Notes 8 IMAP revisited

by Volker Weber

notes 8 r5

It's been one and a half year since I first looked at Notes 8 through the eyes of an IMAP user. Open standards and protocols, right? :-) Now a very loud Mac user has found the same island of Notes R5. Brace yourself for a ride:

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[Interesting side question as you read it: how many million are two percent of the Notes users?]


Like watching car crash TV :o)

Ben Poole, 2009-02-18

That guy is an absolute nut case.

Colin Williams, 2009-02-18

Remove the expletives and the result makes for pretty good documentation.

Jan-Piet Mens, 2009-02-18

do you think that entry deserves credit ( a link ) on your page ? I'm still wondering how Ed Brill commented things in such a rubbish childish blog.

Miguel Angel Calvo, 2009-02-18

Do you think he is wrong in his assertion, that the UX for an IMAP user is completely borked? As I wrote this isn't exactly new but remains without a fix.

Volker Weber, 2009-02-18

Many individuals keeps focussing on Welch’s turn of phrase without acknowledging what he’s actually saying. Yes, he is obnoxious (this is how ASW-dom is really done people!) but he also makes a lot of very good points, and really nails what it is about Lotus Notes that reams of end users detest.

Ben Poole, 2009-02-18

The shame is that he makes some really good points, and spots (as Volker often does) some glaring issues that we in the 'Yellow Bubble' often miss - examples being the copyright symbol for a keyboard shortcut (I must have seen that hundreds of times in my Notes8.5 Mac client and never noticed how crazy it is), the wording of the Install panes and lack of any customisation functionality.

Yes, his blog is profane, and yes, his method of arguing his points is aggressive and aimed to provoke (and I hate both those things in a conversation). However, the fact of life is that of the 140m users Notes users that may or may not be out there, probably ~1% of them will be saying similar things to their mates and colleagues about Notes (and probably in that colourful language too). We won't be hearing these comments at Lotusphere or LCTY or even in the customer review meetings that happen at Lotus accounts. They'll be happening at the watercooler or in the bar after work, and the folks that are involved will be telling their friends and thus the negative perceptions grow and spread.

Just as we need to find the passionate users that are positive about the Lotus products and get them to evangelise about them, we need to listen to those that have negative viewpoints and learn from them. This won't be easy and actually I applaud Ed for even trying on that blog.

As an aside, as Volker mentions we have been complaining about the lack of progress in the IMAP functionality (both as a client and as a server) for years, and each time have been told that it is such an edge case that other aspects have a higher priority. Well, that's now bitten IBM via this post and the IMAP issues that many are seeing in 8.5.0. Sometimes its not the most common features/issues that are the most important to passionate users (both positive and negative) - and perhaps that's the lesson to learn from this? I can think of many examples of this (DXL roundtripping, field sizes, workspace icons, keyboard shortcuts) and perhaps IBM needs to raise these up the stack rather than being overly focused on what new features will drive new revenue?

Stuart McIntyre, 2009-02-18

probably ~1% of them

One percent?

Volker Weber, 2009-02-18

What I meant was that one percent might say them in that way and with such a passion.... I'm not that deluded ;-)

Stuart McIntyre, 2009-02-18

Well, people tend to be pretty vocal about the stuff that annoys them. I like Nokia phones, but I am quite annoyed by the phone asking me for the same access points. Go figure. :-)

Volker Weber, 2009-02-18

I find it very difficult to believe that 2% of Notes users actually use IMAP.

Richard Schwartz, 2009-02-18

Some of the self-appointed Notes evangelists you see on the web really annoy me, and actually damage the reputation of the product. They presumably evangelize because they have built a career or business around the product, but fail to acknowledge any of the product's faults, and seem to know fuck all about the competing or alternative products.

Jeff Gilfelt, 2009-02-18

@Volker, it has nothing to do with contents. That opinion could or couldn't be true ( I guess is true by reading your comments and Stuart's). It's about a way of expressing opinions and discussing them that sits on provocation, insults and rudeness.

