Get it right, then ship it

by Volker Weber

IBM has shipped a blog template with 7.0.2. It's not as powerful as DominoBlog on which it was built, but it is certainly capable. Unfortunately the template comes with a "last century" stylesheet, which just does not do it justice.


Fixing it has been on John's todo list for more than five weeks. But there is always more important things to do than fixing a stylesheet. And thus, we will continue to see other people publish their blogs "as is".

Declan has learned a lesson here. BlogSphere looked just plain awful. Some great developers with poor design skills have tried to improve it, making things even worse. Only Bruce got it right. But with BlogSphere V3, Declan is coming out with great designs.


I seem to recall you almost liked my Blogsphere treatment... ;-)

Chris Linfoot, 2006-11-12

Are you a developer? ;-)

Volker Weber, 2006-11-12

Only when I have no choice :-P

Chris Linfoot, 2006-11-12

As I thought you knew Volker the "great designs" from Movabletype etc were available for DominoBlog nearly 4 years ago - yes 4 years!

The css is basic intentionally (I didn't expect it to receive awards) - the point in the templates unique design (not so unique anymore - so must have been a good idea) is to allow organisations to customise completely without needing to change the template design.

With the loss of power - what have you experienced? I know about the basic browser rich text editor - but otherwise the template has been simplified and so giving the same power but easier which for me is a power boost!

You have written about your dislike of the css before ( - so it must be a real dislike of yours when using the template. I do not like unhappy customers so I have a few tricks up my sleeve which you will see in a couple of weeks to help resolve this.

In the meantime, You can also read here on how to customise and download another design. Preview here.

Steve Castledine, 2006-11-13

Steve, thank you for the link. It explains nicely how it works for DominoBlog. Is the IBM template changed in the very same way?

I am aware that there were great designs available for DominoBlog. Unfortunately the template that IBM ships does not count as one. :-) As mentioned in the posting you mentioned, there are also some basic issues with the CSS. If you "Outline Block Elements" in Firefox (with Web Developer Toolbar) you can see some odd margins and paddings.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-13

The "how to" link *is* for the IBM template! ;)

All previous themes are transferable to the new template via a convertor (here). I will be converting them myself soon as well so people will not need to bother.

I will take a look at what you report (and thankyou for doing so) - so far all my machines with IE and Firfox do not show any issues (unless I need glasses) - so I will need to find a hardware/platform/browser combination that does. In a few weeks I will have something that will be able to resolve this that I think users will like.

Steve Castledine, 2006-11-13

Hi Volker,

At least you have tested the new IBM Blog. Good for you :-)

Steve has spend a long time ensuring the blog conforms to all IBM legal requirements and as you can imagine, following the SCO issues, every single line of code is scrutinised.

You stated "Get it right and then ship it" and I think that is a bit harsh as the product is feature complete.

Steve Castledine will be onsite at IBM Staines tomorrow demonstrating the IBM Blog to a group of IBM Premium Support Managers and other techies including Darren. The objective of this presentation is to show how easy it is to deploy and use the Blog as a mini Web Content Management system.

We are ending the presentation showing some of the sites people created with Steve’s Blog (now the IBM Blog) showcasing the commercial (not strictly Blog but more web 2.0) applications the Blog can be used for.

As you know Domino is an Application Framework, i.e.; a bunch of "lego" blocks, and it is up to customers to construct the required solution. The IBM Blog is one of the first new templates ( a "cluster" of "lego" blocks!) added to Domino out of the box for some time and the response from customers will determine how much more of the Web 2.0 technologies will make it into the product. We need the community’s assistance to showcase some "outside the inbox" thinking on how to best use the IBM Blog template.

Steve will be presenting some of the more interesting CSS implementations to help our customers visualise how this phenomenal application can be used within an organisation. Some example CSS will of course follow but could be made available via the usual community channels. The more links we have pointed to it the easier it would be for customers to find. I guess OpenNTF would be a good place to store them. Also, I have found that people are reluctant to share CSS they have spent time on to perfect but let's hope we get some submissions.

As far as Blogsphere goes I have to defend Christian's very hard work especially merging the picture database in to Blogsphere. As for design some may say a plain white theme is bland but hey if you like it… :-). I am using Declan's V3 version and it is good because of the new skins and as I am familiar with the format I really like it.

What I can say though is that both Christian Brandlenher and Steve Castledine work for IBM and I will be introducing them to each other tomorrow or soon after. Watch this space! :-)

So if anybody knows about some of the more interesting deployments of the IBM Blog then let's create a link list.



P.S If Steve's presentation goes well, of course it will, should we aim for a larger audience? I wonder what interest level we are looking at?

Ray Davies, 2006-11-13

Steve, you see a simple misalignment in the picture above. As you look at the block level elements as described, you will see how there things add up.

You made a very good decision when you used the free and excellent designs available for WordPress. I just think that IBM should have spent some more time to deliver a good default template. And frankly, they should not have branded it IBM.

The editor you provide with DominoBlog is so much better than what the IBM template has.

Volker Weber, 2006-11-13


Back on October 4, 2006 I created a project on OpenNTF to hopefully collect and manage these themes. I will be contacted Steve to figure out if this is an option.


Bruce Elgort, 2006-11-13

I read the whole discussion and some critics about Volkers positions. I agree with Volker that something shipped by IBM needs quality especially in the usabilty & design esp no IBM Logos. I bought a product and a framework but I don't want basic solutions as a sandbox. Out of the box we have DOMINO for about 11 years but no web application out of the BOX (OK, since 6.0 we had a somewhat usable webmail) .
This is the first time that you can demonstrate a customer how such things can look like without additional costs. And the approach of Ray as a mini content management is also right.

@Ray: Reluctance is something you can break easily - You as IBM want CSS from developers for free. Developers are by nature (not many will see it as a question to get a reputation for giving this effort to the public) reluctant but the notes community hasn't been so reluctant in the past if you look at the forum which has grown rapidly over the last five years in numbers & quality.
OK, you/IBM want great CSS for your customers and don't want to pay so much as it would cost if IBM would internally make these efforts.
May you should offer a price like a ticket for LOTUSPHERE or a Thinkpad T6x for the winner of a DOMINO Blog CSS Contest 2006 and you should be able to get well designed CSS.
And it is important that they look (feel & usability is) professional.

I think you'll find a budget for such a contest. I don't think that it would be a question of the price/value you'll give - it's a gesture

What else would it take? Maybe a wiki would be useful ... I know it is a bit of competition with but I assume that the openntf guys are & will be faster and better than these implemented products.
They are very important to get the small business into the notes business. There are interested companies who'll be able to pay the price for DOMINO Infrastructure but they won't pay for every small application.
And blogs are a small personal killer application right now.

Who made youtube to such a brand and worthful company (beyond the technical points)? The bloggers implemented the youtube screens in their posts which brought the people, traffic and much more important attention and acceptance!
Let's hope that IBM will look a little bit more at the basic applications (we have made a few increments to adressbook, journal ...). For example we (and many others) are waiting for PDA Users where the entry form reduces the width to the size similiar to that one of a PDA (should be configurable to the screen). Many of my personal information were keyed in at a computer not the pda and therefor it would be useful.
Maybe you use sets of font/fontsize/width to match the different PDA displays but it would be very usefull at least for the journal. Unfortunatelly the pnab nor the journal got any remarkable update for years.

Wolfgang Andreas Bischof, 2006-11-13

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