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.
Now that there's a major push from Notes/Domino development teams for a new release of Notes / Domino, titled V10 sometime this year, and a road-map for #Domino2025 and beyond, I would like to put forward my 3 top asks for the Notes Client. I do want to add a disclaimer that I was, in the past, part of the development team for Notes Client so I do have a lot of internal knowledge of the client, the code and of course a lot of customer pain points while working with customers. Some of those pain points were addressed in earlier releases.
I am putting this forward to ensure that as the team looks at adding newer features and making the client more attractive, we do not lose sight of some core asks. So here they are:
- Client should successfully install 100% of the time (0% installation failure rate). - In the past, we have seen some Notes Client installation failures leading to the customer dissatisfaction. This has now been addressed in later fix-packs. As newer features are added, including moving to the newer version of Eclipse, it's critical that this remains the at the top of the list for the team. With Notes/Domino being used in large enterprises, this becomes even more crucial when deploying the Notes Client for 20000+ users. I do understand that an 'auto-update' like mechanism is planned so the client gets automatically upgraded to the latest release, but even then, installation must always succeed and fail only in very remote situations.
- Reliability - Make the client robust. Put more emphasis on robustness to ensure no crashes
- Performance - Notes Client should install fast, should start up quickly and be zippy in the operation.
The above 3 asks should not be overlooked as new features are added. Enough time should be allocated to ensure the product - Notes Client V10 - meets the above 3 requirements. Even if 1 of the above 3 requirement is missed, adoption of the release will suffer. I am sure everyone reading this note has many other features in your list, but I am also doubly sure that you will agree with me on the above top-3 requirements. Feel free to add your comments to this post. In the subsequent post, I plan to outline my thoughts on what would help Notes Client bring about a complete change in how people perceive it.
ICS & HCL Management jointly held a web-cast which was attended by more than 1500 people worldwide, ranging from customers, to business partners. It was great to see this large a turnout and overall, I saw great excitement among the attendees around the AppDev. Application Development has been a key driver in business partners driving Notes/Domino, so it's critical this group gets back into the groove.
In this blog, I would like to highlight what I saw in the demo of Notes Client V10 features. Again, this is my observation based on the demo I saw, and not any internal information. IBM/HCL have also clarified that the work is still in progress and we would see more features by the time Notes V10 is released. Overall, great sets of features which all the customers & business partners are waiting for:
So here's the list:
- Ability to forward mails as EML attachment. This is different than the current Forwarding of messages which makes the messages inline in the forwarded mail. Keeping them as EML attachments allows the message to be opened individually by the receiver and also keep the integrity of the message. I personally feel this is a great feature, because the old Forward feature put the message(s) in the body as it was difficult to forward more than 1 message and keep it reasonably readble.
- Team calendars
- Forward a calendar invite to someone else - highly requested feature if you want to get someone else invited to the meeting or have someone else join instead of you.
- Using Microsoft Word as alternate editor for documents - Wonder how this would work for features which are not supported by 1 or the other. For example, sections in Notes are not supported by MS Word. What happens to those? Losing non-supported content would make this harder to use.
I am sure there would be more features coming in as V10 is released. Probably one of the biggest functionality to be demonstrated at the Think 2018 conference would be some way to access your Notes/Domino applications from Apple iPad. No details were given in the session with a teaser of this being shown at the "Think 2018" conference at Las Vegas. Maybe that's an incentive for registering for the conference and seeing other cool things coming with Notes/Domino V10.
By now you must have seen the announcement about the release of Feature Pack 10 for IBM (Lotus) Notes release 9.0.1, typically called 9.0.1FP10. You can find the release note here -> http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/fixlist.nsf/WhatsNew/86a6c4ba892f0218852581fc0067b4f4?OpenDocument
I wanted to highlight some key features released as part of this feature pack:
- Java 1.8 -- As mentioned in the Release Notice, the run-time was already included earlier, but there is now a compile time support for this. This will ensure you get all the latest fixes (including security vulnerability fixes) which are part of Java 1.8. A win-win for your applications and for your users
- Eclipse Platform upgrade to 4.6.2 -- Granted that once you install 901FP10, you will wonder what the difference is. The goal for this feature pack was to simply get the Eclipse upgrade completed. Since now the Notes Client is using the latest Eclipse, application developers can make use of this in their future applications. I believe this provides a latest platform for building more powerful Eclipse Plug-ins for the Notes Client.
- Embedded Sametime Upgrade -- Again, inclusion of the latest Sametime would ensure you have the latest Sametime , same as the standalone version.
- There are the usual list of fixes for problems reported by customers. Again, the goal of the team has been to include critical fixes in order to avoid building subsequent hot-fix for our customers.
All in all, this feature-pack will provide a foundation for better application development environment and further enhancements in the user interface as the base components have now been upgraded to their current versions.