For me, a non English speaker, reading them is even funny, trying to find out the meaning of c*cksucker, or many other expressions ("F*ck that sh*t, here, S*CK MY D*CK!") that are extracted from a very very high technical slang. There must be reserved words :-)

But the problem is the same as in TV shows. If provocation increases the audience the more provocating shows we get. Don't give them the opportunity to get what they want. Just continue arguing as we're doing right now here.

Miguel Angel Calvo, 2009-02-18

Well the problem is that is sometimes dissatisfied Notes customers move on. That leaves the ones who are fine with what Notes currently does. Even if this is a growing market I think it is far outpaced by its competitors. Many people seem to forget that Lotus Notes was once dominating the collaboration market and has been losing its leading position in a slow and painful way. IBM managed to deny this until the last analyst gave up on Lotus being the leader.
Now with Lotus Notes still being a strong Nr. 2 it is being phased out within companies. It is still used and people see its value but it is not the product that drives a companies innovation. Passport renewals are quite cheap to keep your infrastructure alive. Unfortunately that also means that companies run old versions of the client.
If you have 50.000 worldwide customers but millions of companies all over the world you are irrelevant in many segments of the market.
IBM probably is quite comfortable with this position. They can defend their revenue stream without investing billions in marketing and research and development. As a business partner I still would be worried.
I do not think Microsoft is doing a much better job here but if they loose too much they will just buy the competition. That will probably work for everyone except Google.
To get a bit on topic again.
Make IMAP an equal player and then ask again what customers use. Unfortunately opening up Notes and Domino often also mean that is gets easier to migrate. Vendor lock in still works.

Henning Heinz, 2009-02-18

I just read the post. I can see how people might not like the tone, but if that was rewritten without the language then would anyone object to it's content?

Seriously, the guy has a point. Notes is full of little things that are cumulative and add up to big things, we know the excuses, no resources, it's eclipse, it's cross platform etc.

I still use Notes because I am use to it's funniness and it still does a lot of things better than anything else. I've looked at alternatives but find they are lacking, or I need 5 alternatives to give me what Notes does.

Interestingly enough I still use Notes not because of email but because of other features of the product I use and other Notes applications, as those other features become available in online alternatives I find I need Notes less. For me, I am still using Notes 7 for my personal business as I find Notes 8 slowed me down, so Notes 8 and 8.5 is purely used for client development work and testing. But I am just a whiner...

Carl Tyler, 2009-02-18

Miguel, I have no difficulties understanding the colorful language, and you just learned new swear words. Those may come in handy one day. :-)

Volker Weber, 2009-02-18

If I had to choose between either using the Notes client as is or an internet where such language and such "style" were considered to be normal - I'd go for the Notes Client.

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2009-02-18

The Eclipse Excuse™ is the one that really ticks me off:Who coded the original Eclipse framework?Who then donated the framework to the Eclipse Foundation & the open source community at large?Who is still the biggest committer to the Eclipse project?

Ben Poole, 2009-02-18

@Ben: Is the one you ask for "blue"? And "not" the Blueman Group?

Joerg Hochwald, 2009-02-18

All my personal accounts are accessed via IMAP. I suspect other corporate products are too. I think that an IMAP template that looks like it wasn't built in 1998 will do wonders for even this "edge case" What if during a transition, getting to an old account via IMAP was a good scenario? i.e. Tell the end user, want to manually migrate? Cut and Paste into your Notes mail.

Outspoken rants by the nutty Mac guy aside, I am surprised that the old imap template is still there.

I am still recovering from seeing that screen shot.

Nelson Morris, 2009-02-18

I posted the Idea on IdeaJam - please remove IMAP from client :

Gregory Engels, 2009-02-18

Updating the IMAP template probably will not change much. IBM Lotus Notes is not a mail client. I am not that happy with Notes 8 because for me the result is too much Outlook but for sure IBM listened. Much of what has been asked in the past has already been improved.
Better UI, better streamlined right click menus, better toolbars (if they work), better Out of Office (if you have a Domino server), again better calendaring and scheduling, a much better Mac client (I also think the installer is at least as good as on Windows), improved Signature handling, finally a Sametime client that makes sense even on the Mac. I could list many more points. Still this is not what a novice user would expect if he has never used Notes before but the improvements are there. I want Notes to grow. I would like to have Notes to really play the open standards game. That it becomes an alternative in the government / education space and more attractive for smaller companies. Lotus Notes needs much more than 50.000 worldwide customers and be it only for making more noise. I know that Al Zollar wasn't popular but didn't he say that IBM wants 200.000 developers working with Lotus technology?

