Too small to fix

by Volker Weber


You open an existing spreadsheet or create a new spreadsheet in the Lotus® Spreadsheets productivity tool Lotus Notes® client and make a single change to it. When you close the spreadsheet by clicking the window X button, a dialog box prompting you to save it does not appear.


This issue has been reported to Quality Engineering as SPR# DLYN6ZV4VK; currently there are no plans to address the issue.

Now go ahead and shoot the messenger. ;-)

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I am beginning to see a pattern emerging here.

- Broken install routine (doesn't ask for network access)
- Broken promise about the workspace.
- And now this - just plain broken.

I had hoped that Lotus productivity tools in Notes 8 might form a useful exit strategy from MS Office. But we can't deploy this!

Lotus really does have a death wish.

Chris Linfoot, 2007-08-18

Is there ANYTHING you LIKE in Notes/Domino 8?? I Just curious, because for some months I only can read here what you do NOT like....

Michael Urspringer, 2007-08-18

@Chris , the install issue is "only" a problem with smb installs , if people are operating within a AD they can fix it with a policy.

Flemming Riis, 2007-08-18

Michael, I like the color. :-)

Volker Weber, 2007-08-18

Vowe, what you did not said: create a new spreadsheet and enter "x" in the first cell, then immediately close the tab -> then you are correct and the "do you want to save" dialog does not appear.

Enter "x" in the first cell, then go to another cell in any way (for example by making another change in another cell or by hitting TAB), then close, then the dialog appears correctly.

That means after your change have been accepted by the application, then the dialog appears.

And that means that your point is insignificantly in the daily work.

Julian Buss, 2007-08-18

Julian, I would not call it insignificant. It makes it more unlikely, indeed.

I was just quoting from the support document which does not mention this condition. And I will continue to watch out for "Notes 8" AND "currently there are no plans to address the issue".

Volker Weber, 2007-08-18

Vowe, to be honest, Lotus support is right about this. As long as some typed chars in a cell are not accepted as new value for the cell, it's not a real change. So there is no need to save. So there is no need to fix.

And @Chris: very clearly this is nothing to prevent a RollOut of the productivity tools. I think there are lots of other things to consider instead (how is the compatibility to MS Office documents, how is treatment of central stored templates and so on).

And to second Micheal: I'm glad there is someone like Vowe who exclusively picks out every piece of negative issue for Notes 8. But I'm glad there are many other authors in the press and blogs who report about all the wonderful stuff, too :-)

Julian Buss, 2007-08-18

Julian, don't worry. In the press I need to keep a balanced view. Here I can find out about the issues.

I have tested this behavior in three versions of OpenOffice (Windows, Mac, Linux) and two versions of Excel (Windows, Mac) now. The all set the file to dirty when you put a cell into edit mode and before you leave the cell. Only Notes fails to set the file to dirty before you leave the cell. That means this behavior is different from what a user expects from past experience.

Volker Weber, 2007-08-18

Julian, it is ok for me to pickout negative issues as long as they are real issues. But I do not see any real issue in the last postings of vowe ...

Chris, if this minor bug is really hindering you from deploying the productivity tools I am wondering how someone can deploy a Windows operatung system or MS Office suites in his organization. You will find plenty of bugs and many of them more relevant than that ....

vowe, if you have looked long enough at the marvelous colors you maybe find some more good things inside :-)

Michael Urspringer, 2007-08-18

On the other hand, if vowe has to pick these minor things as negative issues than it is a good sign: It seems that there are no real issues in Notes/Domino 8 ...

Michael Urspringer, 2007-08-18

Michael, this is like a brand new car. Everybody is afraid of the first dent.

The real issues are: new technology with a brazillion new files and directories that no Domino admin understands yet, no Citrix support (you should know some customers in the financial sector), Designer stuck on old technology, yet to be proven architecture for composite applications. As an architect I would look at these things carefully before taking the plunge.

I don't say they cannot be handled. What I am saying is: be careful and measure twice before you cut.

It's like standing in front of an Airbus 380 with some seats left over from an A300. It's amazing that this thing flies at all. And you keep asking yourself if you really want a plane this big.

Volker Weber, 2007-08-18

I am not afraid. I am happy.

Julian Buss, 2007-08-18

Has anybody found yet a way to send a document from the "integrated" productivity tools as a mail attachment?

Maybe I am just too blind to find this function. Maybe this isn't considered as a necessary functionality by all those many "real" users IBM involved in the design process of Notes 8.

By the way: Is there any kind of integration between Notes 8 and the productivity tools at all (beside they share the Eclipse platform)?

Sorry if that sounds "negative", but after my first clicks on the gold release I feel a little bit disappointed.

Peter Meuser, 2007-08-18

Volker, as an architect you absolutely should be looking at those things. And you know full well (as does IBM) that even after a long beta period the majority of major enterprises look at those things, and many of them will wait a while because of those things. Many will wait for 8.0.1. Nothing new here, and appropriately so.

But the issue illustrated in this post is not an architectural issue. It's a small bug. One of many that will surely be found. One of many that IBM surely already knows about. One of many that architects look at and decide to ignore. It is small because of its improbability and low impact.

