notes

#ThanksBruce for your work at OpenNTF

SaveYourHairToday my good friend Bruce Elgort ends his tenure as president of OpenNTF.  For those not in the Notes community, OpenNTF.org is a repository of open source software solutions for IBM Notes and Domino.  These free software offerings have helped thousands of people and companies implement great solutions, and inspired many developers to learn techniques for programming for the platform.

This community would not be where it is today without Bruce.  His enthusiasm and dedication have really helped keep OpenNTF afloat and in the public eye for many many years.  He deserves every bit of praise he’s getting from all over the world today.

Thanks again for all of the hard work my friend.  Don’t be a stranger :-)

The Ongoing Notes “Legacy” problem

On an IBM WebcastLast week I was honored to part of a webcast that announced the worldwide launch of IBM Notes 9 Social edition.  I was able to speak about how our company uses custom applications built on XPages and Domino to run our business.  I also spoke as to how Traveler has helped our workforce be more connected, and how we are looking forward to integrating Connections into our Notes investment via Activity Streams and embedded experiences.

As the Director of IT for our company, I’m always trying to work with the best technologies to meet our needs.  Those are not always IBM technologies.  We use vendors like Microsoft, EMC, GoToMeeting, Salesforce.com, Basecamp and Box.com.  I tend to choose the best platform to fit our specific needs, whatever they may be.  I’m not simply an IBM fanboy.

That said, we’ve built the software that runs our business on XPages and Domino because it’s a great platform.  We can’t buy off the shelf software to manage our business, it simply doesn’t exist.  We could buy project management and warehousing programs, but it would be very hard to bend them to work the way we need.  That’s why Domino is such a strong platform.  I have a very small staff of very skilled developers who have built amazing applications that our business relies on to manage every bit of work we do. We have built it to fit our business processes exactly, and we can add in features at a very rapid pace.  We integrate everything including our Microsoft ERP system, and I couldn’t be happier.

So why am I writing a blog post mentioning “legacy” on the day the brand new IBM Notes 9 Social Edition is released?  Well, it’s because the market still sees it as legacy.  There has really been no discernible marketing to the contrary.  I’ll give you three quick examples that have all happened in the last couple of weeks.  All were manageable, but I can’t believe I even have to deal with them.

First, a client of ours had been auditing our warehousing software.  A German IT Auditor questioned (with much disdain) why were were using Lotus Notes instead of a “pro” warehousing system, and stated that the fact that we used Notes was a red flag.  This was from a very large, very well known organization, yet this IT Auditor considered Notes legacy and worthy of disdain.  It was even insinuated that nobody used Notes anymore.

I explained our reasoning for using Notes and Domino much like I did above, and then touted a brand new release of the product as well and over 100 million users worldwide, yet I feel that it fell on deaf ears.

The second one was an executive asking one of my employees what our “exit strategy for Notes” was?  When the exec was talking with people from other companies, and some of our clients, the general consensus was that Notes was dead and people couldn’t believe we were still on it.  So the executive assumed we had to be moving off of it soon.

Part of that is on me, and I need to continue to do a better job of internal marketing, but the reason I HAVE to do so much in the way of internal marketing is because there is little to no external marketing.  You really don’t know that Notes exists unless you deal with IBM on a regular basis.

The last thing that happened was a simple offhanded comment on the This Week In Tech podcast.  I don’t remember the context but the host Leo Laporte stated how he hated Notes and would never use it again.  Granted, this man hadn’t touched the software in over seven years, but he was still attacking it.  I’m sure he has no idea how nice the new client is, or how good the development environment is in XPages.  Yet, he still made that statement that was heard as fact by tens of thousands of listeners.

Those of you that know me, and have read this blog for nearly a decade know that I will take IBM to task when it’s warranted, and I will give credit where credit is due.  Obviously I believe wholeheartedly in Domino as a platform.  I wouldn’t use it otherwise, and I wouldn’t take time out of my busy schedule to record customer testimonials or get interviewed for quotes for press releases.  I am very publicly on record with the fact that Notes and Domino is the platform from which our business is run.

Today is a watershed moment.  IBM Notes and Domino 9 Social Edition has been launched and it’s the best the product has ever been.  It’s truly a great piece of software with so much potential in the right hands.  It would be really nice if the tech universe starting seeing it that way. I would just like the perception of Notes to get better in the marketplace, because right now perception doesn’t match reality, and hopefully IBM can work on changing that.

Sharepoint is the next generation of Lotus Notes

I got an email from a sales rep at a company called HexaCorp in Somerset, NJ.  In my role I get emails from vendors trying to get my company’s business all the time.  Most of the time I delete them and move on.  Once in awhile I’ll respond and let them know that either we don’t need their services, or we don’t use the software they are shilling.

So this exec, let’s call her Marilyn (because that’s her name) left me a voicemail and sent me a message stating that they were a Sharepoint partner and if we were planning any Sharepoint implementations or upgrades, that they would like to help.  Instead of just deleting it, I responded so she knew she was barking up the wrong tree.

Thanks for reaching out, but we don’t use Sharepoint and have no plans to.  We are an IBM Lotus partner, and will continue down that path, thanks.

So I figured that was that.  Until I got an email just now, this was the first line:

I discussed your email with my CEO and he told me that Sharepoint is the next generation of Lotus Notes.

Yeah… okay then. First, you had to discuss with your CEO?  And THAT is what he came up with? As you can imagine, my next email wasn’t as pleasant.

Remove me from your list.

That comment shows your ignorance of an entire software industry.

Sometimes the lack of knowledge people have about the industry simply astounds me.  There are a lot of things Notes related I can bitch about, but Sharepoint is definitely not the next generation of Lotus Notes.

