What is Notes' core strength?

by Volker Weber

Every product has a core strength. It's not necessarily the unique selling point since that is created by marketing. I mean the core strength that was built by engineering a great idea. Let's make some examples:

So what is Notes? What does it do better than anything else? Don't dilute the message by claiming everything but the kitchen sink.

I will give you mine:

Notes is the best software to build small business applications to be used by a group of people in a sometimes disconnected mode.

What is yours?


here is mine:

Notes is the best software to build high available collaborative or work flow business applications to be used by a group of people in a mode of their choice - online, offline, browser based or via mobile device.

Gregory Engels, 2008-09-11 10:20

I pretty much agree, but wonder what you mean by small business applications?

Do you mean small applications in any business, or most/all applications in a small business? I hope and suspect you mean the former.

If that is the case, then I question the word small.

We have Notes/Domino applications here which are anything but small, though they do share a few common attributes:

- they all use workflow
- they all work asynchronously (that is, can be used disconnected and then replicated)
- they all incorporate rich content from diverse sources
- many are multi (well, bi) lingual
- none is a transactional system (you don't build an ERP system in Notes)
- none could easily be built in any other technology

Now, how do you sum all of that up in a single statement?

Chris Linfoot, 2008-09-11 10:23

Yes, I mean small business-applications and not small-business applications.

How do you sum that up? You work really, really hard. :-)

Volker Weber, 2008-09-11 10:28

Hello Volker, I like your definition, except for the "small" and the "group" in "small business applications to be used by a group of people".

We have many successful applications used throughout the company (10.000 - 20.000 employees) - mostly used through the browser.

Felix Binsack, 2008-09-11 10:30

That is a completely different kind of application you are taking about. If large web application is a core strength to you, you need to come up with a different definition.

Volker Weber, 2008-09-11 10:36

Notes is the best software to build applications that interface with the outside world. Its APIs (C, LotusScript, Java) and protocol stacks (HTTP, IMAP, LDAP, SMTP) allow me to tie Lotus-foreign systems into Notes apps.

Jan-Piet Mens, 2008-09-11 10:40

Rapid Application development for distributed data and synchronization.

Notes kills at syncing data esp when you have a client that travels, and has multiple users in multiple locations in both online and offline modes all using the same data.

I wrote a simple application almost 8 yrs ago for a client, they still haven't replaced it since nothing else can match the notes data sync and availability.. and they have spent lots of money on 2 different applications already.

Bryan McDade, 2008-09-11 11:18

One of my favorites is the fact, that Notes and Domino are working for small companies as well as for large enterprises.

Setup a small environment, use and forget it. The effort for managing is really small, even if some databases get really huge (http://tinyurl.com/5fw6dq) ;-).

Or setup a large, enterprise wide environment which delivers clustering and security to support the needs you have to do your daily work.

Thomas Lang, 2008-09-11 11:24

Folks, I think Volker wants you to come up with succinct, one-sentence definitions...

Notes is the best software to build collaborative business applications that make users more productive and enhance teamwork, delivered on a secure, reliable and flexible framework, available via the web, rich client and mobile devices.

Mmm, perhaps not terribly succinct ;-)

Stuart Mcintyre, 2008-09-11 11:36

Eek. You said productive. Tone down on the buzzwords and you will be more succinct.

Volker Weber, 2008-09-11 11:46

The architecture and security inherent in the NSF that facilitates distributed applications.

Jeff Gilfelt, 2008-09-11 12:02

It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!. ;-)

Richard Schwartz, 2008-09-11 12:54

Notes/Domino is IMHO an easy way to use apps in a distributed enviroment.
None of the others makes it that easy to have a server in different Office locations.

IMHO the killerfeature is still the offline function ;-)

Another good think is multiplattform (hope that the MAC Client is geting better soon) and the Webfunction to access applications via the browser... With or without offline-features. That rocks ;-)

Joerg Hochwald, 2008-09-11 13:07

My US$ 0.02:
Don't forget the graniular security architecture (from database, views, documents down to the field level) and the easy (while closed) richt PKI infrastructure.

Andy Brunner, 2008-09-11 13:44

These definitions seem much better than these.

Bruce Elgort, 2008-09-11 14:41

Replication built-in from day 1.

Gerald Mengisen, 2008-09-11 14:58

i feel bad writing this - but to me, as a non professional in the fields of notes the core of the story is: that it's dead. exchange killed it - and i know that it is not even the same kind of system. for me it's somehow like OS/2; good, even better system - but dead. (and i do by that not mean that nobody uses it / i still know several banking institutes which use OS/2 for important parts of their business.)

Lukas Praml, 2008-09-11 15:27

Several have by now brought forward the replication. But is this nsf-only feature really still that important ?

How many users really *need* it anymore and what for?

I have just been to the Ukraine. Even in the middle of nowhere I could log on with 3G or EDGE, flat rate was 5$/day. Those days have past long ago when I replicated my email in the morning in a hotel room in order to work on them off line.

