back to article Notes/Domino is alive! Second beta of version 10 is imminent

IBM’s effort to make its Notes/Domino platform relevant for the future kicks up a gear this week, as the company prepares a second beta of a new version 10. Notes combined messaging and an application development environment, which set hearts a-fluttering in the early-to-mid 1990s. IBM laid out a then-record $3bn to acquire …

  1. IceC0ld

    Notes - The Marmite of software

    it was never one for me, but have colleagues who absolutely rave over it, last supported it around 2003, even then Outlook just seemed so much more prepared as it were.

    Surprised, but maybe not that much, at its renaissance, thought it had the proverbial stake through the heart years ago .................

    In my experience, it was NHS users kept it going, so maybe it was CPR what did it :o)

    1. TheVogon

      Re: Notes - The Marmite of software

      "Notes/Domino is alive!?"

      Presumably in the same way that Mike the chicken was alive.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Where are my silver bullets

    Where are the silver bullets for my gun and the ash stake. Someone has to finally put this thing out of its misery.

  3. Phil Kingston

    Next you'll be telling me that Lotus123 is coming back.

    1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

      I wish they'd just open source SmartSuite. I still have my DVD of the last version (Millennium 9.6 or something like that) and I still have it installed on a VM just for sentimental reasons (although I don't use it much any more).

      But I used to love Organizer. If I could have that connecting to Google calendar, or Hotmail... *sigh*

  4. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Quite a few users have raved about it how good the user experience was in Notes(compared to Outlook).

    At the same time - read plenty of horror stories from the admin side. And given my own experience with the admin side of IBM products - would not surprise me - IBM needs to sort out the other end of the spectrum as well.

    1. Philip Storry

      Having spent fifteen years working with both Notes and Exchange (from 1998-2014 - didn't quite get sixteen years!) I'm a little surprised to read this.

      I'd venture to suggest that any admin who said that isn't a Notes admin, but instead a Windows admin who was forced to work with Notes and had no training in it - or willingness to learn.

      The major problems are usually ID files and a lack of AD integration. So yes, user administration has a couple of challenges - but later versions of Notes have an ID Vault which helps a lot with that. And even earlier versions (6 onwards?) had password recovery, which also helps a lot - just generate a recovery key and start using it, and your helpdesk will be able to reset passwords much more easily.

      User administration around ID files was certainly the weak point.

      But the server itself was solid, capable and had a lot of great options. Its handling of storage, mail routing, and replication was generally much better than the competition. For example in a multiple site, WAN-linked environment moving users around is a snip - and very reliable compared to Exchange, which often fails repeatedly on bigger mailboxes. (I've actually had to resort to exporting a mailbox and transferring it as a PST using Robocopy, then moving it re-importing the data!)

      I'd definitely agree that at the SMB level Exchange is better due to its integration with AD. But frankly, that market is being ceded to the cloud anyway. However, as your system grows in scale, Notes definitely starts to be much more attractive to administer. It's not without some faults, but I've seen far worse products - and I much preferred administering large Domino environments to large Exchange ones.

      I'm more surprised that you found people who liked the user experience - that was what I usually got complaints about!

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        >I'm more surprised that you found people who liked the user experience - that was what I usually got complaints about!

        I was about to make the same point

      2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Yeah have to agree, administering Domino is actually rather simple, once you know its not like any other mail system (I learnt from doing the courses on which I found much better than the help files).

        The biggest issue for me I seem to remember, was Notes would appear to freeze processing something (For instants a massive mail folder a user hadn't used in a year, Notes would need to generate the view), the user would kill via task manager and then wonder why I was whinging at them why didn't you use the Ctrl + Break Key.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Notes haters gotta hate.

          As a developer, I love the Notes environment. I can do everything ; use LScript, JavaScript, make webservices, design web-enabled applications... I even made an approval process for the Boss's iPhone which worked without processing anything on the phone side - all server-side processing. No add-ons needed !

          I've written code to FTP data to mainframes, reformet CSV files for JIT server treatment, send webservice requests to the proper server for data processing - all without using anything other than the Notes Designer.

          It is one hell of a powerful tool.

          But the client ? Even I must admit that that thing is a dinosaur that the metor missed. It needs not a redesign, it needs to die in fire and be entirely replaced with something else.

          But for development ? I can do anything.

          I hope IBM will finally put some marketing muscle behind the next version.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The way things are going with Office 36x (where x >>> 0)

    it might be that (shudder, hits self on face with wet cloth) that this thing might have a place in tomorrows Office.

    I wonder what the relative levels of slurping/phoning home between the two are?

