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.
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.
IBM Notes Browser Plug-in released as part of IBM Notes 9 release
is a great product which allows you to open any existing Notes/Domino
Applications inside a browser. If you have created new applications
using XPages or converted your old ones using XPages, they can be opened
in browser even without this plug-in. The Notes Browser Plug-in is for
older apps which you do not want to or cannot convert to XPages.
As can be seen from the above picture, a combination IBM Notes Browser Plug-in & IBM iNotes together provides the same functionality in a browser as you would expect from an installed Notes Client. Your Mail access will be via iNotes and the applications can be accessed via the Browser Plug-in, all within the context of the same Browser. And you will have support for all the features you are used to in the Notes Client - mainly, Local Replica, Replication Page, Workspace.
Key functionality here is the tighter integration between the Notes applications running inside the browser & IBM iNotes. I will try to summarize the integration capability added in the IBM Notes 9 release.
As we talk about Mail & App integration (iNotes & Browser Plug-in), following are the integration points supported:
Access to applications when in IBM iNotes:
- We have provided a button on iNotes so you can launch to the welcome page of the IBM Notes Browser Plug-in: ->
- If you have a Document Link/View link or DB Link in an Email you open up, as long as the link has a URL of "notes://" (look for the link url on the status bar), this will then launch the Notes Browser Plug-in and open the content inside the same browser (a new tab). Please make sure the Domino server has a setting to format the link as Notes:// link instead (or in addition to) http://
Mail integration in IBM Notes Browser Plug-in
- IBM Notes Browser Plug-in does not allow you to open mailfile or mail applications in the plug-in.
- Trying to open your mailfile via the workspace, or mail bookmark will get re-directed to your mailfile in iNotes. So it's seamless for the user to open his/her iNotes mail from the Plug-in.
- Any mail operation you do in your application, such as "Action->Forward", will create a new memo in iNotes and include your document in the BODY of the email.
- Any back-end mail operation done in your application will work as is.
- We do not expect any issues when using your applications and any mail based workflow you might have.
- There is also an icon on the Notes Browser Plug-in menubar to launch iNotes similar to the above icon on iNotes launch bar.
So all you need to do is to upgrade to IBM iNotes 9 to get the new icon to launch the IBM Notes Browser Plug-in, and install the Notes Browser Plug-in 9 on your desktop, and use these together to get your work done. For this release, we only support Windows & Citrix OS and IE/Firefox browsers. But hopefully that will cover a major sets of users who can try this new functionality in the product. Give us your feedback on your experience.
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.
I know there are lots of questions about installation of IBM Notes Browser Plug-in. Following article will clear up all the questions:
The Notes Browser Plug-in can be installed in below two different ways:
Notes Browser Plug-in with Notes Standard client:
If you want to be able to run the Standard Client and Notes Browser Plug-in on the same system at various points, you should select this so you can install both the clients on the same system. Please note that you cannot run both the client at the same time. You must exit one to start another.
Steps to install Notes Browser Plug-in with Notes Standard Client:
In the Standard Client installation user Interface, once you specify the directories for Program Files, and Data Files, you get to the below screen.
In this screen, if you expand the "Notes Client" feature, you will see an option to install "Notes Browser Plug-in". By default, this option is disabled. If you wish to install the Notes Browser Plug-in, please "uncheck" this option.
3. Once the installation of Standard Client is complete, it will also register the plug-ins for Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Notes Browser Plug-in stand-alone
Use this if you want to only have IBM Notes Browser Plug-in on your system, and plan to use iNotes for mail.
There are two variants of the stand-alone Notes Browser Plug-in installation: NotesPluginMax and NotesPluginMin. These will always install a multi-user version of the Notes Browser Plug-in.
NotesPluginMin – does not contain attachment viewers, JVM, or spell check.
NotesPluginMax - JVM is required if you have any application which has a Java Agent in it.
