Feb 12

Customers are so pleased about XPages! Thanks, IBM for finally providing us with a good solution for web development!

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

I’m just on the way back from some days at a new customer. My task was to help the customer evaluating if our product “YouAtNotes Workflow” is a better solution than the product they are currently using (and yes, it is the better solution 🙂 ).

The customer wants to focus on web based workflow applications, based on Domino. At the moment, the customer is on Domino 7. And while we discussed web development on Domino 7, I thought to myself “boy, should we really develop all that stuff with classic Domino web development…?”. And since I already did some stuff with XPages, I only needed a fraction of a second to get to the conclusion “No! No classic Domino web development anymore. Never ever!”.

So I asked them if they heard about XPages yet. They did not. We agreed to use some time on the last day of my visit to have a look at the XPages, and in the meantime we focused on evaluating the Workflow questions.

Well then, yesterday evening in the hotel I prepared some XPages demos, and today I showed them. And I explained what’s going on behind the scenes and how XPages are developed with Designer 8.5.

And yes, the people were well trained developers for Notes and other platforms.

Guess what… they were simply blown away. It was like finally seeing the light after an age of darkness and misery.  

They were so frustrated about the development environment from the stoneage (also known als Domino Designer 7), and how bad web development was supported. And now with XPages, they see that Domino finally envolves in a good direction. That finally there is new and good stuff for developers. And that finally they don’t need to shame for developing on Domino.. that it even looks like it may be fun and productive to do web development with Domino.They got the feeling that having Domino is not that bad after all.

This is only one example of a customer (about 2000 employees), but shows that it was really, really overdue to do something for developers. So, keep going IBM! Domino is on the right track! Don’t stop making Domino a kick-ass development platform again.

Jan 26

A tough fight: upgrading to 8.5 on a linux machine – installer broke with ‘JVM not found’

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

Since we want to use XPages for a customer application we were in the need to upgrade on of our internet servers from 8.0.1 to 8.5. Problem was: the Linux operating system (Suse Enterprise Server 9) is not supported for 8.5 (yeah, I know, it’s not supported for 8.0.1 either…).

But since 8.0.1 ran fine for a long time on that machine, I was willing to take the risk and just try – keeping in mind that going back to 8.0.1 is always a good option.

So I extracted the Linux package for 8.5 and ran ./install. That broke after the message “preparing java virtual machine” and some dots following that message. No error message, the installed just terminated. This problem does not frighten me anymore since I got that on some other machines before. Solution is simple: run the setup.jar (located in the tools directory) directly: “java -jar setup.jar -console”.

Oh oh…. mmmh… why does the shell says something about “java not found”….? Ok, no java installed on the machine yet. No problem: downloaded JVM 1.6 from sun, installed it and tried again.

Then the installer started and I went through all questions until the progress bar came up… then the installer broke again. This time with the message “JVM not found.”

Then the fight began… and it was a tough one… I tried a lot of things without luck… until I found a note from IBM describing a similar problem on Solaris. Their advice was: downgrade to Java 1.4. Eventually I managed to download an old 1.4.18 JVM from sun, installed it and – voilá – the installer ran fine!

After that I ran Domino and… it started without crash, without any problem! Lucky boy I am 🙂

So, don’t try this at home, kids. Always use supported operating systems (as we do on machines of our customers). But for testing or internal purposes I can report that 8.5 runs on Suse SLES 9.

Jan 21

View index refresh setting: manual or automatic? It is not clear what does ‘automatic’ really does – do you know it?

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

The Designer help says regarding the view index refresh setting:

Updates the view whether or not users ever open the database. With this option, views open more quickly.

The Domino Wiki says:

2. Automatic views will be forced to be up-to-date when opened. When a user opens a database, and documents have been modified since the view was last updated, the view will be updated (refreshed), and the client must wait until the view is updated before the database will open.

I understand the designer help so that a view with “automatic” setting are updated regardless if a user every opens it or not. That means, the server does the work.
On the other hand, the Wiki says, that the client updates such a view, so that when a client opens the view there is a delay.

The update task on the domino server updates view indexes, too. But when does it do that? I understand that the update task has a work queue, and if the queue exceeds some length then a view will be updated.

