Mat Newman February 20 2010 00:08:49WildFire 1.3 - Social Networking unleashed INSIDE Lotus Notes, an improved interface, more networks, more feeds, more preferences, more features, and ... the cache!
WildFire was originally conceived as a status updater, capable of posting to multiple social - and Lotus - networks at once. We added twitter feeds to it just before it's initial release to turn it into a SN consumer, as well as an updater. The initial release supported feeds from the Social Network; Twitter. If you've seen or used WildFire! v1 (or 1.1 or 1.2) available from OpenNtf, you have already been introduced to ISW's social networking tool for Lotus Notes. If you haven't seen WildFire! here's an (early) screen shot:
Figure 1: WildFire v1
The upcoming release of WildFire has changed quite a bit. The version previously available on OpenNtf is a little like that person you knew from high school, you know - a little overweight, a bit awkward, and not too confident about talking to anyone they didn't know.
WildFire has been to the gym, lost some weight, had a make-over and taken a course in deportment. All of this has made WildFire a LOT more capable and sophisticated. In the tradition of reality makeover shows ... it's time for the reveal.
Helloooo WildFire 1.3.......
Figure 2: WildFire 1.3
We've made major changes under the hood to the way WildFire works, implementing OAuth authentication where available, also streamlining and enhancing the "feeds" updates. There is a draw-back to this major change in the interaction code, and for a couple of networks (eg:twitter) if you have accounts already configured with simple http usernames and passwords, you'll need to reconfigure those accounts. That's the only drawback to the new code-stream.
Starting at the top, network indicators now show which SN you are about to post to using WildFire, icons are greyed out when "posting" is not currently targeted to that account. To the right of the network icons is also the status count, to indicate how many characters have been typed in the current update.
Figure 3: Group/Network Icons
We've removed the link between Post and Feed. In early versions of WildFire, you had to have an account Active to be able to post to it, and to review feeds from that account. Feeds are now enabled through preferences on an account basis, by choosing the "Feed Enabled" setting for that account. Once feeds are enabled for an account they are visible in the feeds list until disabled again through preferences.
Posting a status update is now available for the following networks:
- Google Talk
We've added some new options for the network Icons, clicking on the icon will toggle posting to that network group on/off. When a Network is active, it's icon will change to the colour version of the icon, when a network is inactive it's icon will change to the grey-scale version. We've also added a toggle button to turn posting on/off for all accounts with a single click.
We've also added keyboard short-cuts that are available while the cursor is within the status field. Pressing [Alt]+ will Enable/Disable all accounts. Pressing [Alt]+, through to [Alt]+ will Enable/Disable individual group (account) icons.
The Status field is the area where you type your update. As you type within the status field, the count indicator next to the Network icons will change to show have many characters are included within the current status update, as shown in Figure 4:
Figure 4: A Status update
Of course, this is an important feature of any status updater - as many social networks limit the amount of characters for each post (eg: Twitter is 140 characters).
One important feature of many Social Networks is the ability to send a "Direct" message to another user, rather than simply posting on the public time-line. In the latest release of WildFire, we've added the ability to Direct message a Twitter account by entering "tw:accountname" within the Status field, as shown below.
Figure 5: A Direct message
Notice in Figure 5 - direct message, the message is identical to that in Figure 4. However, since the status update includes the special code tw:username, the status update becomes a Direct Message to that username within that Network (In this case the "tw:" prefix indicates the Twitter network). Even if you have multiple groups/accounts active, this update will only be sent to the username entered following the "tw:" code. We intend to extend this to more networks as we develop further (eg "fb:" might go to Facebook, "li:" might go to LinkedIn).
As your status is being updated, the progress bar will move to indicate that status' are being updated across your selected Networks.
Figure 6: Progress bar in action
Application Actions include: Post, Cancel, Feeds, Groups, Types, Preferences and ISW - to access our web site to keep you informed of new developments.
Post: Sends the message in the Status field (Figure 4 and 5) to the Networks you have set (Figure 3). Note: We have also included the [Alt]+[p] (for POST) short-cut, while the cursor is in the status bar to activate this feature.
Cancel: Cancels the current operation.
