Notes X

Will IBM announce Notes 10 next week? I don’t know, but I think it would be about time.
Since Ed’s departure to mobile, I feel a bit cut off. Nobody within IBM is really satisfying my need for news. The only thing I heard, is a new project about connecting MS Outlook, which is a good thing, that will save a ton of money for companies who suddenly find themself in the hands of some Outlook fan boys/girls. But that’s about it.
Now what? Whenever the number „X“ comes into play, we expect something eyewatering (or naughty). OSX was something almost completely new, the Citation „X“ is the flagship of Cessna (and Cessna employees will look extremely annoyed if you say „X“, it’s „ten“, got that?).
What could be the big step forward, to make Notes even in the eye of the general public THE thing to have?
First, an absolute must for the normal user is the ability to have several mail accounts, preferably in one view. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal. And for the security freaks we throw in policies controlling that stuff for good measure.
Second, making little applications should become easier again. Otherwise it will be Excel as the number one management tool for the forseeable future. I am still convinced (I am probably a slow learner), that Notes is the best management tool, as long as they let me do my apps. Third party solutions always have tons of features, that are not relevant to the problem. On the other hand, only 80 percent of the problem is solved, leaving me with the remaining 20 percent, which generate normally 80 percent of the effort.
Third, putting files in a Notes document as attachment, should be a thing of the past. That is probably the hardest part, but as long as files can be stored as XML, they could be imported and „kinda“ rendered as Notes documents. Now wouldn’t that be nice? Since there is an ODF standard, that might even be possible without reinventing everything. I doubt that anybody could implement Microsoft’s „standard“ without getting suicidal, but who knows.
It is great, that you still can use a Notes 2 application in Notes 9 and IBM does a hell of a job here, to make it happen, but one day, it’s just time to put an end to it and move on. I think it’s about time. Lotus Expeditor is way behind eclipse and I fear that it’s a dead end. It was a good idea, but Expeditor could not keep up with the rest and Eclipse itself has more and more problems to keep afloat. IBM has to cut the link between Eclipse and Notes sooner or later. IBM gave the open source community the IDE of choice for many years, but nobody can expect IBM to finance it endlessly. The idea of open source is, to develop its own momentum. If it doesn’t, it slows down and will eventually stop. That’s just the way it is. On the other hand, IBM can not expect, that Eclipse is developed in a way, that supports Expeditor.
But another question pops up. Is there still the need for a Notes client? Why not go web entirely? As long as I can not have wireless connections everywhere (even in that stupid tunnel after Bern), I probably want a client that works offline. But that problem has been solved before. HTML 5 is pretty strong. Now why not just ditch that old-fashioned client and concentrate on web? The problem could be, that we suddenly would have to deal with WebSphere. Although one heck of a good product, but probably not the first choice for an SMB. Buuuuuut, Quickr has gone that direction, Sametime too, why not Notes? Worse could happen. As long as there is some kind of migration path, it would not be the end of the world. Frankly, I would rather have a Connections Mail server based on Domino and easy to develop XPages applications, which work with a Connections installation, than continuing the beaten path which eventually is leads into oblivion, because as of today (that’s now, next week probably have changed my mind) Notes is sold as email with a twist. But that twist is not going to change a lot of minds anymore. Apparently IBM had success getting old customers back onto Notes, for whatever reason. Often only because the promised easy migration to SharePoint failed (and here we have to fight hard, not to look smug. That would be very unprofessional). That proves, that IBM is not abandoning Notes, but I am pretty sure, that some IBMer are also fed up with the old Notes and would rather start something new and leaving some ballast behind. After 25 years of backwards compatibility, that would be ok with me. And if it is still called Notes, I can pretend, that’s my old friend, but that only works if I (and that’s just me) get more of the daily general management stuff and not just some new email feature. Otherwise I can live quite happily with Apple Mail. That thing does what I need. It has its quirks, but so does Notes.
Oh and yes, there is all that cloud stuff. I am really thinking about moving to SmartCloud, but the on premises solutions will always have their market. More today than ever, because nobody likes the feeling, that some guys in trench coats and dark glasses are looking over your shoulder. It’s a matter of principle. Some will say, what the heck, the price to keep my own installation is too high and what does the NSA want with my CRM data anyway, others will pay for having better control over their stuff (or just the feeling). That’s ok. And there are those who had Notes for decades and use it to the max. They need something that replaces it without too much cost. And here comes the question that nobody today is ready or willing to answer. Can we live just with XPages? Can LS and Formula Language be abandoned? They are already on the move to the sideline and one day, there will be a Domino server without it. I personally am looking forward to it.
But since IBM and I never agree, next week will bring a lot of surprises. Either good or bad. Let’s see.

18 month to wait … What the heck is IBM working on?

