New Team in Town
Novell Vibe OnPrem (Formerly Novell Teaming 3)
Takes Collaboration Up Another Notch
Written by Ken Baker
If you've been following the recent buzz, you know that Novell Teaming has a new name: Novell Vibe. As part of Novell Vibe, this proven product delivers more value than ever before. That's because it's now part of a broader enterprise-class social collaboration platform that's available on premise and in the cloud. In fact, Novell Vibe brings together the products formerly known as Novell Teaming and Novell Pulse to make it easier for people to work together and drive better business results. Moving forward, Novell Teaming will be known as Novell Vibe OnPrem, and Novell Pulse will be known as Novell Vibe Cloud. And if you've been eagerly awaiting Novell Teaming 3, it's here—in the form of Novell Vibe OnPrem 3! What's new in this release? A user interface remodel, added branding capabilities, integrations with Novell Messenger and Novell Conferencing, and much more.
When you log in to Novell Vibe OnPrem 3, you’ll notice right away that it’s more polished and sports a more modern look.
When you log in to Novell Vibe OnPrem 3, you’ll notice right away that it’s more polished and sports a more modern look. To achieve this new look, Novell relied on in-depth usability and human factors studies to tweak interface color schemes, font sizes and contrast. The result is a much more pleasing overall appearance.
But some of the improved appearance comes from the user interface being less busy. The previous interface tried to surface too many of the product's features at one time, producing a result that wasn't as streamlined as it could be. The new interface in Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 takes a more simplistic approach that makes it more intuitive and easy to use. (See Figure 1.) It also borrows from the “activity streams” element from the user interface of Novell Vibe Cloud. This means that new content from people or topics you follow in Novell Vibe OnPrem appear in a single place—just as they do in the “Biglist” of Novell Vibe Cloud. This shared interface element is only the beginning of a long-term plan to bring functionality between the two deployment options of Novell Vibe together over time.
The simplified interface is especially apparent in the left navigation bar, which no longer features the long boxy list of all the places you can go and things you can do in Novell Vibe OnPrem. In its place is a stylish, quick list of key personal folder destinations, including your Blog, Calendar, File Folder, Guestbook, Photo Album, Task Folder and Trash. It operates a lot like file explorer, but for all content types, not just files and folders. And if you want more real estate for the main content window, you can instantly hide the left navigation bar with a click of the Expand/Contract Left Navigation button located on the header menu bar.
The header has been greatly simplified as well. Instead of having five levels of menu options—Sign Out, Favorites and My Teams, Search and My Workspace, the breadcrumb trail, and the main menu—the header has been consolidated into two intuitive levels. The top level of the header has the Novell Vibe OnPrem logo (or your organization’s brand) on the left and a personal workspace link and four quick link icons to Personal Preferences, Vibe Feed, Logout, and Help on the right. The header’s second level consists of a new menu bar with dropdowns to My Teams, My Favorites, Workspace (options for creating/editing workspaces and more), Recent Places and View. The menu bar also has another quick link to your personal workspace, along with Hide and Reveal toggle buttons for the left navigation bar and the header.
The menu bar has one more button—the Browse Hierarchy button—which makes a major contribution to the simple, less busy look and feel of the header. This button eliminates the constant display of the breadcrumb trail that lets you see the path to your current workspace or location. Now, instead of always displaying the trail or path, you just click the button to temporarily reveal your current path/hierarchy. (See Figure 2.) The button basically provides the same functionality as the breadcrumb trail, but it looks nicer and is more intuitive.
In a final move toward header simplification, some of the functionality from the old main menu has been moved into other, more intuitive locations. For example, the ability to manage your workspace settings and configure access rights is now part of the new Workspace options pull-down menu.
As an additional part of the UI enhancements, user profiles are also now much more robust. Instead of being limited to basic contact information, users have a more extensive list of profile options, and the administrator has the ability to expand profiles by adding additional elements. It also provides a quick profile, such that when you click another user's name, it'll show you their presence, contact information, microblog, picture, and links to their full profile, workspace and more.
Associated with site branding in Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 is the ability for organizations to create their own site home page.
Simplified and Extended Branding
As another enhancement to the user interface, branding has been simplified and extended. Now it only takes a few minutes to brand a workspace or folder, customizing it to look and feel the way you want. Simply select Brand Workspace... from the Workspace options pull-down and then configure your workspace brand with images, text, font sizes and colors of your choice.
(See Figure 3.)
Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 also introduces the ability to brand your entire site. In fact, you can configure the product to allow site branding with no individual workspace branding, allow site branding and workspace branding to co-exist, or allow workspace branding to override site branding. To take advantage of site branding, you just log in as admin, click on the Administration icon, select Site Branding from the sidebar options, and then customize and configure your site brand. (See Figure 4.)
