Designing the User Experience for Lotus Notes andSametime
Integrated Sametime and the Menus, or "what to do with menus in a sidebar that is supposed to scale"
In Notes 8, Sametime is available in the sidebar. This embedded Sametime is technologically more akin to the Sametime Connect client than previous versions of the integrated Sametime in Notes.
Now, in the Sametime Connect Client itself, we have a menu bar and various menu items, such as the "View" menu in the picture below.
Since Sametime already had a full set of menus, and Samantha is used to going to certain menu items to find things (we think, anyway), when we integrated Sametime into Notes, we made use of all the same menus that Samantha was already used to -- Like Edit, View, Tools, etc. OK, OK, I confess, there is no "we" here, I am the one who made that decision. And it was a logical decision. but we all know that something logical is not necessarily usable.
Thus, in the Notes 8 client, Samantha still goes to the View menu to do things like "toggle online only." However, as you can see in the screenshot below, while it is on the View menu, we put it into a "Sametime" pull-right.
This was to make it clear what the menu item was acting on (the Sametime sidebar item rather than the thing in the main tab), and because we will be running up against some scalability issues. We hope that many people create sidebar plug-ins, and once Samantha has many, it will help (we thought) to re-emphasize which sidebar panel is getting acted on.
There were 2 primary forces behind this design decision. The first was that users already had a set of menus that they knew and used from the Sametime Connect Client.
The second was that we have recevied negative feedback about how Lotus Notes menus are "non-standard"-- "edit type things do not go on the edit menu and view type things do not go on the view menu etc." -- this is because Lotus notes applications (you know, formerly known as databases...) only allowed developers to contribute to the Create and Actions menu. But now with our new Expeditor framework, a plug-in can contribute any menu item any place. Thus, we consciously chose to put on the View menu the same things that were on the View menu in the Sametime Connect client.
So far, we have feedback from 2 customers, providing mixed results. One could not find a menu item-- I suspect because the menus are so far away from the sidebar. I am not sure he looked in the menus at all. Perhaps we should have reproduced all the menu items in the panel pull-down. We discussed that at length and it seemed like overkill at the time. We ended up putting (what we thought were ) frequent actions in the panel pull-down (and of course, Samantha also has the toolbar, with "Chat,", Send File" etc.
The second piece of feedback is that the menus look "littered" with Sametime pull-rights. At the moment, Sametime is the only plug-in that contributes to the menus. But when we have Quickr plug-ins and other plug-ins in the sidebar that also contribute pull-rights in various places, it will either make more sense, or look more littered (hum, possibly both.).
We could simpy NOT have sidebar panels contribute to the menus in the menu bar at all. That seems to violate the intent of a rich client application, where one of the hallmarks is that everything is accessible by using the menu system and you can "surf the menus" to get an idea of what a product can do.) Then we'd be putting all the possible menu items on the panel menu. When we tried that for Sametime, it felt like we were recreating the menu bar "sideways."
One of the design issues I'm looking into for future releases is how to make the sidebar more usable and scalable. So I appreciate any of your opinion.
(And yes, we know that the Feed reader adn Activities do not contribute to the menu bar. We wanted then to, and, depending on feedback, we plan to have them do so. We also want the menu bar to appear in the window of a "floated" sidebar panel-- we just didn't have time to implement it for 8.0.)
Our "guest blogger" today is Robert Harwood. Please give him feedback on the following:
IBM Lotus Domino Designer users - Importance of contextual (F1, context-sensitive) help
For the next release of Lotus Domino Designer, we are considering changing the way contextual help works. The context for this change is that the next release of Domino Designer will be Eclipse-based. We will be providing the main help topics as Eclipse plugins.
Because Designer itself will retain some of its previous C++ code base, including the F1 hooks that currently invoke NSF-based help topics, we have the choice of continuing to provide this help NSF, or switching to Eclipse context help topics. Currently, this help is very granular, so that if you press F1 while working in the script editor, with the cursor on an @ command, you will see help on that @ command. The change we are considering might make contextual help less granular, so that instead of the single @ command topic itself, you might see a short list of links to a group of @ command help topics. Clicking any of those links would show you the actual @ command help.
The Eclipse context help model is different from the current NSF-based behavior. We'd like to switch because we'd be supporting one help deliverable, not two, and the help experience would be Eclipse standard throughout, rather than hybrid (NSF help in some cases, Eclipse help in others). However, we don't have a technical requirement to move, so we're really trying to see if this shift -- which, is not obviously beneficial to the user -- would at least be acceptable. If it turns out that people don't rely heavily on F1 help in this way, a shift might be pretty harmless.
We need to know whether this change would be acceptable to you. Please let us know how important contextual help is to you, and how important it is that it stay in its current form. Is it okay to see a list of help topics instead of going directly to the target topic? Is the extra mouse click acceptable?
We will take your feedback into account in our planning for the next release. It's very important that we hear your opinion, pro or con; the more replies we get, the more confidence we will have in our planning! Thanks!