So Marilyn from HexaCorp in Somerset, NJ, and your willfully ignorant CEO.  You may want to do some homework.

iPhone call to action – Please contribute

Well after the previous post where I displayed my dismay at the lack of any Lotus Notes “enterprise” support for the upcoming iPhone, I was (rightly) chastised by famed Lotus defender (and friend of mine), John Head for just bitching and not doing anything. I was also informed by Ed Brill (like he states on his blog) that we, as customers, need to let Apple know there is a demand for this. So fine. I’m doing something.

I posted Please Support Lotus Notes as an Enterprise Platform on the Apple forums. Please jump in and add in your two cents if at all possible.

Next, I signed the petition that Nathan set up asking for Lotus Notes support on the iPhone.

Also, for the heck of it, email Steve Jobs. It may do nothing if one or two of us do, but if 500-1000 do, maybe so. sjobs@apple.com is the address. Have fun, and BE NICE about it.

Happy now John?

Don’t forget IdeaJam either!

SNTT: Enhance your Notes client for FREE

This month’s Intranet Journal article gives you a heads up on some great FREE software that you can use everyday to enhance your Lotus Notes client experience and even help out the admins and developers. I go through the following tools:

  • MarvelClient Skinning Edition
  • Integra for Notes Personal Edition
  • TwitNotes
  • Lotus Notes Diagnostic Utility
  • NoteMan Toolbar
  • Notes Connect
  • StopNotes

I give a little blurb on each along with the links on where to find them. Hopefully you’ll find at least one thing in that list that you can use if you aren’t already. Are there any other tools that I’ve glaringly omitted from this list? Let me know in the comments!

SnTT: Bring Information into Notes with My Widgets

Okay, so I know this is only Monday, but I submitted this story to my editor last Thursday, so that counts for something!

Anyway, my latest for Intranet Journal is entitled Bring Information into Notes with My Widgets. It’s an article dedicated to the new Notes 8.0.1 feature and I give some detailed instructions on how to add a couple different kinds of Widgets to your Notes install. One of the more interesting ones is setting up a Wikipedia widget that uses Live Text to allow you to highlight a word and right-click on it to get the definition of the word in Wikipedia.

Anyway, since I did submit this last Thursday, it was before I found out about a couple neat initiatives. First, both Open NTF and the Turtle Partnership will be supporting online Widget catalogs! Make sure to check them out. Also, Yancey is covering Widgets over in a forum on PlanetLotus.org. So far it does seem like this feature is a hit with the community!

Anyway, please check it out and let me know what you think!

EDIT: One of the things I was disappointed in was that when you pulled in a Notes view into a sidebar, it brought along the Navigator with no choice to get rid of it. Well Dan King let me know that you can get around that by using the ?OpenView&HideNavigator command. Check out a post on the topic over at Notes.net. Now I have to test to see if it works if the view is associated with a frameset.

What NOT to do on a Mac with the Notes 8.5 beta

My SearchDomino story today has had a lot of hits and a lot of comments. As such, it’s not really a post I’d like to delete, and unfortunately I did just that.

You see, on the Mac, F9 is meant for Expose, a nifty little utility that shows all of your active windows on the screen at once. So, it’s annoying when you are in Notes and you want to refresh, and hit F9 only to show all of your Mac windows instead of actually refreshing. So, I wanted to figure out a way to turn that off. Low and behold, I think I find the right setting under the Keyboard preferences:

So I check that box and think it means that F Keys will act as F1 through F9 like their functions. Normally when you hit those keys in Mac they do their special function, for example F1 dims your screen and F2 brightens it.

Anyway, I checked that and while in Notes I hit F9 and still get Expose. So I’m a little annoyed and decide to do the same with F1 and F2 to see if they brighten and darken the screen. I hit them a couple times to realize that it didn’t actually brighten or darken, but rather deleted my blog entries. And I don’t mean mark them for deletion. They. were. gone.

So, not knowing how it happened (and not really caring,) I just copied all of my deleted entries and comments from the server copy and pasted them back into the local copy. I replicated back and then none of the comments showed up on the site… Arrrgggghhhh.

Got a quick code fix from Declan to re-link all the comments and ran it to save the day. So now after much panic and scrambling, I think everything is back to normal (although some comments may be out of order.) Anyway, Thanks to Dec for saving my ass, and be looking for the Re-Link Comments agent to be included with the next release of Blogsphere!

FYI, I don’t know how or why those keystrokes obliterated stories in Notes. Could it be the 8.5 beta? Something weird with that Mac setting in general? I don’t know, and frankly don’t care to find out again. Just thought you would like to know so you can avoid it too!

Mac Users: Strength in numbers!

For quite some time, Lotus has kinda half-heartedly supported people using Macs. Recently, they’ve gotten better about releasing products that have parity with their windows counterparts. With all of the switchers this year (myself, Declan, Wild Bill, Mr. Mooney, JonVon) and all the longtime Mac-heads (Bruce, The Captain, Ben, Turtle, Vowe) I think we are showing a considerable brain-trust going Mac.

That said, I think we need to fill the Mac sessions like never before. Overflow them. Show that there is now a substantial set of Lotus users who are Mac users only. Showing that sort of thing can help people in Lotus justify investing in Mac technologies. So, to that point, you should hit the following sessions:

  • Tuesday 3:00 – 4:00 PM – ID105 – Big Mac Attack Swan 7-10
  • Thursday 7:00 – 8:00 AM – Notes for Mac BOF Swan Peacock 1-2

And yes, this was posted from my Mac.