GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkMike Kudla: Notes Is Stuck
10:29:41 AM

Mike, who worked at Iris from 1991 to 1999 and still works on Notes-related products, says:

The point is, Lotus Notes doesn't suck, it's stuck. After a 4 1/2 year hiatus, I jumped back into to Notesland, 2 major releases later. It's like I never left. The UI is the same, the client is big and clunky and slow... The designer is the same, more widgets, but still the same....

And don't even get me started on the API. It's like the Notes C API got stuck in amber in 1994. LMBCS, OSLockBLock, TYPE_TEXT_LIST, ThreadInit! You still have to know all the idiosyncracies of all that junk....

I am not even sure if this is a bad thing. I, as well as anyone, know the passion with which the Notes developers guard backwards compatibility. I can't tell you how many times I heard the mantra, "that will break existing apps!" when trying to incorporate a new feature into the product.

For a very long time, I believe Notes/Domino has been about extending the reach and breadth of Notes applications, a very good thing. I'd just like to see some innovation, somewhere....

Mike is right on, in many ways, but I think he's missing a bit. His blog now requires a Blogger login for comments, so I'll answer here.

Let's start with the API. In 1991, the only way to do anything more than simple forms and views was with the API. The old way still works exactly the way it used to, but it's far from being stuck. Today there's a whole raft of additional programmability options. If you really to get to the low level, the C API is there, and it's probably going to be stuck with its legacy of accomodations for win16 and for platform-independence forever, but the range of choices for programmability keeps growing. There's also a C++ API which isn't up to the full capabilities of the C API, but it gets close enough for most purposes. LMBCS is unavoidable, but you can do an awful lot with the C++ API without knowing anything about OSLockBlock and most of the rest of the minutia. You can build almost any type of Notes app or add-in with a minimum of C API to establish the framework and then a dive into the C++ API -- if you want, that is, and if you're not overly concerned with squeezing the high level of performance out of every operation. At a higher level, there are also COM and Java classes. Both of these have been around for more than 4.5 years, but now there's Web Services, too.

Moving on to the client, it is, indeed, big, and it's hard to deny "clunky", too. On the other hand, there's Domino Web Access now, which is neither -- and I've sure you've heard all the hype about AJAX by now, and DWA was one of the early innovators of that approach to web apps. I like innovation, too, Mike, and DWA is a prime example. Release 6 and 7 brought relatively few major innovations to the Notes client, but the Hannover release next year absoultely will. The activity-centric collaboration stuff is, IMHO, the biggest innovation for end-users in the collaboration space in 20 years, and innovation of running the Notes client in the Eclipse framework will add more power to the scope of Notes and Domino application development since the first Domino Web release in 1996. There was a bit of a lull in the innovation, but it never completely stopped and it's about to come back big-time!

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Comments :v

1. Justin Freeman02/10/2006 05:51:34 PM

I just posted a similiar entry on my blog, although specifically focusing on the Notes client UI.

From my perspective (end user and Notes developer) two areas which are sorely need of "innovation" are the Notes client and Notes Designer client. Throw in Linux desktop support for good measure and I'll be one happy Notes user.

Fingers crossed this all becomes reality within the next 18 months - the Hannover time frame.

2. Stephan H. Wissel02/11/2006 10:56:38 AM

Eclipse RCP is my bet for both the client and the designer. For the client we know that already (Hanover). For the designer .... how hard could it be? I bet within 1-2 releases IBM would have recovered the investment to redo the designer in Eclipse. The Domiclipse project shows that it is possible. Some cross-fertilization from the Workplace designer client would help.
So there is hope!

3. kudla02/12/2006 03:51:43 PM

Rich, sorry you couldn't post a comment. I don't know the rules, I'm just a squatter on I'm all for the free exchange of information. I was getting spammed, so I some kind of controls must've kicked in...

That being said, I think you just made my point for me.
All the things you refer to, with the exception of Hanover speak to extending the reach of Notes/Domino.

As for Hanover, near as I can figure, it's about making the Notes client look like Outlook 2003. It's ok by me, but I don't think it's innovative.

I hope that Notes/Domino continues to do well, and the Loti, and their business partners can get out of the business of trying to stop the bleeding and fight rearguard actions, and actually get ahead of the curve again. That would be cool...

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