Both of these packages are packed into "setup.exe", so you simply need to run "setup.exe" and accept the License agreement. The remainder of the installation is done in the default path as follows:
Program Directory: C:\Program Files(x86)\IBM\Notes
Data Directory: C:\users\USER_NAME\AppData\Local\IBM\Notes\Data
Both of these installations support "Silent Install" and all of its options.
By default, this will be a multiuser installation. Since the new installers do multi-user installations, and due to the change in the Install & Data directories, your old data may not get migrated. After the installation is complete, and before launching the client, please copy any of your existing saved data (bookmarks, names.nsf, etc.) into the new Data directory.
Once the installation is complete, the first time you bring up the browser (IE or Firefox), it will ask you about a "new Plug-in" which has been installed, and whether to enable it. Please make sure that the answer to this is "Yes".
Once the installation is done, it will create a desktop icon "IBM Notes Browser Plug-in". Double-click the icon to launch the Notes Browser Plug-in. For the first launch, you have to go through the configuration wizard.
Welcome Page. Hit Next
User Information - Enter your name, Domino server. Hit Next
Notes ID File - Specify the path to your Notes .id file. Hit Next
Select “Yes” if you want to copy the id file to data directory in next prompt
Enter password for user in password prompt and hit “Log In” button
You can see the starting home page for user opened up in browser. From here you can access user's iNotes, Workspace, database and documents
Henrik has a good information on the ID to use for downloading various packages -> http://per.lausten.dk/blog/2013/10/ibm-notes-9-0-1-and-ibm-domino-9-0-1-are-now-available-for-download.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Per_Henrik_Lausten+%28Per+Henrik+Lausten%29
For IBM Notes Browser Plug-in, the code to use is
Notes Browser Plug-in Lite (without JVM) CIQ96EN
Notes Browser Plug-in (with JVM) CIQ90EN
We have also updated the Notes/Domino WIKI and I can tell you that my colleague Archana Pawar has done a great job in putting together all the information for using Notes Browser Plug-in. This also includes all the notes.ini parameters we support. You can refer to it here -> http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/dominowiki.nsf/xpDocViewer.xsp?lookupName=Notes+9.0.1+Browser+Plug-in#action=openDocument&res_title=IBM_Notes_Browser_Plugin_9.0.1_NBP901&content=pdcontent
And thanks to each of the member of Notes and Notes Browser Plug-in team for getting this quality release out.
I have been using the Notes 9 Social Edition client for the past few months as we are adding new features to it. I have seen it take shape into a brand-new client. I do like a good number of the new features in the product, but the Top-3 in the release are below:
1. Quick Launch Bar -- Huge + for me. It's always there. Saves me from using the OPEN drop-down completely. As you can see, I have added HOME and Workspace to it so I can easily access them (yes, I still use Workspace for some DBs)
2. New Welcome Page (Discover Page) Quick Links -- allowing me to quickly access my last 6 applications - I think this is a great functionality as I can quickly open an application which I had previously opened. Typically I am working in 4-5 applications besides my mailfile. So they are pretty much there in this list and I don't have to click on "Open" to get to it. Very convenient.
3. Quick Search -- really a nice enhancement to quickly search for a name in the inbox, which is what I do most of the time. Great that it automatically sorts the column I want to look for (prior releases required me to manually sort the column). And the nice part is that it has the "Recent Contacts" like type-ahead functionality to help me with the name rather than requiring me to type the entire name.
What are you favorite 3?
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.
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 blog entry, I outlined 3 key features for Notes V10 release (for every release, not just V10). I want to put forth some ideas which I believe would revolutionize IBM Notes Client, and how customers look at it. All of these I believe are achievable with some work, but I don't think it's too large an effort. Also, it might be too late to get this into IBM Notes V10 considering the timeline, but using continuous delivery methodology, can be released soon after. So here they are.
Change the perception of how IBM Notes Client is viewed.
We all know the perception customers & users have about Notes Client. Everyone views it as too large of an application, and also with too many features built into it, confusing non-technical users. We also have most of the users who are used to using applications on their smartphone. If you look at the smartphone usage, people know the applications to be used, touch it to open and start working on it. Once done, move to another or switch back to it as needed.
