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IBM Connections

IBM Connections
Developer(s) IBM
Stable release 5.0 CR1
Operating system Cross-platform
Type collaboration, web 2.0
License License

IBM Connections is a Web 2.0 enterprise social software application developed by IBM. The goal of IBM Connections is to empower companies to be more innovative and help them execute more quickly by using dynamic networks of co-workers, partners and customers. It provides social networking tools for businesses to use to bring together people through online tools.


IBM Connections (or 'Connections' for short) was announced at Lotusphere 2007, and Version 1.0 shipped later that year on June 27.

Version Release date Major release points
v1.0 29 June 2007 First release of a new IBM product specially meant for social business.
v1.02 6 November 2007 New plugins for Microsoft Windows Explorer, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.
v2.0 June 2008 Widget based extensibility for Homepage, Profiles, and Communities
v2.5 28 August 2009 Newly added functionality: Wikis, Files, Microblogging, and social search / analytics
v3.0 24 November 2010 Newly easily wizards for database creation and profile population, cluster functionality installed out of the box.
v3.0.1 5 April 2011 Name change from IBM Lotus Connections to IBM Connections, Media library functionality, Ideation, Enterprise Content Manager (ECM) integration and advanced mobility possibilities.
v3.0.1.1 17 March 2012 Forums content can be added by non-forum member. Forums question can be filtered on.
v3.0.1.1CR1 16 May 2012 In majority this is a FixPack release, only bug fixes are fixed in this release.
v4.0 15 September 2012 Activity Stream, Embedded Experience, Integrated Mail and Calendar, Social Analytics, Mobility
v4.5 12 March 2013 Content Manager, @-mentions in mobile, two factor authentication in mobile, enhanced ideation, enhanced rich text editing, Microsoft Outlook Sidebar Plug-in, Activity Stream, Embedded Experience, Integrated Mail and Calendar, Social Analytics, Mobility
v4.5. CR1 26 June 2013 This is a FixPack release, only bug fixes are fixed in this release.
v4.5. CR3 30 November 2013 This is a FixPack release, only bug fixes are fixed in this release.
v4.5. CR4 10 April 2014 This is a FixPack release, only bug fixes are fixed in this release.
v5.0 26 June 2014 File sync, ability to share content with external users from inside the firewall, smart expertise type ahead search, attention management indicators, updated user experience/look-n-feel, push notifications to mobile, redesigned mobile experience, activity stream search, enhanced file viewing and management, community landing, page, new Gallery app for Communities, wiki macros, @-mentions everywhere, copy/paste everywhere, etc.

IBM Connections has the following components:

  • Homepage - a portal site which can federate information from many sources.
  • Microblogging - primarily used to stay current with updates from across the social network through the home page
  • Profiles - a social network service - primarily used to find people in the organization. Find the people you need by searching across your organization using tags to identify expertise, current projects, and responsibilities. Stay current with updates from across your social network through the home page, microblogs, and tags.
  • Communities - a collaborative space for people with common interests to work together with an included discussion forum space.
  • Ideation - Provides the ability to crowdsource ideas
  • Media Gallery - Used to share photos and videos and stream those videos from the server
  • Blogs - a blogging service.
  • Bookmarks - a social bookmarking service.
  • Activities - a task management tool for groups of people to work together on a specific project or task.
  • Files - a content library for storing, sharing and revision management of computer files.
  • Wikis - a Wiki system for publishing and editing content.
  • Forums - an internet forum system where people can ask questions, share their experiences, and discuss topics of common interest.
  • Search - for searching across IBM Connections and get the most relevant results based on your social graph

At Lotusphere 2010, IBM previewed features being planned for future releases,[1][2] including

  • changes to how user generated content is moderated
  • compliance/auditing capabilities
  • additional integration with IBM WebSphere Portal and Microsoft SharePoint
  • expanded mobile support

IBM Connections makes significant use of open standards such as ATOM and RSS to integrate with other applications and provides a REST-like API for developers.[3] Widgets can be added into IBM Connections, including those from Google Gadgets and other services as well as custom developed ones.[4]

IBM Connections is often described as the leading product in enterprise social software market[5][6][7][8] and IDC named it the worldwide leader in marketshare in 2011.


