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At NL LUG 2009 today and tomorrow

I'm at NL LUG Thursday and Friday so come and say hi! Our booth is just to the right of the entrance to the main auditorium and we have a Nintendo Wii to give away so do come by... :-)

Awesome link: lntoolbox.com notes.ini Analyzer

Received a link from a colleague yesterday to the notes.ini Analyzer at lntoolbox.com. It's just amazing. It does require registration but once you have done it you can submit a notes.ini file, specify the version of Notes or Domino and it will highlight obsolete entries, explain what the different entries does etc. Here are the checks you can do:

  • Remove redundant keys (only the first match will be used)
  • Recase/reorder/resort keys
  • Remove comments
  • Allow us to use this notes.ini for analysis and site improvement.
  • Validate this notes.ini
  • Explain this notes.ini
  • Link entrys with description reference (http link).
  • Check for obsolete keys (you need to set the notes versions)
  • Remove apocryphal/bogus notes.ini keys

It's just awesome!

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IBM Lotus Danmark is blogging in Danish

Your favorite characters from IBM Lotus Danmark has started a blog (well actually some time ago) and they are now blogging in Danish. It's a good blog to subscribe to to stay updated on everything Lotus from a Danish perspective. The blog may be found here: Lotus Danmark.

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So Lotus - how about that CSI view connector for Outlook?

Microsoft is opening the PST file format and making documentation available for developers to read/write and recreate PST files on other platforms. You can read more about it on winsupersite.com (Outlook PST: Open for Business where Paul Thurrott writes:

"So Microsoft will provide documentation so that any third party vendor can recreate the PST format on other platforms, for free and without fear of recourse, and interoperate with PST files more seamlessly. The potential results of this transformation are far-reaching. One imagines Google email servers that interoperate directly with PST file stores on Windows PCs, Macs, or Linux boxes. Or perhaps third party email solutions that can take an existing PST file and make the migration to a new solution easier than ever before."

Reading this I'm left think: "hmmmm - so Lotus - what about that CSI view connector for Outlook?". Admitting that I do not know which API's are available now, wouldn't this mean that Lotus could write a CSI view connector for Notes that would allow using Notes as the frontend to PST data files? I remember hearing about the new view technology in Notes 8 (that is Java views == CSI views) and it being mentioned that Notes 8 could just as well read data from Outlook. Well here's your chance. It's an intriguing thought... :-)

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Mozilla plugin check

Heard about Mozillas new browser plugin check service today on the SecurityNow! podcast. Nice new service to make sure your plugins are updated across the board. I couldn't get it to work but it's a service to keep ones eye on.

mozilla.com/plugincheck

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Troubleshooting wierd Traveler startup message

Today I troubleshot an issue with a newly installed Domino 8.5.1 server with Lotus Traveler installed. Whatever was done the Lotus Traveler code would not initialize correctly and would print the following errors to the console despite being configured in the Domino Directory:

Notes Traveler: SEVERE *system Server document for server 
      SERVER/ORG in domain DOMAIN not found
Notes Traveler: SEVERE *system Exception caught while 
      trying to access NTS server settings during
   at com.lotus.sync.admin.NTSSettingsINI.alarmCallback(
      NTSSettingsINI.I.java:776)

After much digging (and some reverse engineering) I found that it was caused by an invalid configuration. One of the first things the Lotus Traveler code does is open the Domino Directory, switch the the Servers view and lookup the server in question using the domain and server name. The domain and server name is read from the notes.ini file on the server using the ServerName and Domain notes.ini settings.

The problem was however that the Domain setting in the notes.ini contained an invalid domain name hence the server name couldn't be found in Domino Directory. This hadn't caused any problems mail routing why it had gone undetected. After fixing this small notes.ini setting Lotus Traveler started without any problems.

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Kom til Gul Skole d. 17. / 19. november og find ud af hvad I ved!

Ved du hvad I ved? Det er et stort problem i mange virksomheder så hvis du ønsker at høre mere skal du komme til vores Gule Skole arrangement d. 17. november i København eller d. 19. november i Århus. Jeg tror det bliver kanon! Og ikke kun fordi jeg har stået for at skaffet hovedtaleren... :-)

Vi har inviteret Christian Schwarz Lausten (twitter.com/unwiredchris / linkedin.com/christianschwarzlausten) til at komme og tale om de teknologier mange bruger i deres privatliv men ikke kan se værdien af i deres arbejdsliv. Mærkeligt. Specielt fordi det allerede nu og endnu mere i fremtiden er/bliver endnu mere "who you know".

