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Creating new kinds of content for the full Notes 8.x client -- what I struggle with

By Andrew Pollack on 11/06/2008 at 01:27 PM EST

Notes 8.x gives us this rich platform to work with as developers. There's this ability to do stuff at the GUI layer, to hook into the framework itself and do ....stuff. So why aren't we seeing more stuff being done beyond the "example" level of complexity? To me, as I try to get my head around building for this environment there are four challenges. Three are technical. I'm not going to attempt to answer these here. I just want to start by identifying what I see as the challenges that need to be address by documentation, & tools. I see real opportunity here for someone to create a designer suite targeted to this. Team Studio?

Most of the introductory "What is it" kind of information about building composite applications was pushed out too early. It was pushed out before there were any tools at all to actually build anything. Presumably, with 8.x progressing and 8.5 due out soon, these tools are starting to become more realistic.

The first problem is just simply time. Dealing with each of the three technical areas is going to take solid blocks of real concentration and work. I don't know about you, but I've found it isn't so easy to set aside this time lately.

From a technical perspective, I see these as the basic challenge areas:

1. What am I hooking into, and where? There's this whole Eclipse framework model but finding your way into it seems to present some challenges. This comes from a kind of mixed signal problem. When I use Notes 8, I don't want to think or hear about Eclipse. I'm not using Eclipse. I'm using Notes. Then suddenly you want me to design for something that seems to be entirely different. Must it specifically be a Lotus Composite Application, or will any Eclipse project work? When does my code run? Can I connect to it from inside plain old Notes applications? It just isn't obvious to me.

2. How can I deploy my project? Can I package it with an installer? Who needs to authorize it if I want to send it to an end user? If I want to sell desktop licenses at 30 dollars a pop, can corporate users buy and use them without getting the whole of their IT department involved?

3. What do I use to build the UI? What constrains it? How does it know how to fit into the rest of the Eclipse framework?

I think there's been a big disconnect between the people creating the Notes 8 framework and those of us who are used to doing plain old Notes development. There is an assumption that we'll understand where to start bridging the gap. I think that's a mistake. I think there needs to be time spent beginning with what you can use it for, moving through where to build things and how do they connect, and moving on to realistic deployment models. Don't worry too much about the internal code. For most of us, once we understand the event model, the hook points, and where the code goes, we'll figure out something cool to do with it.

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re: Creating new kinds of content for the full Notes 8.x client -- what I struggle withBy Carl Tyler on 11/06/2008 at 04:24 PM EST
Some of the things I find limiting is that Notes 8 feels like a mish mash of
technologies that aren't necessarily as tightly integrated as they should be.
inconsistencies in the UI between Java and Native notes, it's all very bizzaro

It should also be easy to track any Notes event, any mouse click things like
that, it isn't. For example it should be easy to add a listener for new mail
notification, but it isn't. Often the things I've wanted to do in a plug-in
have been related to something the end user is doing in Notes and those events
still seem hidden away somewhere.
re: Creating new kinds of content for the full Notes 8.x client -- what I struggle withBy Carl Tyler on 11/06/2008 at 04:26 PM EST
Also I think signing code should be possible with Notes IDs, so Notes IDs can
be trusted versus having to go out and buy a verisign code sign ID.
re: Creating new kinds of content for the full Notes 8.x client -- what I struggle withBy Charles Robinson on 11/06/2008 at 04:45 PM EST
I'm with you all the way. Do you really think the IBM/Lotus folks expected
traditional Notes/Domino developers to grok Expeditor development? These are
the same developers who have largely eschewed Java, why on Earth would
IBM/Lotus think by adding *more* layers that we would somehow find it easier?
re: Creating new kinds of content for the full Notes 8.x client -- what I struggle withBy Steve Castledine on 11/07/2008 at 04:27 AM EST
Totally in agreement - there's some thinking being done on how to improve this.
re: Creating new kinds of content for the full Notes 8.x client -- what I struggle withBy Peter Presnell on 11/07/2008 at 02:52 PM EST
I agree 100%. As a Notes developer my desire to know about Eclipse now is the
same as my need to know about C in the past -- ZERO%. I think the success of
Notes development can be linked to the ease of programming (@Commands and
LotusScript) and ease of deployment (a single NSF container). Changing that
could leave a great many Notes "developers" behind and hence disenfranchised.
I would like to see a much greater emphasis on extending the Notes application
development capabilities without the need to interact directly with Eclipse
and/or Expeditor. If Notes developers truly have a preference for these types
of complexities we would already be seeing a lot more people developing Notes
applications in Java. Java is not new to Notes.
re: Creating new kinds of content for the full Notes 8.x client -- what I struggle withBy Bernard Devlin on 11/19/2008 at 10:23 AM EST
It was knowing that the eclipse base was the only way that would enable me to
produce the kinds of cross-platform clientside UIs that led me to give up Notes
development completely. I've been building my own client side toolkit
instead. I programmed in Java for some years, and it's a long rocky road to
hell, and I'll only use it if I have absolutely no alternative.

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