Please also refer to this for more information ->https://www.ibm.com/support/home/search-results/R693420G82333D78/IBM%20Notes?docOnly=true&sortby=-dcdate_sortrange&ct=rc
especially one around sametime patch -> http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg22012939
Here's to the success of 901FP10 and you leveraging all the fixes/changes or building/upgrading your apps.
I just came across a request from a customer asking for combining all the Delivery Failure Reports the user gets when they do a mass mailing to a large group. This is a very common request as it's quite common for any user to use an already existing group and send mail to them. We do this all the time in our organization. And of course, some businesses do this as part of their business for mass-mailing. Mailing groups are never up-to-date, so you are bound to receive 1 or more delivery failures. And if you are doing a mass mailing, the number of delivery failures can be more than 100 (or even in thousands). Once you have those, opening each to figure out which ID needs to be removed from the mailing list becomes a nightmare, along with how the heck do I manage my inbox after this.
I feel with the Notes/Domino platform being a great application development platform, there's a very easy solution, which can be custom developed for your own use-case.
First of all, I believe doing this in a product in a generic way might be too complicated. When you do mass mailings, the mails are sent by the router, and it will receive the failures one at a time. It will never get all of them at the same time. Everything depends on the destination server returning the failure. So some reports might come quickly while others can be delayed by minutes. So it would not be prudent to have the router deal with these.
Which is why I feel a custom solution based on your needs is an ideal one. Here are my thoughts:
-- If you look at the delivery failure, the message is from "PostMaster", with a subject starting with "DELIVERY FAILURE" (notice the case as well), and the message body contains:
Subject: test email. Ignore if you get it.
was not delivered to:
- Once you have this knowledge, you can simply right an Agent in your mailfile (you could then publish this as part of the customized mail template in your organization), where the user provides the original mail and runs the agents with the context of the mail that was sent (to get the Subject out of it).
- The agent can run through your mail file, looking for messages that fit the above pattern. Once it finds a mail, it can simply keep appending the "email address" and the reason (text after 'because:') into a new mail, and once it has scanned the entire inbox to remove all those mails (maybe move them to a backup folder) and send the newly combined mail with all the delivery failure reports to the same user.
That's it. This will meet the required for a combined report of all the "Delivery Failures" to the user.
This is the beauty of Notes/Domino and the App Dev.
Of course, if you don't want to do all of this, a simple rule can be created to move all the mails from "PostMaster" with a subject containing "DELIVERY FAILURE:" into a new folder.
Looking forward to comments or if someone has already created an agent within their organization.
How to find out programmatically if you are running IBM Client Application Access (ICAA)?
We have add a new @command @IsNotesWebCompanion, which will return TRUE for ICAA and FALSE otherwise.
If prior to ICAA, if you were using IBM Notes Browser Plug-in (NBP), then you may have used a command @IsNotesBrowserPlugin. This command will continue to work in ICAA as well. This will return TRUE for NBP or ICAA.
This will allow you to detect what type of client the user is using (Notes Basic. Standard @IsStandard , or NBP/ICAA). We use this extensively in the bookmark template to present ICAA specific Homepage rather than Notes Client home page.
Please read the blog posted by Inhi Cho Suh, the General Manager of IBM Collaboration Solutions, which outlines a major strategy for Notes/Domino (and thus ICAA) portfolio. -> https://www.ibm.com/blogs/social-business/2017/10/25/ibm-announces-investment-notes-domino-version-10-beyond/
I see the partnership with HCL as a huge plus for all our customers as this will revitalize the product roadmap. In fact, we should change #Domino2025 to #DominoForever.
I would strongly encourage everyone to register for the Domino Jam ( https://www.ibm.com/social-business/us-en/announce/domino-jam2025/ ) so you can contribute to this exciting future and opportunities.
Long Live Notes/Domino/ICAA/Sametime
IBM recently announced a great offering -> https://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?htmlfid=LOD14161USEN
This service will allow you to host your IBM Domino applications in the Cloud (DAC), managed by IBM experts, freeing you from all the Domino administration, and give you access to those applications from anywhere in the world, using whatever client you are using. The service is very reasonably priced. I believe lots of customers would benefit from this.
Of course, as you look at this offering, ICAA would be a perfect client to connect to these applications. So go ahead, get more information about DAC, how you can leverage it, and leverage ICAA as appropriate.
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 184.108.40.206 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 220.127.116.11 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
Modified by RajPatil
You may have seen lots of new announcement on how you can access you Notes/Domino Inbox from applications other than IBM Notes. Here are links to some of the announcements:
IBM Verse -> http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/ibm-verse
IBM Verse On-premises -> https://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?infotype=AN&subtype=CA&htmlfid=897/ENUS216-397&appname=lenovous&language=en
IBM Mail Support for Microsoft Outlook -> http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/cgi-bin/ssialias?subtype=ca&infotype=an&appname=iSource&supplier=877&letternum=ENUSZP16-0324#toc
All of these provide a way to get to your mail, be that on an on-premises Domino Mail Server, or in the IBM Connections Cloud Mail. As you start to use these clients, the question of accessing your existing Notes/Domino applications comes up, with a question - "Should I continue to use Notes Client or is there another way?". The answer to this question is "IBM Client Application Access" (known as ICAA).
