My Tools: Lotus Notes

Jimmy, Grandad and Grandma go to CornwallEver since I started using Wakoopa something has been nagging away at me. Sitting at number 3 of my most used applications has been a tool that I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to write about – Lotus Notes.

In this week of Lotusphere I’ve finally decided that I can’t avoid it anymore.

But why to reticent?

The primary reason is that I have a very mature relationship with Notes, I’ve been using it since version 2 (now on version 8+) and the relationship has not always been a good one. It has been an incredibly powerful tool helping me to achieve things that I couldn’t have done in any other way. A number of years ago (too many to count actually) I was working with a team and we were processing a lot of paper forms, Notes enabled us to automate the process quite quickly and very efficiently. But that was some time ago.

For me Notes (and Domino) is an application development platform, that happens to also do a reasonable job as a personal information tool. The problem is, these days, I only use it as a personal information tool. All of the things I used to do on Notes have pretty much gone away, being replaced by portal type tools. Some of these portal sites are little more than web enabled Domino applications, but I’m not using Notes to access them.

So that leaves my relationship with Notes as a “personal information tool” relationship, and it’s in these capabilities that my love-hate experience is the most acute.

I love the ability to access my email, calendar and tasks across a firewall boundary, something that Notes could do long before Outlook.

I hate the lack of trust I still have in the calendar. This week I tried to delete an item, got an error message, went to the IBM support site to find an answer. The answer, and I paraphrase – get stuffed. The problem is, this is a reoccurring appointment which I can’t delete and lasts almost forever. I have never been able to trust my Notes calendar.

I love the enhancements to the Notes 8+ interface. I especially like the ability to see all of the emails in a thread from within the email.

I hate the way that flagging works and the document properties dialogue.

I could carry on, like I say this is an old relationship.

Whether Notes is winning market share or loosing against Exchange is, in my opinion, irrelevant. As an application platform it’s loosing to the web. Both Exchange and Notes are also going to loose to the web in the long run (even if they persist at the back-end) for email, calendaring and tasks.

So I’ve done it, I’ve written about one of the oldest tools in my kitbag. A tool that I think will be around for a good while yet, but only because it’s not easy to get rid of. If I was starting a business today – I wouldn’t start from here.

3 thoughts on “My Tools: Lotus Notes”

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