The invisible feature

by Volker Weber

A client asked me today whether it is possible to embed Sametime into Notes, so that a user can start a chat right from the Notes client.

Big surprise: This feature has been available since Notes 6.5. Nobody has to build it. It is right there in the standard mail template.

The client uses Notes. The client also uses Sametime. The person who asked me is very technical, and he could have known. However, since his company has built its own mail template, and since the administrators chose were told to not enable the Notes client for Sametime, nobody knows it's right there on their hard disk.

So I am telling them, that this feature exists. He wants to see it. Easy, right? Here's your task should you accept it:

Find a page on IBM's site which explains this important Notes feature. It should have screenshots so the user can see how it works. The page has to be about a shipping version of Notes.

If you want to see how bad Lotus' marketing is, watch this.

Update: Mac Guidera completed the task. Here is a demo. Mac admits he did not find the page through the Lotus site though. He just knew it existed. BTW: Does anybody really use this welcome page?


Well, in Notes 7 it's implemented quite offensive. I had to turn the autologin at startup manually off. And it wasn't easy to find the location where I could tell it to stop.

Martin Hiegl, 2006-07-05

"IBM Lotus Notes gives you new levels of integration and innovation with a lower total cost of ownership. Release 6.5 offers integrated online awareness and instant messaging capabilities."

Mac Guidera, 2006-07-05

No screenshots, but some demos for Notes 7.

BTW: Thank god we aren't in Usenet here. He would have got a RTFM ;-). Though, no screenshots there and you wouldn't want call it 'marketing'.

Oliver Regelmann, 2006-07-05

Integrated Notes IM and DWA w/ IM are the methods our company uses. We have only a handful of Connect licenses to allow us to do some meetings if necessary.

I believe I have seen a handful of people with that welcome screen. I tried it when it first came out, but it was a no-go for me.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-07-05

Now, Volker, we want to see the translation of your text ....... :-)

Jens-B. Augustiny, 2006-07-05

... and since the administrators chose to not enable the Notes client for Sametime...

Now Volker, you know better than that:

(a) this sort of lockdown is rarely the result of what an administrator thinks, more what the business demands;

(b) we live in a political world. For example, I know of a long-time ST user that specifically denied access to the normal Sametime client for all its end users. Why? Because the powers-that-be wanted users to log in to the organisation's portal, and use the Sametime Java client provided there instead -- i.e. Sametime was perceived as one of the "killer applications" that would ensure the success of an otherwise worthless portal.

Ben Poole, 2006-07-05

It's covered here, too

How did I find that? I went to, and entered "notes demo" in the search box. The results were useless, but then I had the idea of just changing my search to "demo" and clicking Go again. This time the results were useless but I noticed a "Limit your search" selection on the results page and I selected "Email-software" there and clicked Go once more. The above page was the second hit.


Richard Schwartz, 2006-07-05

Ben, I stand corrected. And have changed the post ever so slightly. As to the "powers-that-be", it sometimes helps to hang them next to the door. :-)

Volker Weber, 2006-07-05

Richard, "part of the Workplace family" ... Chortle.

Volker Weber, 2006-07-05

By the way, when using a Notes 6.5.x or higher client (obviously required), the user is entitled to use the integrated Sametime features at no extra price.
Check the license statement (long...) for details, but yes, this includes the Server install ("Limited Version - IM Only").

Volker Jürgensen, 2006-07-05

Well, I guess "lotus notes marketing" works as a tag. Esp. if you want to be unique..... I'm having trouble saying it without smiling.

"lotus notes marketing"
"lotus notes marketing"
"lotus notes marketing"

[Hee heeeee. help me. I can't stop!]

Craig Wiseman, 2006-07-05

While I 100% agree that the Lotus web site needs to promote features via screen shots, videos, etc... I will say this is not as hidden as you are making it sound. Integrated instant messaging is mentioned in the first sentence on the Notes home page:

"IBM Lotus® Notes®, the premier integrated client option for IBM Lotus Domino® server, delivers e-mail, calendar and scheduling capabilities, integrated instant messaging, personal information management (PIM) tools, discussion forums, teamrooms and reference databases with basic workflow – along with a powerful desktop platform for collaborative applications."

However, I'll agree with you again... a screen shot would be nice! As I've posted recently on my blog... I am on a mission to get Lotus to go back to the very basics of explaining what features our products have.

BTW, I challenge you to find something similar for Outlook on the MS site. Not that that justifies our pages, just pointing out that we are not alone in not effectively marketing these features. And yes, I am a big fan of the Zimbra site, and have brought it to the attention of many people.

Alan Lepofsky, 2006-07-06

Also, just so developers are aware, there is a tutorial showing how to add awareness and chat to your Notes applications:

The FAQ about Notes/Sametime integration is here:

Alan Lepofsky, 2006-07-06

wasn't that hard alan. I search ms for Live communictions server, took me to demos, pricing and this doc

Remember you gave me grief for having a screenshot of office in my presentation and not notes and I said because it was hard to find a high quality image on the Lotus site...