OTOH, it's not so small a bug in some other ways. Type that one character in a cell, and then backspace over it. Should the file be dirty? Many would argue that no, it shouldn't be. ("I didn't intend to hit that key, and I erased it. The software should know that!") This can easily be a case where the simple fix to one problem leads to someone else thinking that the fix is actually a bug. And while there are undoubtedly ways of resolving the question to everyone's satisfaction (no need to go there.. trust me, I can see plenty of ways), the question is: does one hold up a major release on account of it? Better yet... does an architect expect a vendor to hold up a release on account of it? Or on account of this and a hundred other small bugs? Or a thousand?

All software has bugs, and in order to get software out the door all software companies make choices about which bugs are worth fixing. As an architect, one acknowledges that fact. As an architect, one asks whether you agree with the vendor's decisions on bugs in general, not on their decisions about individual small bugs. As an architect, one judges whether or not the vendor's process of evaluating impact and probability is broken. As an architect, one judges whether the vendor is appropriately balancing the importance of releasing features and significant fixes, versus the paralysis-inducing pursuit of the every last bug.

Richard Schwartz, 2007-08-18

Peter - no, there is pretty much no integration. The focus on the 8.0.0 release of the editors was the functionality of the editors themselves inside the Expeditor platform, policies for administering them, and file format compatability. Those three things took up the entire resources of the team for the release. Expect to see more integration as we move forward.

I can guarentee you that that feature and many more were brought up to IBM during the beta. They had to pick their battles for 8.0.0. They decided that getting all the file format stuff working was the most important thing to do. The rest will come as we move forward. You can agree or disagree with their decision, but that is what it is.

John Head, 2007-08-18

@ Peter - this was one of the first things I posted to the beta forum back in March. It's a known limitation in 8.0 and there are plans to address the lack of integration between Notes and the Prod. Tools.

Regarding the issue Volker raises here, I believe I have found the problem and there is a VERY simple workaround and this issue is probably unlikely to be seen in most real world uses.

If you create a new spreadsheet or open an existing one, go to a cell and type something. If you click into another cell or hit tab or enter and then click the "x" to close the spreadsheet, then you will always receive the prompt to save the spreadsheet. If you just type something in a single cell but don't navigate to another cell, then you will not receive the prompt to save the modification. A bug indeed, but the IBM Technote should be updated. I will also be notifying Lotus via a response to the technote with how to reproduce this and also to hopefully modify the technote with a note to tab out of the field to receive the prompt for saving the modifications.

Chris Whisonant, 2007-08-18

Well John, hopefully this decision to deliver a less than completed development will not harm the general picture people get from Notes 8.

Bugs like the one discussed in this thread a common for new products and will be tolerated up to a certain point, but missing key features like simple integration add bricks to the house of "Notes sucks" (we all hope to leave this image behind with the new release).

Against the background you give with the development priorities headlines from the IBM marketing guys like "Create and share documents using integrated productivity tools" sound like wishful thinking.

IBM, please don't charge us for a new beta phase!

Peter Meuser, 2007-08-18

Volker, I guess you could say that from past experience with other programs some users who remember this experience can expect this behaviour... But at least for me personally that wouldn't make any sense at all. I would consider your expected behaviour broken and think that most users don't care anyway.

I am working in software development myself and would distinguish that the document itself is the data model and the data model is changed after the cell, the view, is left. That makes lots of sense to me. During editing the cell can be in an invalid, i.e. erroneous state like an incomplete formula etc., that would probably make other parts of the model invalid too, i.e. other cells referring to the cell where the data is entered.

Hence from my point of view it's the sane thing to do, to defer recalculations of dependend cells until the input is finished (after a keystroke you can't possibly now that no more keystrokes are coming) and the data is valid.

Of course I understand that I am biased because of my profession. An "ordinary" user, whoever that might be, probably wouldn't care for that. But software engineers should use the direct and sane approach to make things less complicated and easier to maintain.

Btw. I do feel annoyed by some programs that ask me if I want to change something even if I didn't really do it.

If I would be the engineer tasked with solving this I would let the software ask for confirmation if the model has changed, ie. different from the saved state, OR if the current cell is dirty.
So that would mean making the code more complicated, not more straight forward - not the way to go from my perspective. At least when considering the relative importance of this feature.

Mariano Kamp, 2007-08-18

Peter - come on, key missing feature? You gave me a great laugh today .. thanks.

The reality is that corporate customers are not going to move until 8.0.1. Period. So IBM has some time to clean up the rough edges.

Yes, it is a needed feature. I wish it had been in 8.0.0. But file format compatibility is way more important .. and would have caused way more "I hate Notes" issues than a missing Send To feature. Every software has it rough edges. Period.

Your last line ... sorry Peter, but your just being bitter. That line totally takes your valid issue and discredits it with a whine.

John Head, 2007-08-18

Chris, if the developer are not cabable to address such a limitation in the timeframe from early beta to gold and IBM don't really seems to understand what is the meaning behind "productivity tools": How long will it really take to get the product ready for daily business?

