Widget dashboards

Last month on dadams.co.uk we discussed IBM Lotus Notes 8.0.1’s widget and live text capabilities. Yesterday I sat down with my frolleague Chris Freestone to discuss what we are going to cover in our Lotusphere Comes To You session ‘Why mash-ups matter’. We’re going to talk about Notes 8.0.1 widgets, composite applications, and the forthcoming IBM Lotus Mashups product, so we reviewed what we had in terms of widgets and spent a while experimenting. Chris knows a thing or two about application development (see here) so he showed me some widget and live text options I hadn’t looked at yet.

One thing I hadn’t really explored was dashboards. A dashboard comes about from taking the results from a number of widget-based actions and displaying them in one Notes screen. We ran out of time, but Chris inspired me to come up with something…

postcodelivetext.gifOne widget we already had was ‘live postcodes to Google Maps’. This was constructed in two parts… a recogniser for UK postcodes and a wired action. The postcode in a Notes e-mail or appointment (or any document) becomes live, and clicking on the postcode plots the location on a Google Map. Very cool, and fairly easy. I started thinking about other web sites which used postcodes in a query fashion, but I wanted something we could show to business users. Finding the nearest branch of Argos could be useful, but not in this situation. So I decided on finding the nearest NCP car park and looking at the local weather. These were configured as actions and associated with the postcode recogniser.

I kept the Google Map action as the default, but right-clicking on the live postcode brings up the option to place the three items into a dashboard (see the slides embedded here, but view it on the SlideShare web site for a closer look).

Sorry – slides no longer available.

This afternoon I went to visit John and Robert at IBM Premier Partner LAN 2 LAN for Lotusphere Comes To You planning (they’re co-presenting the session on ‘Putting collaboration into context’). I told John about the Notes 8.0.1 widgets, and within seconds we’d dragged and dropped a set of widgets off my USB stick onto his Notes widget panel. I’m sure John won’t find me telling you he was overawed at the simplicity of adding the widgets and the way they immediately worked… he found an e-mail with a postcode and tried out the dashboard. Then he tried the Google Translate widget (select the text in an e-mail, select the languages, and the translation is carried out before your eyes) – useful because Robert is Swedish (although is English is perfect). After a few “oh wows” John gathered up his laptop and bounded off to show other colleagues in the office with an excited look on his face. Another widget convert, and rightly so.

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