Reflections on Engage by Blug

Engage - probably the best user group in the world
Engage – probably the best user group in the world

I was very lucky to attend and speak at the fantastic Engage conference this week. I found it a truly uplifting experience.I have been full time in Notes / XPages for 14 years now but have only been able to get to LotusSphere / Connect once. These regional events are where I get my enthusiasm and ideas batteries recharged and come away with some great ideas about how to move forward with the ICS platform.

The things that impressed me the most were :

The Community

The fantastic community spirit amongst those who attended. I am not sure what Theo puts in the wine ( maybe it is just the wine ) but the friendly collaborative spirit of the event was great. I learned more in 36 hours through both the formal and informal sessions than I have in the preceding 3 months. I also came away re-enthused about the community, the product and IBM.

Theo inspiring all
Theo inspiring all


I was very impressed at IBM’s commitment to the event. There was obviously some much needed funding from IBM but it was the way in which Kramer Reeves, Pete Janzen, Martin Donnelly, Susan Bulloch and Mark Wallace ( the little known Mastering XPages author ) made themselves available that struck me the most. I frequently spotted them talking with a whole cross section of customers and BPs throughout the event rather than being locked away in conference calls or taking in the tourist sights.

ibm listening
Kramer in particular was keen to receive any XPages and Connections case studies if you have them.


OpenNTF was everywhere. They didn’t have a stand but they were mentioned in almost every session I attended. It really does feel as though OpenNTF is hitting its stride and the OpenNTF Essentials project is something that I really need to look into more. At FoCul we are still constrained by some customers being back on 8.52 but I think the time has come to try and move forwards anyway.

OpenNTF Contributers

I also met Christian G├╝demann, the new chair of OpenNTF. I found him to be very engaging ( in a softly spoken but determined Swiss way ) and I can see where he is going with his ideas around essentials. I think that most of us have used OpenNTF for small discrete parts of projects rather than whole projects. The OpenNTF Essentials project is an interesting attempt to have a curated framework that we can easily install and then use much in the same way as other Apache style projects such as Apache Solr. I am still undecided but I do know that I want to explore the option thoroughly.

While I am thinking about IBM and OpenNTF Kramer Reeves did ask how IBM could best help me as a Business Partner. I replied that the investment by IBM in OpenNTF, particularly with respect to Niklas Heidloff’s time, was the most effective thing that they could do. If you feel similarly then please let IBM know so.


The Sponsors were, as ever, at the core of the event. Without them it would not have happened. There were several local sponsors that I had not seen before and interestingly some were services based rather than product based. The ICS platform does seem to have a stronger market in the Benelux than it does in the UK.

Best giveaway prize went to Panagenda twice. I loved the power pack and my 9 year old son is totally absorbed by the magnetic puzzle. Panagenda seems to be a pretty impressive company all around from people through to products and giveaways.

Venue and hospitality

The venue was very good. Some of the speaking venues had their challenges with light and noise but overall I though that it worked very well. Breda itself was nice and the Engage hospitality for the speakers was very generous.


Apache XPages Survey Applications

At FoCul we have been doing quite a bit of XPages work, The single biggest enabler for us has been the generosity of the Lotus community in posting Blogs, Open Source Projects and tutorials – we simply couldn’t have done it without the community.

I work with an excellent developer called Andrew Champion. About 6 months ago we developed an XPages based web survey tool as a commercial product. We wrote it from scratch but it was inspired by the early XPage articles from John Mackay.

We are releasing three versions of the application :

A Pro version
A free Lite version
An Apache Open Source Version

You can see more on our web site , try a demo here and download a copy at OpenNTF.

Let us know what you think.

XPages Web Survey Tool

We have been working on a new XPages web survey product.

There will be three versions. A Full version, a “Lite” version and an open source version which we will release via Open NTF under the Apache licence.

Let us know how you find it, all feedback heartily received ( even about IE6 ! )

FoCul Delivery Toolkit Web Survey Beta

Thanks, Sean

Update for Patrick

The screen shot below is from the configuration record for a question. The questions are defined separately so that they can be re-used across multiple surveys. This reduces translation costs and also allows the same answers to be aggregated across multiple surveys.

Image:XPages Web Survey Tool

full res image