How do you like DDE?

by Volker Weber

DDE you ask? Domino Designer on Eclipse. The new Domino Designer 8.5, part Eclipse, part classic. How are you liking it? I hear very conflicting comments.

Comments

Well, considering I just started a college course on Java programming using Eclipse its pretty wicked that I can just start up DDE which I use everyday and just switch to the Java perspective while the other students are downloading Eclipse and installing Java. My commitment to learn Java for real (as in not just reading another book) clicked in some of the things Mikkel Heisterberg's said on the Taking Notes podcast about how you really must know Java if you want to take full advantage of the new Notes Eclipse client.
http://lekkimworld.com/2008/04/07/i_know_its_scary_but_im_on_the_taking_notes_podcast.html

Now that DDE is here it pushed me over the cliff to sign up for the Java course. Strictly as a Notes Designer replacement DDE is fine. I can't wait to get a handle on xPages. The only downside so far is the little extra time to initially open an NSF/NTF which is an acceptable tradeoff. As a Java neophyte I cannot really comment on how good the implementation of DDE is for Java right at this stage, but assume as my Java chops build, DDE will keep ahead of me.

Roland Reddekop, 2009-01-15 03:07

Love it. Once you get over the "Eclipsiness" (including the resource requirements) it is bliss. Of course it is the first release only, so expect constant improvements. Can't wait until DDE can be extended with Jazz.
:-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2009-01-15 05:02

I'm getting there but it takes a bit of getting used to, especially because I'd previously turned my back on the Eclipse Notes 8 client (I don't need java views to be productive with Notes).

Its certainly quirky -- eg, If I'm in Designer, switch focus to Notes then open an application, it opens in Designer. After the 50th time, this gets rather tedious.

Bottom line? Feels like a beta, needs polish.

Colin Wiliams, 2009-01-15 05:10

Gold is definitely getting there on many points. But that’s the point—it’s getting there, no way is it a finished product, not by a long chalk. As I’ve posted before, the move to Eclipse brings two things:

- Cross-platform
- Inherent Eclipse functionality / expandability

… we’re seeing the Notes plug-ins. M’colleague Mr. Gilfelt has done some nice sidebar code for developers. But we’re not seeing things like a Linux or OS X designer, nor are we getting all the Eclipse goodness yet. The more the virtualised NSF talks to conventional Eclipse views and editors the better. I’d hate to see Lotus have to turn DDE into another Domino Designer (if you see what I mean).

Ben Poole, 2009-01-15 08:19

DDE is a huge improvement over the classic Domino Designer, but - as the others said - it is usable, but not finished.
For example the new LotusScript and Java editors are not in 8.5 but may come in 8.5.1.

I am very sure that moving Designer to Eclipse is the best IBM could do. The classic Designer feeled like an IDE from the stoneage, and with using Eclipse the IBM devs can concetrate on functionality instead of UI components.

And, for the first time ever, the possibility exists to have Designer compatible with standard version control systems like SVN (instead of having to use Teamstudio tools). That works only partly yet, but IBM is aware that this kind of integration is needed.

In this first DDE we finally have basic stuff like database wide search (and replace in some cases), and that means the road is opened to have real refactoring features in the future.

My conclusion: DDE 8.5 is a milestone on the road to a real modern and decent IDE.

Julian Buss, 2009-01-15 08:31

I'm not a developer but even as an administrator you've got to do some things in Designer. Modify a column in a view, add an action button etc.

For those little things, it's way too bloated. But I understand the new platform is a long awaited step forward for "real" developers if they're interested in new technology and possibilities.

But it sure isn't finished yet. Yesterday it totally annoyed me by constantly steeling focus.

BTW, Colin: I saw this behaviour regularly with classic Designer, too.

Oliver Regelmann, 2009-01-15 08:47

"stealing focus" of course.

Oliver Regelmann, 2009-01-15 09:38

I am excited about it ( mostly because of xpages ) but on my installation ( and upgrade of 802 on XP ) it is definetley quirky / flakey. I will be doing a fresh install on a new machine this weekend so I'll have a more considered view after that - I will repost here

The problems I have seen include the browser getting launched when I use the smart icon for a client preview - drives me mad.

Issues with tables widths on tables containing spanned cells - jump all over the place like they did in R5(?)

Always get error messages when I try to search a design

Get quite a few of the following error messages :

Platform Command Processor has encountered a problem
org.eclipse.swt.SWTException
Widgets.admin.activity.job has encountered a problem

I would be interested to hear if other people have issues, it could just be my machine. I also find it slow but I have previously been running the basic client ( which is no longer an option ) whereas popular opinion seems to be that it is fast

Sean

Sean cull, 2009-01-15 09:48

@Ben - "The more the virtualised NSF talks to conventional Eclipse views and editors the better".

