A technical overview of new features in the Notes 6 client aimed at improving ease of use, enhancing the premier mail, calendar and scheduling, and task management client, improving performance, and streamlining deployment and administration.

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Craig Lordan, Project Manager, Lotus

Craig is the Project Manager for the Lotus Developer Domain. He started at Lotus in January 1998, first working in the Notes/Domino documentation group. In August 1999, he joined Iris Associates to be a writer and then Content Manager for Notes.net. In previous jobs, he was a technical writer at EDS and Harper & Shuman (which has been gobbled up by some company called Deltek). He holds a Business Communication degree from Bentley College in Waltham, Mass. and is still looking for a nice frame for it. When he's not working, Craig is usually spending time with his wife, or watching his tape of last night's Late Show with David Letterman.



Dick McCarrick, Content Developer, Lotus

Dick McCarrick is a content developer for Lotus Developer Domain. Previously he was a member of the Domino/Notes Documentation team for over 11 years, playing a variety of roles in documenting many major components of Domino and Notes. He also wrote the occasional article for Iris Today (including Ask Professor INI) before joining the Notes.net/Lotus Developer Domain team permanently in 2002. In his spare time, Dick's leisure activities include running, fishing, woodworking, and reading about the natural sciences. An avid astronomer, he's former director of the Bridgewater (Mass.) State College Observatory. Dick lives in Vermont.



01 October 2002

Also available in Japanese

This article provides you with a technical overview of some of the new features and enhancements in Notes 6. When designing and developing Notes 6, we had a number of goals. Chief among them were to:

  • Improve ease of use
  • Remain the premier mail, calendar and scheduling, and task management client
  • Strengthen replication and mobility features
  • Continue to focus on collaboration
  • Enhance performance
  • Streamline deployment and administration

The following sections highlight some of the new features, enhancements, and changes that support these design goals.

Ease of use

The following sections highlight some of the new features that contribute to improving Notes' ease of use.

Login dialog box

With the new login dialog box, you can choose a different user ID and/or location before you enter your password (and the hieroglyphics have been replaced with keychain graphics):

Figure 1. Login dialog box
Login dialog box

Welcome Page

Notes R5 introduced the Welcome Page, which provides instant, customizable access to the things that are most important to you-mail, calendar, to do list, Web pages, whatever you want. For Notes 6, the default Welcome Page is being redesigned to increase ease of use and make more of the features accessible to you. Here is the new look:

Figure 2. Welcome screen
Welcome screen

In addition, the Welcome Page has many new features, including:

  • Enhanced Welcome Page options and a new wizard that make it even easier to customize and personalize your Welcome Page
  • A Tip of the Day that shows handy information about using the Notes client
  • Increased content types, such as Notes database views and access to directories on the file system
  • On framed Welcome Pages, a "switcher" for dynamic switching of frame content, for example, switching from your Inbox to your calendar within the same frame
  • Welcome Page action buttons, for example, to create a new mail memo or calendar entry
  • A preview pane, similar to regular Notes databases
  • The Launch Pad, for quick access to applications, everyday tasks, Notes links, and Web links.
  • Quick Notes, on the right-hand side of the screen, which allow you to create mail, contacts, journal entries, and reminders without having to open the respective databases, as shown below:
    Figure 3. Quick Notes dialog box
    Quick Notes dialog box

Bookmarks

Bookmarks, used for navigation and organization, now include two new folders: a Startup folder and a History folder.

The Startup folder is created automatically and appears in the More Bookmarks folder. It allows you to bookmark things-databases, Web pages, other programs-that you want to launch when you start Notes. For Notes databases, this means that Notes will open a window tab; but to help with performance, Notes doesn't actually open the item until you click the window tab.

The History folder shows you all the documents, views, databases, Web pages-anything that you have opened in your client-both today and during the last seven days.

Bookmarks now fully support drag-and-drop, and you can bookmark items from the file system, such as Lotus Freelance Graphics files, Microsoft Word documents, even system folders. Plus, you can also use the Ctrl key (or the Command key if you're using a Macintosh) to select and manipulate multiple bookmark items at once; for example, you can select and open three databases at the same time.

In each Bookmark folder, you can sort your bookmarks by site or by title, and the view choices (icon size, unread count, server names, and so on) have been moved into their own View menu. Plus, you now have icons to create new bookmark folders and to search the bookmark folder (or you can press Ctrl-F to search).

Figure 4. Bookmarks -- Sort menu
Bookmarks -- Sort menu
Figure 5. Bookmarks -- View menu
Bookmarks -- View menu

Also, you can show each bookmark folder in the new Bookmarks Workspace. To display the Bookmarks Workspace, choose Display as Workspace from the View menu or click the grid icon (in between the push pin and the "x"). To revert to the slideout, click the grid icon again or right-click the Workspace and choose Display as Slideout.