Carl Tyler, 2006-07-06

Alan, let's try not be silly. :-) You think that anybody reads enterprise-strength blabla? Let me make an example:

Look back through this discussion. Mac and Oliver get it, but Richard, Alan and Carl don't. What is it that Mac and Oliver get? How to link from a comment to another page. Why do they get it? Because they know html and they have read the instructions on the comment preview page. You have seen this page dozens of times. But you may not have noticed what is written there. That is perfectly OK, but it proves the point that people don't read.

This whole discussion started because the client wanted something as simple as this. He could not find out if this was possible. And it is not. Sametime is missing a URL handler, which Skype has. To promote a recently added friend, I will make three examples:


I then explained that this feature may not exist in Sametime but that you can add a Java client into web pages with the STLinks toolkit: A third client besides Sametime Connect and Notes. Which led to the question whether this works in an email. Well, it does not. And even if you would have a url handler, you could not really use it, because unlike email addresses which just work, you would have to make special arrangements for all your Sametime communities. That does remind us of "Alan Lepofsky @ lotus @ notesnet" where you needed to know the routing path, doesn't it?

Volker Weber, 2006-07-06

Sorry, Volker, but I don't really agree. I go to the IBM home page and search for "instant messaging in lotus notes", which is the first thing I thought of to look for. Almost every hit on the page is relevant, including the flashy demos (I hate flashy demos, but it seems about as useful as Zimbra's to me) at item #7, a general Help document with pointers to various instant messaging topics at #3, overviews of features for ND7 at #1 and #2, with the #1 providing further links (I think, as I have been jumping about so much) to the entitlement details. Then I adding "activating" to the search, to make it "activating instant messaging in lotus notes", since it is obvious from many of these pages that it can be easily activated. The first result is a thread with lots of links to the relevant issues.

Could it be better? Sure. Could it have screen hots? Sure. But it is hardly difficult to find out how to do this from the IBM site, and there are frequent mentions of the "integrated instant messaging" everywhere. For that matter, if I go to the "Lotus Notes Home Page" at which I got to from every search I did, there is a Messaging link in the Related links to the left which takes me to which has links to the Instant messaging entitlement for Lotus Notes/Domino plus a number of brochures and strategy papers, etc. which all mention integrated instant messaging. Heck, the strategy presentation even has screen shots.

And once I know it is there, is it hard to find in the Help? No, it is there, it talks about showing awareness or not. I just don't see the issue you raise.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2006-07-06

Thanks Ben, glad to see I am not alone in this.

Volker, where did I mention "enterprise-strength blabla"? I think the fact that the first sentence on the Lotus Notes home page clearly mentions the exact feature you are asking about, shows that this is not as completely hidden as you are trying to make it sound.

Also, if you click on the library page link on the home page's navigator (which is supposed to hold all the various content that does not fit on the home page), you will see the Lotus Sametime integration with Lotus Notes/Domino 6.5 webcast

So between that webcast, the Notes 6.5 tour , and the developer's article , I think we have some good content out there on this topic, but it could be better organized for customers to find.

I'm willing to take the punches where we deserve them, and yes we certainly could have a lot better product pages, but I'd give us a 7/10 here.

As for the URLs in my responses, I guess I am used to DominoBlog which converts links for users automatically, so we don't need to know HTML. :-)

Carl, and if the customer does not know that MS's product is called "Live communications server" (btw, "Live" has been dropped from the name as to not confuse this with their new overall "Live" offerings.) can they find the feature on the Outlook home page? If you do have resort to searching, than "instant messaging Notes" on is just as good as "instant messaging Outlook" is on

Anyway, not worth arguing any more, we all agree that all the features of Notes could be presented better. Hey, I'd like to see it done so well on that I don't need to run my blog anymore!

Alan Lepofsky, 2006-07-06

7/10? You must be joking. Do you really think that people are impressed by pages and pages of text? I may be living on a distant continent, but I am looking for three things when I get to a product page: 1. Screenshots, 2. Product Tour, 3. Download Trial. The download should present a version for my current operating system with a choice of other platforms.

Volker Weber, 2006-07-06

Ok 6/10? Yes, along with the general theme of this thread, the page should be much simpler, and the 3 items you list above should be front and center. However, they are available quite easily via the "Demos and Trials" link in the navigator on the left. The first link under Demos is the Notes/Domino 7 flash tour you want. The first link under trials takes you to the page where you can choose the code to download. It would be cool if the trial link directly downloaded the product associated with the page you clicked from, and knew your current OS. However, a general downloads page also allows you to see what else is available.

Alan Lepofsky, 2006-07-06

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