Associated with site branding in Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 is the ability for organizations to create their own site home page. This lets you have a branded landing page for your whole site—one that users will be taken to by default whenever they log in to their Novell Vibe OnPrem environment. You can customize the site home page to fit your specific needs, populating it with company news, mission statements, product information, support knowledgebases, links to company resources or blogs, and more. This capability is ideal for organizations that want to replace or augment their Internet presence using Novell Vibe OnPrem.
New integrations with Novell Messenger (formerly GroupWise Messenger) and Novell Conferencing have also been added to Novell Vibe OnPrem 3. In fact, Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 customers receive an entitlement for Novell Messenger 2.2. With Novell Vibe OnPrem and Novell Messenger integration, you can add presence to profiles—and thus see when users are online with Novell Messenger. If a user is online, you just click on the users’ profile presence indicator and click the IM button to begin an IM chat. (See Figure 5.)
If you need a more in-depth conversation than an IM chat provides, after you click their presence indicator, simply click the Conference button instead and an Add Meeting page will be displayed. This will allow you to instantly start a full-blown Novell Conferencing Web meeting. You also have the ability to start or schedule a Web meeting in Novell Conferencing by selecting Start Meeting from the Workspace or Folder pull-down menu option. For the Novell Conferencing capabilities to be available to your users, the administrator has to enable the Conferencing integrations in Vibe OnPrem, and the individual users have to specify their Conferencing IDs and passwords in their Vibe OnPrem profiles.
As a side note, Novell developed the Novell Messenger presence indicator integrations using a plug-in format. So, in the future, you’ll likely see Novell expand presence integration in Novell Vibe OnPrem with other services such as Skype, Office Communication Server and others.
On the back end, Novell did some significant work to improve indexing and relevancy in search capabilities. As a result, you should experience major improvements in both searches and re-indexing operations. Results will vary based on the actual operations, but engineering tests have shown five to twenty times faster searching and indexing. This marked improvement was enabled by re-engineering indexing to take better advantage of multi-threaded processing and increasing its ability to leverage a server’s horsepower.
The relevancy of search results has also been improved so it’s much easier to find what you’re looking for. To deliver these better results, Novell Vibe OnPrem takes into account a wider array of relevancy context indicators.
With the Novell Vibe OnPrem and Novell Messenger integration, you can add presence to profiles—and thus see when users are online with Novell Messenger
Document Management Additions
In the area of document management, document versioning has been improved in Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 with the addition of major and minor document versions. So, instead of just being able to move from version 1 to version 2 when you do an edit, you can now move from version 1 to version 1.1 and so on—until you decide to move to the next version level. Also, if you want to clean up your versioning clutter or save a little disk space, you can now delete previous versions of a document.
Another enhancement to document management is the automatic creation of entry histories whenever a file, wiki, blog, task or other entry type has changed. The entry history shows you when the history of that entry was created and edited, and who edited it. It also lets you do a comparison on previous entry versions so you can see exactly what was changed in the entry meta data. This capability is extremely beneficial for things like shared documents or wikis. It lets you quickly see what changes have been made and who made them. It also lets you easily revert back to a previous version if the new changes introduced errors or inaccuracies.
Finally, when you create a new version of a file, you can attach a note that describes what’s in the file or what changes have been made to the file. These file notes display below the filename in the Attachments and File Versions tab, making it easier for users to identify the files they need without having to open them first.
Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 also introduces access controls at the entry level, instead of just at the workspace or folder level. With the previous version of Novell Teaming, you could easily make a workspace or folder private so that only you and a select group of others could view and access it. Now, with entry-level access controls, you can have private files and other entry types within your public folders. For example, you might have a budget file that you only want your manager (or someone from Finance) to be able to see. You can store it in one of your public workspaces or folders, configure it as private, and then only you and the designated people will be able to see it. What this basically means is that you no longer have to create separate, private folders for your restricted-access documents.
Better than Ever
Aside from its key role in the new social collaboration platform from Novell, the main story behind Novell Vibe OnPrem 3 is that it continues to evolve based on customer and partner feedback. More than ever before, Novell Vibe OnPrem makes it easy to bring your people, projects and processes together into secure online workspaces that can boost efficiency and foster innovation. From its more intuitive interface to enhanced real-time collaboration, powerful document management and faster search capabilities, Novell Vibe OnPrem can help your people become more efficient and agile contributors.
To learn more about Novell Vibe OnPrem, visit www.novell.com/vibe-onprem/ and download an evaluation version or the free 10-user starter pack to experience firsthand what it can do for you.