Ben Langhinrichs

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June, 2009
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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.


Fri 19 Jun 2009, 04:16 PM
One of the more baffling things I find about IBM is how they cater to executives and big companies in so many ways, and then stomp all over them in others.  Certainly, it is true that executives are not the only folks who could use a highly functional web equivalent to their Notes client mail, but many executives are highly mobile and want access to their mail whenever and where ever they may be.

IBM's response has been to go to great lengths to fix up the mail experience, and I have to tell you that iNotes 8.5 is truly beautiful, but they seem to have forgotten that the essence of email experience is not how sleek the Inbox looks, and the clever Web 2.0 bells and whistles, but the email itself.  It is like trying to improve mail service by painting your mailbox over and over in the "newest colors".

I have blogged before about some of the ways that iNotes fails in this regard, but there is a very basic functionality which has been in Notes since before there was a World Wide Web, and that is the doclink.  How is it possible that IBM could screw up something so basic?  Let's see.

Imagine that a colleague in my company has sent a table of important doclinks to me.  Wee are both in Notes, so it travels through the servers and arrives, still in rich text.  If I were in my office to receive it, I would see this:


Original message sent (or received) in rich text in the Lotus Notes 8.5 client





But due to a pressing meeting in Dayton, I am not in my office.  Instead, I read my email (the same rich text email in the same mailbox):

Original message read through the Lotus iNotes 8.5 web client




Well, that is highly useful, isn't it?  The doclinks are simply missing.  Gone.  As is the essential meaning of the email.  If I forward it or reply to it, the doclinks won't magically appear either.  They are just gone.

But what really hurts is, if that same email were not being read through iNotes, but instead had been sent to a competitive email system, such as Google's Gmail, or Microsoft Outlook, the doclinks would be there, ugly as sin, of course, but there.  Here is the same email sent to Gmail:


Message sent to Gmail





So, what is the message?  If you are traveling on business, don't keep your important emails in your highly controlled, secure Lotus Notes/Domino system unless you are prepared to take a fully loaded laptop with a Notes client with you.  Instead, send it to some competitor's email system, like Outlook or Gmail or AOL mail or Hotmail or...

Of course, I can't just sit still and accept this, so along with everything else it does, iFidelity makes sure your iNotes experience is as clean and functional as it should be.


Original message read through the Lotus iNotes 8.5 web client (with iFidelity active on the Domino server)





We may not be IBM, but we respect executives and their needs.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Fri 19 Jun 2009, 09:28 AM
Show and Tell Thursday logoIt feels like forever since I last posted a Show and Tell Thursday post, so of course when I finally get around to it, I don't get to it until Friday.  Nonetheless, this is a handy feature that I have wanted to mention for a while and not gotten to.  It may well be one that some people know about, and others say "Wow, I never noticed that."

The property boxes in Lotus Notes are often very densely packed, and occasionally, a valuable feature is disguised in plain sight in an attempt to conserve space.  This is certainly true on the border tab used for images, tables (table border, not cell border) and paragraphs.  I'll start with images, because they are very easy to see and use.



Here is the border tab on the image property:





Look on the left, and you will see that the border Thickness is actually a drop down, even though many don't notice it:




The three different settings are InsideThickness, and Outside.  The Inside is the spacing inside the border, the Thickness is the thickness of the border itself, while the Outside is the empty space outside the border before the surrounding text or whatever.  Watch what happens as I change these, starting with setting a solid blue border 3 pixels wide on all sides, with the text aligned to the right, as that makes the change easily visible.


Step 1: The image with text, but no border set





Step 2: Setting the border to a solid, 3 pixel blue border.





Step 3: Setting the inside border thickness to a solid, 8 pixel space.  See how this gives white space inside the border.





Step 4a: Setting the Outside border thickness to a variable spacing.  I have to show this in two images, as the first keeps the selection border, which allows ckick and drag





Step 4b: Clicking off the image removes the selection border, which then shows you how there is white space added around the border.  This is especially useful for adding space between the image and text.





One issue to watch out for in versions prior to 8.5

It is perfectly possible to set inner and outer widths with the actual border set to 'None', but in 8.0.1, all the border information is lost if there isn't some border.  This has been fixed in 8.5, but in earlier versions (I think the border widths were added in 6.5), you may have to make a 1 pixel white border or something to get the effect you want.  Test it, as I am not sure which versions have that bug.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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