But what does that mean?

If I set all views in a complex application to “manual”, then the views open very quickly because the client does not need to do updates. The cost is that the client may see old data, until the user hits F9. Or until the update task did his work.

If I set all views to “automatic”, then the client does view updates for changes since the last update. So if the update task ran one second ago, the view opens quickly. If the update task ran 10 minutes ago, the view may take time to open.

Is that correct?

Does that mean that new hidden views, which don’t have an index yet and are set to manual, are never build by the update task? If so, that would mean that hidden views should always be set to ‘automatic’, is that true?

And if we say that ‘manual’ views are updated by the update task, what is if the database is local (offline)? Are views updated there when the user doesn’t hit F9 from time to time? If not, does that mean the user has to press STRG+SHIFT+F9 to update all hidden views, too?

I’m in Domino development for many, many years now… but currently I’m not sure what the best approach is for complex applications wich much data.

How do you work? Do you set all visible views to manual, and all lookup views to automatic?

Jan 19

XPages in Notes Client available in 8.5.1 – what does that mean?

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

According to this post from David IBM confirmed that XPages will be available in the Notes Client starting with 8.5.1.

If this is true, and if this includes replicating and offline use, then…. then… mmmh…. then…. damn, there is no suitable wording for that…. “beyond exitement” could express what I think about that.

Having XPages in the Notes client would mean two things:

1.) Finally, one development for Web and Notes.

2.) Far more possibilities to build a good and modern user interface in Notes, far less restrictions.

I am not celebrating yet. I will have to see and work with that myself.

Jan 19

Sascha ist nun zertifizierter, erfahrener Linux Spezialist!

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

Ein Linux Spezialist war Sascha schon lange. Nun aber gibt es das auch schriftlich:

Unser Mitarbeiter Sascha Brechmann hat die LPIC2 Zertifzierung abgeschlossen und hat damit eine hohe Stufe der LPIC Zertifzierungen erreicht.

Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Sascha!

Zur Erklärung, was LPIC ist, hier ein Zitat aus der Wikipedia:

Das Linux Professional Institute (LPI) gilt als weltweit führendes professionelles Zertifizierungsprogramm der Linux-Gemeinschaft. Das LPI entwickelt professionelle Zertifizierungen für das Betriebssystem GNU/Linux, unabhängig von Software- oder Schulungsanbietern (also weitgehend distributionsunabhängig).

Jan 12

Bugs with Composite Applications – the saga continues with Notes 8.5

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

You may have read my post about bugs and problems with composite applications in Notes 8. I got many responses to it and I had many talks with IBMers about it.

So the good news here is: IBM listens and people were very eager to help. Yesterday I tried to continue some work with Composite Apps for our upcoming YouAtNotes CRM release. And boy, was I frustrated. Again 🙁

My problem yesterday was that I did some work with sidebar components on my iMac (with Domino Designer in a VM) at home some days ago, I replicated the changes to our office server. Yesterday I replicated the changes to my Notebook and wanted to continue the work.
But as I opened the database, the sidebar components were displayed but didn’t do anything at all. Checking the CAE shows that the wiring from a view to the sidebar components was simply GONE. Sigh. So I recreated the wires, but when saving the wiring editor I just got a message that a java null pointer exception occured. Doublesigh.

So that means: when doing wiring work locally on machine A, replicate it to a server, replicate it to machine B, chances are good that the wires are gone. And you even cannot recreate them.

I had to cut & paste the wiring properties and the composite application XML in the database on my iMac (so that they have a newer date than my changes on the Notebook) and replicate them again to the server. Today I opened the application on the server and the wires were ok. I replicated them again to the Notebook, and again there the wires are not present.

I even removed the replica and created a new one – no effect. Yes, when updating to Notes 8.5 from 8.0.2 I removed the data/workspace directory completely.

And yes, I deleted the whole composite app (that means the composite application XML and the wiring properties) from the database and recreated them from scratch after I installed Notes 8.5.

My advice to you: if you want to develop composite apps, do it on the server. Don’t do it locally.