Figure 6. Bookmarks grid view
Bookmarks grid view

Windows tabs and menu

Notes 5 added the new window tabs across the top of the screen, giving you access to all your open windows in Notes. In Notes 6, you can use your mouse to click, hold, and drag to reorder these tabs as you want.

The new, optional Windows menu recalls a feature from Notes Release 4. The Notes 6 Windows menu improves accessibility, allows you to manage all your open windows, and provides a choice to display a dialog box to manage and bookmark your open windows, as shown below. (You can decide whether or not to display the Windows menu by setting your User Preferences.)

Figure 7. Windows menu dialog box
Windows menu dialog box

Also, if you have multiple Notes windows open (such as Notes Help, or by right-clicking a window tab and choosing Open in New Window) you can use the Windows menu to cascade or tile your open windows.

Resizable dialog boxes

The Windows menu dialog box is just one example of the many dialog boxes in Notes 6 that are resizable. Here's the Open Database dialog box, resized to be a bit longer and wider than the default:

Figure 8. Resizable Open Database dialog box
Resizable Open Database dialog box

Note that dialog boxes you resize will remain that size when you later reopen them.

Editing documents

The following are some examples of the improved ease-of-use of Notes 6 while you are editing documents.

Several improvements concern editing and manipulating tables. First, you can now choose the new Table Properties option Size to Fit to resize a table column, so the column width accommodates the contents of the column. Second, the Table - Select Table commands allow you to quickly select the rows, columns, cells, or the entire table for cutting or copying. Third, you can quickly reorder table cell contents by placing your cursor anywhere in the cell, pressing and holding down the Ctrl key, and then moving the cell contents with the up and down arrow keys.

The next editing improvement also involves the same Ctrl-arrow keystroke, but this time outside of a table. You can use Ctrl key with the up and down arrows to reorder items in a list, such as a numbered or bulleted list.

Plus, you can edit attachments "in place." The Attachments Properties box now includes an Edit button. This lets you open the attachment in edit mode and modify it, without having to detach and save it first.

Also, you can also use a new option in Text Properties (or the new, optional Language status bar menu) to mark text in your document as using a specific language. One example of how Notes uses this information is during spell checking; it will use the appropriate dictionary (if it is installed) for the marked language.

Toolbars

Notes now includes toolbars. These new toolbars provide the same quick access to features, options, and commands as did SmartIcons, but provide many new features as well. You can easily drag-and-drop your toolbars to almost any location on your Notes window, including having them "float" on their own. You can show or hide certain toolbars or access toolbar preferences, by right-clicking any toolbar. You can choose the size of your toolbar buttons and whether they should have icons, text, or both. And you can create new toolbars or customize existing ones. Plus your existing custom SmartIcons will be converted when you upgrade.

Status bar

You now have the option to customize the status bar (the set of items at the bottom of the Notes window) using the new Status Bar Preferences:

Figure 9. Status Bar Preferences
Status Bar Preferences

Using this new Preferences menu option, you can select the items that appear in the status bar, their placement, and their size (either width or height, depending on the item).

The new Progress indicator on the status bar appears as needed to show you tasks that Notes is performing in the background such as saving attachments, replacing a database's design, or replicating databases. You can click the Progress indicator to show the status of all these activities if more than one thing is happening at once.

Logout screen

Notes already allows you to lock your user ID by pressing F5 or by setting a period of inactivity. Notes 6 adds a Logout screen that appears when your user ID is locked. From the Logout screen, you need to press Enter, which displays the login dialog box, and type your password in order to continue using Notes. Here's how the default Logout screen looks. (You can customize the logout screen so it uses a different graphic.)

Figure 10. Logout screen
Logout screen

Mail, Calendar and Scheduling, and To Do

Mail, Calendar and Scheduling, and To Do all include new features and enhancements.

Mail

Mail has been enhanced with several new useful features. For example, Notes 6 adds unread marks to folders. If you move or file messages to folders, you can now see how many unread messages you have in those folders. In the Release Candidate, the folders appear in bold text along with the number of unread messages, as shown in the example below:

Figure 11. Mail pane
Mail pane

Your Inbox can now be easily customized. For example, you can reorder and sort the columns as well as move the frames and preview pane borders, and your changes are saved so that they appear that way every time you open your mail database. (This feature actually applies to all databases, not just mail.)

And you can now choose different color schemes, by sender, to differentiate mail messages in views and folders. You can choose both the background and text color, for example, the message below is highlighted with a light blue background and dark blue text:

Figure 12. Mail colors
Mail colors

Another useful view change is the new mail-checking user preference, Auto Inbox Refresh. With this enabled, when Notes checks for new mail, it will also refresh the Inbox automatically, so you no longer need to press F9 or click the refresh icon to see your new messages.