By the way: OpenOffice is able to send a document as an Notes attachment since ages...

Peter Meuser, 2007-08-18

John, the missing function "send as attachment" is just the tip of the iceberg. Below the waterline is the missing integration.

The whole idea (and selling point) behind Notes 8 is integration. If that is not working for the average user even in such simple points, how will you convince companies to move to Notes 8?

If companies move to Notes 8 not until 8.0.1 anyway, who are the targets of this release? Should I say "great work done, IBM", even if I can't give any customer my advise today to move to the new release?

In the last few month I have to explain a company, who switched from another mail system to Notes 7.0.2 , why

- there is no history of used addresses in a new mail (addressed with Notes 8)
- out of office replies takes that long (addressed with Notes 8)
- user can't get an early delay info of sended mails (addressed with Notes 8)
- embedded images can't be extracted to the file system (still not possible)

All these "small" points are counted against the decision for Notes. Unfortunately Notes 8.0.0 can't swipe this bad image away - because it's not ready for prime time...

Peter Meuser, 2007-08-18

What everyone seems to be missing on this SPR is who filed it. The SPR system used for Notes uses the first initial and three unique letters of the user's name as a prefix for tracking numbers.

So DLYN6ZV4VK was filed by someone with a first name that starts with D and a last name that starts with LY and contains an N. How about Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs). Wow.

Not even remotely likely but conspiracy theories have started with a lot less than this... ;-)

Bob Congdon, 2007-08-18

Alright, Dec, time to fess up.

Rob Novak, 2007-08-18

@Bob: Hmmm... I've always thought it was "ends with N", not "contains an N". If that is true, it would rule out Mr. Lyons.

Richard Schwartz, 2007-08-18

In the last few month I have to explain a company, who switched from another mail system to Notes 7.0.2 , why…
Why did they switch then? Some of those functions are clearly important, so why shift platforms to something that doesn’t offer them?

I’m not being defensive about Notes here BTW—I think those are some key deficiencies in the mail offering within Notes—I’m just wondering why this company went through such a massive change if those features were / are so crucial.

Ben Poole, 2007-08-18

Ben, this is easy to explain.

They moved to Notes because of the big picture of integration: Reducing from 6 business critical systems to just 3 (web shop, Notes platform with CRM & financial accounting). On the way to this goal Notes was first introduced as mail system and to have an established platform to develop the business workflows.

When asked the users won't tell you, that they need the mentioned usability functions in their daily work, because they take them for granted in a new system. Now they have a new mail system with limitations (from their point of view) and an emerging workflow system still in development...

The lession I learned from this is to have a better look at the users actual needs and not only looking at a astonishing architectural design and not just honouring the hard development work and great heads behind it. IBM claims especially for Notes 8 to have worked together with the user community very closely. So this is the scale on which the result has to be measured with.

To come back to the little limitation found - I just would like to understand (maybe for the bigger picture) why it is not possible to fix a missing function like "Send document as mail attachment" in time for the gold release

- that is "known" at least since March
- is so little that it should not really take a lot of development resources (maybe it is not that little?)
- is already implemented in Open Source

Peter Meuser, 2007-08-18

Maybe this discussion is getting a bit out of hand.

Go back to square one. IBM found a bug so little that they don't care to fix it. That's all. You draw your own conclusion.

Richard, rest assured I am not confusing the bigger issues an IT architect has to look at with a small bug not being fixed.

Mariano, I never wrote a spreadsheet applications so I don't know the inner workings. I can only draw from observation, if one of them behaves differently from the others, even those with the same roots.

What was the topic again? Too small to fix. Maybe we should all not blow this out of proportion.

Volker Weber, 2007-08-19

@Peter: It's easy to understand. I wasn't there either, but here's an educated guess as to what happened...

At some point, probably even earlier than March, a team at IBM made a list of "little" things. There were lots of them -- maybe 500. Maybe more. Maybe lots more. Your guess is as good as mine, but with a product with as wide a scope, as long a history, and as large a customer base as Notes, it was a big number. And many of those "little" things was as important to some group of users as "Send document" is to you.

That team at IBM was tasked with prioritizing the value that each of those "little things" would bring to the product, and another team was tasked with estimating the effort required to code, test, and document them. Then the teams got together and their leaders made a bunch of decisions, based on time remaining, personnel available, and budget. Your feature "little" feature didn't make it. A bunch of others did.

Richard Schwartz, 2007-08-19

@Richard: Don't ruin a perfectly good conspiracy theory with facts ;-)

Yes the SPR naming algorithm was first letter of first name followed by first two letters of last name and then last letter of last name. At least that was what the SPR system did as of a couple years ago. And that was for SPRs generated internally. I don't think it would apply to bugs, if any, that might come from Mr. Lyons.

Bob Congdon, 2007-08-19

@John Head - If the Out of Office Service improvements work as advertised (set time as well as date, delegation) we won't be waiting for 8.0.1 I suspect. Those are huge wins for us, but we will be waiting for BES4.1.5 because of related issues.

Mark Dowling, 2007-08-20

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