Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lotusphere 2012: The Notes client and the new Notes browser plugin


By Mick Moignard

Last week, we talked about Notes, Domino, and Project Vulcan convergence. This week, it's the Notes client and the Notes browser plugin.

Even from the Notes client-only perspective, though IBM say that 8.5.4 isn't a feature release, in fact there are some small features that will appear.

How about URLs being clickable when in edit mode? Scrolling the monthly calendar week by week rather than month-by-month, so that you can have the last two weeks of January and the first two of February on the same screen at a time? Better quick-search, that allows you to select a column to so the search in? A categorised inbox that groups mail items by day? Small, but they'll all be useful, and could be reviewed in the User Experience lab.

There's a couple of larger features coming, too. The first is to be a new admin tool to do all the database maintenance tasks in one place: index upgrades, fixups, compacts, multihreaded to improve throughput, add timeboxing to help prevent overruns, with the idea that all databases get more regular attention, and with less likelihood that databases get missed.

There's an intention that this tool will also enable some operations to be moved to a lower priority if resources are stretched. I know that recent tools such as DAOS have helped reduce server maintenance windows tremendously already (reductions in the size of NSF files means that housekeeping and backups take a lot less time) but I can't help but think that such a tool will be very well received.

The other new feature was a real surprise, and one that will have dramatic impact on the Notes client. It's the provision of a Browser Plugin for Notes, what's currently called the Application Player for Windows. This is a browser plugin, demonstrated running in Firefox, which offers the core application run-time functions of the Notes client.

This means that you run Notes applications in the browser, but as Notes applications, code and UI unchanged. The plugin is the (cut down) Notes client, with an ID File provided from the Vault, using port 1352 to access the server, so most things should work. Limitations are that it can't run Java, so no local Java agents. LotusScript is OK, both as local agents and as part of the UI operations.

It also won't support mail, the view being that if you are in a browser, you'll be using iNotes for that. I can understand that restriction, in that it means that they don't have to test a very complex application, but the mail restriction itself may actually be that because Java doesn't work, so the Java-faced mail template functions won't work. The knock-on from that could then be that no other Java-faced application will work either, nor would any composite apps -- though given that I've not seen any of these in the wild, that may not be much of an issue.