When creating a reply to a message or forwarding a message, you now have new features: Reply without Attachment(s) and Forward without Attachment(s) remove attachments and other large objects, such as images, and annotate the removal. Reply with Internet-Style History and Internet-Style Forward also remove and annotate attachments and objects, plus you can use a prefix of your choice to indicate a previous message, for example:

Figure 13. Internet-style reply
Internet-style reply

You can set your Internet-style reply/forward character and line wrapping on the Internet tab in User Preferences. Notes uses the familiar right angle bracket character by default.

The mail message form now includes checkboxes that let you select the High importance, Return receipt, Sign, and Encrypt options, without having to open the Delivery Options dialog box.

Figure 14. Delivery options
Delivery options

Notes 6 includes further enhancements to file attachments within mail. In release 5.0.1, you could create attachments by dragging and dropping them from the file system into a new mail message. Notes 6 allows you to drag-and-drop files to the file system to detach them. And when you choose to save an attachment, Notes now shows a progress bar (because saving attachments takes advantage of Notes' new multitasking capabilities-more on that in the Performance section that follows).

In addition, the Attachments menu, properties box, and right-mouse menu have been updated so that they are easier to use. The Launch and Detach options have been renamed to the more obvious Open and Save, respectively. There are also new options: Edit, Save and Delete, Delete, Save All, Save and Delete All, and Delete All.

Calendar and Scheduling

Calendar and Scheduling in Notes 6 includes many useful improvements and changes. For example, the calendar screen now includes a "mini-view" that displays all entries that require your action, in one single location.

Figure 15. Calendar mini-view
Calendar mini-view

Also, the calendar entry form has been redesigned so that it includes more tools on one form. The Scheduler is now a collapsible section on the form so that you can easily see the availability of all invitees. Other additions to the form include Sametime online meetings. Once you have created a resource in the Resource database using the new Sametime Online Meeting resource type, you can schedule a Sametime online meeting and book that reservation in the Sametime meeting server. If there are changes to the meeting, the Sametime meeting server is notified.

Here is a look at the form itself:

Figure 16. Meeting form
Meeting form

The Calendar views are now presented in a tabbed format to make it easier to switch from daily, weekly, and monthly calendars. In Notes 5, we introduced the concept of a work week, where a user can define any of seven days, not necessarily contiguously (for example, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday). We have extended that concept to include a two work week and a work month view in Notes 6. Also, any view can be shown in a summarized format that will show you your calendar entries in a concise, columnar arrangement.

If you want to create an appointment (or change the subject of an existing one), the Notes 6 calendar now gives you the option to create or edit entries right from the view level without having to open the document. For example, you just click and type to create a new appointment or edit an existing one. Or, you can change the start and end times of a meeting by dragging the entry box. You can drag-and-drop entries into a different time slot or day. When performing these operations, if you are the chairperson, a reschedule dialog box will appear so that you can notify your attendees. If you are an invitee, a new dialog box will appear. These save time because the entries do not need to be opened to perform these operations. Notes application developers can apply these view-level editing capabilities to all databases; these capabilities are not limited to just the calendar.

In gridded views, such as the one-day, two-day, or work week view, calendar entry conflicts appear side-by-side rather than one on top of the other as in previous releases. Also, all calendar entries in views are now color-coded, so you can tell a meeting from an appointment or a reminder right from the view. Plus, you can choose the color scheme (both the background and text colors) yourself in the calendar preferences:

Figure 17. Preferences -- Mail -- Colors dialog box
Preferences -- Mail -- Colors dialog box

Time zone support has been improved so that you can choose a different time zone when you pick the start and end times for meetings. You can also schedule meetings that run past midnight, and show two time zones in certain views, such as the day views.

Calendar delegation has been improved, allowing a person to assign full calendar management to someone else. For example, assume you manage Al Zollar's calendar. You can create meeting invitations for him, and notification of all the meeting replies, including a doclink back to the reply, can be returned to you as the calendar manager. Or, as calendar manager, you will receive an email with a doclink to a calendar invitation in the Executive's mail file; when you click on that doclink, you are taken to the calendar invitation and can act on it on Al's behalf. You can also set up a shortcut to easily open Al's calendar from your own calendar so that you can see his calendar view, including the mini-view. This means you can manage Al's calendar without checking his mail database for replies or invites, and he can simply use his calendar to see all his appointments.

