Mobile 4.4 Now Available      Image:Connections Mobile 4.4 Now Available

Wikis are much easier to navigate now, with the full list of pages available on the first screen and being able to go full screen on the iPad is very helpful in reading the content inside the wiki.

Image:Connections Mobile 4.4 Now Available

Look for an update soon which fixes a few problems on iOS 7.

Congrats to the team on the continuous improvement of our mobile apps!!

Chris Reckling
Mobile UX Lead

Chris Reckling | 1 October 2013 10:15:00 AM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

Exciting news! You can now access IBM Docs on your iPad from within the Connections app. You can create and edit documents and view spreadsheets or presentations created with IBM Docs on the desktop. All of the files stay within the Connections app on the device, which removes the worry about information being sent to other apps and potentially to an insecure place.

To get started, you will need to download and update the Connections iOS app from the Apple App Store. Then log in to either IBM SmartCloud (provided your company is entitled to use IBM Docs) or IBM Greenhouse, to try it out. iPad IBM Docs is not yet available for on premises deployments.

IBM Docs is seamlessly integrated with the Files service in Connections. Therefore, go to Files in the left navigation and press the + sign in the upper right to Create a new document. The other option is to create the document on the desktop browser first, then open it for editing on the iPad. Since this isn't a tutorial on how to use it, I will leave you with one important tip: After you have finished editing a document, you must "Publish" it for others to see the new version. We really didn't want to put out a new version every time the doc was saved, so publishing the doc will create the new version.

On the screenshots!
Figure 1 shows the editor open. You can see that 2 people are working on the document, Gardner and Betty. Betty's updates are shown in the pink color. Gardner is on the iPad and Betty is using the desktop browser.
Image:IBM Connections + IBM Docs Mobile = A Match
Figure 1. Co-editing experience.

Figure 2 Shows the comments that Betty has added on the desktop.
Image:IBM Connections + IBM Docs Mobile = A Match
Figure 2. Doc comments.

Figure 3 goes portrait and shows some of the editing controls.
Image:IBM Connections + IBM Docs Mobile = A Match
Figure 3. Bulleted lists.

Figure 4 is the add table dialog box. There are a bunch of pre-defined styles to choose from.
Image:IBM Connections + IBM Docs Mobile = A Match
Figure 4. Adding good looking tables is a snap.

We hope you'll try it out and let us know what you think.

Chris Reckling
Mobile UX

Chris Reckling | 21 July 2013 06:00:00 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

Littleton, MA - Another month, another update to the IBM Connections mobile apps for iOS and Android. There are a number of improvements in this release. In addition to the usual bug fixes and performance improvements, here are a few of the feature updates:

  • Simplified FIles list - there is now a tab at the bottom of the list to switch between Files and Folders. There was a lot of duplication in the drop-down view menu such as "My Files" and "My Folders". Now it's just Files and you can switch to Folders view with the tab.
  • Added Profiles About Me and Tags. You can also tag people and manage your tags as well as search from the tag screen.
  • Share and access folders from a Community.
  • Use client certificates to authenticate with your enterprise.
  • Added Action Required view to Updates on iOS. You can also actually take action from there; for example, to accept a network invitation or community invitation.
  • Some dialog boxes for adding new content have been implemented as native controls. For example, in Activity entries, Blog comments, and wiki comments.
  • Many Connections web URLs that previously switched to open a separate web browser to the full site, will now go to the right service in the mobile app.

Here are a few screen shots to whet your appetite.
Figure 1. Files showing the new view choices, files/folders tab, and details view.
Image:Connections Mobile June Update

Figure 2. New Action Required view on the iPad.
Image:Connections Mobile June Update

Figure 3. These screens show the Android phone version of profile tags and then when you tap a tag, a search is done so you can find other people with the same tag.
Image:Connections Mobile June Update     Image:Connections Mobile June Update

We hope you enjoy these latest updates!

Apple App Store
Google Play

Chris Reckling

Chris Reckling | 28 June 2013 03:30:00 PM ET | | Comments (8) | Permanent Link

Sametime Meetings is an excellent client! You should try it. It works on Greenhouse, SmartCloud (4-4 digit meeting ids), and your own on premises install of Sametime. One problem we seek to solve for end users is that pesky server setup and configuration step - you know, the first step you have to do in most cases (although you can join SmartCloud meetings anonymously if allowed).

Like our other mobile apps, there's an easy solution for admins and help desks. The setup task can be done by the user simply tapping a link provided by the administrator. And, in the meetings app, we'll even make the url for you!

Here's how it works. Set up a server ("Company Meeting Server") in the app in Settings. Then open it as if to edit it and you should see an action button to either copy or email the configuration setting, as in the screenshot below.
Image:Sametime Meetings Mobile Configuration URLs

I emailed myself the configuration URL and got this message:

Please install IBM Sametime Meetings app and open the relevant link below to create a configuration for "".

On Apple devices, use:

On Android devices, use:

The only difference in the URL is the protocol, mainly to ensure that the Android mail clients will turn the text into a clickable link automatically. Because of this limitation, we recommend you create a mobile friendly web page and include one link to configure the app, using the stmeetings:// protocol in your href tag.

