Want to reply to your Notes mail?

by Volker Weber

Ed presents new menus for Notes 8.0.1:

Reply with History Only
Reply with History & Attachments
Reply with Internet-Style History

Reply to All with History Only
Reply to All with History & Attachments
Reply to All
Reply to All with Internet-Style History

Forward with Attachments
Forward Internet-Style

Maybe they need three more:

  1. Reply with Internet-Style History & Attachments
  2. Reply to All with Internet-Style History & Attachments
  3. Forward Internet-Style with Attachments

And maybe all you need is this:

And then do it "Internet-Style" which translates to "how everybody else does it". And there is a really neat trick: quote only the selected text, if there is a selected text.

Corollary: an elephant is a mouse built to military specifications.


I *really* like the idea of including only selected text in the reply/forward. Using only Notes mail and GMail for a while now, I don't know that I've ever seen a client with the option to select text and have that be ALL that gets sent.

But I disagree about making Internet Style the default. Allowing one to SET one's default would make a LOT of sense. Personally, since the majority of the mail I send/receive at work is internal-only, I prefer to retain the Notes formatting. That said, in GMail, I typically set things to be plain text and in that environment I do prefer Internet style formatting.

So the key: choice.

Joe Litton, 2007-11-08

The selected text thing is great… it’s been around for some time now on the Mac (I think Eudora did it in the old System 7 days at least). As for replying with internet-style history, it would be nice if we could come up with a decent reply-with-history that looks good in internet mail as well as Notes mail…

Ben Poole, 2007-11-08

Outlook gets it right.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-08

great feedback - i agree!

marco foellmer, 2007-11-08

Hopefully I can give up having to use Notes as mail client somwhere in the future. It might be useful for other things but it is awful as mail client. Agree 100% to Volkers message. Keep the Mail interface as simple as possible and just do it the right way. Full stop.

Ahhh... BTW, still haven´t seen any method to sync lnotes anc iCal (which I need to sync my smartphone). Looking for this since years now. I have to use a VM with Windows to sync a Nokia and iCal to sync my other Smartphone. Then look at both to compare if the agenda accepts a new entry.

lnotes is and was clumsy to use.

Armin Roth, 2007-11-08

Use the OpenNTF Mail Template. It has done it for many years. :-)

Bruce Elgort, 2007-11-08

Using Notes 8, Armin?
I like the idea of not just being able to reply, but to choose if I want to include all the attachments or not. It often makes sense to discuss things without the attachments after the first mail due to mail space limitations and traffic expenses.
I never used the internet-style-choice, however I can understand that some want it.
Only the plain reply is IMHO not really necessary.

The choice is in a menu like the one you posted only with dropdowns if you don't want to use the default one. Of course you can use the default one and then there's no difference to the simple three buttons you took as reference. So what's the problem?

You can choose - don't have to. I like that much more than "you don't have to choose - you cannot".

Martin Hiegl, 2007-11-08

@Volker: "Outlook gets it right."

If by "right" you mean "-----Original Message-----", followed by a full quote, then - no. ;-)

By all means, "right" is to start with the cursor blinking below the quoted (== intended) text, having the user delete each line that is irrelevant for his reply, responding directly to the questions that have been asked.

In Outlook, it tortures me that there it always the complete history (minus n) attached to each and every message there is. And it is a pain in the behind to follow someone else's mail conversation, always bottom up, filtering out in the facts in your head while trying to figure out what's it all about. In this regard, no corporate mail client gets it right. But alas, since mail clients are bought by managers and not by the people who actually use them...

Martin Böhm, 2007-11-08

You have no idea how contentious that stuff is with IBM. One camp strongly supports doing it the internet way (>), and another who thinks internet way is busted technology and should be done the Notes way only. I've witnessed the head of client engineering throw a fit in a big meeting about the matter. The only way to get your way is to give everyone else their way too (kinda like congress).

So you get what Notes is today (and has been for a very long time), a bloated mishmash of competing themes and ideas with no clear direction.

It sounds like a bad joke, but even something as simple as replying to a email message requires 11 toolbar choices.

Damien Katz, 2007-11-08

Martin got it. None of the current technologies does fit with any psychological or philological knowledge. And regarding the bashing between people, even in this thread, there is no way you can have a simple solution for all.

Jens-B. Augustiny, 2007-11-08

there is no way you can have a simple solution for all

There is. Only Notes users are having this discussion.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-08

Only Notes users are having this discussion.
Well, then only Lotus Notes seems to be trying to satisfy all its customers and give all the best experience. ;-)

Seriously, there are different strategies to build software. Single purpose and single way to use is one of them. Multi purpose and multi way to use is another. The discussion which of them is better is futile. If the latter doesn't force the user to choose by giving him a default it can be used the same way the first must be and thereby should be satisfying you as supporter of the single-usage way as well, shouldn't it?