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2008-09-11 15:38

Several have by now brought forward the replication. But is this nsf-only feature really still that important ?

I have just been to the Ukraine. Even in the middle of nowhere I could log on with 3G or EDGE, flat rate was 5$/day. Those days have past long ago when I used to replicated my emails in the morning in the hotel room in order to work on them off line.

So how many ordinary users really *need* it?

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2008-09-11 15:41

Sorry for the double posting. Seems Chrome tricked me.

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2008-09-11 15:44

@Lukas, agree, everyone uses Excel now.

Gregory Engels, 2008-09-11 15:44

@Greg I think you mean Symphony :-)

Bruce Elgort, 2008-09-11 15:51

@Bruce: LOL

Gregory Engels, 2008-09-11 15:53

Ha, forgot that one: Application Layer clustering!
Its easy to setup and run a Domino based cluster, even if the nodes are in differnt locations.
Others (eg. Exchange 2007) are still not able to do that ^^

Joerg Hochwald, 2008-09-11 16:01

Notes is best in making the CIO happy while making everybody outside the IT department freak out.


Armin Roth, 2008-09-11 16:59

Notes is some kind of wafer-thin user interface (nevermind the memory footprint) built on a rock-solid infrastructure of everything, which is sacred and needs to be kept secret by developers and IT staff at all cost. It will not be replaced by $LIGHTWEIGHT_MODULAR_SOLUTION_WITH_ACCESSIBILITY_AND_USERFRIENDLYNESS, because it was rolled out and paid for since the early 90s and "we do things the way we do since 1850 because we do the things we do like that".

@Armin: you forgot the people inside the IT department who are no CIO…


PS: Speaking for myself. My opinions do not reflect the ones of my employer.

Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2008-09-11 17:28

The best platform ever for secure collaboration and groupware applications.

goran angelov, 2008-09-11 18:02

Isn't this like trying to explain in one line why a £1000 bottle of vintage premier cru Burgundy is better than a £10 New Zealand Pinot Noir?

Ben Rose, 2008-09-11 19:10

OK... My serious attempt.

The best solution for applications that make structured and unstructured data securely available to users for collaboration, inside and outside of your firewall.

Richard Schwartz, 2008-09-11 19:40

Isn't this like trying to explain in one line why a £1000 bottle of vintage premier cru Burgundy is better than a £10 New Zealand Pinot Noir?

No ;o)

I’m not sure why this has turned into a one-sentence competition or an exhaustive list of features: it’s just a simple examination of what people consider to be Notes’ core strength.

For me, it’s the simplicity and speed with which an organisation can deliver applications that are “good enough” which also serve a pressing need, and serve it well.

Ben Poole, 2008-09-11 19:57

As a long time Notes user who no longer does (at work), I REALLY miss Notes Calendar and Scheduling. All the actions were there, and made such sense. I hate dealing with all these ical files, and multiple emails. In Notes, the email IS the invite, not a separate thing.

Alan Lepofsky, 2008-09-11 21:37

And if you thought an Elguji was a Notes data structure you might be right.

Bruce Elgort, 2008-09-11 22:54

I hate dealing with all these ical files, and multiple emails

Alan, why didn’t you say? We had no idea ;o)

Ben Poole, 2008-09-11 22:59

@Karsten: No, I didn´t, they have my full pity :-)

On a different note: They are the ones that implement 500 MB mailbox-limits all over the place. It´s only Notes Users (or Yahoo FWIW) that I get "mailbox size exceeded" type messages back from. BOH.

If they are sensible, though there´s a lot what is possible and achievable. It just never happened in my corporate Germany.

Armin Roth, 2008-09-12 01:03

@Ben - It is??! Who knew? Next time you do a side-by-side test, PLEASE invite me!

Maybe a different take on core strength: Architected for simplicity of data representation and replication, enabling all of the other great featuers we like (RAD, security, offline, etc.)

Bob Balaban, 2008-09-12 03:05

Notes is a multi-platform replicatable object store, capable of workflow tasks (via reader/author fields), a full PKI infrastructure, four built in languages (script, @Formula, javascript, java), and just happens to be a great mail infrastructure.

Notes allows rapid application prototyping and distribution, no matter the size of your company.

(As MS/HP are finding out in a small site in southern Holland. Where a single domino server used to deal with millions of messages an HOUR. )

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2008-09-13 04:05

Notes is not just an e-mail client. Come the day when people realise that there are better ways to collaborate and that they shouldn't spend all day looking at their Inbox being reactive, Notes is ready for them. When they decide that it's better to work on business activities that consume and organise the variety of information that we get hit with every day, Notes is ready. When they realise that the social element of collaboration is critical within business, Notes is ready.

Meanwhile the competition will still be shipping an e-mail client. It'll look nice and have some cool features, but it won't have evolved as quickly as the people and work it serves.

Darren Adams, 2008-09-16 00:42

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