Things that annoy me about Lotus Notes, part 4328

by Volker Weber

A friend just sent me a mail from Lotus Notes, and it contained three URLs. None of them clickable. Time to look at that message source:

This is a multipart message in MIME format.
--=_alternative 005E503EC12571E8_=
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"

This is a line of text.

And this could be a link:

--=_alternative 005E503EC12571E8_=
Content-Type: text/html; charset="US-ASCII"

<br><font size=2 face="sans-serif">This is a line of text.</font>
<br><font size=3><br>
</font><font size=2>And this could be a link:</font><font size=3>
--=_alternative 005E503EC12571E8_=--

Notes sends you the content of this mail twice. Once in plain text, and then as html. The markup is as weird as it gets, the text is too small to be readable, and http links are not rendered as links. And since this carefully crafted html piece makes sure that http links are not href'ed, you cannot click them.

Needless to say, that only messages from Notes show this behaviour. Conclusion: Notes does not only annoy some of its users, it also annoys people who receive mail from Notes.

Maybe it is time to start a new NotesSucks site, which is accurate and up-to-date.


Just sent you an email to confirm if the same problem exists in my environment.

Please confirm.

Ben Rose, 2006-09-13

Nr.2 on my internal list of the most annoying features is the fact, that you can not get the Notes Client to not render HTML email.

Uwe Brahm, 2006-09-14

@Vowe - Sending HTML in Notes is optional. This can be set by the user or by the administrator via a system policy.

It's not default though, so I do get your point which is totally valid.

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

Ben, that is not my point. Notes may send html mails. But they should not be dysfunctional. Try the same with a different, may I say decent, mail program and it works just fine.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-14

Do you think Hannover will fix this?

Bruce Elgort, 2006-09-14

Notes already provides a way to make links clickable. You create a hotspot link. The hotspot text can be different from the URL, but it doesn't have to be. Either way, you use the same technique. And if you want to send a URL that should not be clickable, which does happen, you just send it as text without creating the hotspot.

The disadvantages: it's an extra step, and you have to know how.

You have the ability to take more control, but you have to be trained. Is this the best behavior? Maybe not for most. Maybe for some. I just want to set the record straight. I.e.:

Needless to say, only messages from untrained Notes users show this behaviour. Conclusion: Notes does not only annoy some of its users, it also annoys people who receive mail from Notes users who are not trained how to use Notes.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-09-14

The underlying problem, I think, is how Lotus Notes stores rich text.
It would be interesting if Hannover used ODF to store rich text. Much greater flexibility, and the API would be sweet.

Brian Green, 2006-09-14

As I recall from the code, when a user types something that looks like a URL, Notes will display a link. But it doesn't store it this way. So even though the Notes user sees a link, when the message is sent, it doesn't get turned into a link unless, as Richard points out, the user turns it into a hotspot. Yes, this kinda sucks.

Brian: the underlying problem is *not* Notes CD records. It's Notes client behavior. Using ODF wouldn't solve it. And using ODF instead of CD records would introduce a whole host of interop issues with older versions of Notes. Notes already has two storage formats for rich content: CD records and "native" MIME. Introducing a third format would be painful.

Bob Congdon, 2006-09-14

"Notes sends you the content of this mail twice."

To be fair this is part of the e-mail specification and really a good thing since the sender cannot guarantee anything about the capabilities of the e-mail client of the recipient. Once we're down to the HTML crafted for the text/html section I must agree - this example doesn't make Notes look good... :-(

Mikkel Heisterberg, 2006-09-14

@Bruce - I believe this already works in DWA (iNotes) and has done for some time. It's just the Notes client that's dogged with this strange behaviour.

Interestingly, the problem never shows itself to external Notes or Outlook recipients.

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

it also annoys people who receive mail from Notes users who are not trained how to use Notes.

Richard, thanks for pointing this out. In my case the untrained users would be the likes of Ed Brill, Rocky Oliver, Bob Balaban.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-14

Just instruct Notes to send plaintext only and not this multipart mime crap.

Sascha Reissner, 2006-09-14

Volker, you are right. However the one real annoyance for me is the fact that a URL is not automatically made into a link (which has confused people I have sent email to in the past ("I clicked your link and nothing happened"). If you send as plain text, this is not a problem but only because the receiving MUA will then see the link and make it clickable.

As for the <font> stuff...

Have you ever looked at the MIME source of an email sent from Outlook/Exchange?

Chris Linfoot, 2006-09-14

I don't agree this is a bad thing. If I type a URL as plain text and send it, I expect it to be sent (and received) as plain text.
It's upto the receiving client to decide whether or not they want to display a string in URL format as clickable.