    I make do now with Libre Office and Thunderbird on MacOS. Well, as a company with just the one employee namely me I really don't have a need for any of this groupware [redacted].

    1. LenG

      Re: The way things are going with Office 36x (where x >>> 0)

      And I make do with Libre Office and Thunderbird on Linux and Windows. It does all I need and the price is right. Notes style groupware may have a place in a large organisation although I always disliked it. Even outlook may have a place ... probably in the trash bin.

    2. Philip Storry

      Re: The way things are going with Office 36x (where x >>> 0)

      I suspect that, if done well, Notes/Domino will have a decent niche in the future for companies that don't want to go cloud.

      Microsoft is very committed to O365, and that means that future versions of Exchange will both lag behind in features, and perhaps even not get them at all. Some of those features will be obscure back-end ones - but when it comes to things like web access, it might be more obvious.

      For example, if O365 gets a new web interface optimised for tablet displays, do you really want to bet that it's going to land in the next Exchange patch? More likely you'll have to wait six months to a year - and then there's the delays in actually applying that patch to your own infrastructure, such as testing and change control.

      Notes/Domino might actually become a sensible choice for on-premises because of that. And even if it doesn't, hopefully it'll give Microsoft a reason to compete for on-premises business, rather than simply drive everyone to the cloud.

      1. SchorThing

        Re: The way things are going with Office 36x (where x >>> 0)

        We're currently handling about 35 different companies (/O's) and 100+ mail domains aggregated into a single Domino domain. It's actually rather easy to manage all things aside in compared to what would need to be done in Microsoft world. Administration is quite easy. The client needs an overall (toss it and start over). I'd say that I'm partial to the idea that companies that don't wish to go full cloud may have a viable option here if the clients are improved and 3rd party vendors maintain add-ons (they are pulling out in many cases). The biggest shortcomings IMO are .nsf size management (email quota, document retention, archiving, etc.) around email and signature management (IBM should include, for example, the Crossware product at n/c).

        1. TheVogon

          Re: The way things are going with Office 36x (where x >>> 0)

          "We're currently handling about 35 different companies (/O's) and 100+ mail domains aggregated into a single Domino domain. It's actually rather easy to manage all things aside in compared to what would need to be done in Microsoft world."

          Not true for at least a decade. Exchange is specifically built to support multiple tenants. You can easily run it as a shared hosted service with multiple tenants that are utterly unaware of each other.

          1. Outski Silver badge

            Re: The way things are going with Office 36x (where x >>> 0)

            "Not true for at least a decade. Exchange is specifically built to support multiple tenants. You can easily run it as a shared hosted service with multiple tenants that are utterly unaware of each other."

            That's a very different thing to what @SchorThing was talking about. In Thing's scenario, the 35 different companies want to be aware of each other, and share a common directory for that purpose. They have different top-level certificates (/O), but there will be cross-certificates between them.

            In Exchange/AD you'd need a ridiculous complexity of trust relationships between the different domains in the forest to achieve the same thing.

            What Domino administrators can happily do on a Friday afternoon, knowing AdminP is looking after stuff ------->>>>

      2. TheVogon

        Re: The way things are going with Office 36x (where x >>> 0)

        "Microsoft is very committed to O365, and that means that future versions of Exchange will both lag behind in features"

        Seeing as they are based on the same core application servers, no it doesn't.

  6. RealBigAl

    Always preferred the Notes client to Outlook. It seems to be a personal taste thing, and often in my experience depends on whither the individual experienced Outlook or Notes first.

    I still reckon Notes could be relevant, but IBM will need to rip up it's licensing model and start again, one amongst many changes it'll need for Notes to survive if not thrive.

  7. Mark Manderson

    Ahh happy days :)

    nothing quite like knocking up 21CFR and FDA compliant encrypted Dbs in domino...piece of p155!

    jack of all trades!

  8. Sarg

    It's actually used a lot

    Last time I saw, over 130 million users are on Notes/Domino.

    It works really well for many scenarios and the security is second to none.

    1. Sitaram Chamarty

      Re: It's actually used a lot

      > Last time I saw, over 130 million users are on Notes/Domino.

      Not by choice.

      Don't forget Notes client is the only mail client that acquired "sort by subject line" in... wait for it... 2006.

      Yes, 2006.

      Eudora and Pegasus had it in pretty much from day one, if I am not mistaken.

      Ever tried to view all headers in an email in Notes? A *tiny* window pops up and you can't expand it. You have to look for the headers you're interested in, within what -- if I recall -- is a 20x8 text window.