Hi all, John Lance here. You may remember me from such past blog postings as "Hybrid Selection Model - Keyboarding" and "How to Tell if Your Boss has a Sense of Humor" (Note: This requires access to your company's public blog, a thesaurus, and (ideally) a secondary source of income...)
Moving right along...
This posting is a bit of a fishing expedition. We're looking to collect some scenarios on how you and your business users might want to share calendar information between themselves, get information from external calendars, etc. We're trying to specifically avoid referring to technology (e.g. iCal) and instead capture what it is that Samantha, Ted, and Betty want to do. That's where you come in, because we really want the examples to be as real world as possible.
Some quick scenarios that jump to mind:
Mary_Beth 110000PF38 721 Visits
I've been too busy checking out each Notes 8 dialy build to get my Notes mail set up on the Curve yes.
My husband, who is against me getting work email or Sametime set up on it, has decided he likes the Curve, tho-- because it makes geocaching eaiser.
Last weekend we drove from Lynchburg, VA back to New Hampshire, and while I drove, he was surfing geogaching.com to find caches along the way... needless to say, the long drive took even longer because we had to stop and geocache.
And then I had to drive again so that he could immediately log his caches using MY Curve.
I've also been working with the composite applications and Expeditor teams on a better install experience for composite applications and plug-ins for a future release-- pretty basic stuff, not any controversial design issues to ask you about.
Please welcome me to the world of the handheld. I haven't been surfing the internet or reading my mail on a handheld, but I finally took the plunge.
I don't have Notes or Sametime set up on it yet, but I am hoping to do so soon.
A few other members of the design and usabiltiy team have Pearls, so we're all taking the plunge together.
Our information development team is working on a set of demo movies (viewlets). Our current plan is to make these available via a "Notes 8 tips" RSS feed in the Feedreader sidebar application.
Here is a draft list of demo movies that our ID person (Dana St. Clair) is planning to create, please let us know the TOP 5 which would be most useful to you.
If you do NOT see something REALLY IMPORTANT in the list below, add it as one of your top 5.
(also feel free to give us additional information, for example, if any of these woudl not be helpful at all, let us know that as well.)
LIST OF PROPOSED DEMO MOVIES:
Replication -- What it is, how to replicate; or synchronize; or use the work offline feature
Delegating Contacts -- Contacts is a little different, but has lots of similarities; what do different access levels mean?
Out of office -- setting up a standard notification.
Archiving -- why you do it, how you do the different types, what are the results (what do archives look like, how do you access them, what actually gets archived)
Mail conversations -- what they are and how to view them/delete them.
Customizing your email -- how to add your own graphic at the top of the email, how to add your name at the bottom
Searching Notes -- using the new search feature to do internet like searches
Filtering Mail -- why you do it, how to do it. (filtering and blocking mail from sender)
Scheduling a meeting-- maybe go through setting up a meeting. All those screens can be daunting. -- checking others schedules is a little obscure?
Delegating Mail -- how to delegate, create a shortcut, and open another user's Mail; what do different access levels mean?
Searching Help -- how to find the information you need. Using the Eclipse help search dialogs. what makes a good search, what makes a bad search.
What is an application -- terms (application & database) and views, working with views, how to post responses.
Understanding ACLs -- what do these show you, how to use them.
Creating Notes documents with bells and whistles--Creating sections and tables with sections in a Notes document. possibly a few other things to show here too.
Replacing an application design -- what happens and what doesn't happen when you replace a design. When would you do this? when would you NOT do this.
The "About This Application" and "Using This Application" documents for the Mail template (Mail8.ntf) and the Contacts template (Pernames.ntf) have been updated for 8.0. However, you will not see these updated documents in applications created prior to 8.0.
The reason is that in previous releases, the templates had the "Prohibit design refresh or replace to modify" property on those design elements. Note that this was a customer requested change to the templates, back in R4. Of course, I wasn't working on Notes then, and we're not sure exactly what the use cases were for making this change.
I suspect this was because many of you customized your templates and provided customized "about" and "using" documents and you didn't want them to get stomped on. In Notes 8, we have made many changes to Mail and Contacts applications AND to the "about" and "using" documents, so now some of you might be between a bit of a rock and a hard place, because you are going to WANT the updates we made to these documents.
Now you know, so that you can plan accordingly.
I was on vacation last week, visiting my father with the kids, and boating near his home in the 1,000 Islands (well, actually, the week was rather rainy, and we only went out in the boat one day. We tried to hike in Wellesley Island state park another day, but got caught in a a thunder-and-lightning storm that scared us all into returning to the nature center. We did get to see an Osprey couple in their nest, a great blue heron, and lots of wild turkeys, though.
As of Monday morning I've returned to work, and I'm part of a "release jury" of users who download/install and use specific builds (we call them "release kits") to determine if they are ready to be the final and official "Notes 8 release."
And several of you asked about the Notes 8.0.1 plans. We are beginning to work on that as well and I hope to post a few tidbits abotu 8.0.1 plans soon. (Well, after we get an official "it's done" build... most of my time is spent using/testing/looking at the candidate release kits at the moment.)