Ben Langhinrichs

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An IBMer and TSAer walk into a bar

Thu 18 Nov 2010, 08:39 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
My recent examination of the Notes/Domino 8.5.2 combined discussion database confirms a prediction a number of folks have made, that IBM wants an xPages-only future.  Even the simplest web to Notes rich text conversions have been ignored (hint to the IBMers, in the CKEditor config file, check on quotes around the font names with spaces like Lucida Sans Unicode).  Stephan Wissel points out that a change to the Launch properties will make the Notes client use xPages too.

Hence the TSA comparison.  For those who don't know, the TSA is the authority tasked with security at airports in the United States.  Poorly paid, poorly trained, but given massive power over the civil liberties of travelers, these men and women are supposed to stop terrorists by checking your name, frisking, scanning and stripping (if need be), but without any hint of profiling or actually looking at the suspects, er, passengers.  Carry a gun into security, andd they are supposed to make you drop it in a bin, but not stop you from boarding.  The suspicious Somali man with the name Fred Rogers is waved through, while the six month old child in a stroller whose name matches a watch list is stopped.

Insane, but any inconvenience, any expense, any delay is justified rather than have TSA take advice from the Israelis, for example, who seem to have a clue or two about security on their airlines. Don't fix the process, put the pain on the users.

IBM has had numerous problems with conversion of HTML to rich text and vice-versa.  Most of its problems are easy to fix.  A few are difficult.  But instead, IBM is happy to add any inconvenience, any expense, any delay, even cripple its Notes client completely, rather than either buy technology (such as mine) or develop technology to make the solution easier.

Enabling xPages in the Notes client solves two small problems, MIME conversion and lack of time spent on UI design in Notes discussion, by crippling the user experience.  It simply runs the browser experience on the client, with exactly the issues you might expect.  I thought about coming up with my own list, but how about using the list Mary Beth Raven listed on her blog as the Top 10 enhancements people want to see in the CKEditor:

  1. Pictures (embedded and stored locally) 
  2. Inline attachments 
  3. Spellcheck
  4. Automatic correction 
  5. Sections 
  6. Tabbed tables 
  7. Double, Single, and ½ spacing 
  8. Live text 
  9. Permanent pen 
  10. Automatic capitalization

In other words, they want the capabilities the Notes client has had for years.  But because IBM doesn't want to bother fixing a problem that I, by myself, have fixed fairly well, they want you to give up these and more (such as adding doclinks, adding buttons, running agents, copy and pasting documents, easily acting on sets of documents, etc.) so that they are saved a bit of effort.

Really, IBM?  You want to be more like the TSA?

Copyright 2010 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

918.1. Andrew Pollack
(11/18/2010 02:54 PM)

Ben, How would someone at IBM get funding to build something unless they include all the required new technology buzzwords?

5 Man Days allocation for updating the existing discussion template + QA Time + Translation -- never gonna happen.

10 Man days allocation for a new discussion template to highlight the new Xpages functionality with a highly intuitive work-group oriented user interface + QA Time + Translation -- no problem.

918.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(11/18/2010 04:52 PM)

@Andrew - It is sadly true.

918.3. axel
(19.11.2010 11:09)

The RichText format and the lack of a decent api for it was at the core problem of a lot of Domino applications I have seen.

IBM can't just forget about the thing. Its too deeply used in a lot of applications.

Is xfaces really good enough as a framework.

A convincing argument for xfaces would be that it plays well with those existing nsf applications. If not, its just another java web framework and there are really enough of that.