Ben Langhinrichs

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November, 2019
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Tue 22 Oct 2019, 09:39 AM
I must admit, there are times when I obsess too much about obscure little bugs in features that most people don't use. I own that. But then there are times when issues comes up that are absolutely standard business practice that are still FUBAR, and that makes me angry.
 
HCL, and IBM before it, are businesses. Corporations. They are supposed to understand basic business practices, even if they can't always relate to developers or ISVs or whatever. I could make a top ten list of Stuff Business People Use, and the list itself would include lists. Because business people like:
 
  1. Lists, and those lists often include:
    • Bullet items
    • More bullets
    • So many bullet items, it makes your eyes bleed
  2. More lists with (you guessed it):
    • More frigging bullets
 
That is how the business world communicated in the 1980s, and it is how the business world communicates in 2019. 
 
So, I was hardly surprised when someone from HCL responded to a question in the beta forum using Lists and Bullets. But take a look at the red circles I added. See anything wrong with this (besides the fact that the table looks like it was created in 1997)?
 
 
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Why would the numbered list jump from 1 to 4? Even if the bullets were weirdly counted as numbered list items, it should jump to 5, but chances are excellent it was meant to jump to 2. Because I don't have access to the beta forum as a Notes database (sob!), I decided to reproduce this in 9.0.1 (my main development machine), and see if this was a real problem or something odd about how the HCL person created it.. It isn't an exact match because I don't know what they did about spacing or whatever. But still, it is a basic numbered list with a nested bullet list. No special indentation or anything.
 
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Then, I switched to my web browser and looked at the web version.
 
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Sure enough, the same exact issue. I was curious whether this is something our AppsFidelity product fixes, so I turned it on and looked at the same document.
 
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Of course it works. (In V11, as well. Oh, and 8.5.3, too.)
 
The question is, of the various rendering engines in Notes/Domino, how many do this right and how many do it wrong? If you migrate data out of Notes, will you screw up nested lists without realizing it? If you mail nested lists to your customers and tell them to look at item 6, will they realize you really mean the item now showing as 13? 
 
Of course, if you use the Midas products or AppsFidelity products or CoexLinks products, you can rest assured that your data will remain intact. Because after all, actual business people expect that.
 
 

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Wed 18 Sep 2019, 02:38 PM
Recently, I started a series about certain constraints on exporting or archiving Notes data to PDF. There has been a lot of chatter recently about exporting to PDF, a feature that may be supported natively in HCL Notes V11, and that is offered as an archiving solution by some consultants and vendors. 
 
The PDF format itself is great for certain use cases, but the devil is often in the details. In this case, there are a few details to notice with a document based on a form. A couple are obvious, while another is less obvious. I should note that the date format decision is configurable.
 
This is the fifth of eight primary issues. When I started the series, I intended to do ten, but decided to combine a few. Just as many issues, but not as many posts so it doesn't get tedious. Depending on what vendor or driver you use, a few of these may have at least a partial solution, but they are good items to check when validating your approach. The table of contents of all issues will be at the bottom of this post.
 
 
5) Form data can be difficult to understand
 
Document based on a simple form (from our CRM database).
 
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PDF rendering, first without notation. See what issues you can find.
 
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Rendered by the Midas LSX to HTML. Compare to the Notes one above.
 
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PDF rendering, now with notations. Three different confusing items
 
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Table of Contents (will be updated as the blog series continues)
 
Want to try out our Midas LSX export for yourself? Simply fill out the online evaluation request, and we'll get you started. There's no cost to seeing it for yourself.
 

Copyright © 2019 Genii Software Ltd.

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Mon 16 Sep 2019, 03:22 PM
As folks like Mat Newman run around the globe signing up some new Notes/Domino customers and reinstating others, there is a recognition that Notes/Domino still has a lot to offer. While the promise of new features may encourage some, many simply want the same stability, reliability, and ease-of-development that we have all known for years (er, decades).
 
But while consistency is good in some areas, there are other areas that are consistent in unfortunate ways. One of those is mail rendering. Too often, people send off emails not realizing that they will arrive looking far different and sometimes containing less information that intended.
 
Here's an example from Singapore (okay, the original customer was from that region, but the identifying information has been altered). This was a real problem for a customer, which you could blame on the cringeworthy decision to use gradients except that many more people do than you might hope.
 
 
In Notes V11 Beta 1 (though it looks identical in earlier versions because rich text is nice like that):
 
 
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Sent to Gmail using the Notes 11 client (set to send as MIME):
 
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Sent to Gmail using the Notes 11 client (using CoexLinks Fidelity):
 
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Let me assure you, this is not a Notes 11 Beta problem, or at least no more than previous versions. I went back and testing to ND7...
 
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Amazing consistency. I checked these versions with CoexLinks Fidelity as well.
 
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I guess the message is, there are tons of great reasons to use Notes/Domino even in 2019, but don't expect everything to have improved. For that, you might need to call an ISV and make the great in Domino even greater.
 
 
 
Additional note:
In case you happen to know (someone always seems to) that Outlook 365 does not support gradients, this is how the CoexLinks Fidelity email looks in Outlook 365. Note that we degrade to the higher contrast color so that you will not miss any information.
 
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Mon 9 Sep 2019, 10:21 AM
Last week, I started a series about certain constraints on exporting or archiving Notes data to PDF. There has been a lot of chatter recently about exporting to PDF, a feature that may be supported natively in HCL Notes V11, and that is offered as an archiving solution by some consultants and vendors. 
 
