Talk to an IBM Champion and get a discount for IBM Think

IBM Think

If you want to attend IBM Think in Las Vegas and looking for a discount. Talk to me or any IBM Champion 2018.

Hope to see you in Vegas.

IBM Champion 2018

Today when I came back from an early morning ride on the mountain bike there was a message from IBM to inform me that I will be a returning IBM Champion.

Feel honoured to be part of an amazing group of dedicated people.

Thanks to everyone who nominate me and the people at IBM who had the task to choose the new class

Also many thanks to Alan Hamilton, program manager of ICS, but also to Libby Ingrassia, the overall IBM Champion program manager

Hope to meet in Las Vegas during IBM Think more fellow IBM Champions as I did last year at IBM InterConnect.


Look back to 2017 and looking ahead












Last week I was thinking about 2017, business and personal wise. Speaking, running, backpacking, being a IBM Champion and more….

Speaking in 2017

Last year I had the opportunity to speak at IBM Connect in San Francisco, IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas and Engage in Antwerp. I enjoyed it very much. Especially InterConnect was one of the highlights. A real big conference, lots of attendees. Learnt a lot new things from other IBM parts then ICS. Engage, organised by Theo and Hilde ( and team ) is always top notch. I am always happy to be there, as a speaker or attendee.

Projects in 2017

In 2017 I started at Rabobank as a Full Stack Developer in very nice team. We had a lot of fun, but also delivered some nice new features to the business. Technologies we used, Angular4, SpringBoot, Thymeleaf. But also some older technologies.

With Belsoft Collaboration we added some cool new features to the HR Assistant application. Added Document Conversion, but also multi language support. HR Assistant runs now on Domino and Bluemix. Deployed it at customer and made a few custom features for this customer.

Started in December with a former team member a totally new project. Technologies we will use, Spring Boot, Thymeleaf, Spring Security, MyBatis, Lombok, Docker and certainly more new goodies.

Holiday in 2017

During the summer I backpacked with my family through Indonesia, spent time on some bounty islands. Made a stopover in Singapore, which was a nice start and finish of the journey.

Sport in 2017

In did not that many sports in 2017 as wanted to. In the spring I had small knee problems. In the fall my health was not that stable. Fortunately I can commute every day on the bike to Rabobank.

Looking ahead

In 2018 I will attending, may be speaking, IBM Think. The new all-in-one conference in Las Vegas in March. Looking forward to be back in Las Vegas and meet everyone. I also will run the 12K at the St Patricks Day Run.

This week I also submitted an abstract for Engage, this year on the s.s. Rotterdam in Rotterdam. I also found the courage to submit an abstract for Spring IO in Barcelona. About to move an XPages application to Spring Boot. What I learn and the challenges. As I am busy moving HR Assistant as a business case.

In 2018 I will continue to learn more of Spring Boot and all the nice extra’s Pivotal is offering.

It will be an interesting year, and looking forward to learn and share more.


Document Conversion API now open source


Last Friday I wrote how we implemented Document Conversion in HR Assistant.

Part of the solution was a new project, Document Conversion API

We decided to open source it. Below I copied the details from the previous post about this new project.


It is a Spring boot application, which can run stand alone. I have added also Docker support.

See the ReadMe for more details


Url: /api/convert-to-plain-text
Method: POST
Consumes: File
Produces: JSON
“convertedText”: “text”,
“message”: “information or error message”

document conversion request

Url: /api/convert-data-to-plain-text
Method: POST
Consumes: JSON
“mediaType”: “text”,
“data”: “base64 encoded representation of text/file”
Produces: JSON
“convertedText”: “text”,
“message”: “information or error message”


To make it easy to test the api I have added Swagger



The Document Conversion API can be found in a public repository on Bitbucket. Feel free to use it or improve it. Better let me know if there are new feature request or add it your self and submit a Pull Request

HR Assistant – Document Conversion but different

Document conversion was one of the top items on our backlog which didn’t make it in the final contest version.


