I’d never understood the whole ‘widgets’ thing that got added to Notes, where you could have additional things in that right-side set of panels. At first, I put Linked In over there, thinking I’d use it to look up people and keep track of discussions. I never did use it and eventually, it would just show me a login box, so when I changed laptops, I didn’t bother putting it back. I tried some RSS feeds, but they were far too chatty for me to ever keep track. However, I found a great use for them this past month: quick access to back-end of XPages databases.
In our environment, we put all the XPages and custom controls into one ‘design’ database and almost all of the data into another. You guessed it, the almost all is the problem. Some of the configuration documents have to reside in the design database, so it knows where the data resides. I want the users to double-click on the icon and simply open the application in XPiNC, rather than accidentally seeing the man behind the curtain. So, I put a link in the home page of our application that opens the views in Notes:
That works fine, but you have to navigate back to the home page to get the the link. I could put it everywhere, but as I was looking at the Drag n Drop sidebar per a request from our newly acquired office in the UK, I figured out that creating the XML files and putting them among your widgets was really easy.
Just create a file with an XML extension — it can have any name, so I tend to create them with meaningful names, like “APPS1 Shared Resources Engage.xml” — with a format similar to this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <webcontextConfiguration version="1.1"> <palleteItem contributeTabOnStartup="false" contributeToSideshelfOnStartup="true" hideThumbnail="false" id="APPS1SharedEngage" imageUrl="" providerId="com.ibm.notes.toolbox.provider.NotesViewPalleteProvider" singletonSidebar="false" title="ENGAGE SR" url="Notes://APPS1/Projects/Philippines/Engage/EngageSharedRes.nsf" viewImageUrl=""> <preferences/> <data TYPE="DEFAULT"/> </palleteItem> </webcontextConfiguration>
I know five of the values that you can edit….
|contributeTabOnStartup=”false”||If you want it to always open as a regular tab when you open Notes, set this to true. Otherwise, set this to false.|
|contributeToSideshelfOnStartup=”true”||If you want it to always open as a panel on the right, set this to true. If you’d prefer to double-click and have it open in a new window, set this to false.|
|id=”APPS1SharedEngage”||The unique ID for this widget. If you drag-and-drop another XML file with the same ID, it will update the existing one. When you create one using the menus, it supplies a random numeric one, but text also works, so I’d recommend that using meaningful, text ones.|
|title=”ENGAGE SR”||This is what displays on the icon in the sidebar and on the panel header if you load it in a panel.|
|url=”Notes://APPS1/Projects/Philippines/Engage/EngageSharedRes.nsf”||The Notes URL that you want to open. You can specify a view, but when I tried to specify an agent it didn’t execute the agent. I also tried to specify the XPage, but it never loaded. So, either the database or a specific view (with /viewname?OpenView after the filepath)|
Then, drag and drop that XML file from your file system onto the My Widgets panel. In the one I have above, it always opens in a panel on startup, so I can access the views quickly and easily. However, we’re going to have 70 of these at any one time once we roll out our design to all of our projects, so I’ll probably not have any load on startup. If you don’t load them, on startup, double-clicking opens them as a new Notes window.
As soon as I finish figuring out how we’re going to configure the Drag n Drop widget, I’ll post on how to do that. While there is documentation on OpenNTF, I think I can provide some more insight and may look at doing some enhancements down the road.