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oktober 01, 2012

Create Connections Blog posts with Word

Use Word and its full formatting features to share information in IBM Connections Blogs  

Have you tried the IBM Connections toolbar in Microsoft Word? It allows you to work efficiently on Word documents, yet publish your information easily online in you IBM Connections environment. And I'm not just talking about adding it to your Files or to Community Files. Yes, it can do that too. But you can even post your Word document to a Blog, attach it to a Wiki or add it as an item in an Activity! I am particularly happy with the functionality to actually transform your Word document to a Blog entry, as it might help people to start using Blogs more.

There are two adoption hurdles to using Blogs that I encounter regularly:
1.   The old habit to put information in a file
2.   The limitations of the IBM Connections Blog editor

The old habit to put information in a file
One of the hardest habits to kill is for people to create information in Word documents. I've written about this before in blog posts and created a whitepaper even back in 2010 (dutch) Omzeil het gebruik van mappen en bestanden. Over Wiki's en het werken in de 21e eeuw. Employees automatically revert back to putting texts into Word documents, that they then save on a computer drive in a folder of their choice. In itself, of course, there is nothing wrong with creating Word documents. Word can prove to be a useful tool when information needs excessive formatting, such as table of contents, headings, page numbers, headers and footers, embedded images, tables or graphs. Especially when the document needs to be preserved in a specific system for archiving or compliancy, for advanced workflows or for sharing with others outside the organization, a Word file may be the appropriate way of creating information.
There is a down-side though to using Word documents, in a social environment such as IBM Connections. Social software provides many ways of sharing and collaborating on information that might prove to be better. Better how and why? Any information in a file requires extra steps to get to the content itself. Information in a Word document is accessible to me only after clicking it and opening it in Word. Other tools, such as a Blog or a Wiki give instant access to the content itself. I don't need an extra click, nor a program to open it.
As far as I am concerned Connections social tools such as Blogs and Wikis are more appropriate to create and share content when:
  1. the content does not require advanced Microsoft Word formatting functions
  2. the content is for internal use only (not to be sent to others outside the organisation)
  3. the content needs co-authoring (Wiki) or commenting (Blog)

The limitations of the IBM Connections Blog editor
The IBM Connections plugin for Word brings all the Word functionality within IBM Connections Blogs. Many people are struggling with the Blogs editor in IBM Connections. It's not easy to use, people are not familiar with it and you can't create your content offline. Using Word instead brings the familiar functionality into Connections, allowing you to create your content offline as well to save it to Connections later.

The IBM Connections toolbar
Whenever you feel like posting your Word document to Connections, it provides several options for you to choose to get your Word document online through the Save & Send menu:

How can you save a Word document as a Blog entry in IBM Connections?
Basically you need to take these easy steps below, or watch the video demo (also embedded at the bottom):
1.   Make sure you install the IBM Connections plugin, which will give you the IBM Connections toolbar:

2.   Start a new Word Blog post document
Go to File – New – Choose Blog post

3.   Create your Blog post content
4.   Save & Send the document to Connections
5.   Go to File – Save & Send – Send to IBM Connections – Choose Send to Blogs
6.      Choose your Connections server and Blog

7.      Add some Tags

Watch this demo: