Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Will the book Lotus Notes Developers Toolbox be something you want to add to your toolbox?


By Mick Moignard

When I saw this new book being advertised, I considered buying a copy. I don't normally buy Lotus Notes books, but Lotus Notes Developers Toolbox: Tips for Rapid and Successful Deployment by Mark Elliott. The book's under the IBM Press imprint of Pearson Education, and it sounded right up my street.

"...Might make my Rapid and Successful Deployment more rapid and more successful."

So when IBM Press contacted me to offer a review copy, I wasn't going to turn them down. And quite soon after, 1070 grams (that's a little over 2 pounds for you Americans) of the $54.99 book landed on my doorstep. No, actually it arrived at my office reception, but you get the idea. This is a big book, 700 pages in all. And it comes with the promise of Web-based downloads, and time-limited access to the content online at Safari.

Being in the middle of a large and complex Notes application -- 100,000+ lines of LotusScript -- I was looking forward to what I could get from this book that might make my Rapid and Successful Deployment more rapid and more successful. I was already salivating with the expectation that I, someone with pretty extensive development experience with Notes, would gain some really valuable best practice tips.

So as soon as I could, I started to dig in to it. Pretty soon I went back to the start, and looked at the description of the intended audience. It says that it is "intended for any reader who supports a Lotus Notes database application", and that readers should have "a general understanding of and exposure to application development".

Mark says that his approach is to "provide...the ingredients and the recipes to build the most common types of Lotus Notes applications". I'm afraid that I started to feel a bit let down. It didn't seem that my vision going to be met, but maybe I'm not really Mark's expected audience. So I tried to place myself in the correct shoes and start again.

The early chapters

The book is really divided into a number of sections, though these are not in the contents as such. Chapters 1 through 6 explain what Notes is, how to install Designer, how to navigate around it, and then explains Domino design elements, Formula language and LotusScript. Now these sections are fine for a book that's aimed at people who've never seen Designer before, but for most of the target audience, people who have the basics of Notes development, this is a bit superfluous.