Keeping it in Sync with Blackberry & Google Sync (for Lotus Notes)

 

One of the great things about smart phones is that one way or another they can be tethered up to your laptop or PC to move, copy or sync data between your devices.

Obviously the most important parts to sync between the smart phone and your work device is going to be your calendar and contacts.

Now for some the out of the box software that comes with either devices isn’t quite sufficient to cut the mustard.

For example some tweets from some good folks finding things not so as straight forward as it should be:

david_hay Fellow Maccies, what do YOU use to sync your BlackBerry with your Mac or, better still, Lotus Notes, as I’m not loving PocketMac SyncManager”

pmooneynet @david_hay Dave – avoid companion link like the plague… Nothing seems to do it correctly. If you find something – please blog it”

Well I use Lotus Notes as an email client, and though the blackberry desktop manager software supports a variety of synchronisation profiles (calendars, contacts, messages, tasks etc.) via the intellisync software, which comes bundled with the software.  I don’t need to run the software to sync as the sync is already managed wirelessly, Yah!

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This will need some configuration between the Lotus Domino and Blackberry Enterprise Servers, but its a fantastic feature to deliver seamlessly OTA to users.

The user does need to be aware that they should be regularly updating their personal contacts, and journal with their DWA (Domino Web Access) aspect of their mail file.  This is Lotus Notes template functionality that allows contacts from the personal names and address book, and a journal database, which are separate databases on the rich client to appear within the DWA browser experience by bundling this info into the mail file.

The mechanism for updating is found through the actions menu on the mail file:

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Once these actions are run, the address book (contacts) and journal (notes) will automatically sync with the blackberry device OTA.

One thing I find very useful about synchronising a journal with my Blackberry (notes) is for e-ticket reference numbers, and assembling a travel itinerary for quick reference on the go. For example:

Journey 1: Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston xx/xx/2009 Depart xx:xx

Collection Reference Number XXXXXX. You need this number to collect your tickets from the Self-service Ticket machine.

As so much of this information originates in email form, but inevitably gets lost in the email stream, by placing it a notes helps it to be easily retrieved. Particularly with the useful smart selection type a-head on the blackberry which cuts down the available notes to select based on the characters typed that match the same sequence in their titles.

So that’s the address book (contacts) and journal (notes), and basic calendar part dealt with…

But what about all those contacts and diary/calendar events that cover other aspects of our lives?  Come now, if you have a smart phone you know it’s not like a work PC which you turn off on Friday afternoon and not turn until Monday morning.  A smart phone brings work to you, but you can also use it help have a positive life balance influence.

So in my life I have a gmail and google calendar.  I use google mobile apps for blackberry (they do other phones of course).

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What I’ve found particularly useful is google sync.  At first I was concerned about the security elements of sharing contact and calendar info with google.  But fortunately it comes with a good set of options, allowing you configure what you wish to sync and in what direction.  Therefore you easily pull in from google without necessarily sending data back to google as part of the transaction.  This is also wireless/OTA synchronisation too, and it’s a secure network transfer using SSL.

If you want to sync contacts, you can now have a single consolidated version of your contacts.  The Google contacts also allows you to merge contacts and consolidate multiple entries for single contact into a single entry, which I don’t think Lotus Notes can do that quite so easily.

What I have found particularly powerful is the Google calendar sync, though I know that with Lotus Notes 8.5 you can overlay the google calendar in the Lotus Notes client.  That is good, but you can’t take it with you on your smart phone.

I am an avid fan of Rememberthemilk

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For each of my task lists in RTM I have imported that list as a separate calendar into Google calendar.

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Take the iCalendar (events) URL for each calendar you want to import.

I’ve added them to ‘other calendars’ section in Google Calendar:

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So through Google sync I can select which calendars by their title to sync down to my Blackberry and into my Lotus Notes calendar. 

Google sync is also smart in a couple of ways.  It’s aware of when other sync’s or replications are active on the blackberry; it doesn’t interfere and tells you to try again later. It knows when some calendars entries are updated by other applications (Lotus Notes)it doesn’t interfere with those either.  It allows you set how far in advance you want to sync in entries and how long to keep them.  I particularly like this limit to keeping entries as a clean up feature. Calendar stuff is normally transitory stuff and I don’t wish it to clog up my mail file.   Also using events linked to RTM mean updates to them in RTM make them move around or disappear from the calendar as required.

All in all I think this is very smart solution to synchronisation!

To find out more please read: Google mobile help

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7 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing.

    I am using
    -Blackberry Storm
    -Lotus Notes R65
    -Google Calendar
    -Gmail
    -RTM

    My calendar entries synchronize from Google Calendar to Lotus Notes. The caveat is that I would like for these entries to be private in Lotus Notes. By default, they are not. I can change them, however, then my husband sees my shared calendar with ‘busy’ entries.

    Any ideas on this?

    In addition, are you able to wirelessly sync your Lotus Notes tasks with RTM via the MilkSync/GoogleSync combination? I can create a task in Lotus Notes, it will appear on my Blackberry Calendar, however, it never makes it to RTM. An ideas?

    Thanks!

    1. Re: calendar entries – try changing the access & delegate settings for the Notes calendar… you can let specific people see detailed information on your schedule but it will be overridden by the private setting.
      From Notes help ” Those with access to your calendar but not your mail can see the times and dates of private calendar entries but cannot see details of the entries.

      Re: milksync – yes Milksync syncs with the Tasks area of Lotus Notes see: https://www.rememberthemilk.com/services/milksync/blackberry/ I would refer to the RTM support pages if you have issues there.

  2. Although I have Lotus Notes for work email, I do not have a Work or Personal Blackberry. However I do have a personal iPhone.

    My solution is very similar to ensure that I have access to my calendar and contacts while on the go.

    My personal email domain is hosted within GoogleApps. In the calendar I have a sub-calendar labelled “Work”, and sync that using CompanionLink with Lotus Notes.

    Likewise CompanionLink syncs my contacts, however it merges them with personal contacts, which although isn’t ideal .. .it does mean that I have all my work/personal contacts available at all times.

    I don’t have access to Global Address lists though, so I have to get regular contacts and copy them to my personal address book, so they become synced.

    I am liking the RTM suggestion though .. I may implement that soon!

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for that insight. Using the google sync does merge all my contacts into a single list too. But that has an upside that I’ve used the Google contacts “merge” to assimilate different contexts (personal or work email) into a single entry, therefore removing annoying duplicate entries.

      Because it is a merged list, I am judicious in which contacts are moved across into my personal address book. But one definite advantage of the work blackberry is “look up” access to the full corporate list to obtain contact details on the move.

  3. To sync Lotus Notes calendar and contacts to Google it is possible to use Awesync (www.awesync.com). It works with Notes starting with R6.5.

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