Fredrik Malmborg December 25 2013 10:35:01
The Bad News
There's no need to lie about Lotus Notes losing quite a few users recent years. There are several reasons for that. Unfortunately it is often the result of ignorance and herd behavior. The same goes for the big consulting firms. Today few of those have relevant knowledge of IBM Notes / Domino in their staff. In the public sector and public authorities in Sweden have a large shift occurred from Notes / Domino email to Outlook / Exchange. Microsoft's targeted efforts, including "Microsoft Municipality Design" (MSKD) has paid off. Smarter Planet and Smarter Cities are some of IBM's efforts to meet the challenges for the public sector and government. They have not a primary focus on solutions based on Notes / Domino.
The Good News
With a single server installation, you get access to an entire application platform that can
deliver to virtually all currently available systems and devices. Name an industry standard, and you can almost be sure that the Domino server supports it, or will very soon. There are solutions for social intranet, logistics, budgeting, quality documentation, contract management and much more. If you look 10 years back, it was common that even end users built solutions with Notes for effective management of any routine / documentation. Unfortunately this opportunity is often forgotten. Today even the developer license is included in the Notes User license. Consider the possibility that a user with fairly rudimentary knowledge can build an effective application with built-in security management, that can be easily shared with colleagues. It can also be made available offline with a few clicks. And with some more knowledge you can build a web interface. Everything is connected and requires only one server. That server could be an IBMi, but that is just one of the supported OS. And of course there are mail functionality built in for those that wants to consilidate or utilize even more. Do not forget that the email feature is just a tiny part of what is offered. For those that for different reasons prefer Outlook as mail client, the good news is that IBM is developing a completely new connection between Outlook and Domino. It uses ActiveSync within the Notes Traveler service and will provide a very thight integration for mail and calendar.
There are a number of concepts in IBM Notes / Domino which is relatively unique . Categorization is one. It can be compared to ”tags” used widely on the Web. The principle is that a document can belong to one or more categories. One does not define categories in advance, the structure is created by entering one or more keywords in one or several documents. In this way, one can introduce a single document in one or more categories simultaneously without copying data.
Replication is one of the most valuable concepts. It's about allowing update of documents on different servers and also locally without being online. Then it synchronizes manually or scheduled between the sites so that all have the same information. What we really are talking about is applications. You can deploy an application and run it on several sites independently, with synchronization of data.
Views are a way to gather and present collections of documents. Documents are not stored in the views and a document can live in multiple views simultaneously. What I see in companies today is that they still have not resolved document management properly. They are stuck in the ”File Explorer swamp” with several different versions of the same documents scattered as copies in different folders on different servers . They need to rethink. Think views, replication and categories.
The Tech - How things are stored in a Notes application.
One note is the smallest unit of data in Notes. There are a number of different types of these data units with their specific properties and methods, and each note has a name that is used to communicate with it. We package several notes in a document. The documents a put in a file with the extension .nsf. We put the file in the data directory on a Domino server or locally in Note Client. This file contains not only the data but also the definition of how data should be presented and organized. Even the code for business logic, etc. are in this file, now termed Notes Application. Formerly simply called a Notes
Database. When you copy or move an application it is by "normal" file management. You now realize how portable and manageable a Notes Application is. Of course, the content can be encrypted in several ways.
What is unique compared to many other solutions is that these data units - notes, do not have hard bound relations, except that they are together in a specific document. Nor is it that all documents in an application needs to have the same set of notes. A note can also be added to or removed afterwards, per document. Each document in a application can thus be quite different in structure and set of data units.
To get some structure in this we use forms, folders and views . The forms defines how we want our data to be fed into the document and how it is presented. They also contain logic. Each document is linked to a form, but this link may easily be changed. Thus, we can easily replace the entire definition of a document by replacing the assigned form. This can be done for just a single display of the document, need not to be permanent. Note that we do not affect saved data somehow when we change form in a document. In the form we use fields to define the relationship with the underlying data units ( notes ).
The views we use to display a collection of documents based on a specific condition. For example, all documents related to a specific form and have a note with name "Status" containing the text "Published". Folders are just as it sounds, a collection of documents that the user has selected. There is no condition defined, all documents contained in the application is qualified to end up in one or more folders . Important to remember is that neither views or folders are solid structure that defines data. They only display custom content from a number of documents.
Want to know more?
Below you find a list of some valuable resources and information related to IBM Notes and Domino.
Do not forget that there are a lot of professionals in the community that are more than happy to help you into the world of IBM Notes and Domino. http://planetlotus.org http://collaborationtoday.info http://openntf.org http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/lotus/ http://socialbizug.org http://xpages.info http://stackoverflow.com