After the initial excitement of being able to get Workplace Collaboration Services up and running wore off, it was time to explore some more. First let me say that my experience with WCS 2.5 was not great and I'm spoilt by Notes client and Domino server installs. WCS installations are still very complicated, and if you miss one step you're likely to have to start from scratch again or spend hours trying to figure out where you messed up. In fact although I got the Workplace Managed Client running on my laptop quite easily, I still can't get it working on my desktop - it goes through the entire installation and then fails trying to find a plugin on the server which is definitely there. For anyone who's criticized Notes error messages, I think Java error messages make the Notes error messages come out glowing in terms of being user friendly. Then again, after 10 years with Notes I'm biased!

If anyone's wondering why I'm focusing on the Workplace Managed Client (WMC) it's because I believe in the not so distant future the lines between the WMC and Notes client will blur to the point where the WMC is the Notes client. Don't take that as official word - its just my personal opinion. After seeing some of the features in the WMC, I can't wait for that to happen. Some of the productivity tools included in WMC (and I believe to be included in Hannover) are pretty good. To get to these you can click on the "Documents" icon in the Switcher/sidebar. For example, you can create project plans, presentations, documents and spreadsheets within the WMC.

I created a few folders and added some files and then clicked on Tools->Synchronize thinking it would replicate with the server and.....nothing. Discovered you have to click on the little twistie next to the Document pane to synchronize Document libraries. Tried that and.....nothing! Went back to the browser, accessed the portal, clicked on "New library" and created one there, then back to the WMC and tried the synchronize and it showed the folder I created using the browser in my WMC. I guess in an unintuitive way that made sense - a user would want their own folder which shouldn't sync, and a shared folder that should. You can drag and drop files between the folders and it all seemed to work well once I had figured that out. The screenshot below shows the "Documents" view in WMC with a project plan open for editing and the Synchronize option .highlighted to sync this with the server.

The second screenshot I've included shows a presentation being edited in the WMC. Note that this is all done without requiring any of the Microsoft tools. I believe you can also use the IBM productivity tools without the WMC, but I'm not sure.


A few other points about the WMC:
- The Activity explorer looks like it's still half baked. I'm sure all the features they explored in the Hannover demos will make it in the next release of WMC, but for now it seems limited in its use - partly because you have to be connected to the server to create new activities and you have to define anything as shared activity. You cannot use it to track your own stuff.
- I'll explore Team Spaces in more detail in another blog because that requires more research
- While using the Notes 7 plugin with WMC I also found a couple of drawbacks: you cannot switch locations like with the standard Notes client. The only thing you can do is switch ids. You also cannot switch to another portal user id or switch to using a different portal server. For developers and folks who work with multiple clients, I'm not sure how that's supposed to be resolved other than installing another WMC. I suspect those features will make it to a future release as well. I also didn't realize how much I used the smarticons now that I don't have them in the WMC!

That's it for now - once again I hope this will encourage others to give Workplace a shot as well.

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