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by Volker Weber


I have to say, I can't remember a time in history where I held back a Notes client from my user base for so long. We're now on the 3rd official "gold" release of R8 and I still would only consider rolling out the 'basic configuration' on user machines.

Do I love the Notes 8 standard client? Yes
Do I think it offers any functional improvement over the previous version? Yes
Does it look good? Yes
Do I want to support it? No

Ben Rose, 2008-08-26

"Do I want to support it? No"

Why not? Because of the additional Eclipse layer? Or because of old hardware?

Karsten Lehmann, 2008-08-26

No hardware limitations at all.

I guess it's pretty much all linked to Eclipse one way or another. I still struggle to explain to people what Eclipse is and why it was needed - I understood (from conferences) it was needed as an easy way to port Notes versions to Linux/Mac...but then I see there is still no Gold Mac client on R8. Clearly it didn't make things that much easier and, in the process, it made the Windows client very very heavy.

Yes Notes 8 looks nice and I understand much of this is linked to the Eclipse framework but, ultimately, any Windows app can have it's UI improved without needing to move to Eclipse.

So I'm a Notes admin and I run Notes on Windows. I plan to keep Notes on Windows. What have I gained? My Notes install folder now contains over 16,000 files with a disk footprint of around 2GB. Seamlessly deploying this stuff over smartupgrade isn't really an option.

I recognised the need to give Notes a makeover. I appreciate all the fantastic UI work that the dev team have done and what has been achieved. Sadly, as a customer admin, the end result is extremely difficult to understand or deploy. I can stick with the "basic configuration" but this erases pretty much all the perceived benefits.

I'd love to roll the Notes R8 standard client out to all staff and, if I still worked for a Lotus BP with 12 staff, I probably would. But supporting it on thousands of machines in multiple languages just isn't an option for me. I don't even understand many of the errors in English right now.

I guess, to summise, I don't see the excitement of a massive new client that is now almost as quick as the old one used to be.

Car makers release new models all the time. The new versions are better looking, have new features and are heavier but they also increase the power and the new ones are faster and/or have better mpg. I'm just struggling to see the big win in Notes 8. Somebody tweeted last week that they no longer get excited about a pending Notes release, I know the feeling.

Ben Rose, 2008-08-26

Hm -- I (have to) use Notes 8.0.2 fullblown at the Office. Takes about a 1,5 minutes every mornin' before I get to see my inbox. PC is pretty new and running Vista Ultimate.

Outlook 2007 (yes, I know that's of course not as powerful as Notes) is up and running in about 3 seconds.

Guess I can guess myself lucky that I didn't try earlier Notes 8 clients, huh?

Thomas Cloer, 2008-08-26

That's a transition phase to newer and powerful applications on top of the R8 Standard Client.
It will take some time until the Notes developer community will realize that stone age is over and that Notes applications do not have to be ugly... ;-)
And when the first cool Notes applications are out, the end users will ask their software vendor why their software looks so ugly and why they are always talking about Notes limitations, while other companies do not seem to have them in Java.

Can't wait for this to happen. I'm a Java developer and a Notes developer. ;o)

Deploying software on the Eclipse framework isn't that hard. Maybe there is not enough information publicly available. The plugins can easily be deployed via policy on the machines, no need for manual installation.

Karsten Lehmann, 2008-08-26

@Karsten - I guess we have what we would call have a "chicken or egg" scenario. You can't have a chicken without an egg to hatch it from. You can't have an egg without a chicken to lay it.

Without applications to justify it, I'm not going to install this new client across my user base.

Without clients to install it on, who is going to develop any applications?

I can't sell this product to my business based on TwitNotes and an RSS reader.

Ben Rose, 2008-08-26

Ok, here is a "real life example":
I'm one of the developers of MindPlan, which is a mindmapping and project management solution based on Lotus Notes.

MindPlan is a Java application working with Notes R6 and higher. For R6 and R7 it's a standalone solution that just stores it's data in Lotus Notes databases.
For R8 we integrated the whole application into the Lotus Notes client as an Eclipse plugin and added Composite Application support to let end users and partners extend its functionality.

You can see some screenshots in the MindPlan blog, the product website and in IBM's Composite Application blog.

A beta version of the Composite Application is available for Windows, Linux and Mac in the MindPlan forum. The final Windows version will be released within the next two weeks.

Other applications will follow. Its just a question of time.

Karsten Lehmann, 2008-08-26

Well said Mr Rose, well said! Eclipse = Java views. Give me a break!

Colin Williams, 2008-08-26

You state that "every morning" you have to wait about 1.5 minutes for Notes to start. Then are you sure it's 8.0.2? It hasn't even been available for 24 hours yet...

Rod Stauffer, 2008-08-26

@ Karsten - saying a new generation of applications are made possible due to the Eclipse platform are all very well, but it still doesn't provide a reason for an organization with multiple thousands of users and a host of applications to upgrade.

With all due respect, a few new applications won't trigger a series of upgrades - we won't put in months of time into planning and actually rolling out to our users simply for the sake of a few new applications; we do that because the new release holds promise for our existing applications and infrastructure.

Past upgrades have always held some improvement, be it server side increasing e.g. stability or easing up on server requirements, client side improving performance or reliability reducing the support team's workload, or from an admin pov for which you could claim to your board of directors that it'd lower TCO.

So far 8.x has proven to deliver little to none of that. Our support staff are going nuts over the amount of complaints they get from users. Our test audience calls it a complete nightmare - their pc's slow to a crawl and these are all newly leased machines - and while nobody's crying for Outlook just yet (thank god they're smarter than that ;-) they are begging to be downgraded to 7.x.

