Lotus Notes IS the ultimate platform

While I completely sympathize with the people who have lost large contracts, work, or even their jobs because of some company moving to another platform I honestly do not understand some of the comments about Notes not being a good platform for application development.  I do think IBM AND the Community need to do a much better job marketing things like the Eclipse and Lotus Expeditor Platforms because that is what its primary installed Lotus offerings are based on.   More and more companies are getting it, each week I hear of a new plugin, extension, or Eclipse view being created for some use case – so its not only the few business partners that have given Eclipse programming a chance, IT shops are starting to get it.  What I would like to see are more business partners expanding the organic marketing campaign of Eclipse and Expeditor.  XPages has gotten a lot of attention but I think once again the client has gone to the back burner; but I also see a lot of stir in the client space with plugins coming from partners like GIST, LinkedIn, SAP, customers, etc.  I was just at customer site yesterday and they have built an amazing plugin that integrates Notes with EMC’s Documentum – it was very cool – and guess what – that was an IT shop that did it because they have Eclipse developers.

In short, you have XPages for Web and the Expeditor platform for rich client.  Mix Expeditor plus NSF, Web, Portal, SWT, and native applications and you get composite applications.  You can do things in the Notes client today you could not imagine doing in version 7 and below.  Some stuff is easier, some just different but now you can do most of it in Java and it works on all platforms.  I have personally been pushing Eclipse and Expeditor for well over four years and I am sure my readers are aware of that – we as a community need to create compelling applications that make the platform stand out!

Now, in Notes 8.5.1 you can even create XPage based components that run locally in the client – meaning write your components once and they run in both Domino and Notes applications.  Many may not be aware, but you could also do this with pre-compiled JSP’s and Portlets for over 5 years in Lotus Expeditor – and yes, that means in Lotus Notes also.  So the Notes community has had the ability since Notes 8.0 to completely enhance their skill set to industry standards like Java, Eclipse, and many web technologies.  With technologies like XULRunner in the platform the web technologies that can be deployed to the Lotus Notes client are essentially limitless and are only held back by your imagination.

I am not sure how to close this rant but in short I would like to see the community better selling “the platform” versus posting long rants in the opposite direction.  I do not speak for IBM or the marketing behind our products, I can only “sell” what the platforms can do technically and from a technical point of view the Lotus Platform is an amazing piece of software that can present amazing applications.

13 thoughts on “Lotus Notes IS the ultimate platform

  1. Years ago there were good Notes B2B applications and examples from start to end at the IBM website. Today there are good technical articles on developerWorks but very difficult for the people who start on the platform or people who starts on XPages, Eclipse and composite applications. It would be VERY helpful to SHARE and pusblish these articles for everybody. I can remember a very helpful B2B application with Notes on the web called jtoy.nsf…

    Kind regards, Albert.

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  2. Bob,
    First, I agree Notes/Domino is a great platform. My problem stems from the distinct lack of interest in maintaining LotusScript and keeping the Basic Client up to date.
    I think it’s great that the “professionals” now have the Eclipse framework in their toolbox. Thing is, I’m not a full time developer. I’m chief cook and bottle washer in this company, and there is no way I can be as productive in these new tools as I am in LS and basic forms and views. And while I understand that I can continue using them, I’ve seen no improvement in them in the last couple of years.
    For independent developers with eclipse programmers it’s great, for in house staff at the LS level we have, and continue to be ignored.
    The LS debugger is a limited, no new interface tools, no fixes to long existing issues. Instead we get new concepts and tools which have still to mature.
    This is why I feel that we are being ignored.
    That’s on the development side, marketing and general recognition as another issue.

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  3. Hi Bob,

    you are right: “Lotus Notes IS the ultimate platform”, the problem is that only a few people know it. Yes, you do tech-demos at your conferences, but the ones that i have seen fail to deliver the big picture or have no real relevance to businesses. “You” show the integration of google-widgets, this might be “social” but won’t catch the management. IBM has to realign their demos to hardcore business topics. No google widgets but DASHBOARDS, no social communication but WORKFLOW/PROCESS-COMMUNICATION, no old console-app composite application but SAP/WHATEVER RELEVANT INTEGRATION, no Solitare integration but SOMETHING RELEVANT.

