Last October the IBM has released CR3 for IBM Connections 6.0. This update centered our efforts on streamlining the user experience and providing a more contemporary UI with features focused on usability, engagement, and maintenance. It started delivering what we had promised since IBM Think last year and focussed on customer feedback and requirements.
We brought new and quick access to recently used Communities as well as Files, making it much easier to get to the content a user mostly likely is looking for. A major change was to include ICEC for communities as the Highlights app for free to Connections. This allows community manager to create very compelling community landing pages with all the information that a user would need.
Another thing we promised last year was that you do not have to wait for new features and functions that long anymore. We intend to release one CR per quarter, with CR3 in Q4 2018 starting and CR4 following in Q1 2019. This short release cycle also means, that we will not wait anymore for a new functionality to be shiny and glittering until we release it, but as soon as it delivers an additional use to the end user. One example of this was the recently viewed communities. Using the Component Packs Elasticsearch Connections is able to analyze where everyone left off and to offer your last used Communities as a primary view when coming back, as well as quick filtering. A much asked for feature since years.
As of today CR4 has been released. Let me share some outcomes from Connections 6 CR4:
#New Community Catalog Page
With CR4 we build on top of CR3 and are now delivering a brand-new community catalog page experience. The design is following the Orient Me experience, with a large quick filtering bar on the top and a nice community list, that allows you to have a quick glance at what the communities are about and of course to enter them. For a cleaner interface, the “old” options to sort by “I am owner”, “I am member” etc. have been hidden behind a button, as they are usually only needed in specific use cases.
One feature, that has not been talked about in the past, comes almost hidden, but actually has a great impact on the usage of Wikis, as especially editing event attendee lists etc. with multiple persons was painful, as people tended to overwrite other people’s entries when editing a wiki at the same time. Of course, no content was lost, as each version was stored, but still they had to be joined afterwards. Now, when you open a Wiki and start editing it, it will be automatically locked to prevent other users to edit it at the same time.
#Sharing Files via Link
Another great new addition is the ability to share a file via a link with other Connections users. While of course you can share files directly with other people by changing the access rights or make a file public for everyone in the company to access it, there is a use case in between that we so far have not been able to fulfil: You sometimes had a large group that you wanted to share a file with, but did not want to make it fully public. Adding 50 user manually can be very time consuming. Now all you need to do is create the Share by Link URL and sent it to your team. Once they click on that link and authenticate they will
be added as readers to the document and* gain access to the file. *Edit: As Stoeps pointed out will the user not be permanently added as reader, but gain temporary access, as long as the link is active. This means once the sharing link is deactivated, no one except people with explicit access will be able to obtain the document anymore.
Please note that in CR4 it will not, yet, be possible to share via link to someone anonymous (e.g. some External who does not have a Connections account).
# Modern Newsletter and Notifications
In IBM Connections the newsletter so far was, nicely put, a very pragmatically handled feature. It was about getting information / notifications to the user. The design and the customisation possibilities had clearly stayed some years behind, though. With CR4 this is to change, as we have introduced a new, sleek and modern design, that is much easier to read and act upon. For administrators it also allows for much better customisation options to fit them to their corporate design.
These were the big and very noticeable changes in CR4. Of course, there are still many more improvements, such as:
- Being able to unsubscribe from emails from a community
- Continuous scrolling in Files and Community Files
- Improved consistency in the handling of deleting files and restoring them from trash in Files and Community Files
- Customizer enhancements
- And more
This is a great step forward and I can’t wait to hear at Think what’s being planned for CR5!