Lotus = The user experience people? Bah!

by Volker Weber

Damien has written an excellent piece called "Domino sucks?". I think it takes somebody from inside, who no longer works for IBM, to speak out:

But if these guys are frustrated with IBM, you should talk to some of IBM's ex-Iris developers who lived through the whole Workplace fiasco.

Try to find an IBM blogger to call Workplace what it is. It's DoesNotWorkplace for a reason. Speaking about Notes:

What is it about the platform that makes it such a continued success? Is it the fat Notes client? Does it's UI do something other fat clients don't do? Snappier? Better UI? Better text editor? Is it the PKI security? Is it the IDE? Is the management tools? Better support for industry standards? What exactly is so unique about Notes and Domino that keep it in demand?

Here is the answer: It's the database. The Notes database model is simple and functional with built-in security and bidirectional replication. The implementation is solid, if limited, and performs pretty damn well. It easily solves many problems that are nightmares to deal with in SQL.

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>>it's the database. Only peripherally correct, I'd suggest.

Most workflow is document-centric. Notes provides an integrated set of tools that is almost ideal for the ad-hoc development and maintenance of such workflows. It's this combination of tools in a single package that makes it unique. This monolithic toolset model also is the source of much anguish. Other (mostly open-source) tools are surpassing the capabilities of Notes/Domino's individual features, yet that monolithic toolset model makes it very difficult to go à la carte.

David Richardson, 2006-12-07

While I think Damien has some interesting things to say, and while I personally like him, it should be noted that he is hardly an impartial observer in this. After all, Damien has spent a fair amount of time producing CouchDB, which even he describes as reproducing some of "the database" concept from Notes/Domino. In that light, of course he is going to emphasize the database as the driving success factor, but as David points out, that is only peripherally correct. There is a lot more in the package than the database, even though that is important.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2006-12-07

You are right, Notes is far more than the database, and many of its parts produce value irrespective of the underlying database. But still, I contend its the database engine at its core that keeps it competitive with other technologies and justifies the whole package far more strongly than any other single feature. I also think the fat client in Notes has been integral to its success, neither could exist without the other.

But I also think its 2006, and the web and browsers have clearly shown they are advanced enough to be the basis for most rich applications. The whole world has realized this, it's becoming harder and harder to justify fat clients to the world already accustomed to web browsers. The web isn't going away, people need better tools to get at the power of Domino for web development. And they need to deal with all awful cruft that's built up over the years (I've added to that cruft, I'm keenly aware).

And yes, as Ben points out I am perhaps biased because I am producing CouchDb, which shares some of its concepts with the Notes and Domino backend. I should note though that I didn't arrive at this opinion because I happen to be working on CouchDb. I am working on CouchDb because I have this opinion. CouchDb reflects very much my belief in what makes for a useful modern document database engine. I cannot hide that, nor would I want to. I am putting action behind my words and CouchDb is the result.

Damien Katz, 2006-12-07

the web and browsers have clearly shown they are advanced enough to be the basis for most rich applications. The whole world has realized this

Which is why so many of the supposed "Web 2.0" apps I use require some kind of software installed at the client to be meaningful. Skype, flickr (for batch upload), full RSS feedreaders, plazes, bittorrent, and many others put code on the desktop. It may be small modular bits of code, but it's still code. Even the airlines, who have their timetables online, all offer downloadable local installs of timetable software (which I carry with me constantly).

I love the flexibility of many of the new class of applications, but I love more the ability to do more with my multi-GHz, multi-GB RAM machine than browse, no matter how intelligent that browser becomes.

Ed Brill, 2006-12-07

Don't worry. Notes 8 is going to take care of those extra cycles.

Volker Weber, 2006-12-07

@Ed. Not all of the new breed of "Web 2.0" apps need local software installs. I recently blogged about a new online database app called Dabble that has a lot of similarity to Notes/Domino in terms of its flexible schema and use of views, which is a completely online experience.

Maybe that's the way forward for Domino ?

Colman Carpenter, 2006-12-08

@Ed: fascinating that you and Microsoft are in agreement here :)

Paul Robichaux, 2006-12-08

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