Ben Langhinrichs

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September, 2003
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Genii Weblog


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


Tue 16 Sep 2003, 04:48 PM

Caveat: this blog entry has nothing whatsoever to do with Derek and the Slammers, or even with Elvis.  Mea culpa!  However, I still feel that the title is apt, as you will see.

It is an open secret that I am working on a RT -> HTML -> RT solution that should be out in beta soon.  As I get closer to an actual working product, I am faced with many technical hurdles (pah, I spit in the face of technical hurdles) and a few questions that are not technical.  They are social, perhaps even cultural.  These questions have to do with whose world view is "correct".  When the web client and Notes client coexist, should web norms be followed or Notes norms or should each follow its own norms.  This is similar to the question of whether Notes should look the same on the Mac as it does in Windows.  If the Mac UI guidelines are followed, it will be good for Mac users, and confusing for those who UI is different when they visit another machine.  If the Windows UI guidelines are followed, it will have the opposite effect.

To make matters worse, the web client is highly driven by CSS these days, which means that all sorts of UI decisions may vary by user/implementer/page.  Of course, UI issues are not the only ones that matter.  Let's look at a simple example where the differences show up clearly:

<table>
  <tr><td>Look, Mom!  I'm famous.  I'm on a web page</td></tr>
  <tr><td>That's nice, dear.  Now wash your hands and come in for dinner.</td></tr>
  <tr><td></td></tr>
  <tr><td>Honey!  I'm home!</td></tr>
</table>

Basic HTML Table
This is a table described in HTML.  It looks like this (in IE 5.5 at least):



Basic Notes Table
Now, let's look at the same basic idea in Notes. A table created with default values with four rows with the same content except set as Fixed width because I needed it to fit on this narrow blog entry.



What are the differences?  Well, there is no border on the HTML table, but there is a border in Notes.  The font size is larger (although that varies by browser settings as well).  There is no blank row shown when the HTML row is blank, but there is a blank row shown in Notes.

Basic Notes Table rendered by Domino
Now, look at how Domino shows the Notes table on the web:

Different again!  The borders show, as it could be argued that they should, but as some sort of extruded lines.  The blank row shows, but not at the same height as the others,

Basic HTML table rendered by Notes
Finally, look at how Notes imports the HTML table:



That is not too different, but the blank row is included.

Conclusion
Who could draw a conclusion from this?  There are just more questions raised.  With good Notes/Web coexistence, should the original table be the guide, so that an HTML table created without borders and rows should be imported that way into Notes?  Should a table created in Notes have the thin lines as it does in Notes when it is shown on the web?  Should CSS be allowed to change the default appearance of a table even if it was created in Notes originally?  Should CSS change the table as it appears in Notes if it was created on the web using that particular CSS?  For that matter, should you be able to change the CSS and alter the appearance in Notes?

All of these are possible, but it is not clear which are correct or preferable.  After all, who died and made me Elvis?

Copyright © 2003 Genii Software Ltd.

Tue 16 Sep 2003, 12:50 AM
I keep looking at the calendar and realizing that I only have about six weeks until the UK Admin/Developer conference.  I am presenting on two topics, but the first
Monday Oct 27  1:30 - 2:45 pm
Rich Text Tips, Tricks and Techniques 


is a relative no-brainer.  I gave a session like this in Düsseldorf in February, and although I can never stand giving the same session twice and will probably change everything, I am sure of what I want to say.  The second session has me more worried.
Monday Oct 27  4:35 - 5:50 pm
Advanced Notes/Web Coexistence


Abstract: Discover useful tricks and techniques for handling forms, views and databases that must be used in both the Notes client and a web browser. Learn ways to better handle rich text fields, @DbLookups, JavaScript and UI methods to allow an optimal experience for both Notes users and web users. Learn when to create two sets of design elements and when to use just one. Covers native and third party solutions for managing Notes/Web coexistence. 

What was I thinking?  Do I know enough about this topic?  Can I present it clearly enough?  I might not be so worried, but there is such an incredible set of speakers for this event (including Bill Hume and Ed Brill from IBM, as well as Bob BalabanRocky Oliver, Damien Katz, Daniel NashedGeorge ChiesaRich SchwartzKim GreeneAndrew PollackGabriella Davis,  Brian BenzDieter Stalder and more) that I feel I need to live up to the event.

I do have a message I want to communicate, and some ideas for samples to show, but I would love to hear any thoughts, wishes, ideas from anyone out there.  Whether you will be there in person or would simply like to use the sample code I am sure to post here afterwards, let me know what would be valuable to you.  Post here or contact me at  with ideas.

By the way, I hope you can come to the conference.  I think it will be more valuable than some of the bigger conferences, and with a lot more access to the speakers.  If you are in the UK or Europe, this is a lot easier to get to than a conference in the US.  If you are in the US, check out the low fares and come make a long weekend out of it.  If you are in Asia or Australia, I haven't the foggiest idea of whether this is really an option, but I'd be happy to see any of you as well.

Copyright © 2003 Genii Software Ltd.