What if IBM Notes client never showed up unless someone wants to work with their desktop & side-shelf applications? What if each application is shown as an icon on your Windows desktop, and when you double-click on it, the application launches in it's own window, you work on it and close it down. You could simply double-click on another Notes application whose icon is shown on the desktop and open it. Work on multiple Notes applications, each one opened in it's own window.
If you ask your customers/users, you will find out that majority of the users end up using 3-4 applications the most. So here's what I feel Notes should do:
- Allow administrators to push Windows Desktop icons for most commonly used applications (it could even be in a folder if needed)
- Each application opens in it's own window. Only the 1st app prompts for password (or no password prompt if the customer is using single-sign-on). This concepts (SDI Mode) was always supported by Notes Client until we stopped supporting it (http://doc.4d.com/4Dv16R4/4D/16-R4/SDI-mode-on-Windows.300-3331617.en.html).
I believe this will completely hide the Notes Client complexity from the users who don't need it, and allow them to work independently in each application. A user would never even care if it's a Notes Client application or something else.
Change the 1st impression
As they say, the 1st impression is what sticks with you the most. And what do you see when you open IBM Notes (or if the above is implemented, the 1st application is launched), the "LOGIN" dialog. I strongly feel the login dialog in Notes Client is too 90's. It would be a very simple effort to upgrade this to make it nicer.
- 99% of the users don't change their "Location". Hide this field and provide option to enable it.
- The Keys that display as you type the password, it was great when it was implemented. No other application uses it now. Ditch it.
- Make the controls for Username/password nicer looking. Look at some other password dialog if needed.
Again, few simple modifications would make the 1st impression of the client (one that you will see once a day) so much better.
Imitate IBM Verse
It's your own product and there are few simple enhancements that can be picked up from IBM Verse. It's your own product, so there's no stealing. This will make your mail experience in IBM Notes significantly better. A note of caution though - I like Verse, but don't like the smaller number of messages that are displayed. So don't pick that. Here are some things to use from IBM Verse:
- Hide the FOLDER pane. Again, majority of the users stay in their INBOX and never change to any folder. So hide that folder pane, but allow the user to see the list as needed. Simple change to make the display look simpler, and give more space to what the user wants to see.
- Show Preview to the right. With the folder pane hidden, and preview to the right, I bet the user can see almost 20 messages giving a nice broader view to his/her inbox.
- Show those fast actions as shown by Verse against each document. With the folder pane gone, more space. So show those quick actions like - delete, reply, forward, or remove from inbox so you no longer have to open the message to act on it.
I believe these 2-3 changes in the inbox will significantly change the perception of IBM Notes Mail.
I have outlined 3 changes above, which if implemented, would revolutionize IBM Notes, and I believe will significantly increase the adoption & usage. New customers can also be targeted with these enhancements. In fact if the 1st feature is implemented, you don't even need to sell the Client, You can sell it as the application, similar to how the user downloads apps from AppStore/Playstore on their mobile. Further changes to simplify setup etc can be made.
Hope these are considered for V10 (maybe just the Login dialog?) and beyond.
Recap of What & Why IBM Client Application Access (ICAA)?
ICAA (IBM Client Application Access) is a lightweight client for accessing IBM Notes & Domino applications. It's geared for customers who are not using the Notes Client for accessing their mail but instead using other EMail client to connect to their mail, such as IBM Verse, IBM Smartcloud Notes web, or IMSMO (IBM Mail Support for Microsoft Outlook). In such a scenario, if you are looking for a lightweight client for working with your existing Notes/Domino applications , ICAA is your answer. ICAA will provide the same level of support for your Notes/Domino applications as a (Basic) Notes Client would. You have same support for all the workflow you have built into your apps. Note that ICAA does not and will not allow you to work with your own mail, but will allow you to work with local archive databases, as well as mail-in databases.