    And after you succeed to communicate a clear business relevant VISION of the possibilities, you need to create an architecture documentation for dummies.
    Most “old” LS-Developers have a problem seeing the big picture. I also did, but I had 2 month exclusively to get my feet wet with Expeditor and 3 month for Xpages for my bachelor thesis (dynamic XPINC intranet portal) – time nobody normaly gets.
    At the beginning i thought i would never get it, because the documentation fails to deliver the background and the informations are extremely scattered, with missing relation to notes (expeditor).

    Or the informations are only scratching the surface. It’s nice to know that XPages are jsf-based, but how about some indepth information, so next time i don’t have to decompile stuff to understand?
    Yes you can repeat the mantra, that the sky is the limit, but the limit, because of the current XPage documentation, are the buttons and fields in the designer (for everyone without time to reengineer XPages).

    During my bachelor thesis i watched my co-workers implement sharepoint. With the help of architecture diagrams, 1000p. books, onsite support and free training at MS-Locations, they never had the feeling not to get the picture, because the documentations are constructed in a way to show the big picture and than teach the internals.

    What i had to do:
    Plugins: Search Notes Plugin-tutorials -> reference to expeditor -> search old expeditor tutorials -> references to eclipse RCP -> search eclipse RCP tutorials/books -> back to the original Notes Plugin tutorials -> and finally at this stage i started to understand what this Plugin-thingy really is

    XPages: read XPage tutorials -> realise to be restricted to Designer buttons, completely messed up MVC-Modell if I develop the way of the tutorials -> read somewhere about the jsf base -> hmm… no more information by ibm -> go read jsf book -> hmm… what the f**** has this to do with XPages -> grap a java decompiler and start to explore, replace some classes for logging, meeting the all-mighty security exception,… -> finish my bachelor thesis after some stressfull weeks, learning how to really use XPages – beyond clicking some buttons in the UI – yes, the sky is the limit.

    Well, my posting got a litle long – a sign of my passion for notes. I am 100% behind Notes, XPages and the RCP, but only because i had ~5 month to understand the picture. None of my fulltime co-workers have this time, some even struggle with Java, so right now I’m the lone ranger in an environment shifting to sharep…. and i understand why no one else has the passion. They just don’t have the time to go through the stress that i had to and we don’t have guys, that luckily already know Eclipse RCP or JSF.

    btw: thanks to Mikkel Heisterberg and Karsten Lehmann for spreading their in-depth knowledge. I hope my upcoming blog postings will help to enlighten some other developers.

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  4. @Mario, that is an excellent point and we have tried to do that but we fail because we are so swamped developing the feature or fixing bugs the demonstrations always lack a level of business sense. We gave a Banking demo the first couple of years for composite apps but the Notes community hated it because it was all web and SWT based components and didn’t really integrate into Notes at all outside of living in the frame.

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  5. Hi Bob

    I have never tried expeditor so here are some questions
    what is the minimum cost of entry
    can it be used for open source projects or is there per seat cost
    is itbopen source or closed source

    Regards gary

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    • Hi Gary, Lotus Expeditor is both a product and a platform. You can in fact completely develop with the Expeditor Toolkit (platform) for free with Eclipse. So you can actually develop applications for the Lotus products pretty much for free however you would need the runtimes (the products installed, like Notes, Symphony, etc) in order to code against their libraries.

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  6. IMO try to sell Expeditor vision to legacy Notes developer is a loss of time. They never invested in new stuff: they never learned java and they never understood the power of portlet metaphore and now is really hard to dominate a complex platform like Expeditor.
    Maybe Java/.NET programmers are a better target market…

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  7. @Diego,
    I think that any Legacy Notes Devs can understand the power available in Expeditor. To me it’s one way that a company could run their business on an OS platform other that Windows. That being said, the development environment and and range of knowledge needed for Expiditor *far* exceeds what most programmers use/experience for Note/LS development. Expiditor is in the realms of systems programming, not business programming, there is a big difference.

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  8. Hej Bob,

    somehow it seems to be impossible to get JAVA developers start thinking as Lotus Expeditor as a great platform to deliver their JAVA programs.

    We did together some plug-in development which they were enthousiastic about the quick results but it stayed with these activities.

    Somehow we just can not get them ‘over’ to the IBM Lotus side. Do you know any good material that I could provide them to arise more interest at them?

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  9. If one wants to switch from another mail platform to lotus/domino what is the best platform to run lotus notes 8.5.xx ? I am free to use Linux, i5, aix , etc..
    I would like to run a dedicated box for Lotus with several instances of domino and sametime for about 150 – 200 users.

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