Working with and looking after Lotus Notes–it’s a complex beast, but there are some benefits

This blog post is a reflection and summary about a product I’ve known and used for a long time, it may be slightly out of place with the current mobile and socially enabled products. However, for all pros and cons, evangelists and detractors, it has note worthy place in history and evolution of productivity software.

ibm-notes-logo

So far,  I’ve been a Lotus Notes user for my entire career, and also a spent a several of those years as a Lotus Notes | Domino administrator.

With the Hannover (Notes | Domino version – 8) release IBM adopted the integration of the Eclipse framework for the multiple client support and plug-in widget capabilities.

While this has improved the capability and feature set of the Lotus Notes client, and made it capable integrating many modern collaboration services into the client.

e.g. Lotus Notes Sidebar plug-ins | integrations:

multiple Lotus collaboration plug-ins:

  • Connections
  • Quickr
  • Sametimemultiple 3rd party plug-ins:
  • File Navigator
  • Linkedin
  • Tripit
  • Tungle (see settings page | connectors once logged in)
  • WildfireCheck out these Widget recommendation posts:
  • My Top 10 Widgets for Lotus Notes (currently) via @IdoNotes
  • Notes 8 Sidebar Widgets (Slideshare) via rkrueger202

    The Complexity Factor:

    Unfortunately,  for all this connectivity and integration goodness, the incorporation of the Eclipse framework it  has definitely brought a factor fold increasing the complexity of supporting the client.   I recently experienced a laptop crash which rendered my Notes client unusable – it shut itself down as soon as I logged in.  Only through an operational understanding of the product (from prior year’s experience), and through reading up across many pages of support information, and then not inconsiderably time to recreate lost settings, was I able to restore the client to settings I use everyday.  Without those personalisation settings, I would class the product as a hindrance and not a help.

    Things of note:

    The Client directory structure is now definitely more complex, in fact this is now  a combination client – Traditional | basic client executables and configuration data + Eclipse framework  executables and configuration data.

    <PROGDIR> / (location of core Notes Client and Java executables and base configuration data)

    <DATADIR> /  (location of core Notes Client and Eclipse personalisation and user specific content and configuration data)

    <DATADIR>\Workspace/.metadata (location of Eclipse | RCP Instance Data Area)

    Important Documents to read:

    Benefitting from Widget Goodness:

    However, there are several good articles on how to create useful widgets or to exploit the Live Text recognition available in Lotus Notes.

    Documents worth reading:

    So I’ve have been able to add the Evernote web interface into my Lotus Notes client experience:

    image

    I’ve also got Live Text working for UK Postcodes and Telephone numbers, as well as having configured service look ups on names, email and postal addresses.

    image

  • These list the widgets I’ve added:image

    For local UK based postcode and telephone look up I’ve needed to use Regex expressions. e.g. Regex UK Postcodes

    Balancing the Benefits:

    While the widget plugin interface and customisations delivers the potential to empower and enable a user to  increase their productivity via adding varying degrees of personalisation to the client.  In reality the use of these widgets aren’t really that accessible and meaningful to a regular information or knowledge worker.  These customisations really required too much configuration activity and a reasonable degree of competency and familiarity with client’s inner working and technological terminology.

    This is in stark contrast to the modern mobile and browser “apps|extensions” available for almost instant delivery of application or service functions.  This renders some of these plugin functions rather aged, as well as appearing very convoluted, but it is in some way exactly that.  It shows, that even back then the acknowledgement that these plugin | widget applications did have beneficial function to play, however, achieving the ease and simplicity of app deliver was clearly some way off.

    We should perhaps acknowledge the pioneering features or functions that Lotus Notes  attempted to bring into the end user experience.  Though I think the opinion of whether these were well received, is already known.

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  1. #1 by Ranjith on October 17, 2012 - 4:04 pm

    Hi..

    I am new to Lotus notes and I am forced used use it in my new organization 😦
    I am a great fan of Evernote and would like to know how to add Evernote as a web page widget to notes.

    Thanks and Regards
    Ranjiths

  2. #2 by Charlie Hope on October 18, 2012 - 12:20 pm

    Hi,
    Thanks for the comment – I may post something to describe that process in due course.

  3. #3 by Dean on May 31, 2013 - 11:47 am

    or, may not.

  4. #4 by Maksym Khalin on December 25, 2014 - 8:28 am

    Hi, i have searched for IBM Lotus Notes and Evernote integration for a long time. I need to simplify export of every incomming email in IBM Lotus Notes to Evernote. Do you know such IBM Lotus Notes client plugin? Server side integration is not an option for me.
    Thank you in advance.

  5. #5 by Charlie Hope on January 6, 2015 - 6:40 pm

    Hi – I don’t know of a 3rd party plugin as you describe.

    Have you had a look at this post I wrote? https://tactics.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/filing-knowledge-into-services-via-email-2/
    I would suggest you could use modify something like this for your needs – something that automatically forwards emails to Evernote or something similar.

    HTH

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