It's been a long time since I am thinking of starting my own Blog. Just getting to it now finally. I know there are a large number of blogs on the Lotus Notes/Domino and the Lotus Collaboration Suite of products. Why would I want to get another one that talks about the same. Well, I am going to try and see if I can add a different flavor to it.
Along with giving out periodic information about the Lotus portfolio, concentrating on the Notes/Domino product line, I would like to see if I can give it a growth market flavor, with India as a backdrop. I have been working in IBM India for the past 6 years, and working with Indian Customers have given me some insights into what their expectations are and how they differ from the customers in the developed countries like the US and Europe. I hope to shed some light and tailor my blog to the customers & users in the growth market regions like India, China. Hope I succeed in this. As I continue to blog, I would love to get feedback from all of you, so feel free to comment and let me know how I am doing with my goal.
Quick Summary of my professional career:
Spent most of my professional career in 2 companies (well maybe more, if you count subsidiaries)
Data General Corp - primarily worked on their Word Processor Software
IBM Corporation - Lotus Notes
Joined Iris Associates - original developers of Lotus Notes (which was then a subsidiary of Lotus) in April 1995,
May 1995 - IBM buys out Lotus
Jan 2003 - Moved to IBM India to work at IBM Software Lab, India
Aug 2006 - Promoted to STSM (Senior Technical Staff Member)
Areas of Expertise:
Lotus Notes Client Development since release 4.6 (currently working on 8.5.3+)
Integration of Notes Client in Expeditor/Eclipse framework
Major UI enhancements in the Notes Client
Notes, as we know it, is a platform rather than a specific application. That, in itself, adds to the complexity to the Notes Client. When I ask people what Notes Client is, they say it's Mail, Calendar, and bunch of other Databases. But really if you combine it all, it's a platform, on which applications like Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Discussion Database are built. I will try to elaborate more in my blog in the coming Months. And show the power of this which can be exploited by everyone. I would like to start off my blog showing a simple and very useful add-on to the Notes Client.
Every Indian is excited and proud to have a symbol for the Indian Currency, which is "Rupee". Until now, there was no symbol, and most people used to write "Rs" before the amount. Well, thanks to the government and IIT professor, we now have a new symbol which people can use when referring to Rupees. This is
Now, until we have a FONT which includes this character and the keystrokes assigned to it, and then getting those fonts downloaded on each windows machine, we are stuck with trying to find ways on how we can add this to our documents. Given Notes's programming model and ease of adding a new extension, I just created a simple "add-in:, which once installed into your Notes Client, will allow you to add the Rupee Symbol within any Document. Here are the steps to do this:
- Copy the ZIP file from here -> Add Rupee Notes Add-in , and UNZIP the contents into your Notes Install Directory (if you don't know what this is, right-click on your Notes Client launch icon on your desktop, and select "Properties" which will tell you where the program is coming from. )
- Edit your "notes.ini" file (this is also typically in your Notes Install Directory). You can use "Notepad" to edit it.
- Search for "addinmenus" in this file.
- If the line exists, add ",addrupee.dll" to the end of this line
- If the line does NOT exist, add "addinmenus=addrupee.dll" line at the end of "notes.ini" file and hit ENTER
That's it. Once this is done, exit out of Notes and re-enter. Now in any document in a rich-text field (like the Body of your memo you are creating), click on "Action" menu and you will have a new menu option called "Add Rupee Symbol".
Select it to add the symbol into your document.
In my previous post, I talked about Lotus Notes Client’s
extensibility and provided a way for an add-in to contribute a menu
option in Notes so a user can quickly add “Indian Rupee” symbol
into any Notes document. I am sure as you start to use the new Rupee
Symbol, you will want to also add it when you are chatting with your
colleague using the Lotus Sametime client. Beauty is that the Lotus
Sametime Client is also a client which can be customized, by adding what
we call “Plugins”.
