Ben Langhinrichs

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Genii Weblog

All your base are belong to 8.5.1: HTML Rendering

Mon 31 Aug 2009, 11:41 AM



by Ben Langhinrichs
As part of my testing for Notes 8.5.1 (Managed Beta 8 Refresh), I am simply re-doing earlier posts on rendering with the Notes/Domino 8.5.1 beta to see if it has has improved matters.  My original post actually used the beta of Notes 8.5, but there were no changes in the HTML between the beta and Notes 8.5.0.  There are slight differences between the HTML for Notes 8.5.0 and Notes 8.5.1 (Managed Beta 8 Refresh), but they do not change the appearance.  To see those minor changes, look at the very bottom of this post.



In Part 1 of this series, I showed how IBM's rendering of MIME messages could lead your customers to think you were still running Notes R5, and how iFidelity, which is in beta right now, would allow you to send out mail that looks like it does in the Notes client rather than the way it did in 2001.  In this part, I show a parallel rendering done when Notes data is displayed on the web.

In his insightful book, Blink - The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell describes how the human mind can analyze a great deal of data in an instant and come to a conclusion that might be hard to enumerate, but is nonetheless correct.  In one study, people looking at a 10 second clip without sound of various professors teaching could describe their teaching style, effectiveness and ability to maintain control.  Their snapshot evaluations matched those of students who had taken a course with that professor for an entire semester.

Similarly, when a person sees a webpage, that person makes an almost instantaneous judgment about the website.  When a person evaluating Notes sees a webpage rendered by Domino, they make a judgment about whether Notes is right for their organization.  It doesn't really matter that a good web developer could set stylesheets that would fix a number of the rendering issues, or that a website could choose to avoid rich text rendering entirely.  The snap judgment is made, and is the source of many of the negative comments about Domino as a web platform or Notes in general.

With that in mind, let's look at a table sent to me by a customer (with sanitized data) and see the rendering experience that might lead to that instantaneous judgment.  To be perfectly clear, the table was sent because it was rendering badly in CoexEdit.  All software has defects, but what matters is how you deal with them.  We fixed the defects in a matter of days, and sent a fix back to the customer.  The most serious defect shown below was there in both Notes/Domino 8.0.0 and Notes/Domino 8.0.1, and has been fixed in 8.0.2, a full year where this bug was evident, and longer for the many customers still on 8.0.1.  In addition, many of the other rendering issues shown below have been issues for at least the past five years, and a few have gotten worse in the Notes/Domino 8.5 beta 8.5.1 (Beta 8) than they were in 8.0.1.


1) Notes 8.0.1 (looks the same in Notes 8.5 beta 8.5.1 (Beta 8) as you might expect)


Table in Notes 8.0.1 client


2) Rendered by Domino 8.0.1 and shown in Internet Explorer 7  (the missing "Owner Occupied" and overwritten lines are a rendering bug in 8.0.0/8.0.1)

*** Content removed as not relevant to this post.  Go back to original if you want to see the garbled look of 8.0.1


3) Rendered by Domino 8.0.1 and shown in Firefox 3  (the garbled cells on the right are a rendering bug in 8.0.0/8.0.1)

*** Content removed as not relevant to this post.  Go back to original if you want to see the garbled look of 8.0.1


4) Rendered in Domino 8.5 beta 8.5.1 (Beta 8) and shown in Internet Explorer 7 with annotations of a few of the rendering issues (I actually left the same image, as it looks the same)


Rendered by 8.5 beta and shown with Internet Explorer 7

Some of these issues could be fixed easily with a stylesheet.  Others are very difficult to fix without hardcoding HTML.  All should be fairly easily fixable by IBM, one would think.


5) Rendered by CoexEdit 2.1c on Domino 8.0.1 and shown in Internet Explorer 7


Rendered by CoexEdit 2.1c and shown with Internet Explorer 7


No, don't analyze it.  Just glance at it and the annotated one above.  Which do you want your customers to see?  Which do you want prospective Notes/Domino people to see?  If a moment's glance doesn't do it, my case isn't made.


And for those of you reading down to here and wondering what changed in the HTML for Domino 8.5.1 (Beta 8), it is the order of the HTML parameters.  For example, in Domino 8.5.0, you get:  

<TD width="80%" bgColor=#efefef colSpan=4 rowSpan=2>

while in Domino 8.5.1 (Beta 8), you get:

<TD bgColor=#efefef rowSpan=2 width="80%" colSpan=4>

I have no idea what the meaning or significance of that change is, but it has no effect on the appearance, as the order of HTML parameters is officially not significant.

Copyright 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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