Henning Heinz, 2009-02-18

@Gregory, good proposal.

IBM needs to do things either properly, finish features and keep them up to date, or should rather not start them at all. New features either have to be finished and 100% production ready within a half a year after first release, or should not be introduced at all.

If there are no plans to fix, then even old features need to be removed in order to avoid further damage to the product and the market.

I have the impression that IBM has learned a lot from past experiences. New DAOS is a completely other story than the first try "Single Copy Object Store" in 1997.

Felix Binsack, 2009-02-18

I enjoyed the post. It was really, really funny. And it was largely accurate. Not sure IBM should rewrite the entire API structure just to make AppleScript developers happier about the hierarchy, but it's interesting to hear that perspective. And props to the guy for complaining about the *current* release. The comments went around the bend a bit, but that's hardly unheard of online.

Unfortunately, I can't tell him any of that because his comment registration system doesn't work for me (probably firewall related, but still...). I find it just a teeny, tiny bit ironic that such a passionate proponent of usability has such a lame blog collaboration feature. But hey, I bet it works great if you're on a Mac and working outside of a major corporate network infrastructure! (just mild snark, couldn't resist)

Rob McDonagh, 2009-02-18

I got as far as him installing the composite application installation and it was hard to take anything seriously after that. Even the screen shot looked like he was using an older template but I haven't tried Mac yet so not sure if that is normal.

Ed's posts were good. He has a good habit of just ignoring any baiting for trolls/attacks and just focus on the core issues. Patience of a saint. :) Wish I had that.

Simon O'Doherty, 2009-02-19

Simon, the template screenshot you mention was one of the IMAP template, which is current (sad to say), and is not Mac-specific.

Ben Poole, 2009-02-19

Well, yes, the language is hilarous.

We in the yellow bubble have to take a lot of what he said seriously. He found a use case which quite frankly, really sucked. There's no avoiding that.

And people saying 'oooh thats an edge case' really doesnt help.

What IBM keep forgetting and we keep forgetting is that this is an END-USER facing product. Mary Beth Raven gets that and her team really have improved it. I'm not saying that it cant be improved even more. And we should all look at all of this with fresh, new eyes - hard to do after 18+ years of putting up with really horrible UI.

--* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2009-02-19

IMAP may be an edge case for existing customers but not for people who download the client to try it out. Lotus claims open standards and protocols so they better provide it. IMAP, LDAP and CalDAV ...

Volker Weber, 2009-02-19

I spend a lot of time in a couple of online vendor related communities.

One of those communities feels constantly in a defensive mode, engaged in flaming those who criticise the product.

The other community is almost dead as the vendor refuses to release product until it's been tested to within an inch of it's life. For this vendor, releasing product with a list of "known issues" is just not an option. Either it works, or it doesn't go out of the door.

The former could take a lot of lessons from the latter. Do customers truly want the 'latest and greatest' functions in a new design and a new box? Or would they prefer to get a fully functioning, bug free, version of the old one?

Personally, I'd take a 100% bug free version of Notes 5 any day of the week.

Ben Rose, 2009-02-19

@Ben, really??

You'd rather use a bug-free release of R5 than a flawed version of 8.5? Now that's is just plain crazy... Would you go back to Windows95 if that was bug free too?

Stuart McIntyre, 2009-02-20

Yes, really. I've supported thousands of end users on Notes for over a decade now, I cannot remember a time where I can resolve all issues due to bugs in the product.

Does 8.5 offer me a lot over 5.0, yes. Does it offer me more than having less support calls escalated from our helpdesk? No.

Every new release of Notes adds nice new shiny features that don't quite work 100% and my user base will always find where. All I can do is raise an SPR and pray.

Ben Rose, 2009-02-20

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