What is Watson Document Conversion

On the Document Conversion API documentation page is the following stated about this service

“The IBM Watson™ Document conversion service converts a single HTML, PDF, or Microsoft Word™ document into a normalized HTML, plain text, or a set of JSON-formatted Answer units that can be used with other Watson services. Carefully inspect output to make sure that it contains all elements and metadata required by your or your organization’s security standards.”


How we use it.

In HR Assistant we use the Watson Document Conversion Service in the Job Application part.

A job applicant upload a resume in PDF or docx format.The data is stored in the document on Cloudant.

When someone is analysing the data of the job application.

Step1: if there is an attachment, it will be send to the Watson Document Conversion to get the text representation in return.

flow Watson Document Conversion Service

Step 2: combine the text from Document with other text of the job application and send to the various Watson services we use in HR Assistant.

Change of plans

Watson Document Conversion is already deprecated. For stand alone conversion as we do in HR Assistant there is no migration to other Watson services. IBM recommands to use Apache Tika for this sort of operations.

So we have  to refactor the current Document Conversion service in HR Assistant.


StHello Document Conversion API

Due to security restrictions in Domino, I created a simple Spring Boot application, with 2 end points. I deployed it via the command line to Bluemix. And secured the endpoints via the build-in API Management.


Url: /api/convert-to-plain-text
Method: POST
Consumes: File
Produces: JSON
“convertedText”: “text”,
“message”: “information or error message”

File request

Url: /api/convert-data-to-plain-text
Method: POST
Consumes: JSON
“mediaType”: “text”,
“data”: “base64 encoded representation of text/file”
Produces: JSON
“convertedText”: “text”,
“message”: “information or error message”


To make it easy to test the api I have added Swagger



As a bonus I have added also Docker support, so it can run everywhere. You can find the Instruction in the ReadMe.

The Document Conversion API can be found in a public repository on Bitbucket.Feel free to use it. Better let me know if there are new feature request or add it your self and submit a Pull Request

Quick tip: access the application log files on Bluemix

Last night when I deployed a new version of HR Assistant to Bluemix I ran in some troubles.

When the application was deployed and tried to access it via de Application URL I got a 500 internal error.

Find the log

First step was to open the log page, but was not very explanatory.

Log files on Bluemix

Next step was to open Kibana. There I found more information.

Kibana log

As you can see, I need to consult the error-log-0.xml file for more information

The challenge is where to find this log file.


I started, in my case, a Terminal window, to login on Bluemix.

Terminal login

Next was to start a SSH session for my app. This can be done by
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]bx cf ssh HRAssistant[/dropshadowbox]


After that I was able to open the error-log-0.xml file with the command

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

cat app/notesdata/domino/workspace/logs/error-log-0.xml


Now it was easy to find the cause of the Internal Error.


After I fix the issue, I uploaded a new version, which runs without problems.

HR Assistant – Hello Domino….

While we developed HR Assistant it ran smoothly on a Domino server, but it was not using some strength of Domino, security.

Run on Domino

I made HR Assistant aware of the runtime it runs on, it ‘knows’ when it runs on Bluemix.

If that is the case our own developed login features comes in place, but…

When it runs on Domino it will enforce the ACL, which gave great advantages, by assign groups to the 3 roles of the application, HR, JobApplicant and Administrator. In the end you are elevating the security of the application

Store on Domino

Another feature we wanted to implement, which was on the wish list, was the ability to store the data in the NSF file.

With the great feature of the OpenNTF Domino API, I was able to store the document as JSON in field. Just the way I store the data in the Cloudant database. This feature give the ability to store what ever in a field and it will converted automatically if the data will reach the field limit

To achieve this, I created a new DominoJSONStore which do the same as the CloudantService, store the data in the respective NoSQL store

Choose your NoSQL datastore

I thought it would be nice to be in control of which NoSQL datastore to be used, without the need of the Domino Designer.

