Social File Sharing with IBM Connections Desktop Plugin
An often overlooked aspect of the IBM Connections social business platform is its ability to integrate itself with many different parts of the working environment. If you’re a Lotus Notes user you may be aware that there is an Activities sidebar. Did you know, though, that from the Greenhouse catalog you can also install the Files and Status updates sidebar to make dragging and dropping files in and out of emails much easier?
Even if you’re not a Lotus Notes user, you still have some great options for making handling files social. One of the best of these is the Desktop Plugin also available from Greenhouse.
It works on most flavors of Microsoft Windows and provides a file-server, tree-based view of the files you have access to across all the IBM Connections environments you might have. For me, I use it to access the files in the Seric internal Connections instance and also Greenhouse.
After you have installed the plugin, you see the IBM Connections logo on your desktop and also in the list of destinations in Windows Explorer:
Right click on the IBM Connections name on the left hand side to start the process of adding a connection to your system:
In the URL field, enter the URL to your Connections implementation. Here are a couple that I use which you might also benefit from:
- IBM Greenhouse: https://greenhouse.lotus.com
- IBM SmartCloud for Social Business: https://apps.na.collabserv.com
For your own installation and for IBM Greenhouse, I have found setting the Authentication Type to Basic works. For IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, set the Authentication type to TAM Authentication.
Enter your user name and password for the service you’re configuring. If all goes well, you’ll see a large icon appear in the Windows Explorer window:
The Plugin recognizes SmartCloud and gives it a different logo. Click on the Connections system you want to access, in this case Greenhouse. You’ll see something like:
These icons should be self-explanatory and give you access to your files wherever they may be throughout the Connections system you’re working with. Particularly useful is the fact that the files contained within Communities can be accessed by drilling into the Communities themselves.
Working with Files
Adding and removing files is as simple as dragging and dropping them from wherever they are on your computer into wherever you want them to go in whatever Connections environment you have set up. It’s also really easy to use the right-click action in Explorer wherever you are to add files to Connections:If you already have a file in Connections which you want to access or work with, simply drill-down to it in the Plugin and then right-click. The context sensitive menu pops up:
This lets you perform a wide array of functions, such as:
- Opening the file with an application on your computer
- Opening the file in a browser
- Uploading a new version of the same file
- Sharing the file.
- Seeing what the sharing settings of the file are:
- Locking the file to prevent edits
- Looking at the version history of the file:
Clicking on Properties shows the file properties dialog box which gives you enormous control of the file right from your Windows desktop:
Adding a File
When you want to upload a file, you can, as describe above right click on it or drag it into the place you want it to go. When you do this, the Plugin asks what additional information you’d like to provide for the file:
This lets you tag the file, decide who can see it, and control how they can use it once you’ve uploaded it.
This brief look at the Connections Desktop Plugin hopefully gives you a taste for the kind of control you can have over the files that your Connections, Greenhouse or SmartCloud for Social Business system gives you. While it might not provide the most heavy-duty document management facilities you might find in the likes of Filenet, I have found that much of this is enough to provide a level of collaboration and control which lots of organizations have previously struggled with.