Fair enough there's an 8.0.2 now that should improve all that, but what's the saying - you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Evaluations have been made, conclusions have been drawn. Delivering this sort of upgrade half a year after we should've had it just isn't good enough.

With this sort of bad publicity/first impression, us developers won't get a chance to start adding the new bits and bobs because management will never pass the budget to roll out 8.x.

Jef Reynders, 2008-08-26

Eclipse offers all sorts of benefits, and I like it a lot—as a developer. But of course, we developers don’t get to feel the true power of Eclipse in the context of Domino Designer yet, so I can understand the bemused coders out there.

Similarly, I can understand the end-user reticence; but like Karsten says, (hopefully) the apps will come.

All that said, none of my clients are on 8, nor do I use it myself yet (really want to get into XPages though), so the excitement is a little muted this time around, I agree.

Ben Poole, 2008-08-26

Notes 8.0.2 has performance improvements and there is a vision behind composite applications. But the concept behind it is not backwards compatible and so far it is foreseeable that the existing parts of Notes are not moving forward. And a lot of what is coming now into Notes is not new but left code from the IBM Workplace experiment. XPages, Productivity Editors, Workplace rich client technology based on Eclipse. Now with removed SQL access and combined with Notes Rich Text and the current Notes limitations this is now the next desktop revolution. Based on my Notes 8.5 beta experience it will take at least another major release to get something that I would consider a homogeneous development and user environment.
While I do believe that Notes 8 can lower the pressure moving to Exchange because the user experience did improve I am not sure if the development model is compelling enough. For me the web seems so much faster than what IBM tries to do with Notes. It took 1 year to get a Notes client that is usable. How long will it take to get the rest? Maybe just 1 year, maybe more. For example XPages for the Notes client is not in 8.5. I am now in a situation where the web browser with its increased power and flexibility is a compelling platform for me (and iNotes UltraLight is a good example). And while I do not think that SQL is the answer to anything using a more open data store sometimes is a welcomed breath of fresh air.
I do not want to sound all negative because for a long term Notes user there are a lot of improvements in Notes 8 but I remain sceptical if this works for the rest of the world.

Henning Heinz, 2008-08-26

I've used Notes "standard" then I went to Notes "basic". Why, for performance. Then I got a faster machine with more memory. Then I went to Notes "standard" again. And in about a week, I'll be back on Notes "basic". What changed my mind *this* time - single threaded behavior. If all my functions run in an integrated client and that client is not a well behaved multi threaded solution, then I have dramatically reduced my PC's capabilities. Notes with Eclipse really needs to provide better management of Notes and the plugins so one does not lock out others.

Glen Salmon, 2008-08-27

@Rod: You're right, of course. I was on 8.0.1...

Thomas Cloer, 2008-08-27

@Glen - I'm with you on that one. When Notes is busy opening a view, I can't chat on IM or even browse my RSS feeds.

There is nothing more frustrating than receiving an incoming IM in the middle of a large admin action that may take a few minutes and not being able to respond.

Ben Rose, 2008-08-27

What about the productivity editors? Aren't they a first step away from MS Office, saving license costs? They only come with the standard client.

Thilo Hamberger, 2008-08-27

No, they also come as Symphony (which as similar requirements). Or better yet, you can use a more current version of OpenOffice.

Volker Weber, 2008-08-27

My motto: if you don't belive it, measure it:
First start after machine reboot
8.02=45 sec
8.01=65 sec
Second start (main stuff in cache);
8.02=6 sec
8.01=17 sec
That's quite an improvement.

However Notes 7:
First start after machine reboot
7.01=7 sec
Second start (main stuff in cache);
7.01=1.5 sec


Andreas Grün, 2008-08-27

How fast is 8.0.2 classic coke?

Loading Mail, Calendar and Address Book on my iMac: < 1 second.
Loading Notes 8.5 beta 1: 65 seconds.

Volker Weber, 2008-08-27

For the curious:
Notes 5:
First start after machine reboot
5.07= 2 sec
Second start (main stuff in cache);
5.07=less then 1 sec
Not that I am using it any more, just giving the numbers...

Andreas Grün, 2008-08-27

What about the boot time of DOS 6.22 on modern hardware compared to Windows Vista? ;-)

Karsten Lehmann, 2008-08-28

Actually, compare the boot time of Vista on the best possible hardware with the boot time of any version of DOS from floppy on ancient hardware. You are way faster inside Word 4.0 from cold startup than in Word 2007. From floppy disk!

On a more serious note: customers are actually doing very much the same things with Notes 6.5 that they did with R5. And 6.x is the predominant Notes version at my customers. Servers are more recent but not the client. I would even go so far as to say they are doing less as many apps have moved to the browser since.

Some want to go to Notes 8, but so far have not committed to go. Main reason is that Notes 8 has a shitload more moving parts than Notes 6. And moving parts need maintenance, no matter what the sales rep tells you.

Volker Weber, 2008-08-28

Notes 8.0.2 Classic Coke is as fast as 7 ever was. 8.5 beta 1 on my Mac is a terrible experience I never want to repeat - It turns it into a 4MB machine from the mid 90's. Ouch!

Repeat after me: Notes on Eclipse for fancy pants Java views is bad for the customer :p

Colin Williams, 2008-08-28

It's also slower on my Mac (4 GB RAM - 2 GB Mac, 2GB Parallels Windows XP) than on Windows, seems to be caused by Apple's Java environment that IBM has to use. But I'm still on JDK 1.5, haven't tried to switch to JDK 1.6.

Karsten Lehmann, 2008-08-28

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