Further calendar and scheduling features include:

  • iCalendar (Internet-standard calendaring and scheduling) for Notes-to-Notes scheduling over SMTP
  • vCard (electronic business card) import
  • Several new day, week, and month views
  • Many new printing options, including the ability to print to a Notes document
  • New formatting options for views: Summarize (for all views) and Show Time Slots (for week and month views)
  • Clickable month and year in the date chooser, so you can quickly change either the month, the year, or both
  • A scroll bar at the bottom of the screen to quickly move to other dates in the view you're in

For more details on using Calendar and Scheduling, see the LDD Today article, "Saving time with Notes 6 Calendar and Scheduling."

To Do

The new To Do views show off a new design attribute of views in Notes 6: the ability to show grid lines of different styles and colors. In To Do, grid lines are applied to create a "ruled paper" look:

Figure 18. To Do view
To Do view

To Do views offer in-line editing. This lets you create or edit To Do entries at the view level:

Figure 19. New To Do entry
New To Do entry

Replication and mobility

The Replicator page in Notes 6 is another area where you will see ease of use changes and improvements. The first thing you will notice is that the layout has been reworked. For example, you can choose large or small icons, and you can also display the page as a bookmark-page style "slide-out," as shown below:

Figure 20. Replicator page slide-out
Replicator page slide-out

You can easily create replicas (and selective replicas) by dragging and dropping databases, views, or documents onto the Replicator page. For example, if you drag your Inbox in your mail database to the Replicator page, you can create a selective replica containing only the documents that appear in your Inbox-no replication formula required!

The enhanced Replicator page also allows you to organize database icons into folders, which then allows you to perform replication activities on everything in one folder. Plus, you can sort the Replicator page columns and select multiple icons on the page. In addition, the new progress meter shows more information about databases and documents.

You will also notice changes, enhancements, and additions to the Replication Settings dialog box. For instance, you can access your replication schedules on the Basics tab. Another example is the new selective replica options available on the Space Savers tab for certain databases such as mail, where you can create selective replication forms to more easily select the documents that you want to replicate. We provide a selective replication form in the Notes 6 mail template that allows you to create a replica based on sender, sent mail, draft mail, calendar entries, and so on:

Figure 21. Replication Settings -- Space Savers tab
Replication Settings -- Space Savers tab

As for replication, a major enhancement is the way replication of documents within databases is handled. For example, documents are re-ordered so that smaller documents are replicated first. Then, views are built dynamically, so as documents are replicated they appear in the view. Both of these enhancements mean that you can act on information more quickly.

For mobility improvements, Notes 6 includes multi-user support. Multi-user features allow multiple people to easily share one specific Windows OS PC in a way that ensures secure access to personal data as well as common information.


Collaboration

A powerful new collaboration tool in Notes 6 is the ability to lock and unlock documents. When this feature is enabled on a database, users with at least Author access can lock documents on any replica, preventing others with the same access from modifying the document, even if they are working on a different replica. Even managers of a database cannot edit a locked document (although they can unlock documents). Database designers can enable this feature in the Database properties box.


Performance

The most noticeable performance improvement for Notes 6 is that many features are now "multitasking," which means you can do something else while the Notes client is busy performing an operation in the background. Activities such as polling for new mail, detaching files, replicating, printing, monitoring alarms, subscription processing, running background agents, replacing designs, and copying databases take advantage of the new Notes 6 multitasking abilities.

Other Notes 6 client performance improvements include:

  • Reduced use of both memory and graphics objects
  • An improved compression algorithm of which Notes network data (NRPC) can now take advantage
  • More end-user control concerning selective replication and management of file attachments
  • Increased file detachment speed

Administration

At the beginning of this overview we discussed changes to the Welcome Page. For administrators, customizing and deploying an organizational Welcome Page is even easier with the availability of the new Welcome Page deployment process, which incorporates the new administration desktop policy features. You can design a Welcome Page database, push it out to users, and even lock it down. For more information on Welcome Page Deployment, read the Domino Administrator 6 Help.

In general, beyond just the Welcome Page, the new policy documents will be a useful tool for Notes client administrators because they are designed to let you enforce standard settings and configurations across groups, departments, or even entire organizations.

Administrators can control and maintain version deployment by setting up the new Smart Upgrade feature, which stores Notes client upgrade files on a Domino server. When users connect to their Domino 6 home server with their Notes 6 client, they are automatically prompted to upgrade to the new version of Notes. If they click OK, the new software is downloaded from the server and the client is shutdown, upgraded, and restarted automatically.

Users now have streamlined administration of the security of the Notes client with the new User Security dialog box, which consolidates the important security preferences and options. You can use the dialog box to manage your Notes ID and password, Notes and Internet certificates, execution control list, encryption of documents, mail, local databases, and so on. You can read more about the User Security dialog box in the LDD Today article, "Bonding with User Security in Notes 6."

Figure 22. Security dialog box
Security dialog box

For more on Notes/Domino administration, we suggest reading the Domino 6 Technical Overview.

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