Once you tap on the URL, the IBM Meetings client will launch to the server settings page and ask if you want to add a new meeting server. If you OK this, then you can enter your user name and password and be done. If you want to be extra nice and the domain name of your people is always the same, you can add that to the first server parameter, like this in red:


Here is the full table of parameters, but I'd send the email to yourself instead. Don't forget to encode those strings!
This is the only action supported right now.
URL-encoded string
Optional. A user-friendly nickname for the newly created meeting server. If a name is not specified, a default name will be used based on the meeting server host name.
true or false
Determines whether SSL is enabled for this connection. Optional parameter, default value is true.
true or false
Determines whether the username provided is a guest or an authenticated user. If the value is true the username is used as the displayname for the guest. Optional parameter, default value is false.
true or false
Determines whether passwords are remembered for this connection. Applies to both Sametime meeting server and authenticating proxy passwords. Optional parameter, default value is true.
true or false
Determines whether connection requires authentication with a reverse proxy server. Optional, default value is false. If this parameter is not present, but authProxy parm is supplied, it is inferred to be true.
URL-encoded user id, password, proxy address and proxy port
Optional, If present, authProxyEnabled is assumed to be true. Data is formated using :@:
If User and password are omitted, authProxyReuseCredentials is assumed to be true. If port is missing, 80 or 443 will be assumes dependng on ssl setting.
true or false
Optional. If true, reverse proxy authentication will use the Sametime user ID and password. If present, proxy authentication is assumed to be enabled.

Thanks to engineering for the good spec to use as the basis for this post.


Chris Reckling | 30 May 2013 10:30:00 AM ET | | Comments (1) | Permanent Link

With the release of the Connections mobile 4.1 apps, there are new command urls added that developers can use to call into the apps. Many of the new commands allow you to launch a specific view of a service, go to a specific entry, or show a service inside a community.
Check out my previous entries for the full set:
The Basics - launch and configuration.
Additional Commands added to launch specific services.

Update: Here's the official technote with the updated info all in one place.

Here's a brief summary of the new ones. Remember, they all start with ibmscp:// and you can also specific a particular account to use.

ibmscp://  (Open default activities view)
ibmscp:// (Open My activities)
ibmscp:// (view n/a on Android, ios only)
ibmscp://  (Open Completed activities)
ibmscp://  (Open specific Activity entry)
ibmscp:// (Open Activity)


ibmscp:// (Default view)
ibmscp:// (Open My Watchlist view on android, n/a on iOS)
ibmscp:// (Open My bookmarks view)
ibmscp:// (Open Public bookmarks view)
ibmscp:// (Open Notifications Received view)
ibmscp:// (Open Notifications Sent view)
ibmscp:// (Create a bookmark for the specified url)


ibmscp:// (Open public Communities)
ibmscp:// (Open My Communities)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Media Gallery)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Feeds Gallery)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Events)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Activities)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Blog)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Ideation Blog)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Bookmarks)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Files)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Forums)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Community Wiki)


ibmscp:// (Default view)
ibmscp:// (Open Latest Entries view)
ibmscp:// (Open My Bogs list)
ibmscp:// (Open Public blogs)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Blog)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Blog entry)


ibmscp:// (Open topic)
ibmscp:// (Open Forum)


ibmscp:// (Default view)
ibmscp:// (Open My Files)
ibmscp:// (Open public files)
ibmscp:// (Open shared with me files)
ibmscp:// (Open shared with me files)
ibmscp:// (Open My Folders)
ibmscp:// (Open Folders shared with me)
ibmscp:// (Open Public folders)
ibmscp:// (Open specific File)
ibmscp:// (Open specific Folder)

Profiles (additional key)

ibmscp:// (Open Profile by uid)
ibmscp:// (Open Profile by email)
ibmscp:// (Open Profile by key)


ibmscp:// (Open Specific Wiki)
ibmscp://  (Open Specific Wiki Page)

Have fun and let us know how you are using them and what else is needed.

Chris Reckling

Chris Reckling | 29 May 2013 08:45:00 AM ET | | Comments (7) | Permanent Link

IBM has released updates to the Connections mobile apps for Android and iOS - version 4.1. This one has some additional features and a handful of UI enhancements in it. In addition, there is broader support for SmartCloud Engage, including Communities (FIles, Forums, Bookmarks) and People.
As is my custom on this blog, here are a handful of screenshots that show off the new features.

1. You can use @mentions in a status update post. We'll look up the name locally first, then search the server. It's fast.
Image:Connections Mobile May Update

2. In Files, we have gone to this action bar UI on the bottom of details screens, putting the most common actions a tap away. The download action is right there, too, and not hidden like before. (Downloads is also at the top level navigation, making it easier to find than before - you can see it on the iPad screen below. The FIles list itself has a dropdown "action drawer". The reason we did this is to optimize for the most common use case, which is to actually view the file. Now, tapping on the file will attempt to view it; tap on the dots to show the menu to download or go to the file details.
Image:Connections Mobile May Update    Image:Connections Mobile May Update

3. Likes on posts and comments can be done in the post details.
Image:Connections Mobile May Update     Image:Connections Mobile May Update

4. Target posts to a person or community. When you choose one of those options, then you can pick which person or community.
Image:Connections Mobile May Update

5. In the small things make a big difference department, we added a Recently Viewed Communities view to the Community list to make it easier to get back to a community you may have just been working on. We put the buttons here below the tab (also in profiles), and there's an alert if you accidentally hit the Leave button.
 Image:Connections Mobile May Update

6. Attachments in forums are accessible now on the device. Here you go to More Actions... then choose to View Attachments to get to the next screen.
Image:Connections Mobile May Update    Image:Connections Mobile May Update

Apple App Store (US)
Google Play

As mentioned in the app store descriptions, there are a bunch of new command urls for you to explore. For example, now you can open a community and navigate to particular app in the community. I will update this blog when the technote is updated with the details on that.

Chris Reckling

Chris Reckling | 15 May 2013 05:30:00 PM ET | | Comments (0) | Permanent Link

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