Thanks to Bidisha Ghosh,
who was able to create a plugin for the Sametime Client. Once you have
installed this plugin, you will see a button in the ST Chat, like
This does require you to have Sametime Client 8.0 or later, or am
embedded sametime client within your Notes Client (Standard Client).
Here are the instructions on how you can download this plugin and
install it in your sametime environment.
Find the ZIP file at -> Access Sametime ZIP file
First download this file, and unzip it on your hard-disk. (let’s assume you unzipped it at c:\rupee)
If you are using Standalone Sametime Client Version 8.0 or higher)
Select “Tools->Plugins-> Install Plugins” menu optionselect “Search for new features to install”Select “Add Folder location” and provide the folder where you unzipped the above file (e.g c:\rupee)click on “Finish”In the next dialog, select the “checkbox” and again go through the dialogs, selecting “I agree” to complete the installation.Restart the Sametime Client to get this Rupee Symbol.
Similar steps need to be done if you are using integrated Sametime
Client in the Standard Version of the Notes Client. First you need to
enable the Installation Option to install the plugin. Do the following:
1) Browse to <note_install_directory>/framework/rcp/plugin_customization.ini
2) In the plugin_customization.ini file add the following line and save.
3) Start up your Notes client.
4) Select the File -> Application -> Install menu option to install the plugin (Follow the same steps as above)
Since I posted my blog entry for how to add the Rupee Symbol in Notes, I have been asked a bunch of questions. Why didn't I do it this way, and that way. So here's my attempt to answer those.
- First of all, yes, this is WINDOWS only, and I am working on a LINUX version of it. Hopefully in the next couple of days.
- I have created this as a Notes Addin, rather than a Notes Plugin. My main intention was to have it available for any version of Notes. I know there are some users within IBM and some customers who are still on 7.0.x release of Notes Client. For them, this AddIn would work, but a plug-in would not have worked.
- Yes, there is a FONT available, which can be downloaded by end-users and installed on to their system. This would give them the character rather than an Image, as I am pasting in the document. The main problem with using a FONT is that each time the user wants to insert Rupee Symbol in their document, he/she would have to change the Font, add the character and then re-change the font back to the one they want to use. Requires too many keystrokes. Also, what if the other person who the document is mailed out ot does not have the font, there will be display issues.
Hope this explains my logic for creating this as an add-in.
So excited about the upcoming release of 8.5.3. We have spent long hours getting the product completed in the timeframe promised to the customers. Here's a little teaser from Ed Brill -> Release date for 8.5.3
Along with making the product solid, we also have a number of features/enhancements that benefit the end-users. Here's a sneak-peek at some of the features from the 8.5.3 release. Entire list will be available once the product is released.key 8.5.3 features
I personally love the new Symphony 3.0 which is in the release. Very easy to use, and great when I want to send out PDF to others (easy conversion).
I will update the blog once we have posted the software on the web for download.
Recently we have started to look at the road-blocks customers find when moving to web based interface for their Mail. iNotes has come a long way, and you will find that in the 8.5.3 release, iNotes is way superior to most of the web based email products. And you have Domino as the back-end, which is the most secure and scalable messaging server you can have. I like the speed when using iNotes. I have used all the 3 different flavors of iNotes (Full, Lite, and ultra-lite) and find them useful in different situations. Just the other day, I wanted to check my email from my mobile (yes, I could install Traveler, but I did not). So I just tried the iNotes Ultra-lite, and was amazed how quickly the inbox showed on my mobile and how easy was it navigate around my mail and read what I needed to read. Truly amazing & fast (no 3G for me yet).
So for customers that do not require a full-blown Notes Client for their email, iNotes is great product. It is also something that can be used as an alternate method for checking mail, when you are away or at another office and do not have your laptop with the Notes Client on it.
I am sure that most of the customers are investigating moving their Notes/Domino environment to access via a browser. Are you thinking the same? Have you tried the latest iNotes & Lotus Traveler, and does that meet your requirements? What stops you from going ahead with this strategy?