The PDF format itself is great for certain use cases, but has certain limitations by its very nature, and other limitations due to expectations. As I said in my first post, PDF is seen as being a little like an image. This is wrong on two counts. The first is that the data is not pixel perfect by any means. The second is that in to the extent that it shows what is visible, an image does a lousy job of revealing what is not visible. In this example, I actually show three different instances of where data is lost or obscured in different ways. The first part has the missing data. With caption tables, the caption (or title) is missing, thus losing context. With sections that have not been expanded, the title is there but the contents are missing. And of course, all the attachments and doclinks are non-functional in any case. The second example has obscured data. With a numbered list in a table (not tweaked in any way to try to get this result), part of the numbers is missing. Please note, there examples are only representative of other missing or obscured data with PDF rendering.
 
This is the fourth of eight primary issues. Depending on what vendor or driver you use, a few of these may have at least a partial solution, but they are good items to check when validating your approach. The table of contents of all issues will be at the bottom of this post.
 
 
4a) Missing data
 
Portion of a rich text field with a caption table and a section.
 
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PDF rendering. Note that the caption titles are missing, and the section title is all that remains.
 
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Rendered by the Midas LSX to HTML. The first image shows as it opens, while in the second I have clicked on the Q3 caption and section title to show them open.
 
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After clicking the Q3 caption and section title (both are clickable with our HTML rendering).
 
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4b) Obscured data
 
Portion of a rich text field with a numbered list inside a table (same wide table as before, though I don't show as much).
 
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PDF rendering. Note that the second page looks like it starts a new numbered list, but is really number 11. I also noted the left data cut off as shown in previous post.
 
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Rendered by the Midas LSX to HTML. 
 
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Table of Contents (will be updated as the blog series continues)
 
Want to try out our Midas LSX export for yourself? Simply fill out the online evaluation request, and we'll get you started. There's no cost to seeing it for yourself.
 

Copyright © 2019 Genii Software Ltd.

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Fri 6 Sep 2019, 11:53 AM
A couple of days ago, I started a series about certain constraints on exporting or archiving Notes data to PDF. There has been more chatter recently about exporting to PDF, a feature that may be supported natively in HCL Notes V11, and that is offered as an archiving solution by some consultants and vendors. 
 
The PDF format itself is great for certain use cases, but has certain limitations by its very nature. One of those is that It is page based, and pages are defined with set heights and widths that don't easily accommodate the different screen sizes and orientations of the modern world. Worse, pages have to cut off sometimes, which means large amounts of data may be lost completely.
 
This is the third of eight primary issues. Depending on what vendor or driver you use, a few of these may have at least a partial solution, but they are good items to check when validating your approach. The table of contents of all issues will be at the bottom of this post.
 
 
 
3) Wide tables or table cells may be cut off and all data to the right lost
 
Original Notes rich text field. This is based on a customer I am working with right now, but wide tables are quite frequent in large complex forms. This table is so wide, I had to take two screen shots, but in Notes, I could simply scroll horizontally to see it all.
 
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PDF rendering. There is no horizontal scroll bar, and the data to the left of the page is simply cut off
 
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Rendered by the Midas LSX to HTML. The text flows down in the table because of how the margin was set. If it were set differently in Notes, this would render with a horizontal scroll bar. Either way, all data is preserved.
 
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If we view the same HTML file with a different screen size, it still flows and is readable on screen.
 
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Table of Contents (will be updated as the blog series continues)
 
Want to try out our Midas LSX export for yourself? Simply fill out the online evaluation request, and we'll get you started. There's no cost to seeing it for yourself.
 

Copyright © 2019 Genii Software Ltd.

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Thu 5 Sep 2019, 10:25 AM
Yesterday, I started a series about certain constraints on exporting or archiving Notes data to PDF. There has been more chatter recently about exporting to PDF, a feature that may be supported natively in HCL Notes V11, and that is offered as an archiving solution by some consultants and vendors. 
 
To reiterate, the PDF format itself is great for certain use cases, but has certain limitations by its nature. It is page based unlike both Notes and the web, and it is more of an image of a document than the document itself. That played a role in the first post which showed how attachments appear to be there in the PDF, but are not clickable or launchable, and require a separate process to save at all. Today's peril is similar with a Notes feature that is widely depended upon, the doclink.
 
This is the second of eight primary issues. Depending on what vendor or driver you use, a few of these may have at least a partial solution, but they are good items to check when validating your approach. The table of contents of all issues will be at the bottom of this post.
 
 
 
2) Doclinks not clickable at all, or go to the original source
 
Original Notes rich text field. A table of doclinks (from 2008 BP forum) showing original hierarchy in view.
 
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and if we follow one of the links, we get to
 
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PDF rendering. The doclinks look like they are there, but you can't follow them, making them both useless and frustrating
 
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Rendered by the Midas LSX to HTML. You can seem them, you can click them, you can configure where they'll be resolved (in this case, to other local HTML files)
 
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and if we follow one of the links, we get to
 
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Table of Contents (will be updated as the blog series continues)
 
Want to try out our Midas LSX export for yourself? Simply fill out the online evaluation request, and we'll get you started. There's no cost to seeing it for yourself.
 

Copyright © 2019 Genii Software Ltd.

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