Link to the slideshare presentation explaining NBP & ICAA (from January 2016) -> https://www.slideshare.net/secret/2XnbikgUWGrRh3
Since the release of ICAA 1.0.1, we have released multiple versions, with the latest ICAA 188.8.131.52 released in June 2017. You can find more information about it here -> https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/en/SSL3JX/whatsnew_2017_06/icaa_updates.html
And the base ICAA 1.0.1 documentation can be found at -> https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SS5SMW_1.0.1/topics/appacc_101_welcome.html
Use cases between ICAA & various Mail Clients
As of ICAA 184.108.40.206 version, ICAA detects what mail client you are using to access your IBM SmartCloud Notes mailbox, or your on-premise Domino mailbox. This is important as you will see in the following use-cases.
In all of these use-cases, as you work within these mail applications and have a link to your Notes document, clicking on that link will always launch ICAA.
IBM Verse (On Cloud)
If you have setup IBM Verse (for Cloud) as your default client, when you are within ICAA and click on the 'mail' icon to open your mailbox, ICAA will form a proper URL and will launch the IBM Verse in a new tab inside your default browser. And if you try to forward a document from within your application, ICAA will compose a new memo with the document and will open the web UI for the new memo.
IBM Verse on-prem
If you have setup IBM VoP (for on-prem Domino) as your default client, you must add "NBP_UseIBMVerse=1" to your notes.ini file for ICAA to know that you want ICAA to leverage VoP. If you are an administrator, you can push this setting to each user via desktop policy. Once this is set, when you are within ICAA and click on the 'mail' icon to open your mailbox, ICAA will form a proper URL and will launch the IBM Verse on Prem in a new tab inside your default browser. And if you try to forward a document from within your application, ICAA will compose a new memo with the document and will open the web UI for the new memo.
If you have IMSMO client installed, clicking on Mail within ICAA will launch your Outlook client.
Replacing ICAA's homepage
If you would like to replace the default ICAA Homepage with your own, we have now provided a Notes.ini parameter, wihch you can push to your users via desktop policy.
ICAA_Homepage=<url to launch>
e.g. If you want the default ICAA homepage to be the workspace, you could add this: ICAA_Homepage=notes:workspace
So how does IBM Notes Browser Plug-in authenticate with the Domino Server when user tries to access any databases/applications?
- As I have been mentioning from the beginning, the Notes Browser Plug-in uses NRPC protocol to talk to the Domino Server, not http. So you will need to use your Notes Client password rather than the iNotes or http password you might have setup.
- Another fact you need to understand is that the Notes Browser Plug-in continues to use the ID file that you have been using with your Notes Client. So all the features and access control that were available to you in Notes client will continue to be governed when using this plug-in.
What this means is that if you are using an ID Vault with your Domino Setup, the same can safely be used with Notes Browser Plug-in. If you had setup NSL (Notes Shared Login) for use within your organization, the same would continue to be supported by the Notes Browser Plug-in. Or if you were using the old Single sign-on with synchronization with windows password. All of these, because the ID file and underlying security code is re-used by the Notes Browser Plug-in, remain the same.
In this first release of the Notes Browser Plug-in, we do not support SAML though.
On my way to IBM Connect (formerly Lotusphere) being held in Orlando @Swan & Dolphin, from January 28 to 31. There are 2 Notes Browser Plug-in sessions that might be of interest to you if you are going to be at IBM Connect.
"ID111 - All you wanted to know about IBM Notes Browser Plug-in" on Wednesday 30th January, from 10am to 11am in "Toucan 1" in Swan
In this session, Hiro and I will be going through everything that's in NBP for the Notes 9 release and also talk about some futures.
BOF 304 - IBM Notes Browser Plug-in (Wednesday January 30th in Macaw 2 in The Swan from 5:30 - 6:30 PM)
This is an important session where we would like to hear your thoughts on what you will like to see in the future in the IBM Notes Browser Plug-in. We will share our thoughts and get your feedback so we can firm up our plans.
And you can always find me in the "Meet the developers Lab" and ask any questions you have on the Notes Client (or share any feedback).
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.