Lotus Symphony comes in third…not bad for FREE!

IBM’s Lotus Symphony, an Eclipse based Rich Application takes third in a recent article on InfoWorld. Not bad for Free!

Microsoft Office 2010 takes on all comers | Applications – InfoWorld.


Webinar: Creating Plugins for Lotus Notes, Sametime, and Symphony

Meeting Agenda:

  • Community updates – news on the expanded scope of our community!
  • Community member spotlight
    • Declan Lynch, Czarnowski Exhibit Services
    • Stacey Lieder, IBM
  • Special Topic: Authors will discuss and demo the recently published Redbooks wiki: Creating Plugins for Lotus Notes, Sametime, and Symphony
  • Speakers: Mikkel Heisterberg (Intravision), Tim Parsons (IBM)

Phone Conference Information:

Tues, March 22nd 10:00 AM EASTERN TIME (US)
North America Toll Free – 888-677-1634
North America Toll – 773-756-0229
Verbal passcode: Lotus Community

Web Conference Information:
Launch this URL to attend online – https://apps.lotuslive.com/meetings/join?id=001-637
Enter your name (please include your company name in parentheses)
Click the ‘Join Meeting’ button

QuickTip Video: Convert Microsft Documents To Symphony in seconds!

This quick tip shows how you can convert Microsoft Office files with just two clicks to Lotus Symphony Open Document Format. You can also rate this video on the Lotus Symphony Wiki.

Get rid of Microsoft Office today!

Had to pass this on because its just to great not to. Of course it has been out since June but I did not know it until I saw Dave Hay’s post on PlanetLotus -> see here.  Once again another kudos to the Eclipse

The link Dave points to is the Symphony site where you can download the plugin.

Attachment viewer and OpenOffice

So there has been a lot of discussion both internally and externally about the attachment viewer and if it should support viewing Microsoft Office and Symphony files.  One solution would be to extend the attachment viewer that uses OpenOffice.org API’s to do the previewing of the files.  This of course would require Open Office to be installed on the desktop.  So I ask this question, is that even a viable option for companies at this point? What is the reality of relying on an open source office suite?  We could even use Symphony to do the conversion and preview but I am not confident enough people actually use Symphony (except IBM) on an enterprise level.  So what are you thoughts?  Feel free to comment here or email me privately.  I would be interested to hear direct feedback on this before I go off and attempt anything.

All software should implement CTRL+ and CTRL-

I must be a FireFox advocate or at least like the zoom in and out shortcuts because I find myself using CTRL+/- in many places like Notes, Symphony, etc.  The only problem is the keys do nothing in them!

Who is with me?

Open Source, graphics, and me – not a good mix

Because of IP laws and such, I had to create an icon for the attachment viewer project so tonight I decided to figure out how I will do this.  I am no artist by far but I do have some pretty easy to use and free tools at my disposal.  I figured the best way is to use some kind of presentation editor like Symphony, then use GIMP to actually size and save the image as a jpeg.  The paste into GIMP was not very good so I basically scaled it down and took a screen shot to get a good icon sized image.  In the end, this was pretty easy but I would be interested in hearing how some of you artists do this stuff.

Click to make larger

In the end the icon looks pretty good in the Notes client – I am no Picasso so this will have to do!  Check out a screen shot of the new view icon in the upper left of the viewer:

Click to make larger

Free charting in Lotus Notes

At the Meet the Developers session someone asked why there isn’t charting tools “free” in the Notes client.  There actually is, as I have demonstrated integration with Notes views and Symphony in the past (video 1, video 2, video 3), however, there have recently been a lot of up-take using XPages and Dojo charting.  Check out the two postings by Thomas Adrian:

Mix a Lotus Notes view and an xPage Chart in a Composite Application

Dojo Charts in xPages in a Composite Application

Paul Withers also posted a series of articles that you can check out to learn how to use Dojox:

Dojox Charting Tutorial – Part One: Background and Generic Code

Dojox Charting Tutorial – Part Two: Creating Series and Generating the Pie Chart

Dojox Charting Tutorial – Part Three: Column and Bar Charts

Dojox Charting Tutorial – Part Four: Line Chart Via Javascript

A third option, because Lotus Notes is Eclipse based, you can also use BIRT (Business Intelligence Reporting Tool).

In short, it looks like you have a few options to get free charting in Lotus Notes.  If you do not want to use Symphony, then XPages, Composite Applications, Dojo, or BIRT are alternatives.

What office suite does your kids school use?

I sent an email to our local technology director asking what software the district uses for email and office documents;  I was surprised to here they use GroupWise and not so surprised they use Microsoft Office.  But then I started thinking about this, they are paying for the use of this software!  I am paying for them to use this software through my taxes.  I guess the email can be many options but there are so many services out there that are dirt cheap I don’t know why they would choose GroupWise – I need to dig a little further on that one.

As for Microsoft Office – I see no need for a school district to pay for an Office suite when free products like Lotus Symphony (which is based on Eclipse) and Open Office are available.  Microsoft probably gives schools very cheap licensing but I am sure (but not totally sure) it is not free.

Then I started thinking about the different sites my school district uses to communicate between parents and teachers, they have basically created a “community” online but it is based on 1999 technology.  How cool would it be if something like Lotus Live was used for it?  I don’t know the details around the licensing of Lotus Live but I think this kind of stuff would be a good business opportunity for business partners to go and implement these kinds of vertical communities.

There is an issue though – someone needs to get this idea out there and sell it.  I don’t think the education sector (at the high school level and lower) know too much about these areas.  One way is to educate politicians and have them get the message spread to the various school boards – is this an opportunity for change?

Best Practice: Using named ranges when programming Symphony spreadsheets

As described in the wiki article for using the Symphony Spreadsheet container you can reference cells and cell ranges many different ways.  I would argue that you should use named ranges all of the time.  This will create a virtual reference to the spreadsheet so if the cell or ranges get moved or the editor inserts rows or columns before the range the reference in the CA container will not be broken.

You can create named ranges under the Create menu item:


You then use the dialog to define/edit the named ranges:


Once you create the named range it will then be available in the Composite Application Editor tooling as an entry in the drop down menu from the component toolbar:


As you can see from the wiki article you can use various methods to reference cells but I would stick to named ranges:

Fields are essentially absolute or named cell ranges. The container supports the following formats:

  • $<Column>$<Row> – E.g. $A$1
  • $<Column>$<Row>:$<Column>$<Row> – E.g. $A$1:$B$10
  • !<Sheet name>$<Column>$<Row> – E.g. !MySheet$A$1
  • !<Sheet name>$<Column>$<Row>:$<Column>$<Row> – E.g. !MySheet$A$1:$B$10
  • #<Named range> – E.g. #MyRange