Mere info om arrangementet kan ses på vores hjemmeside: Vi ville være bedre stillet, hvis vi vidste, hvad vi ved!

Har du spørgsmål er du velkommen til at stille dem her eller kontakte firmaet på info [at] intravision [dot] dk.

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Speaking at notesnet.dk tonight

I was contacted by IBM the day before yesterday (Tuesday) and asked if I would be interested in speaking at the notesnet.dk meeting tonight (Thursday) as IBM was unable to arrange for a speaker. I of course caved so I'm speaking tonight on Domino Designer in Eclipse (DDE) and giving my session on Java extension deployment using Notes/Domino 8.5.1. Should be fun.

New pet project: LiveTextr

Part of my job, interest and efforts goes towards illustrating just how extensible the Notes 8 platform is. Part of this is playing around with the platform and trying to do stuff to illustrate how the platform may be extended. One of the very cool ways to extend Notes 8 is using widgets and LiveText but debugging it can be a hazzle due to the way widgets are created and installed into the platform. The goal of my latest pet project was to alleviate some of these pains and make it easier to work with LiveText.

So I'm happy to show of LiveTextr!

LiveTextr is a sidebar plugin for Notes 8 that allows you to test LiveText regular expressions against the Notes documents you have open in Notes without creating a widget first. This means that I can open a document that contains some text I would like to test against and start writing regular expressions and have them debugged in the Notes client before doing the actual widget. Installing and testing the pattern is done by clicking a button and the pattern is dynamically added to the LiveText engine.

The first screenshot shows me debugging a pattern right there in my Notes 8.5.1 client.


Click image for larger version

LiveTextr also provides you with instant feedback on the syntax of your regular expression as you write it. This is also a problem with the built-in model as there's no way to test your regular expression as you write the widget. The second screen shot shows the current feedback (shown in red text) when the regular expression contains errors.


Click image for larger version

Further improvements I'm planning is to allow users to build regular expressions visually (or at least without having to know the syntax of regular expressions) and to handle capture groups. I also plan to open source the project on OpenNTF.org.

Notes 8.5.1/Eclipse 3.4 guide updated to Notes 8.5.1 GOLD

The post has been updated with the install_id and rcp.base for Notes 8.5.1 GOLD. Get it here...

Steve Castledine: Providing illustration for your XPage custom controls (Design Definition)

If doing XPages development (and you really should) and doing custom controls (and you really should) make sure you check out Steve Castledines latest post on how to make them even better to use and easier to share. Thanks for sharing Steve!

Providing illustration for your XPage custom controls (Design Definition)

Stumbled upon interesting URLs from the Notes 8 client

So I was trying some stuff in Notes 8.5.1 yesterday and stumbled upon the following two URLs which I found quite interesting:

  • notes:///clientbookmark?openworkspace
  • notes:///clientbookmark?openreplication
These are of course probably 100.000% unsupported but in my Notes 8.5.1 client they do exactly what they say. The first open the workspace and the latter the replicator. That's cool! They probably also work all the way back to Notes 8.

Happy Friday!

Rundown of what's new in 8.5(.1)

If you need ammunition to sell a Notes/Domino 8.5(.1) upgrade in house see "What's New in Lotus Notes 8.5 and 8.5.1?" in the Infocenter.

LotusScript.doc v2 beta 5

Beta 56 (and hopefully the last beta) of LotusScript.doc v2 is out - get it here (lsdoc_200beta6.zip). This beta fixes minor issues with comment parsing and makes logging easier to configure by gracefully failing if not configured in java.policy (for more info see LotusScript.doc v2 - java.policy changes required).

This beta also makes the database run on Notes 7 by not using StringBuilder but StringBuffer instead.

Please note: Please remember to adjust the Java heap size. For more information see this post.

Comments as always welcome here on the blog or by e-mail to lekkim [at] lsdoc [dot] org.

Update: I found a small bug so you'll get beta 6 instead of 5...

Enabling Quickr entry in Quickr Connectors 8.2

Apparently entry places are not enabled by default in the Quickr Connectors with Quickr 8.2. To enable these entry places refer to technote 1388263 (For Lotus Quickr 8.2, enable or disable Entry when using connectors for Microsoft Windows Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Office applications).