Post away if you have thoughts around this.
Sorry Karthik for stealing your session title at Software Universe, to be held on the 20th October
which is going to cover everything you needed to know about IBM's Social Collaboration portfolio, mainly the IBM Connections product. We use this product extensively within IBM, and I keep wondering how we used to manage things without this product. It's so easy to get used to things which are so intuitive. Connections has now become an integral part of the portfolio used within IBM, similar to everyone's Notes Client. Few components I use a lot are the:
Profile - where I can get to know more about the person.
Communities - I can subscribe to a community that I am interested in, and keep track of the updates.
I just think with the ease of use of these and the integrated nature of these products, it's easy to get used to and possibly addicted to. And it's all part of my job as developer in the ICS brand. I personally work on the Notes/Domino product, but as we can see in various discussions around email & social software (one such post from my colleague
), the two products need to co-exist, in fact merge into 1 product. You can't any longer have 1 without the other.
Recently I read an interesting post from Gartner about Social Software trends in 2010 and beyond
. When I first saw it a while back, it probably didn't register, but as I look back on it now, I can see some of it coming true already, and it's only 2011. There's still quite a few years to go in what has been predicted. I am sure the social software within an enterprise is probably limited to large organizations at this moment, but smaller enterprises will start adopting Social Software soon. In fact, the earlier you start to embrace Social Software, the easier it's adoption will be within your organization.
Reminds me of this cartoon:
It's so easy to google it nowadays as I am watching TV with my kids, and a question pops up. At work, I pop into Connections when I am looking for some technical information. That's the power of Social Collaboration in an enterprise, and if you haven't embraced it yet, you are missing a lot!
It's that time of the year when I do my annual pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida for Lotus's (now ICS) annual technical conference called "Lotusphere". This year's event wil be at the same place from January 15th through the 19th. You can find more about it here -> Lotusphere 2012
A new addition to this years event is an event called "IBM Connect". Will post an update as I get to this.
As always, this is a great place to be for all the Messaging and Collaboration enthusiasts. Nothing like being in person at the Opening General Session (OGS) where the demo god (Ron Sebastian) runs through the demo's so effortlessly, I as a developer of some of those features, just watch it in awe. It's simply edge of the seat moment. Also looking forward to who the Mystery Guest will be.
Of course, Lotus will have some key announcements during this event. I am excited about 1 such which I am working very closely on. Looking forward to see how the customers react to it. I will be in the "Meet the developers" Lab to answer any questions and demo the new feature :-) So excited!!!!
So off I go...
it's been a great 1st day at Lotusphere 2012. Attendance has been really good. Most likely same as last year, or slightly more than that. Bumped into a lot of old-timers (like myself) who have been attending Lotusphere every year. It was great to see all of them.
OGS - the Great kick-off
Lotusphere really begins with the OGS (Opening General Session) which kicked off @8am on Monday morning. Everyone eagerly awaited the celebrity guest, and Michael J Fox (Back to the Future) got a standing ovation when he was announced. It was sad to hear all the health issues he has gone through, but great to see him fight back and do so much for the illness.
After this, the entire OGS was pretty much taken over by DEMO's. Lots and Lots of demo's of new features coming in the next few months to a year.
Connection Next, Social Mail, and multi-party Audio-video received good response from the audience.
I was eagerly waiting for the Notes/Domino segment of the OGS, which was handled by Keven & Doug. But of course, Ron was the key guy doing all the demoing. I could not believe but the very feature I am driving for the release, Notes Application browser Plugin for Windows, got a big round of applause from the audience. I was nervous going into this not knowing how it would be received, but was pleasantly surprised.