So, here is an update of my problems and what their status are now with Notes 8.5:

New on the list:

a.) Issues with wires for sidebar components when developing locally on machine A, replicating to server, replicating to machine B, working locally on machine B – as described above.
I doubt that the problem is really the replication, I think that the wires are cached somewhere and that Notes uses the cached wires by mistake. I will update this post when I found out more.

UDPATE 29th Jan: this has SPR RHOD7M5EEB, I will create a PMR too to try to get a Hotfix.

b.) I have one CA page with 9 components where 7 components are ordered in tabs. When adding a component to the tabs, it is always placed at the end of the tabs. Even when I move it between other tabs and save the CA, it is still placed at the end of the tabs. The only solution is to remove other components and add them again.

c) Sidebar components are destroying the order in the sidebar when focus changes from CA to another app and back to the CA. This has SPR MQRO7NAC9Q.

Bugs from 8.0.2 and their status in 8.5:

1.) The size of string data for pushing HTML to the managed browser component is limited. That forced me to implement a workaround so that HTML data is written to a temporary file, and instead of pushing HTML to the browser I have to push the URL to that file to the browser.
-> Problem still exists in Notes 8.5, I reported that to as PMR to IBM and they confirmed it is a bug.

2.) PIM components do not work when they are on a CA page which is opened by using a frameset: create a page in the CA editor, put for example a mail view on it, create a frameset in the notes application, connect the frameset with that page, open the frameset and the mail view does not display anything anymore. Or, in 8.5, it displays a view from the notes application, not from your mailfile. There is no usable workaround for that yet.
-> Problem still exists in Notes 8.5, reported as PMR and confirmed, too. Recommended workaround is to use a frameset with the mail inbox inside it. I did not tested that yet.

3.) Caching issues: sometimes after creating new wiring properties, I have to restart Notes so that I can use the properties in the CAE.
-> Problem still exists in Notes 8.5.

4.) Sometimes a component on a CA page is displayed without any properties in the wiring editor. After closing and re-opening the wiring they are displayed ok.
-> Didn’t occured in Notes 8.5 yet.

5.) Using a NSF component with a computed URL: here I compute a Notes URL in a QueryOpen event, save that to a profile document and use that with a @GetProfileField() formula in the com.ibm.notes.ComputedNotesURL property of the component. This works most of the times, but not always. Sometimes a change in the URL is not honored by the component, I need to open the page in the CAE to have the component used the new URL.
And yes, I set com.ibm.notes.ProcessOnlyOnUpdate=false.

-> Seems to be fixed in 8.5

6.) Layout changes are not saved when using the “opening notes documents on pages” feature: first of all, the Wiki page where this feature is explained misses the important information that it is neccessary to have the com.ibm.rcp.useClonePages=true property set in the application properties.
Then I found that when I allow the user to move components on the page around, the changed layout is not saved. So when the user opens the page again, the default layout is used. On other CA pages the layout is saved fine.

-> Problem still exists in 8.5.

UPDATE 30th jan 09: this has SPR CYDG7N3AR2.

7.) PropertyBroker issues when using the “opening notes documents on pages” feature: in those kind of CA pages it is not possible to publish a property via PropertyBroker in the queryOpen or postOpen event of the opened Notes document. The script runs, but the property does not get to the wired component. On the other hand, the same script works fine when placed on a button which is clicked after the document is opened and the CA page is displayed.

-> Problem still exists in 8.5. But in 8.5 a workaround works: put another form on the CA page which publishes data via PropertyBroker in the PostOpen event.

UPDATE 30th jan 09: this has SPR
CYDG7N39XR and RHOD7M6EHY. Development believes this is solved by adding the page property com.ibm.notes.enable.preferences = true. I didn’t tested that yet.

8.) When the composite application XML design element has an alias (which is has by default when creating a new, blank composite application), you cannot connect a frameset to a CA page. You have to remove the alias.

-> Problem is confirmed as bug and still exists in Notes 8.5, but in 8.5 a new composite application design element is now created without alias, so that the problem does not occur to the developer until he manually sets an alias.

9.) There is no way to give a component on a CA page a fixed height or width, you always have to use relative layouts. This is bad for example if you have a search bar at the top and some view below it, then you want that the search bar has always a fixed height. But there is no way to do that. So you design your CA page on a big screen, and when the customer opens it on a small screen the layout is broken.
-> Problem is confirmed and still exists in Notes 8.5, but it’s not a problem of the Notes development team. It’s an issue of the underlying Eclipse platform, and the Eclipse project is aware of it. If and when this can be solved is unknown.

10.) When opening wiring from the CA editor and there are wires for missing properties, the bad wires are reported and you have a button to delete those wires. But you can click that button as often as you wish, the wires are not being deleted. You have to delete the whole CA page and re-create it.
-> not tested in 8.5 yet.

Overall impression in 8.5:

The composite application editor has clearly improved in terms of usability and look & feel. And some stuff (like using the com.ibm.notes.ComputedNotesURL) feels stable now. On the other hand, due to issues like a) I don’t trust the whole composite application stuff. I believe if we would roll that out to all our customers we were in severe trouble.

Therefore, we will declare all composite application features as “Beta” and unlock them only for one customer after the other, and everytime under heavy control of our support staff.

Jan 09

Welche Software kann IBM machen, die *würdig* ist, auf einem Mac zu laufen?

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

IBM hat gerade Lotus Notes 8.5 auf der Macworld vorgestellt. Das ist sehr bemerkenswert, denn der Mac war bisher kein gutes Terrain für Lotus Notes: Mac User sind es gewohnt, wirklich gute Software zu verwenden. “Gut” vor allem im Sinne von “elegant”, “einfach begreifbar”, “macht einfach was es soll”. Und zu den Zeiten des letzten Notes Clients für Mac (Version 7irgendwas glaub ich), erfüllte Notes gerade aus Sicht der Mac User diese Kriterien nicht.

Um es auf den Punkt zu bringen: Mac User denken entweder, Lotus Notes ist schon lange ausgestorben oder dass Lotus Notes das absolut Böse sei (vielleicht sogar noch vor Microsoft).

Aber die Zeiten ändern sich:

  • Notes 8 bringt wesentliche Verbesserungen in der Benutzeroberfläche.
  • Apple möchte mehr und mehr in den Unternehmensmarkt vordringen.
  • Microsoft lässt Apple den Platz dafür, da Vista kaum akzeptiert wird.
  • IBM erkennt, dass Apple tatsächlich steigenden Erfolg im Unternehmensmarkt hat oder denkt zumindest, dass Apple in Zukunft dort mehr Erfolg haben wird.
  • Daher sprechen IBM und Apple miteinander.

Und heraus kommt dabei unter anderem Notes 8.5 für Mac OS X. Und um zu unterstreichen, wie ernst es IBM mit dem Mac Engagement meint, war IBM nun auf der Macworld präsent.

Luis Benitez von IBM war einer der Leute, die auf der Macworld am Stand arbeiteten.
Und er hat darüber geschrieben. Und man sieht, dass IBM noch eine Menge Arbeit hat, um die Meinung der Mac User auf aktuelle Tatsachen anzupassen… hier einige Zitate von Mac Usern am IBM Stand auf der Macworld:

  • “Why is IBM here?” (Warum ist IBM hier?)
  • “I still don’t see why IBM is here?” (Versteh ich immer noch noch nicht, warum ist IBM hier?)
  • “What kind of software does IBM make that’s worthy of the Mac?” (Was kann IBM schon für Software machen die würdig ist, auf dem Mac zu laufen?)
  • “Didn’t Lotus go bankrupt 10 years ago?” (Lotus ging doch vor 10 Jahren pleite…?”)

Aber er berichtet auch, dass die Leute dort schon interessiert und erstaunt waren, wie Lotus Notes mittlerweile aussieht und wie gut es auf dem Mac läuft. Und das kann ich selbst nur bestätigen – Lotus Notes auf dem Mac unter OS X läuft wirklich gut und ist viel mehr “Mac like” als Notes 6 oder 7.

Natürlich werden Mac Fanatiker beliebig viele Dinge zum mäkeln finden. Aber Tatsache ist: mit Notes 8.5 kann man Mac Computer endlich mit professionellem, unternehmensweiten Messaging und Collaboration Diensten ausstatten (sprich: in die Lotus Notes/Domino Infrastruktur integrieren).

Und selbst wenn ein Unternehmen nur Mac Rechner hat und Windows nirgends sehen möchte, ist das kein Problem: einen Domino Server unter Linux installieren und auf den Macs Lotus Notes 8.5 installieren, und schon können alle Mitarbeiter all die Vorteile von Lotus Notes, Sametime, Connections etc. nutzen.

Ach ja, und nebenbei: natürlich stehen wir gerne für Beratung und Support so einer Lösung zur Verfügung 🙂

Posted in Mac
Jan 08

Killer feature: database wide search & replace in Designer 8.5

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

Here is a killer feature why you should upgrade to Domino 8.5 Designer: database wide search & replace.
Choose Search -> Search… select a database or even a whole working set, give the search text and click “replace”.
Then the one database or all the databases in your working set are being searched for that text, and in the result dialog you can click “preview” and get his:

So, not only a simple search & replace, but you can even preview the changes. It that cool or what?

Tipp: you can specify “*.lss” in the search dialog to let Designer only search in LotusScript stuff.

Disclaimer: yes, I know, Eclipse developers are rolling on the floor, laughing when reading that we Domino developers see this feature as a sensation… but nevertheless, this shows moving Designer to Eclipse to have those kind of features is a huge improvement.

Jan 07

Domino 8.5 spart bares Geld – hier erste Testergebnisse

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

Wie bereits in englisch berichtet, haben wir auf einem internen Domino Cluster auf die neue Version 8.5 aktualisiert.

Domino 8.5 bringt die neue Funktion “Domino Attachment Store” (DOAS) mit. Diese sorgt dafür, dass Dateianhänge in E-Mails und anderen Notes-Dokumenten nur genau einmal tatsächlich gespeichert werden.

Wir haben einen ersten Test gemacht und DOAS bei unseren E-Mail Anwendungen, dem E-Mail Archiv und einige Anwendungen aktiviert.
Die Größe der tatsächlichen NSF Datenbanken schrumpft dabei teilweise dramatisch: in einer CRM Anwendung beispielsweise von 7,1GN auf 1,9GB:

Das kommt vor allem daher, dass die Anhänge aus der NSF herausgelöst und getrennt gespeichert werden. Wir haben daher mal einen schnellen Test gemacht und folgendes gezählt:

– Die logische Größe der Datenbanken beträgt: 15,8GB
– Die tatsächliche, auf dem Datenträger belegte Größe der NSF Datenbanken: 5,92GB
– Der DAOS Speicher mit den Anhängen ist 6,1GB groß

Das summiert sich also auf 15,8GB logische Größe gegen 12,1GB tatsächlich auf dem Datenträger belegten Platz. In anderen Worten: 23% Speicherplatz gespart. Einfach so. Nur durch Aktualisierung auf Domino 8.5.
Und je größer Ihr Unternehmen ist und je mehr Benutzer Sie haben, desto größer werden die Einsparungen sein.

Unsere Meinung: alleine die DAOS Funktionalität rechtfertigt eine Aktualisierung auf Domino 8.5. Im Klartext bedeutet das: mit Domino 8.5 sparen Sie massiv Speicherplatz und damit Geld, das sonst für den Ausbau des Speichersystems benötigt würde.

Jan 07

Domino 8.5 – first space saving results are in

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

We deployed Domino 8.5 on our internal cluster servers. On one server, we activated DAOS for all mail and archive databases and for some applications.

The reduction in the pure NSF database size is pretty impressive: in one application from 7,1GB to 1,9GB:

I measured the overall saving: sum of the logical size of all databases using DAOS against their physical size plus the size of the DAOS directory:

– Logical size: 15,8GB
– Physical size of the NSFs: 5,92GB
– Size of DAOS directory: 6,1GB

That sums up in 15,8GB logical size against 12,1GB really needed physical storage. Or in other words. about 23% space saved.
The savings will be much, much more on bigger organizations with more users and mail databases.

So, our opinion is: just the DAOS alone is reason enough for everyone to upgrade to 8.5! It’s a killer feature!