Kickoff: what’s to be expected with Lotus Notes and Domino in 2011?

Note: this post has been migrated from another blog. Some links may be broken.

First of all, happy new year to you all. And much fun at Lotusphere, I’ll miss it – be sure to visit my collegues Walfred and Michael at the YouAtNotes booth in the exhibition hall!

So, a new year, a fresh start – what do I expect for Lotus Notes and Domino in 2011? What are my wishes? Let’s see:

First the easy part
: XPages. This technology is getting more and more important, and that’s even more true in 2011. Any Notes developer who does not invest into XPages knowledge will be caught in legacy (that means: old school) Notes application development. There will be no movement in the classic Notes development area, every new feature will be in the XPages area. Hate or love it.

It’s not hard to believe that Notes 9 will focus very very much on apps developed with XPages, and a lot of the new UI will be created with XPages. The boundaries between the fat client and the browser will blur, but I’m very sure there still WILL be a lot of differences between both clients.

Replication is for sure one of them. It’s still a long way to teach a browser the replication features of Notes, and I don’t think we will see that in 2011.

RichText editing is another issue
. The RichText editor in the browser will improve very much in 2011, but it still will not be as good as in Notes. For example, navigating by keyboard in the RichText will still be a problem (stuff like CMD+LEFT jumps to the first char of the current line, pageup/pagedown and so on). Or things like highlighting and sections… I’m sure we will see some of there features in the browser RichText editor in 2011, but not all of them.

I really would like to see a much lighter Notes clien
t which gets rid of some legacy stuff, I’m not sure how many clients really need compatibility to Notes 3 apps in 2011… despite all the progress IBM made with the Eclipse client, and while it’s “fast enough”, it still feels fat, and there are still times when the client is blocked, the harddisk works like crazy and I wonder what the hell the client is doing.

Nevertheless, I think it’s a long way until we see some kind of “XPages only client”, and I’m pretty sure this will not happen in 2011. Therefore, I just hope for more performance improvements.

I really like the general direction IBM is going
by concentrating on XPages: new developers are able to learn XPages-Notes-Development fast, and it feels like a modern technology which is fun to work with. And it allows to leave the classic Notes development behind in some point in the future.
Furthermore, it motivates (or forces) every Notes developer to learn common stuff like JavaScript, CSS and even Java. That’s good, because it enables a developer to get out of the “weird Notes development cage”.
And finally, XPages apps are FAST and nice looking, and they can change the (bad) image Notes and Domino might have in a company.

So in a Nutshell: 2011 will bring a lot more XPages features and improvements, and Notes 9 will start to blur the boundaries between fat client and the browser.

What’s about Project Vulcan?
Because it’s not a product but a vision, and for me it’s a lot of talk until I see real stuff in a real product. Until then I’ll simply wait until I write about it.

Regarding Domino Designer: it simply gets better and better and better with every release. Maureen and her team did a very good job in modernizing Domino Designer! And they keep going, we will see a lot small and big improvements in 2011.
As of Domino Designer 8.5.2 with the SVN plugin, it’s a good and productive development environment, and we don’t need to be ashamed of it anymore.

Sure, there is still a lot of room for improvement (for example, the JavaScript editors are ok, but not good), but there no blockers anymore, and it is being worked on. So I assume at the end of 2011 with have a Domino Designer which is able to compete with most other modern development environments. Remember how Domino Designer looked like two or three years ago and you see how much effort IBM invested in this area.

And the Domino Server? Same as with Domino Designer, it’s getting better and better with every release! We get new great features, without the need for more hardware. How great is that? What other server software do you know which does not need a better hardware with each release?
I’m sure the Domino team will continue to add new features in 2011, but to be honest, I don’t know what the big ones might be, since I’m very happy with Domino as it is today (but in the end, I’m a developer, not an administrator, so my view is somewhat restricted).

Now to the core NSF database technology:
that’s my biggest painpoint for the near future, because I don’t see any real progress here. Yes, the NSF database is a very good No-SQL database, and it has a lot of great features. Nevertheless, we didn’t see any real progress here for years:

  • We really need old-school views to access data. What about dynamic queries?
  • The fulltext engine mostly delivers results fast, but not always.
  • When we want to select more than 5000 documents, we need a view or the slow Therefore, creating reports for more than 5000 documents is still a pain.
  • 32K problem anyone? Having such a limitation is so 1980….
  • Laptops with replicas of some big Notes applications (2 GBs or more) have still problems with a lot of disk I/O, which slows things down a lot.

and so on. I understand that IBM does not want to improve NSF too much so it does not start to compete with “real” SQL databases like DB2, but while IBM modernizes Notes, Domino Designer and the Domino Server I really would love to see at least some progress in the NSF technology, too.

Lotus Live, Quickr, Connections
and so on: that are all good products as far as I can see it. I don’t know that 2011 will bring for them, my only concern is that IBM might try to rip features off Notes and Domino to try to sell these add-on products. And that would simply wrong.

We all remember the times where Websphere should be the solution for everything, and where customers should move applications from Notes to Websphere. That strategy failed completely, since Websphere is big and overengineered and needs so much more manpower and hardware. I really hope IBM does not try to make the same mistake again.

The IBM executives might like it or not
: Lotus Notes and Domino is a very good solution for collaboration and application development for companies of all sizes. It’s easy to manage, and one gets fast results. This is even more true with the new XPages technology. Once a customer gets that, they like it and don’t see any reason to move to another platform.
The “once a customer gets that” is the hard part here – which could be solved with good marketing. Since we talk about IBM here, this is just wishful thinking.

Finally, some thoughs about the cloud: sure, cloud offerings will attract more customers in 2011. But is the cloud the solution to everything? Is the cloud THE final solution for IT problems?
I do not think so. There are scenarios where putting stuff in the cloud is fine, but at least here in Germany there are a lot concerns regarding putting business data and services in the cloud, and I have my concerns, too.

So, this blog post got longer than planned 🙂 I wish you a healthy and successfull 2011, and I wish us all good business with Lotus Notes and Domino!

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