Feeds: Change the view panel to show your currently subscribed feeds.
Groups: Change the view panel to show networks by group. Note that groups also control the network icons indicated at Figure 3. My Network panel has 1 group per account. When you add multiple accounts to a group, the icon will change from a specific network icon (eg: the Tumbler icon) to a Group icon if that group contains different Network types. By using groups, you can easily control posting to a "Work" group and a "Personal" group. Your "Work" group might update the Status of your Connections, SameTime and LinkedIn networks, while your "Personal" group might include Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
Types: Change the view panel to show your accounts by type. One of the great features of WildFire is the ability to have multiple Accounts for a specific network type. An example of this are my SameTime accounts, where I have 9 different SameTime accounts in 9 different Networks.
Preferences: Are where you change the WildFire options, and manage network accounts. In WildFire 1.3, you can now determine how often your feeds view are updated, whether the feeds view is colour-coded by Network, whether you want to be prompted if you accidentally have enabled posting to ALL accounts (I messed up with that one while testing over the last couple of days), manage your accounts, and allocate accounts to groups.
ISW: Click here to access our web-site an keep up to date with the latest information on our widget's, plug-in's and application's.
One of my FAVORITE features of WildFire. Andrew has done an excellent job on the search function, which is very simple, and yet fast. In WildFile to search your feeds list, you simply click-and-type what you want displayed in the view. Just like Notes "Quick Search" - the more you type, the closer your match.
Figure 7: Searching WildFire feeds
Previous releases of WildFire initially included feeds for Twitter, we now support the following networks:
- Social Text, and
- Lotus Connections
In addition we have also included:
- Twitter Direct Messages: Messaged sent directly to your twitter account appear in the time-line, and
- Twitter Mentions: Whenever ANYONE mentions your username it appears in your time-line, whether you follow them or not!
A few days ago I wrote about where Social Networking succeeds ... and Fails. This prompted us to include the Twitter Mentions feature to make sure that if someone you DONT follow mentions your username (maybe they tried to answer a question you posted!) it will appear in your Feeds list as though you follow them.
Figure 8: WildFire explained
The menu has changed in this release, we have re-organised the options and included a couple of new features, as shown in Figure 9:
Figure 9: The Menu
The new Log option records what has been happening within the WildFire plug-in, but my favourite feature HAS to be the Feed Cache.
As I've mentioned before on my blog, keeping up to date with what is happening on the other side of the world up until now has been a little difficult. Now, I leave Notes running overnight, everything is recorded into my WildFire cache, and when I head off to work in the morning I just shut down, and then read through the cache when I get into the office over a cup of coffee.
Currently, the Feed Cache (if enabled) is simply recorded into a local database, based on the Journal/Notebook template. We chose that one because we know it's on everyone's computer. Figure 9 shows the template I am working on that will shortly be available for you to download and replace the design of the current cache. It's my first real xPages application, so I'm applying everything I've learned to make it a great experience. I'll let you know when it's available.
Figure 10: The Feed Cache
Welcome to WildFire 1.3!
We have worked hard to dramatically improve the entire experience with our first side-bar application, and it's been a great team effort. Adam drove and coordinated the project from concept to release with his usual flair, insight and project management skills. I must admit that playing the role of Mary Beth Raven as the ux (user experience) and ui (user interface) designer on this project has been a whole lot of fun. Working with Joel to educate and assist the programmer on this project has been a blast. Andrew (our summer intern) has done an outstanding Job on the coding side, and for someone who is yet to complete university and hadn't even seen Notes a few weeks ago, well - Mate: you have done an OUTSTANDING job on this project.
To hear more about how we did it, check out the latest Taking Notes podcast, where we chat with Bruce and Julian about the application.
To everyone who attended my session at Lotusphere. Remember point 3: "Notes can access information from virtually ANYWHERE" - well, that's what WildFire is all about.
And finally to everyone who gave us advice, assistance, feed-back and support (Special mentions John, Alan and Brian) Thanks!
That's what being part of the Yellowverse is all about, community. NO-ONE does community like those of us who bleed yellow. I hope you enjoy our contribution.
GET WILDFIRE ON OPENNTF