I am currently sitting in my hotel room near Amsterdam Schipol airport. I missed my flight in the morning because the Dutch train canceled several connections and the train I was in finally also had delays due to technical issues on the track. Another delay resulted in the need to change the train at Amsterdam Central. Anyway, I didn't make it in time, I was about 1 hour late. But why I am here?
It was time to/for Engage
I was attending and speaking at this year's Engage conference run by our very own HCL Grandmaster Theo and his team. This time we visited the Burgers' Zoo in Arnhem. The venue again was "special" and not your regular boring conference center. Between sessions you always could walk around and visit some of the residents here: giraffes, penguins, otter etc. To enter the main area you had to cross a hall that mimics a rainforest. 40°C plus 100% humidity surrounded with the sound of exotic birds and other inhabitants.
Of course the main reason why we got together was to meet and greet people from around the globe. HCL employees, partners, customers and - most important - friends from the yellow bubble. The numbers were impressive:
- 420+ attendees
- 58 HCL Masters and 5 Grandmasters
- over 80 sessions
- over 107 speakers
There were some no-shows because of the current situation with the so called "Corona Virus". The venue was prepared and got hand sanitizers and gel all over the place. The official greeting was the "elbow bump" instead of shaking hands. I think overall the organizers and the visitors managed the situation very well. I hope that everyone stills stays healthy.
I lost count how many people from HCL were actually on site. They delivered so many sessions that they had to keep track of everyone attending them by issuing a checklist for all. Once you made at least 8 sessions, you got the chance to win a prize.
Content-wise I don't want to get in to details. My impression again is that HCL's commitment to the products and the community is outstanding. We so wished that for years from IBM. If they say they will deliver, they do - in time! Speaking to them was never that easy, also aside from meeting at an event like this. If you want to talk to them, just reach out and do it.
I saw what's coming in Domino V12 in for developers. They still improve several parts of the existing ecosystem. The only thing not emphasized were XPages. Many new things are added to Lotusscript and Java. Therefor you also benefit from it using XPages which are still a thing. The sheer amount of new stuff being considered just does not leave room for focusing on new stuff for XPages.
I also saw a very impressive pre-version of what is called "HCL Nomad Web". This is a browser based web assembly that just brings you a Notes client in your browser tab - awesome! This wasn't by far a final version but it worked very nice. This is also what I appreciate: HCL gives us so many insights to stuff they are working on without being too "lordly" to also show us the problems and errors.
Apropos errors and mistakes: HCL also is able admit that they make mistakes here and there. I'll get to that later.
I unfortunately missed the session about "Project Keep" but got a personal demo from Paul Withers and Stephan Wissel. Just two words: very neat! Actually I can't explain it in just one or two sentences what it is, but it may become the next new way to create apps on Domino - at a totally different level and with a different approach.
As I said, HCL is able to admit they made a mistake. The one I mention here is closing the ideation blogs for Domino etc. and Connections about 2 weeks ago. During our HCL Master roundtable we resumed how the Masters and HCL managed to re-open them again and how valuable our input was so that they were re-opened finally. Appreciation on both sides, that's how it should be.
Engage is also famous for the evening events. There is a VIP dinner in the first evening and a speaker's dinner on the second. The VIP dinner was on a ship going down and up the Rhine for some hours. We had excellent food and drinks while having great chats.
The speaker dinner was a blast: we visited the "Taphuis" in Arnhem. Beside outstanding excellent food they offered a flat rate for beer and wine. I don't know how the wine-thing worked but beer lovers like me had 100 (!!!) taps with different brews to taste from! We all got a personal "credit card" loaded with a certain amount and then you just poured as much as you wanted from a tap - so easy. This way you could have been able to taste about 20 different beers - depending on the amount you took each time. Overall a genius concept.
What can I say about Engage in general? If you've never attended before, you MUST! Will I come back next year? OF COURSE! I want to thank Theo, Hilde and the team for their effort and their courage to drive such an event in times of general "panic" about the outbreak. I hope everyone gets home safely!
Others did a more comprehensive summary of the event and especially shared their content: