The Lithium Developer Network has made great strides since launching in 2013. As our platform matures, our customers and partners continue to deliver greater sophistications to their communities and digital customer experiences. This year’s Developer Track sessions exceeded expectations on all fronts: partners shared customization and integration projects done for Cisco and Optimizely; we launched the open beta of the Lithium-Klout SDK; and attendance tripled compared to our first LDN appearance at LiNC’13.
In addition to the 90+ attendees that packed each session, we saw greater diversity in experience levels and backgrounds. We witnessed fiery discussions on ways to automate and improve customer experiences, how to ensure customers see content most relevant to them, and syndicating community content throughout the company’s website. Every year, we are consistently blown away by how developers take the platform into their own hands and show us use cases that we never thought of.
If you want to relive the moment or weren’t able to attend LiNC, here’s a recap of each track. If you want to see each presentation in its entirety, you could access and download them here.
Spotlight Session 1: Self-service content publishing
Raju Kotha, iTalent
Fred Walters, iTalent
Valuable content is created on Lithium communities which helps your customers solve their problems. The challenge is how to get that content in the right place to maximize the number of customers who see it and get value from it. iTalent, working on the Cisco community, developed a workflow to enable content generated on community to be published to Cisco’s knowledge base. This automated process was custom-built to conform to Cisco’s internal content management processes.
Spotlight Session 2: How to ge content in the right place at the right time
Chris Blown, Hinterlands
Stéphane Akkaoui, The Social Client
Hailing from different ends of the world, Chris (Australia) and Stéphane (France) shared tips and tricks for content management. Chris taught the developers how to build a customization that automatically showcased content from VIP users. Stéphane explained how to build user-friendly announcement components so that non-technical community managers could update it themselves.
Breakout Session 1: Using external services to extend community search
Varun Luthra, Grazitti Interactive
Amanda Swan, Optimizely
When customers visit your website, they want to search for information across your site, whether on community or elsewhere. In this session, Grazitti explained how they built a federated search feature that searched community and Optimizely’s other content repositories to give users a one-stop experience for search.
Breakout Session 2: Supercharge your next development project
Doug Schroeder, LIthium
Jeff Yeldezian, Lithium
In this session, the Lithium product and engineering team announced the open beta of the Lithium-Klout SDK. The Lithium-Klout SDK enables developers to use their own source control and tooling, such as an integrated development environment, to customize and integrate the Lithium platform. The SDK makes it easier, faster, and cheaper for to develop on the Lithium platform and centralizes the development experience across the Lithium Total Community Platform.
Breakout Session 3: Which community customizations are hot, and how you can make them perform at scale
Filip Klisic, Lithium
Venk Subramanian, Lithium
Lithium Professional Services shared a recent faceted search customization they built to make it easier for users to filter and ultimately find community content relevant to them. Then, Lithium engineering gave a preview of a new tool for developers to diagnose and solve performance issues within their customizations.
Community customization was the most popular submission category at this year’s hackathon. Team Glowing Blue won best community customization for taking Integrated Profile to the next level. Check out their idea and all of the hackathon entries here.
Thanks again to our presenters, iTalent, Grazitti Interactive, Hinterlands, Optimizely, The Social Client, and Lithium colleagues @DougS, @FilipK, and @VenkS. We hope these sessions empower you to take the Lithium platform into your own hands and build something amazing for your customers. Until next year!
See the presentations:
How to get content in the right place at the right time
Using external services to extend community search
Supercharge your next development project
Which community customizations are hot, and how you can make them perform at scale?
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With our partner for the second year in a row, Persistent Systems, the LiNC’15 Hackathon hosted at HQ in San Francisco was a huge success! Our customers and partners pushed the limits of their sandbox environments and the Lithium platform by building creative customizations, integrations, and total community experiences.
Our participants started at 11:00 am with some still fighting jet lag after their international trek. 15 companies across 7 countries summoned their best developers to take a shot at winning this year’s title. More than 60% of attendees embraced the true spirit of hackathons and formed teams onsite with people they’ve never met. We kicked off opening remarks at 11:30 am laying out the ground rules and appointing Lithium developers for each team to serve as resource gurus throughout the event.