      I've never used Outlook, but compared to Thunderbird (speaking only of the client UI and UX), there is NO comparison.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's actually used a lot

        Sure but with Notes you could just edit the mailbox template and add 'sort by subject' if you wanted it. Try that with Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora...

        1. TheVogon

          Re: It's actually used a lot

          "Try that with Outlook, Thunderbird, Eudora..."

          It's easy to do that on Outlook at least.

      2. billat29

        Re: It's actually used a lot

        I seem to recall that IBM went round at one time offering it at a ridiculously low price and that's why so many (public sector) organisations were using it.

        Me? I used to stick Outlook on the front.

      3. Tom Sparrow

        Re: It's actually used a lot

        @Sitaram In business, how many users actually choose their mail client though? Not many I'd bet, whether they like it or not.

        I don't really care for the Notes client any more, it's got it's advantages but they're nowhere near enough to outweigh the problems. On the server/admin side though, I'd take it over exchange any day, even with it's flaws.

        Not sure where you get that headers thing - I get a full sized window with everything in quite happily.

        As for the sort by subject line, I couldn't say when it arrived, but if it really was that late then any half decent dev/admin team could have added it in - it's about 30 seconds work to make the change, and maybe a couple of minutes to apply it to the entire organisation, for a small/medium site anyway.

        I tend to use iNotes webmail these days, but used the Domino back end with Thunderbird quite happily for a while, and have users that do so now without any problems. It's got a full IMAP server buried in there as well.

      4. Outski Silver badge

        Re: It's actually used a lot

        "Ever tried to view all headers in an email in Notes?"

        Several times a day - View, Show Source. Gives you the whole thing. Getting that from Outlook, or 365, nowhere near as easy...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's actually used a lot

          . "Gives you the whole thing. Getting that from Outlook,"

          Outlook Files>property boom look it's the header. Seems easy enough

          1. dieselbug

            Re: It's actually used a lot

            Outlook Files>property boom look it's the header. Seems easy enough

            Notes does it the same way, regardless of client platform (Mac, Windows, Browser)

            Outlook? Not so much.

            Windows - as you mention, but you have to open/pop-out the message before doing the file..Properties bit (can't do it from inbox directly) and the window is restricted in size. You have to copy and paste into something else to read it in full screen and even at that all you get are the headers, not the whole message source (headers & body/content)

            Mac - as in Notes - right click, view source. From inbox without having to open first

            Browser - similar to Notes/Mac - right click, View Message Details

      5. Spacedinvader

        Re: It's actually used a lot

        Yeah cos finding and email that's buried under "RE:" or "FW:" is fucking useful!

      6. LarsB

        Re: It's actually used a lot

        You are recalling an ancient version. Since Notes 7, released in augist 2005, when you have an email open you can select the menu option View:Show:Page Source, which wil show the entire message in a fullsize tab.

  9. Jim Willsher

    Notes client was always hideously horrid. I'm sure the backend was clever and had some shiny bits. but the front end was awful.

    This thing should be killed. I actually thought it was dead already, since I've never seen it being used anywhere recently, not since I left Scottish and Newcastle in 2004.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Most of that hideousness came from Enterprises which set their 'look and feel' in version 4 and never updated it (same happened with Admin processes). I have shown people two systems sat side by side, one with Outlook 2013 out of the box and one with Notes V9 also out of the box. They basically both look and perform the same way for email and as mentioned above it is way simpler to make changes on the Notes side than the Outlook side.

  10. Wilco

    My favourite Notes bug

    I am surprised that IBM continues to flog that particular nag. Notes was always full of surprises, but not in a good way.

    Back when I was a Notes victim^h^h^h^h^h^h user I dutifully set my out of office message for my upcoming holiday in July 2006

    I messed up the dates, so that I set it to apply from (say) July 20 2005 to July 28 2006

    Notes immediately sent an out of office message to absolutely everyone who had sent me an email in the past year. I knew this because I immediately received dozens of out of office emails (presumably from Outlook users who had managed to correctly set their out of office messages).

    It kind of makes sense, if you remember that Notes is not a mail client - it's an application development platform that someone used to make a mail client as demo, and things got out of hand from there.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Why Lotus done faded away ..

    Register: ‘Lotus, which invented Notes, and drove the product to great prominence .. But once Microsoft launched Outlook, bound it to Exchange and web-based development took off, both faded.’