Other than that I have to admit that HTML support in the Notes client is 'not upto standard' ;).

Vince Schuurman, 2006-09-14

So let's all vote on

I wonder if this URL will be rendered as a link though...

Sascha Mohr, 2006-09-14

It depends on your settings in the Location-Document. Check the value in the Mail-tab in the field for messages to internet-addresses (last one). In case "MIME-Format" the link will NOT be rendered as a link, in case of "Notes Rich Text Format" it will!

Niko Köbler, 2006-09-14

@Sascha Mohr - lmao, case closed.

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

Richard, thanks for pointing this out. In my case the untrained users would be the likes of Ed Brill, Rocky Oliver, Bob Balaban.

Yeah, but you know, come on, what do those guys know about Notes eh?


Ben Poole, 2006-09-14

Sascha, I cannot switch off HTML mails coming in from

Chris, you are just not educated. As Richard has pointed out, you can make the link clickable. Maybe you need to apply for proper Notes training. [Ducking and running for cover]

Sascha, ROFLMAO. Your point is well taken. I have two options in Movable Type: Allow HTML in comments or autolink URLs. I have chosen the first one, since users are well educated. :-)

Niko, I am not concerned about the fact that Notes annoys its users. That is well established. :-) What I am talking about here is that Notes annoys users who don't even have it.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-14

What really annoys me about people who don't use Notes is that they can't read mail from the rest of us, the constantly send us crap as html instead of mime that displays wierd, and they spend a fortune developing stupid projects that could have been 15 minute applications.


Andrew Pollack, 2006-09-14

I think now Notes supports winmail.dat it's time to start sending out some nice .ond attachments ;)

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

Another thing that must annoy people who don't use Notes and get email from Notes users is this:
| | |
>-[Please, insert tons of dashes here. Don't want to break the layout though.]-|
| |
| |
| An|
| |
| Kopie|
| |
| Thema|
| Betreffzeile |
| |
| |
| |
| |
| |
>- [Please, insert tons of dashes here. Don't want to break the layout though.] -|
Hi Recipient,
Only this is the actual Email.
Kind regards,

IMO a very unfortunate "default style" when replying with history or forwarding email.

Ralph Unden, 2006-09-14

In a decision with which I strongly disagreed at the time, Lotus chose not to directly generate HTML in the Notes editor. Instead, the Notes editor does a poor (take a look at embedded lists!) CD stream to HTML stream translation. This is in contrast to HTML rendering which is done directly by the Notes editor. Though it could be improved (vide tables), it does a much better job. Maybe the problem is that Notes users are aware of how well (or not) Notes renders HTML text bodies, but are blind to how crappy the HTML generated by Notes is.

The reason that this is not a problem in iNotes, is that iNotes employs the Windows HTML control as its editor, and it generates HTML natively.

Nick Shelness, 2006-09-14

Volker, have you considered the possibility that Ed, Rock, and Bob just enjoy annoying you?

In fact, Rock might just be hard at work adding a new bit of code to his signature wizard right now:

if msg.sendTo(0) = "" then
call annoyVolkerByRemovingHotspotLinksFromURLs(msg)
end if



Richard Schwartz, 2006-09-14

Volker, I never saw if you confirmed the question in comment #1...

This has annoyed me at times too. But any good mail client should just treat anything with "http(s)://" as a link. You can enable this in Notes as well. In DWA it will treat not only "http://" but also "www." text as a hotspot.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-09-14

Chris, Ben sent me several emails to understand the problem. I could confirm for him. I confirmed it for me, before I published. If you are asking, whether it actually exists, the answer is yes.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-14

Regardless of whether the sending MUA generated the links, the receiving MUA can automatically turn these into links. Like, say, Gmail. Similar message sent to a Gmail account, and the links were generated (even though the MIME HTML source didn't have the links).

Considering that MUAs generate links when displaying received plain text emails, shouldn't be a stretch to do the same for incoming html email. Like Gmail does. And, as mentioned by Bob, like Notes does. ;-)

Rod Stauffer, 2006-09-14

@Chris - Yes the problem exists. I just wanted to confirm it still existed in this particular Notes client I am using ;O)

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

Incidentally, I don't see the link thing as a major issue, as Rod mentions's a recipients client problem.

The font size thing is poor though and should be addressed.

Volker - Maybe you could reverse leak this information to your Iris contacts ;O)

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

I see. Somehow it is everybody else's fault that Notes produces this crap.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-14

How many email clients don't display the link properly?

Notes does, Outlook does, Gmail does, iNotes does, my Blackberry does.

Notes & Outlook alone cover a huge majority of all email clients.

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

Volker - I just reproduced the problem - with Outlook!