Amen to that - editing Xpages feels so much nicer than editing Notes elements! Will we ever see a day when we use Designer to wire together Eclipse UI elements that run in the Notes client? Yum!

Colin Wiliams, 2009-01-15 10:35

Meant to add—and Julian’s post touches on this—one thing that concerns me is the part played in all this by DXL.

DXL’s shortcomings—and IBM’s unwillingness to address them—are well-known. Yet presumably DDE will rely more and more upon DXL? For example, the “Source” view when editing an XPage is XML. The search & replace functionality in 8.5 is (I’m guessing) based on DXL, and currently can break your database design if used injudiciously. So where do we go from here? Or am I overstating the part DXL has to play in DDE?

Ben Poole, 2009-01-15 10:37

@Ben: I think using DXL here is a good thing. Because it will break some databases of some customers, and they will get very angry about that and will file PMR after PMR. And then perhaps IBM is willing to address the outstanding issues with DXL.

And no, you are not overstating the part of DXL - the search & replace and some other features are based on it as far as I know.

Julian Buss, 2009-01-15 10:53

I think DDE is a great step forward. The move to Eclipse was the right way. There are certainly things that could be improved, like the initial opening of NSF files, indexing the online help and of course the Lotusscript editor that comes in 8.5.1.

But working in DDE is already now a huge improvement. For example, you can drag forms and view side-by-side, so if you work in the view columns, you see the relevant form directly next to it. The global seach functionality is also a great feature.

Karsten Lehmann, 2009-01-15 11:14

I think it is only a very marginal improvement over Domino Designer versions 6 - 8 (which were essentially the same product), with some embarrassing and glaringly obvious feature omissions. It might be a decent XPages editor, I really haven't looked at that in any great depth.

Unfortunately "better than the last version" seems to be all that they are aiming for with feature releases. When you look at the programmability, API and tooling available for competing products in the marketplace, Domino is looking increasingly ordinary.

Jeff Gilfelt, 2009-01-15 11:43

I do really like DDE but am disappointed about the QA in the final release. Lots of focus issues, flickering, design elements that do not open no matter how often you click the mouse button, locking of all design elements until you restart DDE, some error pop ups that say nothing useful and improvable performance even on 4 GB Core2Duo machine.
What I do like is the UI (although some arguable decisions like Shared Actions not being in Shared Elements but the Code section), the icons and the new added functionality. Not directly related to DDE but the fact that XPages do not work in the client means to code at least twice if the app should work both in the client and the web and in a mixed environment with classic clients it gets even worse. And the iPhone and other gadgets come on top of that.

Henning Heinz, 2009-01-15 11:56

I agree with Henning, the idea of going towards eclipse is a good one the implementation as it is now is not good enough for a gold release in my opinion. I have tried to work with it as if it were my productive designer and I think it is just frustrating: the crashes, the slow performance, the (lack of) usability etc.

I think IBM should have either given us a choice to stick to the classic designer for 8.5 or waited with rolling out this release of the designer.

The eclipse based lotusscript and java ide's will be in 6.5.1 but not for all design elements (just script libraries if I remember correctly).

We are actually considering rolling out 8.0.2 for the developers and 8.5 for users because we feel the eclipse based designer is just not mature enough.....shame

Martijn Mulder, 2009-01-15 14:45

I think the eclipse designer will be great some day but it should have been offered as an option in 8.5. It is not ready for prime-time... far too buggy to be a gold release. I have gone back to 8.0.2 until it's improved.

Kirk Kuykendall, 2009-01-15 22:54

@julian: I must be missing something - why is translating Notes design elements into XML and back more desireable than working with the native design element? Why not translate everything to French? The global search and replace presents the developer with an XML file that is easily destroyed by inappropriate changes. So, DXL is a good thing?

John Kingsley, 2009-01-16 14:49

@Sean: I also have upgraded to 8.5 Gold on XP from 8.0.2, and I can't start the designer client at all: I keep getting the message "'Platform Command Processor' has encountered a problem. Error". On a clean XP installation (VM), the problem doesn't show up. Anyone else with this problem?

Hermann Pallasch, 2009-01-16 15:31

As long as the LS and Java Editors are not the same as in plain vanilla Eclipse, I'll stick with Domino Designer. As old school as that may be, at least I know my way around and it's relatively stable. And there's still Domiclipse, if push comes to shove.

Frank Dröge, 2009-01-21 01:53

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vowe.net is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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