Book Review: IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.1

Book: IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.1, The Upgraders Guide.

I will start by saying this book is a good resource for anyone wanting to know what features are in Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.1.  The book pretty much covers most areas you would expect in Lotus Notes and is a great overall summary with many examples.  I really love the format of the book, it was very easy to follow, very well written, and easy to read.  I loved the appendix!  The different chapters about add-on products was a great benefit. There were at times I felt like I read some things in one chapter and almost the same thing in another chapter with little value added.  I really wish there was more around development techniques and best practices and in general I would have preferred a little more depth in some areas.  For instance, there was a lot of material about Composite Applications but most of the information was based on 8.0.x stuff.

There is also a free chapter you can preview: Chapter 8 – which is an extracted Chapter that anyone can check out here, it covers a lot of information and should be quite useful for developers.

Ok, here is my constructive feedback.  I will first say that the product documentation is something that needs to be addressed and I can see why many of these areas were not covered, but if you follow the yellowverse you will see the many blogs from IBMer’s, partners, and customers talking about these topics.  Since this is an “upgraders guide” it was difficult for me to figure out how hard I should judge on some of the areas.  The book clearly hits end user, admins, and developers so I took the liberty to just throw it all out there!

End user and Administrative areas:

Managed Settings – using Domino policies you can push down Eclipse plug-in preferences.  They definitely should have mentioned this or walked through the policy screen like they did the Widget policies.

LiveText, Toolbox, and Widgets – arguably one of the most popular areas of the 8.x release and I see a small mention of it in this book.  This probably deserves its own chapter considering the new options that were added in 8.5.1.  Creating your own recognizers is also a popular topic in the forums.

Serviceability – it would have been nice if the book included a chapter on serviceability.  For instance, what the directory structures are, where to find logs, how to look at and evaluate the output from the IBM support assistant.  In my experience this stuff is very valuable to companies and admins supporting a rich client.

Developer areas: being a developer myself I would have wanted to get some detailed information about the following areas.  It looks like the title of the book was changed from 8.5 to 8.5.1 because the developer chapter only talks about 8.5 and really the content is based on 8.0.  So I would update this chapter in a revision to include some of the 8.5.1 enhancements.

XPages – even though this could be an entire book on its own, I think it warranted at least its own chapter.  With the introduction to XPages on the client in 8.5.1 this should have been clearly highlighted! You will have to settle for the yellowverse, product documentation and the Designer Wiki.

Eclipse plug-in development – It would have been nice to have a chapter to primer the Eclipse/Java developers – or the want-to-be’s.  plugins, Java UI, extensions.  On Page 151, the screen shot not the CAE Palette in 8.5.1.  It looks like a palette from 8.0 with all of the views in the system loaded into it.

Composite applications – None of the following was mentioned in the book: Container framework, Containers (Document and View, HOD, Symphony, Web), NSF Update Site.NTF, Side bar control.  I recommend hitting the Composite Application Wiki, Lotus Expeditor Wiki, and Designer Wiki for these areas.

Lotus Symphony – even though Symphony could be its own book.  It would have been nice to see integration with Composite Applications or how to extend Symphony with Eclipse and the JUNO API’s.

Lotus Expeditor – it would have been nice if they mentioned how Portal can manage composite applications for role based application support and also explain the value-add over base Eclipse.

Lastly, for many of the areas I mention about Composite Applications you can get it from the CA Wiki: What’s new in Lotus Notes 8.5.1 & Expeditor 6.2.1.  The Domino Designer wiki is filled with XPage material – not too mention many of the business partner bloggers constantly write about XPages.

Also, this review and opinion is my own personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of my employer or anyone else.

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