Friday, November 30, 2007

Rant about Notes 8, Lotus/IBM

Nathan writes "Where is the love".

More and more, I think, "Where is the hate?" :)

I was on the point of starting a rant in the comment section on the post, but after half an hour of writing/rewriting my frustrations with (my perceived) impression of IBM/Lotus directions, I decided to keep the rant on my blog.

Every week 5+ blogposts enter my RSS-reader about how great Notes 8 is. Almost nothing about the bugs/bad integration between the new client and Domino Designer (maybe I am the only one having problems), or how, once again, the majority (the non-java) of developers were screwed over in a release.

What mostly irritates me is that the scripting tools in Domino Designer has less functionality your average notepad-clone. You (Lotus/IBM) want me to learn Java? Then give the Designer team the resources to make tools that doesn't stink of the 1990s.

It doesn't make me happy when I think about how much resources they probably put into making 100+ different-looking icons look more or less like one (orange-ish) icon.

From my point of view, it looks like the marketing-department in Lotus/IBM has a LOT more power/resources than the developers of Notes/Domino.

Most of what's great in Notes/Domino has been there since pre version 7. Of all of the things the developer-community has asked for (in partner-/public forums), what has been implemented?

Domino Designer in Eclipse? Great!! When did you say it's going to be released?

If you want to rant about how wrong I am, please do.. I don't deny that I could be. :)


Nate said...

At the risk of violating my NDA, I'm pretty sure it's public knowledge that Domino Designer in Eclipse is slated for Notes 8.5. I think there's little question at this point that 8.5 will be the first DEVELOPER TARGETED release of Notes since 4.5.

It's not going to address every one of your concerns (nor mine, nor anyone's really) but I think you'll find that it hits a LOT of them. Lotusphere will be when a lot of these issues are cleared up.

Craig S. said...

For all IBM *says* about how great the development environment is for Domino, it has been neglected forever. I am optimistic for this fabled Eclipse/Designer release, but Eclipse isn't a silver bullet. To make the development environment even half of what Eclipse for Java is, there is still a huge amounts of work done to make Eclipse for Notes a step up from what we have today. In other words, Eclipse by itself isn't the answer.

Tommy Valand said...

@Nate: It's at least so public that I've heard about it, but that still doesn't answer the when (as in a date).

Do you know if they'll also have a date for the disgruntled dominodevs at LS'08?

Chris Blatnick said... an official IBMer, I can tell's coming. :-D

Seriously, I'm not sure when, but I am sure it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, you might want to start checking out some of the things you can do with Composite Applications. Lotus Component Designer is an optional install along with Notes 8...give it a go!

Cheers...and keep up the good work!

Tommy Valand said...

Composite Applications is/was already possible with the old architecture, as Nathan proved. One commercial for Notes 8 probably cost as much as/more than that implementation.

I don't mean to be an ass towards you, as I know you're a great developer, and seem like a really nice guy, but it seems like ever since IBM got it's hands on Lotus Notes, the innovation has gradually stopped.

Domino Designer in Eclipse is not innovation. Eclipse was/is innovation, and probably one of the best software tools IBM has supported in the last decade.

Notes 8 doesn't seem like it's made for Notes developers by Notes developers. It seems like it's made for the marketing department. Period.

Nate said...


"Lotus Component Designer is an optional install along with Notes 8...give it a go!"

Ummmm, that's not true. The Composite Application Editor is an optional install along with Notes 8. That is a radically different beast.

Lotus Component Designer is actually no longer available anywere. You can't even download it from IBM.

Ed Brill said...


yes, Lotus Component Designer is still officially available at no additional charge to those licensed for Domino Designer 8. There has been no official announcement from IBM otherwise. It's insightful technology for Domino developers, though I don't think it's the right choice now for long-term use.


I have to say that I loved reading your post. It warms my heart to think that our marketing is now that good that people think marketing has taken over the product.

In all seriousness, for Notes 8, we've done two things. One is, build a foundation for the future of the Notes client -- by moving to Eclipse. So far, we haven't done enough to help developers exploit that. The Composite Applications team is doing a lot of work to help that aspect along, but not all Eclipse apps have to be composite apps, and not all Notes apps have to be Eclipse apps. There is more work coming in the next feature release, and you'll hear more about that at Lotusphere and beyond.

