Notes 8 error message in toto

by Volker Weber

Hubertus was able to catch the full error message. What we learned is:

  1. IBM developers have larger screens than their customers.
  2. The launcher passes a lot of parameters to the JVM.
  3. The dialog contains an OK button and it is the default. So you can hit Enter to close the message.
  4. The dialog does not contain any interesting information for the user.
  5. It does not contain any information which would explain the fatal error.

Also worth noting: development has not decided whether it wants to use slashes or backslashes to describe a path. It even changes within one path. Without breaking.


Windows accepts both the back slash and the normal one as a file separator, this is by design. Notes not breaking here is the expected thing to happen.

Java tends to come from a more "forward-slash-oriented" world, and most developers are too lazy to always use the file-separator system property wherever possible, so things tend to get mixed up when paths are stringed together on different platforms. This is normal and can IMHO not entirely be prevented.

Even if you most carefully use system properties wherever you use paths, as soon as it gets to writing configuration files to disk, you will be stuck with a single choice. So why getting your hands wet if it works both ways.

Martin Böhm, 2007-09-06

Because this type of inconsistency causes complexity which in turn fosters errors, related to security or other.

Most path parsing functions in Windows will rely on the backslash as the divider between directory names and the file name. Even MS developers do so. Try it:
- open a command line on c:\
- type the cd command, begin typing the directory path "program f" and then hit tab, Windows will complete your command to 'cd "Program Files"' (on an English Windows XP default install, you get the point)
- remove the last quote, type a backslash and begin another directory name, e.g. "lotu" and hit tab again. Windows will complete the command to 'cd "Program Files\lotus"' for example.
- Now revert and try the last step with a forward slash instead of the backslash. Now Windows doesn't know how to complete the path. If you type 'cd "Program Files/lotus"' however, it will behave and change to the directory you want to go to.

Now, imagine security attacks based on directory traversal like the stone-old IIS vulnerbility where you could execute commands in directories upwards of the IIS root directory by including "../" in your URL. Most likely the developers who implemented the path-completion would implement a URL filter looking only for "../". Actually, that happened and IIS was still vulnerable against directory traversals when you used URL-encoded or Unicode-encoded equivalents of "../" in your URL. Maybe the "..\" would go uncaught even today (ok, we probably can't go that far, but still, the point remains).

Ragnar Schierholz, 2007-09-06

You're lucky, you even got Lotus 8. I am still trying to get the trial...
where I was led after browsing through the IBM website, but when I click on the download button, it gives me either a
"message code: 57e"
or occassionally an
"Error 500: The "url" attribute illegally evaluated to "null" or "" in <import>"
and after trying hard to find the contact data of the local IBM in Hong Kong, I sent an email to them, and all I got back was a phone number in the US to solve the problem, not even an alternative URL or something more helpful...
So the website doesn't work and the support is not really helpful -> all in all quite useless, isn't it?!

Mathias Conradt, 2007-09-06

Mathias -- the link you gave above is for the third Beta version of Notes 8, which is (apparently) no longer available given that the general release is out. Not sure how you got to that page by navigating the IBM site. I can't find a "Download" or "Trial" link anywhere on the Lotus pages. It's definitely not listed on the main Lotus downloads page

Richard Schwartz, 2007-09-06

@Ragnar: Directory completion with tabs is not done by the system, but by the command processor, that is why your example does not hold here. As soon as you throw complete paths at the system, like the cd command does, it works. This is also what Java does.

The IIS vulnerabilities you name have nothing to do with the point, either. Virtual directory mapping is done by the web server, if it is implemented poorly it is not the operating system's fault. ;-)

My point was that it works as designed, and that is not astonishing that something like "C:\Program Files/Lotus\Notes" does not break.

Martin Böhm, 2007-09-06

can you select the text and copy to file ? or is it graphics only ?

Flemming Riis, 2007-09-06

Flemming, it is text in a dialog box. I have not tried selecting it, but it may be possible.

Mathias, you are not alone. I know an analyst who can't get the code from Lotus, since the analyst and media relations people themselves can't give him access.

I am thinking that Lotus may want to try Quickr to do just that.

Volker Weber, 2007-09-06

@Richard -- I used the site search on searching "lotus notes 8" which still lists the third beta version - actually the only download link for a windows version of Lotus Notes 8 trial I found.

Mathias Conradt, 2007-09-06

The trial of Notes 8 will be posted in about a week for free trial download. Not out there yet.

Ed Brill, 2007-09-06

"IBM developers have larger screens than their customers."

That's not new. We knew that since we first saw the list of action buttons of a standard ND 7 mail template. ;-)

Oliver Regelmann, 2007-09-06

@Flemming: To catch the text of a dialog box or message in Notes just hit CRTL-C while the dialog is displayed. This will copy the text to the clipboard.

Jens Polster, 2007-09-06

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