Developing for Lotus Notes

I have been developing Lotus Notes applications for almost 14 years (since version 3 of Notes) and given the latest press on Notes development, composite applications, and what Notes 8 can or can not do, I feel inclined to write my own beliefs about the new Notes 8 client.

When I was at Key Bank I felt I could literally do anything in Notes. And I seriously meant that. When you hear the blogosphere Notes development gurus bash composite applications or Expeditor development in Notes 8 by stating “I could do that already” they are most likely not lying. The problem is, they are right, THEY could do it. However, 90% of the rest of the Notes community could not.

Given that, I think we need to take a step back and think why IBM did Notes 8 in the first place. The top reasons were: better UI for PIM, better customization of applications, and a broader programming model. Of course, those are my personal interpretations.

With the introduction of Lotus Expeditor (and ultimately Eclipse) there is a whole new set of capabilities for application developers and end users. From UI, Web Services to an entire open source community (Eclipse), the capabilities have just quadrupled (or even more). Managers will now most likely have new hires coming directly out of college with Eclipse and Java experience. How many people coming out of college know LotusScript or the NSF architecture? I have interviewed dozens (if not more) and unless they did an internship with IBM or a large IBM customer, the answer was NONE.

This also applies to Sametime. You will now have a common programming model and application architecture all based on Lotus Expeditor. Lotus Expeditor and Eclipse developers are the new “system level engineers”.

Composite Applications are more than just a development platform. It is an end user feature. For the first time applications can now be built without writing a line of code. The problem out of the gate is, we have no component catalog filled with neat, cool, and functional components. This is in fact now our biggest challenge. In order for everyone to “see the light” about composite applications we need a robust catalog of components that can be used and wired across applications. To me, this is a challenge to all of the Notes Guru's out there. Create competitive components that will put the Notes and Composite Application programming model well in front of .NET.

I feel between the JSP, Eclipse, Expeditor, Portal, Notes, and Java communities you will see more compelling commercial and open source components to this overall Expeditor architecture. Because remember, Expeditor can surface all of those technologies today in its UI- and so can Notes 8.

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