I found a great NAPIUtility file created by Sven Hasselbach. More details on his blog and it works very well.

I created a settings page where I load my custom property file, which ‘lives’ in the application.

On this page you can select the dataStorage to use for the application.

After saving the settings page, you need to re-authenticate to have the new settings effective.


As you see, there are more settings, like the cloudant username and password. Now I can connect the applications directly to another Cloudant database.

It opens new possibilities. For example by adding the credentials of the various Watson Services. There is no need anymore to store these credentials in the Faces-config.xml.

Be aware

The settings page is not available on the current instance running on Bluemix as the login functionality is not that strict as on Domino. On Domino the settings page is only available for the users with the Administrator role.


If you want more information about HR Assistant and all the functionalities, let me know.

Quick tip: Make a backup of your Cloudant database


For HR Assistant, we use Cloudant database as storage of the data on the IBM Cloud

Today I was thinking about ‘what if we loose our data as something goes wrong’. It is not likeable, but still possible.

Make a backup

On IBM Cloud, there is documentation about making a backup of your data.

So installed the npm package couchbackup  and run the command as described in the documentation.]

I changed only to store the output as a JSON file.

When I run the command I hit an error about authentication


Set permissions

I move over to my Cloudant database and opened the permissions page. On that page I selected, temporarily, the _reader checkbox for the Unauthenticated connections.

Moved back to Terminal and return the backup command, this time it ran successful.

After inspecting the backup JSON file, I was really happy with the result.


HR Assistant – now available in every language

One of the latest features I had add to HR Assistant is multi language support.

It was obvious we needed this new features, as not the whole world is talking English 😉

One of my goals was to make it as configurable as possible.

Default language

The default language of the application is still English. All the labels are stored in the application it self as a property file if there are no languages configured these property file will be loaded.

On the overview page of the languages is the possibility to download this property file with all the labels to make it easy to translate all the labels before adding to the application

HR Assistant export default language

New language

By clicking the button ‘Create language’, there will be a new language page opened, with all the labels already filled at the bottom of the page.

Give it a meaningful name and code.

HR Assistant language page

The important part is at the bottom, the labels.

You can fill in the labels on the page it self, but just above the labels is upload functionality to import the already translated default property which you can download from the language over page.

By saving the page all the labels will be stored in the database.

Switch language

To switch the application to another language, open the language page of preference and click the ‘Make active’ button. In the background the application will switch to the other language.

By refreshing the browser HR Assistant has changed to the active language.

Export language

On the Language page there is another button, ‘Export labels’. By clicking this button, the user will get an export of all the keys and labels as property file.


In my opinion we have now a highly flexible solution for multi language support in HR Assistant.

If you want to know more of HR Assistant leave me a comment.

HR Assistant – what happened since last year

Last year I won together with Frédéric Dehédin the ICS Developer Contest 2016 with our HR Assistant application, a cognitive solution to help the HR department with of IBM Watson services.

As required the code was open sourced at a public Github repository.

What happened with HR Assistant since that moment?

From public to closed

First thing was to take the code back 😉

In the final stage of the development we were not able to include all the features we wanted upfront. So we skipped some features in favour of stability.

We move over to a closed repository at a GIT server, with the goal to make a real product out of it together with Belsoft Collaboration

Share the knowledge

I had the opportunity to speak at several conferences to share the knowledge I had learned in this contest.

At Sutol and Meet IT I spoke about Cloudant and the similarities with the NSF on Domino.

In 2017 I had the opportunity to share some technical insight of the HR Assistant application at IBM Connect in San Francisco, IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas and last but not least Engage in Antwerp. For slides see Slideshare.

Adding new features

We had a backlog of features we would like to include in the product. The next period I will write blogs about these new features we have added to HR Assistant over time

  • Watson Document Conversion
  • Run it on Domino
  • Multi language support
  • and more….


IBM Watson services



If you want to know more about HR Assistant, let me know. I can give a demo.