Show-N-Tell: Flash and Domino and Web Services OH MY!

Since some people said they wanted to see more Lotus Notes and Domino success stories on Show-N-Tell Thursday, I thought I would oblige.

I want to show you an application that is part of our extranet package that we provide our customers, but I need to explain what we do first. In brief, we are in the trade show business. We design, build, warehouse, ship, set up and tear down large exhibits for trade shows. Chances are, if you’ve ever been to an auto show, home show, aerospace show or a pharmacutical show, you’ve seen our work.

Now, in order to provide info to our customers, we have an online system for each customer. They can track shows, see inventory, see show photos, place orders, design exhibit layouts and more. This is all done through a Domino back-end with a web front-end. It’s one of the coolest Notes apps I’ve ever been associated with. Anyway, I want to talk about one specific piece called Exhibit Planner.

Exhibit Planner

Exhibit Planner is actually a Macromedia Flash application. What it does is allow the user to drag and drop to-scale shapes that represent their exhibit inventory. This allows the end user to design the layout they want for their show and save it for later. It’s got a lot of cool functionality but what makes it part of Show-N-Tell Thursday is that all of the shapes are pulled into the app via web services from a back-end Domino database.

So, for the people keeping the info up-to-date in the database (account reps and such) they are in a Lotus Notes database, using Notes forms to upload the shapes into documents. They simply check a box that states that the shape needs to be included in exhibit planner and then they save. To them, that’s it, and the shapes automagically appear in the Exhibit Planner.

Without giving too much away, each shape is tagged with a few unique IDs and mailed into a mail-in database for the exhibit planner. Each user has a document with their own unique ID associated to the customer as well.

This sets up how exhibit planner associates shapes with a customer and individual. Because you see, there isn’t an Exhibit Planner app for each customer. It’s simply one Flash app, and based on the user signing on and the customer ID, the appropriate shapes show up for that user to use.

It’s all done via web services. The flash app talks to Domino over web services to call up the appropriate shapes and pull them out of the NSF and have them available in the flash-based Exhibit Planner app. If they save a layout, the data is saved back within Notes. It’s incredibly slick.

And oh yeah, it worked so well that we had this all running, IN PRODUCTION, on Domino 7 Beta 3.

How’s that for a cool app/success story?!? Can you tell that I love my job?


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