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This is adapted from a response I wrote to someone in a private forum about the Notes client UI and its value. I realized when I re-read it that it would make a good blog topic, so here goes....
Notes 7 gives you power to do UI things in the Notes client. You will not, however, turn it into a Visual Studio dialog box driven MDI application. The further you go toward trying to do that, the bigger hole you're digging yourself from a scale, support, and stability perspective.
Notes is Notes. It is not VS.net or a web browser. The paradigm of a FORM and a stack of DOCUMENTS which are FILLED OUT FORMS is still, after all these years, where the value is to be found. Every step you take away from that paradigm is wasted from an ROI perspective. Sure, some steps are necessary or the user base won't adopt the tool. The less, however, you attempt to make Notes into something it isn't the more time and money you spend on what is not the core purpose of the project and thus the more likely you are to have a major project failure.
If you don't like the paradigm and look of "NOTES" you have other choices. You can use the Domino back-end with a web browser and spend your time creating user interfaces suited to the web. Most suck, but that's just lowering the bar you have to meet. You can use the Domino back end with its web services component as a really first rate SOA back end to a front end developed in VS.NET if you want a really slick looking "windows type" application. These are both valid choices, and are excellent in what they do. If, however, you find the Notes client is an excellent tool to work with - as I do, and many of my clients do - then don't try to turn it into something that LOOKS like a completely different tool.
Learn the strengths of the UI as they are -- and they are formidable. I recently heard about a discussion forum that's been in continuous use since the early 1990's and is written as a Notes application without frames, graphics, or other flash being called "lame" looking. If you look at it as a tool on its own, however, and quit trying to make it fit into the Microsoft MDI & Dialog box driven windows model, you'll see that its field level help, keywords, free flowing text, response hierarchy, and other features actually make it the very best in its class at what it does -- which is of course, why it's had continuous use as a popular tool that its user base will fight to keep.
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