So what is it? -- Notes Browser plugin is a small 50-60 MB plugin to be deployed in Firefox or IE, wihch provides access to Notes applications in a browser. This ia great for customers who want to move to WEB for email, but still need to retain notes client for non-mail applications. This allows them to move the userbase to browser based access, with NO MODIFICATIONS required to the applications, lowering their support cost.
So far, I spent 5 hours in the "Meet the developers" lab showing this to the customers and have lots and lots of discussions with them. It's been great so far.
Let's see what the 2nd day has in store.
Wow! What a response we have received for "Notes Application Browser Plugin for Windows" (what a long name - but that's just the 1st attempt). It's mind blowing. Never expected such a response from all the customers. So a quick recap of what it is (& I am proud to have been working on it along with some of my colleagues)
- A small Notes Client package, which includes:
- Components of Basic Notes Client which are needed to run notes applications
- browser integration components
- Allowing, customers to run their Notes applications nside a browser, UNMODIFIED. The last word has huge significance for customers. No Modifications needed to get their application running inside a browser.
This is huge for customers that have thousands of applications, and cannot move all of them to XPages. Yes, they do want to move applications to XPages, but it takes time. New applications definitely can and will be on XPages, but existing applications, especially the old ones which are used rarely, can now be webified with the help of this plugin, no modifications needed.
This allows customers to also move earlier to the Web for their notes/domino needs. They can use iNotes for Mail (and if you have not, please check out the 8.5.3/8.5.4 version of iNotes - lots of new features), and use the Browser Plugin for the rest of their applications.
I will write more on this in the coming months as we have customers use this and provide feedback. Here's a quick snapshot of my discussion database opened inside the browser.
Good article on the reason & benefits of the Browser Plugin in Ed Brill's Blog -> Ed's Blog Link
Ed is calling it the App-player, but I am sure in the next 2-3 months, final name will come out.
So, LS2012 is over and behind us. Judging from the response we had for the Notes 8.5.4 release, and especially the Notes Social Edition, I can see that we @Lotus have our work cut out. There's lots of enthusiasm amongst our users for the features in these, and we need to work hard to deliver these, in time, with quality. We will do our best!!
Embedded Experiences was another hot topic in the conference. In the final "Ask the developer" session, there were a number of praises doled out for the this. Kudos to Andrew Davis and his team for all the hard work that has gone into it. It's going to raise the Notes Client way above the rest of the pack. Read a lot about it in Ryan Baxter's
"Ask the Developers" is the last session at Lotusphere (besides the "Closing Ceremony"), where customers get to ask questions to the developers developing all these COOL Lotus applications. As always, the room was packed, and the stage was filled with senior techies from ICS/Lotus products (oh yah, this time, I was amongst one of them :-) ). Interestingly more than 50% of the quesitons were around C&S (Calendaring & Scheduling). Great news was that we have already implemented some of the key asks (such as Rolling Month, Weekly Planner view) in the 8.5.4 release. But sure, there were few that we will take back and look at over the next few releases. Great feedback from the users though.
Another successful, busy and crowded Lotusphere. Great meeting customers and interacting!!
Looking forward to the next one, planned from January 27th onwards.
(Now back to Littleton and a little bit of snow).
that's the official name as we have it. "Lotus Notes Browser Plug-in". There have been a number of questions which I will try to address here..
- This is not a replacement for XPages. Although both Xpages and the plug-in give you the ability to run your application inside a browser, XPage has huge advantages since it truly gives you WEB capabilities. The Notes Browser plug-in is mainly geared towards notes apps that you cannot move to XPages because you no longer have the original developer, nor believe it's cost beneficial due to it's in-frequent use.
- Notes Browser Plug-in will surface your notes application unmodified in the browser. Same UI, same actionbar, navigator, frameset, forms, embedded elements, views, etc etc etc.
- All the Notes components like dialogs (Ctrl-O), infobox, workspace, replicator will be available in side the browser.
- Some screenshots of the new welcome page, workspace inside Internet Explorer. (showing recent apps, link to Workspace), and some tips.