Let's cover quickly what ICAA Is:
- Light-weight Standalone client for accessing your Notes/Domino applications (these could be based on standard discussion or other templates, or your own custom designed applications)
- Works closely & seamlessly with the above mail clients (IBM Verse, IMSMO, IBM iNotes, IBM Verse for on-premises etc)
- Redirects Mail operations to these mail clients.
- No Modifications required for your existing applications
- Simpler install/setup
- Auto-Update mechanism built-in for customers using IBM Connections Cloud Mail (reduces your TCO - total cost of ownership significantly)
- available on Windows & Mac
ICAA was released about a year back. We have just recently released ICAA version 18.104.22.168. This is to support IMSMO.
ICAA vs IBM Notes Browser Plug-in (NBP)
You may wonder as to what are the differences between the 2 and what to use. You can think of ICAA as a next release of NBP, mainly moving away from the Browser Plug-in model which "Notes Browser Plug-in" had and making it a stand-alone application. This also enabled us to provide Mac version of the product. So in terms of functionality, reason - both will allow you to access Notes/Domino applications unmodified" stands as is.
NBP will continue to be part of IBM Notes 9.0.1 fix-packs. Whereas ICAA now has it's own release cycle and we are following continuous delivery model to release when we have sufficient reason to do so. So it's not tied to any other products release cycle.
So continue using NBP if you are happy with it. If you have not, and want a light-weight access to your Notes/Domino Applications, ICAA is your answer.
Just completed my presentation at IBM Connect 2014 along with my co-presenter (Hiro - Hiroyuki Okamoto), and I think we had a great attendance and response from the customer. Bumped into a few people who had good things to say about the session. Thanks for those who attended.
Here's my presentation that you can view on SlideShare -> http://www.slideshare.net/rajeshpatil/id111
I will try to post the examples which Hiro covered around customization at a later point.
Can't find the right mail in your inbox? What about being able to search your mail & archives and provide granular search strings? Our ICS Services team has created an Asset which you can use. It's a plug-in to be installed in Notes Client, and makes searching your mail & archives easier. It will continue to leverage the same Full-text index that is used by the client, but makes it easier to specify field values, like specifying "subject contains xxxx" and "sender is yyy" etc.
You can get more information about this -> https://www-304.ibm.com/connections/blogs/87f3fbd1-c0ec-4f28-be5b-39e1a20ef11b/entry/new_asset_ibm_notes_extended_search_plugin_for_ibm_notes_9_available?lang=en_us
If you would like to try this, you will need to get in touch with your local ISSC rep (link is also given on that page).
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.
IBM Announced yesterday the general availability of IBM Notes 9.0.1 release as well as IBM Notes Browser Plug-in 9.0.1 and IBM iNotes 9.0.1. Lots of new features included in this update release, mainly to take care of key customer requirements. One that I would like to write here about is the most asked capability in the IBM Notes Browser Plug-in.
Access to Mail Template based applications - including mail-in databases
This was identified for a good number of customers as a blocker for their deployment of IBM Notes Browser Plug-in. In order to prevent Mailfile from opening, we probably went too far and disabled access to any database which was based on the mail template. And we found out from all your emails that most of you had used the mail template as a starting point in creating new application.
Well, we are now opening access to these applications inside Notes Browser Plug-in. You can freely open these as you wish and work with them. The only application we try to restrict is your mail file and which we re-direct to IBM iNotes (and I strongly recommend taking a look at 9.0.1 iNotes, lots of features you would love). So there you go. This should take care of any blocker you might have and I expect with this removed, and access to mail database in the back-end API, all of your workflow applications should now work.
Please go ahead and give this a try and let us know how it's working.
Modified by RajPatil
Notes Browser Plug-in is a product for accessing Notes/Domino based applications inside your browser, and not require any modification to your applications. For accessing Mail inside a browser, we recommend IBM iNotes (Previously known as Domino Web Access - DWA). We have modified Notes Browser Plug-in to form a mailfile URL in http when the user tries to double-click on the mailfile icon on the workspace or the bookmarks. For example, if my mailfile was on a server xyz/ibm, we find out it's http name (somethinglike xyz.ibm.com) and then append the pathname to the mailfile to it and fire it up in the browser. So it could come up as:
Notice that we always try to use https. But if your Domino Server's URL is 'http' only, where you want the URL launch your mailfile to be :
then simply add the following to your notes.ini file: