TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1, our thoughts

TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1 was recently released. After using this version for our own processes and customer projects, we would like to share our experiences. TIBCO has listened to feedback, added a few features and made some improvements here and there. The Webserver in TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1 offers more functionality and control. The Web Authoring has also been further developed in this version, but it still has a way to go before it is a viable option for serious mapping.

Main changes

We have used 9.5.1 since it came out a little while ago and used it for customer BPM projects and feel we can speak with confidence about it. It is an upgrade which brings value to several areas. Since this is an incremental version upgrade, the leap from 9.5 to 9.5.1 is not as big as the from 9.4.1 to 9.5. However there are enough improvements to warrant an upgrade, even for those who recently upgraded to 9.5, since the transition from 9.5 to 9.5.1 does not require migrating (or "translating") the Process Registry data. Data migration is usually the most time consuming activity in upgrading.

The most interesting changes are part of TIBCO's efforts to further improve the capabilities in the Webserver. TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1, like the previous version, allows for in-browser editing of Process Diagrams and recording and editing Storyboards. But now it is also possible for admins and authors (with the right access rights) to modify the folder structure and security settings of Process Maps and Storyboards.

TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1 – With the quickest DMS integration, ever?

There are also other new features, such as the optional URL field in the Home screen. By adding any URL as an element to the "Home" screen, it is possible to integrate any web application with unparallelled ease. It might seem like a small feat, but used wisely it is actually a game changer. For instance, we are now able to integrate web interfaces for external Document Management software directly into the Home screen, fully functional after just pasting the URL of the interface into a field. With software like M-Files DMS, which gives users the same capabilities on the web as in a desktop client, the current user gains full access to managing his documents and uploading/downloading with "drag-n-drop".

M-Files in TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1

What used to require a portal like Sharepoint for integration now only requires you to copy and paste an URL into a field. In this example, we have embedded our external document management solution M-Files to show up in the Home screen. It retains all functions and allows for searching, managing metadata, uploading and downloading with "Drag-n-drop".

This means that we can have the Nimbus Webserver work as the portal for a full Operational Management System. Read more in this article: 10 second M-Files/Nimbus integration or visit M-Files.

Web Authoring

While we believe the new web features bring much value to the Webserver experience for authors, the most exciting recent feature for us is still a work in progress. The Web Authoring tool introduced in 9.5, which allows for drawing processes in the browser, has also been upgraded and tweaked. It is still an early version, set to "Off" by default and activated by editing the Webserver config file, one could view it as a sort of "beta" version. But this feature already has some interesting applications. Web Authoring as it stands is mainly useful for mapping processes more playfully in a workshop, or introducing new authors to process notation. It is easy and feels very modern to map in the browser. In its current state it may require someone to "correct" the designs in the Client, however.

TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1 Web authoring

While intuitive and modern, designs from the web tools may need some adjustments in the Client.

The Web Authoring feature still has a few more steps to go before it can rival the Nimbus client's drawing tools in terms of completely finishing a process from scratch. The client offers more control over the design, for example the positioning and look of lines and arrows. After using Web Authoring's more intuitive "drag-n-drop" tools to jot down the steps in Nimbus, the diagram produced will sometimes need to be adjusted in the Nimbus client. There are also no promotion controls in the Web Authoring tools, yet.

We are certain that the Web Authoring tools will be concluded with most of the features from the Client drawing tools. This would make accessing the client less necessary for authors. It looks like this is where a lot of sophisticated software is headed; away from Client applications. We expect these tools to open authoring up to mobile users as well in the near future.

Major Webserver enhancements

This is some of what TIBCO writes in their release notes for TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1, with some elaboration:

Integration

  • Custom home page sections can be added to the Home page of all users. A URL is used to define the custom section, such as a news feed link.
    • This works opens up for all sorts of web apps and integration with other sites.
  • Sections of the Web Server can be embedded into generic portals and SharePoint, including the search bar, ToDos, recently viewed items, favorites and diagrams.
    • You can for example take a code that represents a content section from the Nimbus Webserver and put it in an iFrame to display it in another portal site. This allows for very quick and easy integration with virtually any site.

Storyboards

  • Storyboards and storyboard folders can now be created, edited and deleted in the Webserver. The Storyboard and Storyboard folder access rights can also be modified in the Webserver.
    • This makes the Storyboard-making process even quicker and more easily available in the browser.

TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1 Storyboards

Easily record Storyboards, edit the folder structure and access rights with the menu items. The Process section gives you the same controls, but for Process Maps and folders.

There are more improvements and fixes. For all the details about this update, please go here to download the full release notes.

We believe TIBCO Nimbus 9.5.1 is an excellent upgrade for making this software even more reliable while giving more power to the Web component. This version made it possible to have a complete Operational Management System without Sharepoint or other portal; by using Nimbus for BPM and as the interface and the leading Metadata based information system as the DMS compenent.

This version also hints at some very exciting things to come with its Web Authoring that may be a revolution in the making for Nimbus process mapping.

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