IBM Verse - my first thoughts

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 9:11 PM UTC

After several approaches to get my registration working for IBM Verse I finally received my account information. Thanks to Fredrik Norling who told me not to use a GMail account for registration but a "serious" company account. With that being done it "only" took 3 days to get it.

The onboarding process to the "freemium" account of IBM Verse consists of 3 (4) phases:

  • Register with a non GMail account (GMail is blocked or let's say: it's not preferred)
  • Receive the confirmation mail that you have successfully registered
  • After some days you receive mail no. 2 saying that your account is being prepared
  • After some hours you receive mail no. 3 saying that account is ready to use

This post is about my first impressions on IBM Verse.

Logging in

When logging in to IBM Verse you actually login against the IBM Smartcloud environment (at least it looks like the SAML login you use when using Smartcloud or Greenhouse). Don't bookmark the login page! It won't work a second time as the URL contains some token informations that won't be valid the next time you open it. So just bookmark https://mail.notes.ce.collabserv.com/sequoia/index.html

The UI

After you logged in you are presented the main UI of Verse, the inbox view you already know from various presentations and posts. In Firefox (one of the supported Browsers) you will always be presented the question you see in the screenshot.. It basically asks: "This website wants to associate the mailto links with that page. Do you agree?". Maybe it's just a Firefox issue, but I cannot get this message to shut up forever. Instead it is presented everytime I first open this inbox page. Something on the website may cause this question. IBM, please remove that crap!

On the top you have 4 links to the 4 functions you expected from a mail client: Mail, Calendar, Mail Contacts and Files. To be honest: I didn't expect the Files tab at all. This is the area where you can handle all the files that were attached by you or other persons in mails in your Verse inbox - and stored on IBM Smartcloud as well.

Regardless which link you will click it will open a new tab (like it or not, I don't). The first experience with these other apps is: WTF? The IBM Design team made huge efforts to create a new UX for the inbox - but stopped working for the other parts of the application (except for Files):

  • Different colors and fonts
  • Every part has it's own style
  • You can recognize the old iNotes stuff (sic!)

The worst is the "Settings" page of your own profile: it uses OneUI 2.1 (like in IBM Connections 4 or old Domino apps). All dialogs that appear in those parts are OneUI-styled. Ok, I liked OneUI - but if IBM wanted to re-invent "everything" with Verse then I'd have expected the new UI for those, too. They just changed the font - sometimes and not everywhere (epic FAIL!)

Calendar view

The dialogs are also OneUI 2.1. Actually these are not dialogs but popups (watch your popup blocker!)

Contacts view

Files view

This gives a preview of IBM Connections "Next"

Profile view

Settings view

With the ridiculous OneUI style...

Phew!

This is a lot of different styles, hm? What about the functionality? The user experience itself?

I'm feeling so alone!

I never felt so alone in the universe as it is being in this uniVERSE. No contacts on my list I could send a mail to. Ok, fine then, let's search the directory for other "beta testers" Lächelnd

There is a "hidden" contact search function in your profile page, so just give it a try!

Great! Just open the contact and add it to your mail contacts or send a mail directly to it!

Hmm... no action for sending a new mail or add it to my contacts. Poor!

Ok, then just open the profile by clicking the name - there will be some actions presented to do so - for sure!

Well... no! If you don't know the person's mail information used in IBM Verse you cannot do anything. WTF?

First conclusion

So I ended up with nothing. An empty inbox (except from the welcome mail) and no contacts. Hey! An empty inbox? This is what IBM Verse is all about - well done!

Of course I tested to send and receive mails with my Google account but I want to try all those functions in interaction with others: tasks, calendar entries etc. So if you want to get in touch with me to test those things, feel free to send me a message to oliver.busse@ibmverse.com.

Technical details

What I was very interested in was the technical background IBM Verse is running on. IBM told us that it is running on Domino and it really does:

So what I think about it: it is a replacement for iNotes, particulary for the mail application and functions. You can recognize all the other parts of iNotes (as shown in the images above) running on IBM's Smartcloud environment. As a fremium user you don't have the Watson intelligence available (e.g. the "schedule me a meeting with XXX on YYY at ZZZ hours"). That's not a part I'm missing right now. What I miss is a consistent design and some basic and fundamental functions (e.g. add users to my "cosmos"). 

Last but not least: mobile access

I just tried to use the web version on my phone (on a tablet it's the same). I am using 1080p but my browser runs in "mobile" mode (not "desktop"). I expected a responsive design at least for my inbox view. But have a look for yourself:

Seriously, IBM?

