Friday, July 29, 2011

Wasted a Day on IE and Notes Previews

Foolish me, I thought IBM stopped hugging Internet Explorer inside the Notes client.

Now I know it is used as the embedded browser for a reason. No comment.

Thursday I spent a great deal of my day working on a laptop that had a unique problem.

It seems that when the employee tried to see his email in preview(852fp2 at the time, then fp3) it was blank! A whole bunch of them. If you reply or forward you could see the email, but in the preview window blank.

Checked their mail file on the server thinking it was a local replication or indexing issue. Same problem. Logged in using iNotes, everything worked fine.

Problem with the client? I tried logging in from a different machine with my ID and theirs, all fine.

All roads pointed to the one machine had problems.

Java wanted an update, seemed reasonable. But not so fast. Update would not install. Okay, uninstall all past versions, reboot, go back to and get the latest version. Reboot. Nope still not working.

Thought maybe Notes installation had gotten corrupted, reinstalled the whole client, Smart Upgrade kicked in to get it to FP2 and I had just downloaded FP3 for the customer so we put that on too. Still nothing changed.

Thought maybe it was a video issue. Drivers have caused us some problems at times, Nvidia comes to mind, and so tried different resolutions, nothing changed. tried beta drivers then went back one level, still nothing changed.

Scratching my head wondering what else could be wrong.

In the mean time we had another laptop that got a massive Virus, true trojan and messed up the MBR. So it was a fun day all around.

Back to Mr Unlucky. Another application was also having a problem. Tried downloading an update and when we tried to run it we got a Windows error message. Oh Joy. A real bad laptop and still nothing doing.

Tried to run Windows Update since maybe MS had messed something up the other day and wanted to fix something. And that failed. This was getting odd.

Firefox was fine, but we all know getting MS updates is just not so easy without IE. IE wouldn't start of course. Firefox helped me download IE8 and all its updates. Still couldn't get into MS Updates but what was interesting, and the point of this post, is suddenly Notes worked and the other application worked as well!

So now we got to the heart of the matter. Notes could not render in preview mode without some valid working IE installed. I was shocked and not very amused. You have got to be kidding me that when I tell the Notes client to use the browser selected by my OS, it still is not doing so as it relates to Previews!?!?

There may be some other things to square away on that laptop but I had enough, the user was happy to get back to work, amazing how deadlines make people feel, and I went home to ponder this blog post.

Some of you will tell me but you knew this. In truth, yes I did know it, but never put it together in this way because I NEVER use IE for anything except Windows Updates on XP machines. Windows7 and Vista just get them for me without opening up IE(even if it may be used under the covers).

What happens if you remove IE entirely from a PC? Will Notes fail to render previews? If I am wholly gone Safari, Firefox or Chrome that will break my Notes clients? Hopefully someone inside IBM will give me a better understanding of this. Offline is fine, hit me on Sametime if you want, or one of the other ways in the left side upper column of this page. 

So now you know if you have a Lotus Notes inbox in preview mode not showing or displaying the emails where to look first and how to fix it. Hope I saved some reader down the road from days of Troubleshooting. That's why I write this blog, to make you look better to your boss or your coworkers.


  1. Jyotiprakash MohantyJuly 29, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    I really do not understand why they still keep the three entries of "Preview with Netscape" in Toolbar customization. No options for FF and chrome. Any company still using Netscape?

  2. I think another option that will work is to select the option "Disable Embedded Browser for MIME mail" in preferences. This actually fixes a few other problems as well. Granted you will not have quite as good fidelity in your mime messages but things like URL's that aren't actually links will work.

  3. You would be surprised what people use out there. Never a dull moment!

    Thanks Rob. That is another option that might have worked. But since we had other non_lotus issues too that got resolved when we fixed IE, I was just dumbfounded that everyone wrote code based on it. There are HTML standards in existence.

    We live and learn