Despite the post-lunch food coma and afternoon lull, these teams fought to get their prototypes across the finish line. And for that, they were rewarded with endless pizza as they kicked back and watched presentations. Our panel of judges included @JeffC (VP Engineering), @JohnDe (Lead Architect, Americas), @MichaelP (VP Worldwide Sales Engineering), and @Veit (Director, Customer Success Management at Persistent Systems). Overall, the judges were impressed with the quality of this year’s submissions, noting that some prototypes were even ready for production.
However, some teams edged out over others. Here are all the submissions so you can judge for yourself:
Overall winner: Dynamic Duo - Eric Broyles (Siemens) and Nicolas Gutierrez (SCEG)
As communities grow, it gets harder for users to find the content they’re looking for. The Dynamic Duo built a series of custom components that automatically highlighted content based on popularity parameters such as views, accepted solutions, and kudos. This idea was a clear winner because of its broad applicability, completeness, and configurability.
Best community customization: Glowing Blue - Marc Zimmerman (89grad), Lukas Zahnd (89grad), Marcel Eyer (Swisscom AG)
Taking Lithium Integrated Profile to the next level, Glowing Blue enabled users to choose which of their Klout topics were displayed on their community profile. This enhancement gives users more control over their identity on Lithium communities. Although currently in closed beta, customers such as GiffGaff and Telstra, have leveraged Integrated Profile to gain rich insights about their super users. Read about their experiences here.
Best integration: The Social Team - Patrice Bonfy (The Social Client), Stéphane Akkaoui (The Social Client), Matt Smith (Lingotek)
Recognizing the value of connecting a brand’s total community (on and off domain communities), The Social Team integrated Instragram with Lithium contests. By posting an image with a certain hashtag, Instagram users were entered into a photo contest on a Lithium community.
Best total community experience: 90 Degrees - Claudius Henrichs (Skype), Ramun Berger (89grad)
Users share a lot of information about their influence and expertise through their Lithium Integrated Profile. 90 Degrees displayed this information within the context of a thread so users could more easily identify experts on particular topics.
Team A - Robert Murray (Acer), Oscar Fuentes (HP)
To enhance threads and text content on communities, Team A developed a related videos customization that showed support videos that were related to the board or thread a user was viewing.
I Be Five Zeroes - Everett James (USAA), Jordan Potter (USAA)
This team replicated the popular “feed” experience from social networks in community. In addition to providing a feed of community posts, their feed could be easily embedded in other digital properties, such as a brand’s .com page.
Translate Now - Vince Kohli (Biz Innovators), Piotr Kaminski (Magneto), Rohan Gadiya (NetApp)
Regardless of the language, this team translated posts into the language that the user specified in their profile. This enhancement makes it possible for users who speak different language to collaborate on a single thread.
Our overall winner, Dynamic Duo, took home a brand new iPad Air 2 and our other winners each received an Apple Store gift card.
If reading through these entries inspired some new hacks for your own community, we welcome you to participate in the LiNC’16 Hackathon - it's never too early to register! To seek other areas of inspiration for your own platform, check out the 2015 Lithy Winners.
In closing, thank you to those who helped make the event a success: Persistent Systems for sponsoring and assisting with the awards ceremony; our talented LDN colleagues who served as advisors and for their overall dedication to the developer community; @ArnaudL for taking pictures throughout the event; and finally, to our amazing customers and partners – we can't wait to see what you bring next year!
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APIs, which allow developers to interact with applications and for applications to communicate with each other, are the cornerstone of today's SaaS applications. They connect mobile and web applications to the cloud, integrate systems, and enable developers to innovate the next great product or service. On Lithium, APIs are used to customize your community, integrate Lithium communities with your other applications like business intelligence, and connect LSW to your CRM -- that's just the beginning.
Today, I'm pleased to announce the release of Lithium Community REST API v2 with Lithium Query Language (LiQL). This is a complete redesign of our popular Community REST API v1 to better meet the needs to today's desktop and mobile applications. LiQL, an open sourced query syntax that gives developers even more control and flexibility, is a great way to add personalization, content discoverability, and content relevancy to your community or other web properties. Lithium Community REST API v2 also supports OAuth 2.0, the industry standard for authentication, which makes user sign on for integrations easier.