I also tried in landscape mode - the same crap. So the intention is to use the native phone/tablet app - when it's available.

If you are checking the "viewport" meta information to display the page for mobile browsers I'd expect a responsive design - otherwise just display the desktop version.

The app: iOS user can install the app for IBM Verse - but it will only work for Smartcloud (=paying) users but not for "fremium" accounts.

It's a beta

Hopefully there will be some improvements to come. It's not the restriction to a fixed amount of mails per day or the missing Watson stuff - it's all about the basics (add contacts, search and add people etc.)

You can find support here: https://support.ibmverse.com/support/verseforum.nsf

Some updated informations

Holy cow! Meanwhile I received some mails after my "begging" yesterday Grinsend Thank you all - I will respond as soon as possible. Maybe I reply to all and you will do also, so we can test the mute function!

What I also found: once you drag a person from the right to the left side of the top toolbar (i.e. adding this person to "important" people) you cannot remove them. So consider WHO you will put on that list Winken

To remove an important person just click on the minus (-) sign in the toolbar. You then can remove a person by clicking on the red minus sign separately. But don't bother: if you still have mail from this person you are able to add it again - after relogin.

Another issue: if you have an IBM Smartcloud account then you get in trouble. IBM Verse uses the same token cookie. So if you are logging in to Verse you aren't able to log in to IBM Smartcloud - and vice versa. To get this working just clear all the cookie you got from the corresponding account. My question though is: wasn't it possible to devide the fremium stuff from the Smartcloud stuff? It should have been. Just use a different domain for each - as easy as pie. I know some guys who can show you how to setup this environment.





Latest comments to this post

Kumaresan wrote on 28.11.2015, 08:26

am facing connecting with the server problem, am using Android LG G4

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Gordon McDonald wrote on 21.09.2015, 16:54

I am desperate folks.  I had transitioned to Verse in late August and chose to remain with Lotus Notes as my GUI.  I have had nothing but problems since.  Lotus Notes has become very slow., often hanging and crashing  Productivity has been completely disrupted ... among the worst of my technology experiences.  How the heck do I reverse this move and get away from this nightmare?  Any thoughts?

I have spoken to others at this location who are experiencing the same issues.

 

Deperate in Ottawa

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John Doe wrote on 09.08.2015, 00:24

I did the same path as you, I've registered to the free version then I tried to connect with my android tablet... but in the free version is not allower.

So I tried to understand some more, then I discovered that the IBM Verse is just another web mail.. with all the power they want, but only a web mail..

As I do not left on a server my important mail (I have my domain..), I decided to unsubscribe.

Ok, I have a gmail address, but I use it just for unuseful mails and to register the android device.

I prefer to download my mail on local and to write mail even when I'm not connected.

I have several mail addresses, and I do not see why I should look at them on several interface or give the access to my life to someone who will do analytics on my data.

I've heard they spent 100million dollars.. for me, a waste.

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patrick kwinten wrote on 10.05.2015, 19:18

Tried to find the login page for verse and google directed me to here ��

 

I accessed verse via my tabletbut oh boy! It def needs an app ��

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Isaac wrote on 06.05.2015, 20:32

What he said!

As much as I wanted to like IBM Verse, I'm struggling to find a good reason to use this over Google or Microsoft or even Yahoo!'s offerings.
I think early adopters are not going to link it to a "work" account, probably prefer to try GMail first, so that was a bit of a problem there.

Oh the inconsistencies! Sometimes stuff opens in a new browser window/tab (going to Calendar), sometimes a new pop up window (new Calendar appointment), sometimes it's an on-page pop-up (compose new mail).

Trying to find the link to use it was a pain! Luckily I saved the original activation e-mail, else I would've never been able to get back to the page to login on a following day!


And yeah, it's lonely there....

 

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Andy Steven wrote on 01.05.2015, 02:08

5 screens shots and 5 different look and feels. With all the slick competitors out there now, IBM can't afford to do this. I almost had a stroke when I saw the old inotes contacts come up :(

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Captain Thomasso wrote on 29.04.2015, 22:58

Very nice writeup. The only thing that comes to mind is Jeff Schick's announcement this January "We are taking on the likes of google and yahoo" - well good luck with that. I also hear mail boxes are supposed to fix themselves, or is it watson who fixes them? 

Also, despite a lot of people saying putting email solely into the browser is a bad-bad idea, they'll just go and do it anyway. 
I'm disappointed yet not-that-surprised and amused at the same time. 

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