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Are you still using the same desktop workspace in Notes that you were 10 years ago? Truth be told, it is a desktop paradigm that even looks ugly when compared to the Mac Finder interface in 1991. Although there have been attempts at a replacement, most of us still use this dog of a UI with 32x32 pixel 16 color icons set into square blocks about 3 times that size. We can organize these application icons any way we like - as long as we like gray on gray in a grid pattern. We can even have folder tabs to group our little squares into families.
Why do we keep using this? Because the alternatives have been worse. Instead of focusing on what desktop users want out of an interface, IBM has for years combined mistaken approaches together into a huge waste of opportunity.
They've listened to I.T. managers who want to control every aspect of the user's desktop, putting links to everything from Human Resources intranets to cafeteria menus right up front. Whatever the company wants you to see should be right there on your desk. What? That's not what you want?
They've listened to industry "experts" who cry the virtues of dashboards and portals that keep such critical things as the company stock price close at hand at all times. What? You're not responsible for anything that impacts your company's stock price on a minute-by-minute basis? Surely you must be if it needs to be right in front of you all day.
Worst of all, they've listened to their own product managers who want to use the desktop as the proving ground for showing you that their pet expensive product is everything you ever wanted and you'd agree if only they stuck it in your face all day until you agreed. This is the "Portal" desktop approach. I'm sure there are a few percent of Lotus end users who want to look at a portal interface all day in the their Notes clients. Most don't. I'm going to write another editorial about the "Portalization" of the Notes client soon -- until then remember that I coined the phrase "Notes Liberation Front"
If users want a giant clock on the screen, they have thousands to pick from already. Users want a place to organize the things they need to get to. In the modern "Graphical" world we use "Shortcuts" and "Bookmarks" for this purpose, and often these are visually tagged with "Icons". Here is a short list of desktop folder organization schemes that user's actually like, all of which are more modern and functional than the Lotus Notes Workspace: Apple OSX, Apple OS9 (OS8, OS7, OS6,...), Windows Vista Explorer, Windows XP Explorer, Windows 2000 Explorer, Windows NT Explorer, Windows ME Explorer, Windows 98 Explorer, Windows 95 Explorer, Windows for Workgroups Explorer, Windows 3.1 Explorer, Windows 386 Explorer, Palm OS, Firefox, Outlook Express, KDE, Gnome. Should I go on?
But there's already a "Bookmarks" option in Notes. Great. Do you like it in comparison with virtually ANY of those I listed above? Here's a challenge. Instead of listening to these so-called experts, go look at what they're using. Don't just look at their Notes clients. Go look at how their OS desktops are organized. In Notes 8 we get the "Open List" which is a step forward I suppose, but to quote Yoda "Break me a fscking give!" It works just like Windows 95.
People, this is a problem that's been solved already.
What should the Notes bookmark interface look like?
It should look like your operating system's folder system. Folders should be stackable, resizable, MDI containers, each with the own pull down menu for dealing with the various folder activites. The objects inside should be viewable in a list, as icons, or with details. In a details or list view they should be sortable by column heading. In an icon view they should stay wherever you put them. If you want them to snap to a grid it should be YOUR choice. You should be able to create shortcuts or links to objects so that they can be in more than one folder. Icons themselves should be compatible with either .ICO files or as GIF, JPG, and PNG files themselves.
What should the Notes client desktop look like? Nothing. There needn't be one. The bookmarks interface should be an extension of the operating system folders. Your mail file looks like anything else in that folder system. Your database icons get to mix and play nicely with all the other tools you have on your computer. If you're working on a Notes document, it gets a window with tool bars that are appropriate to whatever editor or viewer you're using. The side bars become operating system side bars -- or they stay rooted in a system tray icon (or whatever docking system is used by your operating system of choice).
Get rid of the massive container UI completely. It serves no purpose other than to corral things that you don't use together anyway. You don't need your forum posts rounded up into the same container as your mail documents, do you? My operating system has excellent facilities built in that let me manage having multiple activities going on at the same time. If I don't like the ones that come with my operating system, there are dozens or even hundreds of add on window managers.
What do you think? Am I wrong here? What is so important about the Notes "Desktop" container anyway?
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