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Hint: It isn't all about the UI features. XPages are not a secret any more, but I think you'll find a perspective here that you may not get elsewhere.
Writing anything in conjunction with the IBM Lotus people can be a real exercise in frustration. This is the third or fourth time I've done it, and will likely be the last attempt.
Back in mid 2007 as part of a design review team I was given the opportunity to see XPages for the first time. There is a core functionality here that is very important for Domino developers and hopefully will also be important to Notes developers really soon. I asked the development team which was at that point led by Martha Hoyt if I could work with them to do a preview article about them to help explain some of the important but esoteric benefits in advance of Lotusphere 2008. As this information was entirely restricted by NDA agreements, I couldn't just go off and write my own without permission. I don't always agree with Martha, but I can say she's always been pretty willing to look at ideas like this and get them approved and moving. This was no exception.
It took some convincing, but Martha lined up the appropriate people and by November everyone was all on board. I'd referenced the success of the Notes in Eclipse presentation I gave in 2004 (when it was called IWCT-RE -- IBM Workplace Client Technology, Rich Edition) under a similar agreement and how well it turned out.
The goal in this case, was to get the information out to help build buzz around the feature and seed the OGS crowd with people who already understood some of the benefit. This was to help with the immediate acceptance as more information came out later in the week. More important, it would let the all important analysts in the front hear some excitement about this obscure feature so that they'd work to find out more. That's how they work.
Unfortunately, by the time the article was ready, Martha had moved to another group and I was now working with Mark Jordain. The original permission to publish seemed to go away, and I'm told Kevin Cavanaugh decided that releasing it before the show would somehow remove the excitement of the announcement at the OGS. I like Kevin and he's always been straight up with me in the past so I was a bit surprised and disappointed by the decision -- but hey, he's running the show and isn't the least bit obligated to do anything just to make me happy.
Question: did you guys catch the excitement? They gave Maureen a whole 4 minutes to show everything her team had done for the last year on the most critical part of the entire product line. I'm relieved we didn't eat into that excitement or there may have been only 2 minutes worth of things to talk about.
Now we get to the final straw, and one that has pretty thoroughly ticked me off. On January 21st -- once Lotusphere had started -- Mark sent me a note telling me that now the Dev Works team had decided to reject the article because it didn't contain pretty screen shots or code examples. The fact that the article was written as a preview before such code and screen shots could have existed seem to not even cross their tiny little editorial minds.
The only good news is that now I do have permission to self publish what I'd written. It still doesn't contain pretty pictures but I think most of you are smart enough to gain value from it anyway -- even if it is not good enough for the paragon of Pulitzer prize quality journalism that is the hallmark of the devworks editors. Unlike other content you may have found there, this article is a quick read and carries a straightforward explanation of why this new feature will help you.
As I've said, this is the third of fourth time I've done some writing that had to go through Lotus to get published and will likely be the last attempt. Each time the rules have changed half way through the process. Each time I've had to deal with people who think they're editing for The Times. Each time I've come out the other end feeling like the goals I had when I started just weren't met.
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