The ten IBM Connections components are built on a set of services according to the service-oriented architecture concept. These components take the form of J2EE applications which are hosted on IBM WebSphere Application Server. This design allows the components to be hosted independently of each other and to support very large scale deployments.


The Homepage serves as a portal for user's social collaboration. Out of the box IBM Connections provides 20 widgets[9] which can be customized by the user.

IT Administrators can add new widgets and OpenSocial gadgets for use by users.

The Homepage module also includes a 'recent updates' display which shows changes such as new content posts and status updates which are relevant to the user. A system to update the users status via microblogging is also provided.


Profiles provides an online directory of people within an organization. People can be located in many different ways,[9] such as by

  • Keywords
  • Names
  • Responsibilities
  • Interests
  • Projects they are part of
  • Their expertise
  • Their business relationships
  • Tags applied to their profile
  • Their geographical location

A person's profile typically contains their name, job role, base location, reporting chain and details about the IBM Connection bookmarks, activities, communities and blogs in which they participate. Profiles can also be customized and new fields added[10]


Bookmarks is a social bookmarking service which allows people to bookmark web-content, tag it, and share it. Bookmarks can be located via keyword, tags and the person who created the bookmark.

In addition to simple searching, Bookmarks can dynamically refine search results with the user identifying users or other tags of interest to them.

Bookmarks can output bookmarks via standard feeds and provides an API so that third-party tools can integrate with it.[11] As of Connections 2.0.1, the API can be used for:

  • Searching bookmarks
  • Getting a list of bookmark tags
  • Getting a list of popular bookmarks
  • Adding bookmarks to a Web page
  • Adding a list of bookmarks to a Web page
  • Adding popular bookmarks to a Web page
  • Creating bookmarks
  • Deleting bookmarks
  • Retrieving bookmarks
  • Updating bookmarks


Activities is a task management system which enables groups of people to easily collaborate on a task. Activities are structured in a nested tree hierarchy where entries, to-do items and sections branch off from the root activity.

Any non-section entity in an activity can contain rich-text and custom fields for files, links, text, people and dates. To-Do items can also have a due date and a person the To-do is assigned to.


Wikis are a new capability added to IBM Connections 2.5 which facilitate the collaborative creation of web content. Wikis are collections of pages about a particular subject. Wiki members can edit or comment on the pages, or add their own pages. Teams can use wikis to create a central place to collaborate on a project.[9]


Files is a new personal file-sharing service that is part of IBM Connections 2.5, used to upload and share files, tag them, and recommend/comment on them. Files is a collaboration tool in which you can upload files and let other people see and work with them. You can also see and work with other people's files. Files provides a simple way to share files, information, communications, and ideas with other members of your team without sending large files through email. .[9]


Communities enable ad hoc and planned collaboration around a project or area of interest. A Connections Community can have its own media gallery, event calendar, ideation, microblogging, blog, forums, bookmarks, activities, feeds,[12] member list, Wiki and Files.


Blogs provide blogging functionality for groups and individuals.


Use the Forums to start discussions about a specific topic or debate solutions to shared problems. By participating in a forum, you can exchange ideas, ask questions, and leverage the expertise of other people in your organization. Forums was added as a component in 3.0. It was previously part of the Communities component.


IBM Connections integrates into existing applications via plug-ins. Out-of-the-box, the following plugins are available and most are included for free as part of the license:

Other integration with Microsoft Sharepoint and Microsoft Office Communications Server has also been done.

ISVs have also integrated into the IBM Connections platform, such as Trilog Group to add Social Project Management for complex projects, ISW & Bunchball to add a gamification layer, Blogsy which serves as a native iPad blogging app for IBM Connections,


  1. ^ "IBM's Social Strategy Includes Support for CMIS, User Generated Content and Compliance". CMSWire. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  2. ^ "IBM Lotus Connections Adding Social Analytics, Moderation". eWeek. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  3. ^[dead link]
  4. ^ "Adding widgets to the Home page". Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  5. ^[dead link]
  6. ^ "BlackBerry - Press Release". 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  7. ^ "MySpace Gets a Corporate Makeover" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c d "IBM United States Software Announcement 209-210" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  10. ^ "Customizing Profiles". Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  11. ^ "Dogear API". Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  12. ^ "IBM Connections". 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2011-12-08. 

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