In Outlook, you have three options for formatting your mail. Rich Text, Plain Text, and HTML. It works the way you expect if the sender uses Rich Text. If the sender uses plain text, then (obviously) it goes out as plain text so the URL is just text -- but most clients will turn it into a link. But if you use HTML as your format, then the URL is also not converted to a link. It is surrounded by formatting tags, but there is no A tag. And it doesn't make a difference whether or not you use Word as your editor in Outlook either -- except that you get much heavier HTML tagging if you do. Outlook sucks.

It's not that I disagree. I do think that the default Notes behaviour is less useful to most people in most cases, and the fact that Notes gives you the ability to make a hotspot if you really want one is nice. But really what they should have is a default conversion of links to hotspots, with the ability to not convert it if you really don't want it to be a hotspot. So, yeah, Notes sucks, too.

But your mail client, Volker -- whatever it is -- sucks, too. It could convert that link when it renders the message. Just like Notes did when I sent a message from Outlook using HTML format, containing a non-link URL, and read it in Notes.

Conclusion: All mail clients suck until they all get their act together and cooperate so that all URLs are displayed as links if the recipeint wants them be links, unless both the sender and the recipient set options so that the sender can send some URLs that the recipient won't see as links.


Richard Schwartz, 2006-09-14

I'm with the others that its the receiving client's responsibility to detect links. What client do you use Volker?

Bill Wood, 2006-09-14

Bill that is an interesting idea. Who cares about proper formatting -the receiver has to figure it out.

But I have an update: Domino does a much better job than Notes. Just send the message as Rich Text to Domino, and then let Domino convert the mail to MHTML. In this case you get proper href'ed URLs. Only if Notes creates the MIME message, you are getting this mess.

Here is what Domino produces:

--0__=0ABBFB7ADFF86B508f9e8a93df938690918c0ABBFB7ADFF86B50Content-type: text/html; charset=US-ASCIIContent-Disposition: inline<html><body><p>Ths is plain text.<br><br>This could be a proper link: <a href=""></a><br><br></body></html>--0__=0ABBFB7ADFF86B508f9e8a93df938690918c0ABBFB7ADFF86B50--

Volker Weber, 2006-09-14

Did you receive an email from Hannover yet?

Ben Rose, 2006-09-14

Richard: I just tried this with Outlook 2007. It preserves the URL as a link if you send as HTML. Just FYI ;-)

Volker: It's a little ironic that Domino does a better job than Notes here since it was trying to emulate Notes behavior of auto-highlighting URLs. My guess is that the MIME conversion code that we wrote looks for URLs in both plain text MIME parts as well as the text runs in HTML parts.

Bob Congdon, 2006-09-14

>Just send the message as Rich Text to Domino, and then let Domino convert the mail to MHTML.

Do you do this by selecting Rich Text in the location document in response to the prompt: Format for messages addressed to internet addresses?

Bill Wood, 2006-09-15

In my organisation we leave the setting as Notes Rich Text for everyone (defined in the Person document in the Domino Directory), and that seems to work OK. Well, no complaints from vowe anyway ;o)

Ben Poole, 2006-09-15

Lieber Volker Weber,
es ist immer wieder unterhaltend, wie dramatisch ein Fehler oder ein Mißverhalten oder ein Furz von Lotus Notes/Domino auf dieser Website behandelt wird. Diese Art von Haß-Liebe muss eine wirklich interessante Geschichte haben. Für alle sterblichen Zuschauer rufe ich "Notes sei mit uns"....!

Claus Bäumler, 2006-09-15

Volker: "the receiver has to figure it out"... that's the second half of Postel's Law, which is not just about protocols. It's about interoperability -- at any level. If the goal is to present clicakable links in the UI to people who expect URLs to be clickable, then Postel's Law says that the recieving side software should be "liberal in what it accepts" as a link, and even if the content is received as HTML it should make URLs clickable even if they aren't enclosed by A tags.

Richard Schwartz, 2006-09-15

Richard, we can probably discuss for another month whether users need to be properly trained to carefully consider when to place a URL into a hotspot, whether they do this to annoy me, or whether other clients suck as much.

I prefer to compare the crap that Notes creates to the code that Domino produces. Wouldn't it be nice if the powers responsible for the MIME stuff in Notes would learn from the Domino code?

Claus, Notes muss verteidigt werden. "Keine Handbreit Boden hergeben". Aber es gibt ja noch 4327 andere kaputte Dinge in Notes.

Volker Weber, 2006-09-15

Oh, I wasn't questioning if the problem existed - just checking to see if it could be related to the client version.

Chris Whisonant, 2006-09-15

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