- Do post comments if you have further questions.
As we are almost done with the development of the IBM Lotus Notes Browser plug-in, now is a good time to talk about packaging & installation. We started the development of the plug-on with the following goals:
- Keep the browser plug-in size as small as possible. We were benchmarking with the Adobe Reader install size. This means a size of about 60MB.
- Keep the browser plug-in installer as easy as possible
- Shorten the installation time - our goal was a minute to install & setup.
Very aggressive goals to begin with (contrast this to the basic client install size of 200MB). But I am happy to note here that we have almost achieved these goals as some of you will see it in the code-drops you are getting, and others as you get hold of it at a later stage when it's GA'ed. We would surely like to get your comments related to this. What we have done is:
- Have a minimum kit - which is about 62 MB, almost all that you need to run your existing Domino Application in the 2 browsers we will support.
- Have a larger kit - about 125 MB, which includes the minimum above, but in addition also includes the Notes JVM which is required if you have applications that have Java in the design.
You can decide which is required by your users.
Another goal that we have achieved, is to simplify the installation. We will continue to have MSI installer, as requested by most of the customers we talked to, but the installation has 2 screen to begin with and then installs within a minute on my Windows7 desktop that I have. I think this is HUGE!! I am sure your admin's and user's will find this beneficial.
So the goal of Install & Setup of a minute-each definitely is something that is already achieved. It's so amazing that during some of the testing I was doing today, I literally installed/un-installed the product a good number of times, without much of a wait.
If you have any thoughts on the installation, packaging of the Notes Browser Plug-in, we would love to hear your thoughts. Do comment on this.
I have been looking at "Search" within Lotus Notes lately. Lots of discussions with customers on this. While researching this, I realized that there are a good number of hidden gems inside Notes which not many customers are aware of (well, we kept it well hidden). Using some of these would enhance searching experience in Notes. So let's take a look at some.
- Most users do not realize the power that's hidden underneath the "More" option in the Notes's Clients search bar.
All the options where the user can specify various conditions can help users create powerful search query to get the exact document they are looking for.
- And you can see the "Search Search" "Load Search" option which saves the query which you can recall later for re-doing the search. This is saving off the query so when you 'load' it back, it will re-run the query, so any new documents matching the creteria can be found.
- we also support specifying text to search for in internet format. In the "Notes" "Basic" preference panel, you will find the following preference:
- Last but not the least, when you select "Condition" "Form" above, Notes has a feature where you can specify the default form to be used. The name of the form has to be $DefaultSearch. Once you create this form in your application, when you click on the "Form" button below:
the default form as defined by the form with name $DefaultSearch shows up. Here I have created a form in my mailfile with fields which I most commonly search within (From, Subject, Message Body)
The most important part is, this is so intuitive for the user. For example, I just need to search for all the mails from "Simon" with a subject that has "plugin" in it, I will fill this:
hit "Add" and then "Search", which then gives me all the documents that are from "Simon" and the word "plugin" somewhere in the Subject.
Really a very powerful, yet hidden functionality. You can create a form like this in your own application with fields which are commonly found in it.
I hope you all have checked out Ed Brill's latest blog announcing the Public Beta of Notes/Domino 9 Social Edition. If not, please see this -> http://www.edbrill.com/ebrill/edbrill.nsf
I attended the Webcast for this event, and could see the presentation, and the nice demos. Very well done by Ed, Scott and the rest of the team.
Very excited about all the cool things in this release that we have been working on. And looking forward to all of you getting hold of this when the Public Beta goes out in mid-December. Very cool features in the Client, iNotes, Social Capability in both, and also the new flavor of the client "IBM Notes Browser Plug-in". Lots of demos, so please download them when available and drool over.
As the public beta gets closer I will try to post more information on some new features. For those attending IBM Connect 2013 in orlando Florida in January 2013, you can see and hear about all the features in detail at that conference.