In a recent post Ed said, that the next major release of Notes will come in about 18 month. That is a long time … a very long time, probably too long for many companies where „I-want-Outlook“ type of CIOs are on the helm. I do have faith in the hardcore Notes guys, but the decline in installations will continue, even though Notes is hot in some countries, even in Europe.
Just lately I had an example of the power of Notes. I had a stupid thing to do, a mailing. Which means checking addresses of old contacts, who is where, who is new, doing a serial letter (snail mail) and so on. A lot of manual work. I thought a Notes application (or is it database again?) would help me. Took me just a few hours (I am out of training) and I had a tool ready that is ugly, but does the trick. Others have asked to use it, too. It’s just a form (you never see), a view and some code. That reduces the time from a few minutes of work per address, to a few seconds. If that does not show the power of Notes, I don’t know what does (and no, before my political correct readers go into overdrive and need their blood pressure medication, it’s not a spam database, all nice and legal).
BUUUUUUUT. Who is allowed to write his/her own Notes application in a company today? Admins get dermatological problems (die kriegen Pickel) only thinking about it. Eyes twitch on the thought of massif overload on servers, because users actually use the stuff. CIOs fear the decline of their departments relevance if anybody could build tools that do not require a complete project and the evaluation of 10 different tools over several month.
And do not forget the security implications. Malicious code could come inside the precious corporate network and infest the ERP. Governments could be overthrown, volcanoes erupt, revolutions and anarchy everywhere. That must not happen. Therefore the only sensible solution to prevent such suspicious behavior, is doing what everybody does. Use ready to use tools that everybody else uses. Be as good as your competitor. Go mainstream (no joke, I have heard this from CIOs). Don’t allow any creative solutions of your employees which probably could make their life and work better, that’s not what we want, do we? We want them to suffer on earth, otherwise they end up in hell, as any christian fundamentalist will tell you. We do them a favor, actually. Looking at the app isn’t an option, because it would not reach any standard set by independent boards.
If you are seriously thinking about building tools that fits your way of work and makes you more productive, look for professional help. You are close to the loony bin and your teacher, who always said, that you will end up in the gutters, will be right. You may be allowed to write some formulas in Excel or even do a little macro, but not a inherently evil tool like Notes. It is a database after all. The summit of the IT universe. The pride of any administrator (just for those with a irony recognition disorder, that was irony, if not sarcasm).
But back to IBMs Ed. The new client could have a name with X in it. Oh my, not another one. That marketing departement should get more time outside the cubicle.
Citation X, X-Files, XServer, X Work Server, X Series, Generation X, Xtra, Xing, X Tools, Sikorsky X2, Eurocopter X3 and any adult site out there. Does it have to be X again? I would think about it. You have 18 month. But desbite of the name, I eXpect something great … and a public beta like „Hannover“. 18 month should be plenty of time for something that brings tears to my eyes and lets me dribble over my keyboard.
Yes, I know, I said about 6 month ago, that if there isn’t something new at LotuSphere, I think about moving on. I did actually. I looked at other products but could not find anything that gives me the flexibility and the ease of changing it to my needs other than Notes. I even dug out an old Notes CRM (sort of) I wrote not so long time ago for an architect and a medical company and use it for me again (I am thinking about giving it to OpenNTF), replacing a much too big tool from another vendor. That’s what it is all about. Using tools, changing it to my needs without a lot of hassle, using Mac, Windows or Linux. Another reason is certainly that I know Notes better than anything else, but still, the flexibility argument stays valid. Looks like I stay with Notes for the time being. So much for intentions (and idle threats).

Did it. I am certified in Structogram 1, 2 and 3

The last few month we looked for new products. Accidentely, our strategic Partner PAVONE joined forces with Structogram to create the frist CRM that allows you to manage „soft factors“ of your customers and individualize the marketing approach. Structogram is a scientific approach to the knowledge of the human nature. It is even certified in some countries as advanced training for medical personel. Structogram has been around for quite a long time and is available in many countries.
Informica, Ecoville and Inforga created the Structogram CRM competence center and now we are the only organisation in the world – apart from Pavone – that is certified to sell the PAVONE Structogram CRM. Yes, I am proud. The training was very interesting and sometimes very, very funny. I got to learn a lot about me and it does already help in my private and business live.
The last two days we attended the last training sessions required and they were held by the two Structogram master trainers, who had the idea of the CRM. For years they trained a method for optimizing the marketing process, but they always felt, they lacked the IT tool, to work with the method. Now they are using it already in their daily business. And this is important for the yellow bleeders. It’s based on Notes/Domino and they love it. As ever with a CRM, it took a while until everybody saw the power of it, but now they are hooked. PAVONE did a amazing job in implementing the Structogram method in its latest PAVONE Sales CRM and delivered an easy to use system – despite being a highly blue company speaking in Structogram terms 😉
And one of the most important features the thing as is – you guessed – offline capability. That’s something the competition will struggle with for a long time. For anybody out on the road, meeting customers, this is and has always been the big advantage. Now we just have to drop hints to PAVONE that the iPad is the perfect hardware for a customer meeting.