    May 08 1995: “there are several other ISVs who have very successfully implemented OLE Control Container .. So, I find it difficult to understand why you feel that you don’t have all the information that you need

    May 25 1995: “By now, you should have received via fax an invitation to our upcoming OLE DB Design Preview

    May 26 1995: “No .. I did not receive the fax. Do you know to which fax number you sent it?link

    Dec 17 1996: “If a users data is in Domino and their UI/app is Notes, then windows is basically irrelevent for that userlink

    Register: ‘reason Notes/Domino faded was that its development environment was a silo.’

    Feb 1997: “I consider this cross-platform issue a disease within Microsoftlink

    Dec 1998: “Notes/Domino R5 is very scary. We all saw the demo. Exchange has worked with teams around the company to put together a very detailed analysis of the R5 betas and the hints they've exposed on their future direction. We now have a fairly good understanding of what they are doing and where they're going. Lotus's goal is nothing less than to become the new OS - to provide the environment applications are built upon and users live in without ever needing to leave. They threaten not only the Exchange/Outlook business but all of Office and eventually Windows. BobMu points this out very eloquently in this recent maillink


    Walter Bishop: Going through all those emails, I don't see anything about writing better code, possibly explains the low quality of the 'innovation'

  12. Toro22

    Im stuck in an Outlook/Exchange environment.

    I'm hoping someday.. Outlook/Exchange will get to the ruggedness of Notes v6

    Would I choose the stability and reliability of Notes/Domino over OutlookExhange even when my colleagues are complaining over the usual MS stuff? - YES

  13. PhilipN

    I got it!

    To keep down the layoffs IBM put whole departments into suspended animation. They just woke up Notes.

    Very clever.

    Who’s next? The OS/2 team?

    1. Basil Fernie

      Oh yes, please!

      - but only if at least 10% of PC/notebook users are able to spell

      "O" "S" "/" "2"

      (special dispensation granted for omission of "/")

      otherwise I'll be too lonely.

      Getting a bit tired of Linux after using it for more than 10 years.

      (Sings "I wanna go home")

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it consistent behaviour across Notes implementations that it doesn't understand a time without a colon when trying to create an appointment in Calendar?

  15. cs9

    Never used Notes

    Never used Notes, I'm only aware of it due to its iconic status as industry laughingstock. I'm sure it will be a hit with the Node.js hipsters though.

  16. Jay Lenovo

    Looking forward (if only to avoid turning to salt)

    Having suffered with the prolonged state of developmental sadness, at least this appears to be a real attempt to improve the condition.

    Hoping for the best, prepared for the worse.

  17. Daedalus

    K is for....

    Working a Kontract some time ago for a Kompany that latterly Kontracted Konspicuously, I was surprised to be Konfronted with Lotus Notes for two reasons. First why would anyone use such a Kludge, and why was this notoriously insular Kompany not using a home-grown piece of garbage with a name beginning with "K", as it did so often.

    Notes was in play for e-mail, bug reporting, doKuments and just about everything else on the sorry misbegotten lost-its-way projeKt I was on. Surprisingly, you could sKript it in - wait for it - Visual BasiK!

  18. jammy

    Competition is a good thing

    I personally dislike Notes as a client, although it is nice having some additional competition for enterprise email space.

    My concern is that it may be too little – too late now. If was looking at a collaborative tooling I would now be looking at Slack or Teams

  19. Rockets

    Domino on AIX?

    No mention of Domino being supporting on AIX/POWER. Wonder if that's still supported.

  20. DuncanLarge Silver badge

    Notes, Outlook?

    I've used both. Ran away from Notes the first chance I got. Outlook is what we use now at work, with Notes still performing a few legacy things.

    Our Notes was installed poorly. Had I done it I would have created the infrastructure needed to allow us admins, heck even the users, to do password recovery! I spent a whole day once trying to guess the original password we gave a user that started 10 years before I arrived because they went on holiday for a week and forgot the password they set the week before.

    When I go home I even stay clear of Outlook. There is only one email client I use above all others (thunderbird is second) and thats: mutt.

  21. PerlyKing

    I used to hate Outlook...

    ...then I had to use Notes.

    One niggle which still stands out in my memory was the F5 key. I don't know what it was bound to in Notes, but it was not "refresh" as it is in a lot of other applications. I do know what the effect was though: it froze Notes solid. And I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only user to fall for this, as at the company in question there was a top-level entry in the Windows menu called "Kill Notes".

    1. Outski Silver badge

      Re: I used to hate Outlook...

      F5 in pre-v8 days was Lock session, so not surprising you could do much after pressing it (it's Ctrl+F5 since v8).

      F9 is Refresh in Notes, Send/Receive (ie, much the same thing) in Outlook, so I never understood why people get so het up about that one.

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