Martin Hiegl, 2007-11-08

One question: when does one ever need to reply with something, and keep the original email’s attachments? When?

Ben Poole, 2007-11-08

Ben, I believe that one comment on Ed's site decribed a usage pattern where users at one customer have developed a pattern where they reply with attachment and delete the original message to save space. Replying without attachment would make them lose the document. A bad feature can create a bad usage pattern.

Martin, complexity kills.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-08

Ben: A few years ago, you were right. Now there is a simple use case. You send me a message with an Excel sheet. You write "Please update the data in the Q3 Projections column, and send back to me ASAP". I reply with attachments, click on the attachment, select Edit to launch Excel. I make my changes, and save. I write "Here you go!", and click Send.

Richard Schwartz, 2007-11-09

when does one ever need to reply with something, and keep the original email’s attachments?


Why doesn't Notes decide whether to reply with Internet-style or not depending on the format of the sender's address? If the mail was sent by a Notes user (hierarchical address) the she probably wants it in Notes format; in all other cases, Internet style is better.

Jan-Piet Mens, 2007-11-09

'I don't know that I've ever seen a client with the option to select text and have that be ALL that gets sent.'

People laugh at me for using such a quaint system (and for admitting that I use it, indeed) but AOL has had this feature since its beginning - it can't be that hard to achieve!

Nick Daisley, 2007-11-09

Did I miss something in Notes 8 or is there a chance to set the default action for replies?? I am not aware of this (perhaps except of you have designer skills which I absolutely don´t have).

If there would be such an option, everyone could set the default action FOR HIMSELF to the button and has then the the choice to choose one of the other reply-to´s available in the Menu if needed. Of course the menu then must be dynamic, referring to the default you have chosen, but for me this might be a good option.

Matthias Michl, 2007-11-09

@Volker: Complexity is a relative thing. I don't think it would be too complex to lead e-mail conversation in a way Usenet users have been doing it since the beginning of time. This technique evolved for a reason.

On the other hand, I postulate that there is a law that people are always 10% dumber that necessary to put the technology they have to good use. You lower the bar, they adapt equally. Once you raise the bar again you come to the point where complexity kills. In terms of e-mail communication, there is no way anymore to fix what has been broken so fundamentally for such a long time.

Martin Böhm, 2007-11-09

OK, this is to much. But the good message: If you don't like it you can change the template or use an other.

Werner Krause, 2007-11-09


You send me this Excel sheet and i reply to you but involve 2 more people over here by cc. They need the attachment which is a daily case over here.

Hubertus Amann, 2007-11-09

@Hubertus and Richard: what a horrible way to collaborate over a document though!

Ben Poole, 2007-11-09

@Ben: This discussion is about navigation buttons inside your mail application and not about how old fashion it is to use mail to collaborate over a document. It is our core business to tell people how horrible this is and how to use more sophisticated tools to do better. But this on the other hand makes it a lot more complex for a lot of people - so we are happy that we still have a reply with attachments - which some previous entries state is way to complex.
You see ...

@Volker: no, there is no way you can have a simple solution for all. Your three buttons are just not enough for me but just right for others.

Hubertus Amann, 2007-11-09

Volker - thank you so much for highlighting the ridiculous complexity of this. This seems to be occurring in WAY too much of the IBM / Lotus Software. Your Corollary: an elephant is a mouse built to military specifications is brilliant. Where is the elegant simplicity? Only Apple has nailed this!

John Bergland, 2007-11-09

@Ben: I agree that email is the worst way to collaborate. But not all work on documents is an actual collaboration in the sense of an iterative process of two people working together. Sometimes, it is just one person needing to get someone else to type in some data. When the requirement is expressed as "I need your data filled into my document" instead of "I need you to work with me to get this document completed and polished", then email is not really that bad a way to get it done.

And the unfortunate fact is that most organizations still don't provide much in terms of better ways to collaborate. So, should email tools [i]not[/i] provide features that help people work effectively, in the hopes that making email as painful and inefficient as possible will force the organizations to invest in better alternatives? Or should email tools try to make it easier for people to collaborate effectively [i]despite[/i] their organization's failure to invest in better alternatives?

I favor the latter approach.

Richard Schwartz, 2007-11-09

@ Martin Hiegl

quote:"Using Notes 8, Armin?
I like the idea of not just being able to reply, but to choose if I want to include all the attachments or not."

One of the questionable things in Notes is that the user experience is managed by the IT departments and their ideas, in contrast to the user himself. I am stuck with an ancient 6.5 on XP and use 7 on Mac - but prefer the built in option in Mac OS X all the time. And I am "off limits" with a personal copy of lnotes in my organization.

As Volker pointed out, there is a simple way of selecting whatever text I want to quote, usually I do not include the appended files in replys anyway if there is no apparent reason to do so.

Armin Roth, 2007-11-11

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