But in the meantime, we absolutely had to put a huge emphasis on improving the user interface in Notes 8. That work couldn't wait, and it had to be a huge priority for IBM -- such that, if you recall, we announced "Hannover" even prior to shipping Notes/Domino 7. Usability is the #1 point that Microsoft attacks at Notes customers on. Now that Notes 8 is out, we see them increasingly desperate in their attacks because they know (and have, in some communications, admitted) that if a customer upgrades to Notes 8, the whole MS platform is at risk. That's quite a change from having been left for dead some years back.

I think there is a lot more coming in 2008. Your thoughts on where we are viewed now are appreciated.

Nate said...

Ed, if LCD is available at no additional charge to Domino shops, can you please tell me where I can get it? I have tried to download it several times to no avail.


Tommy Valand said...

@Ed: I can see that moving the platform to Java is a good strategy. It's the prioritizing that Lotus/IBM has done with Notes 8 that is upsetting to me.

With Notes 8, there seems to have been more focus on making something that looks great, than on releasing a stable product (the "Microsoft strategy"). The coupling/communication (in lack of better words) between Lotus Notes and Domino Designer is awful.

As Tim excellently points out in his "Afterthought":
Instead of taking the IDE, which has from day one provided stellar support for coding in Java, and simply adding support for LotusScript, Formula, and the visual aspects of Domino development, they (Lotus/IBM) first stripped Eclipse bare of the development-related layers and then dropped the Notes client on top of it.

Craig S. said...

I still have to say I am reserving judgment on the whole Eclipse/Designer thing. The first release of LCD back when it was called Workplace Designer what an Eclipse based dev environment that was supposed to be extensible to anyone who wanted to.... but all the extension points were shut off. It was a tool that IBM needed at the time and that is as far as it went. If Eclipse is the way that IBM needs to go in order to FIX all the things that are wrong with Designer than fine. If fixing how embedded views works requires Eclipse than so be it.... but if Eclipse is just being used so that IBM can introduce some wiz-bang new mashup concept then we will be back here saying the same things we are saying now.

Who is the customer in IBMs Eclipse/Designer plans... US or Them?

jaime said...

Great topic Tommy. I agree that it seems that Lotus/IBM has treated the developer base as a red-headed step child. Being too focused on the Calendar/Mail matchup with Microsoft has allowed the development community to slip.

Java development thus far in Notes has been overly complex. Not in the language itself, but in Notes handling of it. Memory-leaks and improper trash cleanup of Notes objects plague many of the apps I have seen.

What about all the cool features in R7 that never made it to the web? I want to natively drag-n-drop a column in a view on the web. What about all the random tags that Notes drops into a page for no apparent reason? Seems that the focus overall has spotty at best.

I hope that "the next release" will give a more focused direction that will incorporate and empower the developer. But I will wait and see. Until then, I am waiting for R8.1 because R8.0 takes too long to load eclipse ;-)

Slawek Rogulski said...

It has been a hugely long wait since 4.5 with only some improvements to the development tools. Nothing has been done with LotusScript, the view engine, JSP/Servlet support, relational storage (aka DB2) integration seems like it is still being fine tuned and needs simplification, etc, etc. It is a wonder that so much of the community is still around! Having waited this long, to see yet another release not address the development community is somewhat disheartening, to put it mildly. Now we have promises or is it rumours. Maybe those who have hung around this long will stick around a bit longer because of those rumours. But given the massive amount of expectations compounded by the inordinately long wait, should the next release miss the mark on development issues it will surely be the last straw. But no pressure. :-)

As for the Eclipse foundation for the new Designer let it not be the case of laying the foundation for future release by delaying delivery of significant improvements. It will surely be too late then. And do not sell the Eclipse foundation as a revolutionary change for Notes development. It would merely be a change that should really be invisible to developers. No big deal!

I know that Notes/Domino/IBM has gone through a rough patch a few years back and consequently we have been left hanging and our patience is wearing thin. I am thankful for the recent turn around in IBM's efforts towards Notes/Domino. Now keep it up and go faster since there is still a lot to catch up on. Unfortunately we are in a position of having to catch up.

Maybe one day Notes/Domino will once again be a leading development platform of choice. Wouldn't that be nice?!

Unknown said...

Contrary to Nathan (?), I always thought, that Notes 6 was pretty much a developer targeted release. Many of the changes seemed subtle at first, but all in all I saw it as a massive improvement for us.

Charles Robinson said...

For what it's worth I can't find a working download link for Lotus Comoponent Designer. I remember the announcement that it would be available for for anyone with a Domino Designer license, but it's not on my Passport Advantage account, either. I'll have to see if I still have it at home.