Monday, October 12, 2009

Why use Lotus Notes?

A post from March 2008 continues to get hit on regularly.

At the time it was my views comparing Outlook and Notes R8.0.1 and why I still prefer a Notes client.

Now, 18 months later or so, with R8.5.1 coming out, and still no new Outlook versions in the interim, my thoughts have changed.

No, I don't prefer Outlook, but the reasons for why I prefer Notes have increased.

1) Webmail - If you don't like the Notes client because it's too busy, then use the iNotes (was called Webmail or Domino Web Access as well) client which comes in 3 flavors to meet all needs. Full has everything and requires the most bandwidth, Lite is just the basics and uses minimal bandwidth, ISP mode for pure email people and UltraLite which is really for an iPhone user. From the people perspective, it provides options, from the admins perspective it reduces footprints(1 database for both notes client and web), diskspace (shares format from one place not multiple versions) and works across browsers, not just IE and FF, although mileage may vary depending on versions.

2) Mac and Linux fans rejoice - While not helping me per se, this is a huge thing to our clients, many of which are seriously looking at Macs, aside from the iPhone push. Notes clients that run on both these platforms just means more potential applications to be built.

3) Customization to the client have gradually expanded with each revision and in many cases can be controlled by the administrator so changes could be pushed out. The ability to change my interface the way I want it to look is priceless. The joy of client faces when I show them it really is drag and drop and they are bewildered why Microsoft never did this in Outlook. Lotus wants you to play/enjoy your time while working, Microsoft wants you to work then play. I'll take the Lotus way every time.

4) You are the designer again. Lotus has made the Designer client free for everyone. Now that budding designer inside you that wants an expense form or HR document database or workflow from your factory to your desk could be done...by you! Years ago we could all do this inside the Notes client and we loved it! But the design pieces moved to their own client and the new generation of employees can get cracking on their own applications. So don't say why do we do it this way, write the code, break the cycle, enjoy your work!

5) Cell Phones - iPhone users now have excellent push email, corporate directory lookup and calendar/contacts synchronization. No iPhone? Any windows mobile device can get all of this(except corporate directory look up, available via Mobile Connect) natively from using Lotus Notes Traveler which is FREE as well inside every Domino Server. Blackberry users? You still need a BES, but...

6) Sidebar applications - Widgets? Sure any can be imported and used. But there are also plugins from Linkedin, Tripit and even a Bookmark plugin to synch your online bookmarks down to your client. Also for new Notes people, an online learning plugin from IBM which is full of information.

7) Sametime is built-in to the client(has been since R5) and is built in to your licensing, again for free. Hard to imagine when I joined Lotus in 1998 I wondered what this would mean for the future, it meant reduced telephone costs, less email abuse, faster answers to questions and a truly flat planet.

8) Simpler licensing - NO CALs for this, that and 4 other things you never use. 2 licenses, messaging (email/calendar basics) and designer/enterprise which includes applications. We just saved one client a huge amount of money by reducing their licensing count from one type to the other.

I could go on more, and other bloggers have, so I encourage you to read them as well. Start at planetlotus.org or www.lotusknows.com if this has whet your appetite.
Have your own ideas IBM should think about to improve Notes even more? Post them at ideajam.net.

IBM wants to help you with what you need and the Lotus brand is there to help you attain it.