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.)