In addition to unlocking new customization and integration abilities, API v2’s new design is even easier to learn and use. Make your first API call through the API browser in Studio and you’ll see how much faster development has been for companies like EMC. Also, since you have more control of the data, you can consolidate API calls, thereby reducing the complexity and simplifying the maintainability of your code. Check out the Tech Blog for more details on the API itself, including API v2 code samples.
This is the initial release of Lithium Community REST API v2. Look out for even more features to support development on the Lithium platform over the coming months. We can’t wait to see what new ideas you dream up! Head over to the documentation to learn more, and help us share the good news!
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Hi Nathan -- Thanks for the comments. Here are my thoughts:
2. Thanks for the clarification
3. Great idea -- I've added this to our feature wish list
4. Seems like a good approach, especially if you plan to reuse the code across several communities in different locales.
5. Not currently, but we're looking into it (pre-populating community with test data).
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Last Wednesday, we hosted a group of Lithium customers and partners in our San Francisco office. Braving the early-season cold snap, we huddled in our cozy kitchen and chowed down on pizza and beer. Lithium engineers and professional services were on hand to talk coding and share development tips and tricks. @DougS and @YuriK presented powerful but lesser known features of our Freemarker context objects and @KaelaC , drawing from her years as a professional services technical consultant, shared common coding mistakes. Everyone seemed to learn something new and have a good time.
This was the first in a series of developer meetups designed to engage and support our ever-growing developer community. Initially targeted at the San Francisco Bay Area, we were blown away by the response worldwide. In fact, @dementad flew in from Seattle to attend! We'd like to expand to other cities and countries soon. Let us know in the comments or the Dev Forum if you're interested and what you'd like to learn about.
In the meantime, enjoy this recording of the presentation.
As always, please stay in touch on the Dev Forum and the Tech Blog to stay up to date on the latest developer news! We’re also beginning work on the DevTrack for LiNC so please submit any ideas you have for content. We look forward to seeing everyone at another meetup soon.
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Developers are really important to Lithium. They’re the ones behind the scenes making Lithium communities come to life. And, with so much innovation from companies like Cisco and CommSec , they’re asked to push Lithium’s platform capabilities all the time. As the Product Manager for the Lithium Developer Network, I spend a lot of time talking to developers and wanted to share what I’ve learned from our developer community:
Many of our best features aren’t widely used
The Lithium platform offers developers a wide range of customization and extensibility features. So many, in fact, that it’s hard to know them all. Here are a few of my favorites:
Endpoints : Think of these as custom REST API calls that you define in Freemarker. They’re most commonly used to combine multiple data streams into a single request. For example, the Message REST API object contains an author field, but you may want to add profile information from the User object and display the richer profile on a thread page. If you don’t see the “Endpoints” tab in Studio, contact Support to enable it.
Http Client : A Freemaker object that enables server-side REST API calls to external systems. It’s great for integrations with third-party systems like Salesforce.
Custom modal dialogs : Display any pre-built or custom component in a modal dialog. For example, embed a video in a component and display that component in a modal, like we did on the Developer Network getting started page. It’s a quick and easy light box!
What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
Documentation can be improved
This statement is true of every technology company that’s ever existed, and we’re no exception. But, everyone’s definition is a little different. New and intermediate developers to the Lithium platform want architectural overviews, tutorials, and code samples. These developers want to understand the big pieces like the Lithium REST API object model, how they’re related, and how they can learn without debugging code for 4 hours. Advanced developers want depth. They want every last REST API parameter documented and want to know strategies to make their code more efficient and performant.
You may have seen our all new Lithium Developer Network site which has much more introductory material and an improved REST API documentation experience. That’s just the start; we have much more in the works!
Also, our developer forum is a great place for all experience levels to ask questions and learn from the community and Lithium engineers.
Self-service is key
We’ve always known that the more we empower our customers to innovate the more amazing things they’ll create. This was the driver behind Studio, our community customization app, and the REST API. But, developers are outgrowing Studio and wanting to go deeper with the REST API. They want to customize forms, to hook into our event framework, and to create their own interactions, to name a few. And, they want a development workflow that uses the tools and process they’re already familiar with. We hear you loud and clear and are working on some exciting things you’ll see later this year.
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