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Why you should get Notes/Domino 8.5.1 if you take Notes as a PLATFORM seriously

Yesterday Ed asked "Notes/Domino 8.5.1 available: So what do you think?" so I thought I would take a little time and reflect over the new release. I have to admit that I have been running 8.5.1 as my production client for so long that it's difficult to remember what's new but I'll give it a try.

For me as developer and a "Java guy" the main things about 8.5.1 is of course the new DDE extensibility API and the official release of the Java UI API not to mention that we FINALLY have a decent LotusScript/Java editor in DDE. That's great but that's is not it.

On of my biggest pet peeves with IBM has been how they for a long time referred to Lotus Notes as a mail client. It IS a mail client but albeit much more than that. By far. Notes 8 (Standard) showed the way by giving us a PLATFORM to develop for. Part of the platform is Java extensions no matter whether they are for the sidebar, toolbar or context menus. Java extensions are of course also an integral part of the Composite Application framework. The biggest problem with the Java extensions when Notes 8 came out was that they were hard to provision to users. That was later remedied by the introduction of widget descriptors (drag'n'drop install of Java extensions to the MyWidgets sidebar or using the widget catalog) so that's great. The approach had however one major flaw in that the Notes client prompted users when installed unsigned Java extensions. There were ways around it but it wasn't pretty.

So....

The reason to get 8.5.1 if you take Notes as a PLATFORM seriously is a little, tiny, addition to the security policy in Domino Directory. "But you're a developer" you might say and you're (mostly) right. This addition is however of great importance to all developers - it may just be the one thing that gives you success with your Notes Standard client deployment.

Once you have upgraded to 8.5.1 open your Domino Directory and check out the Security Settings document for policies. Switch to the "Keys and Certificates" tab and scroll to the bottom. Look closely - you might not see it at first. Way down of the bottom there is a new section called "Administrative Trust Defaults". In this section you can specify the internet certificates and/or internet cross certificates to deploy to your end users using policies. With this crucial piece in place you can deploy signed Java extensions to end-users and have them install them without being prompted. At all!! The wont get confused, they wont have the option of aborting the install. This is great news and it works great.

Now that we're able to push internet cross certificates to end-users these issues goes away. So go!! Deploy away!! Break out Eclipse and get going writing these Java extensions and deploy them seamlessly and transparently...

Of course there are caveats and stuff you need to know but that's for another day! Oh - and that's what Lotusphere is for! :-)

NL LUG2009 session time posted

Checked up on the agenda for NL LUG2009 in Amsterdam from 29-30 October 2009 and saw that I'm presenting Friday just before lunch in the "pink room" (11.15-12). My session is DEV08 and is titled "The low down on Notes plugin distribution and provisioning" and will teach you all you need to know about plugin deployment and provisioning for the Notes 8 client using policies, widget catalogs and certificate management. If you want to transparently and seamlessly deploy Java plugins to Notes clients attend this session where the missing policy pieces added in Notes/Domino 8.5.1 will be covered.

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Lotusphere 2010 registration completed

My Lotusphere 2010 registration is done and the abstracts have been submitted. I submitted 3 abstracts and now I'm looking forward to mid-November when the decisions has been made. I'm crossing my fingers.

Experiences from doing Notes 8.5 application development workshops

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week I conducted the third installment of my Notes 8.5 application development workshop to 10 new attendees. This workshop is quickly becoming a big success and as of now 3 more workshops are planned in the near future. I see the big interest in the workshop as an indication that companies and developers are interested and excited about the new Notes releases - especially Notes 8.5. There are of course good reasons for this as Notes 8 is the first Notes release in a long time to actually contain major new features and improvements to the application development platform.

Another interesting thing is that the interest in the application development workshops seems to carry over to Domino administration. Quite a few attendees has gotten back to me asking for an equivalent administration workshop which I find interesting. These are exciting times for the Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino platform.

The agenda of the workshop looks like this:

  • Day 1
    • Introduction to Domino Designer on Eclipse (DDE)
    • MyWidgets / LiveText (introduction and exercises)
    • XPages (introduction, "simple exercise")
  • Day 2
    • Recap day 1
    • XPages (continued), more details
    • Extended XPages exercises
    • Introduction to Composite Applications
  • Day 3
    • Recap day 2
    • Composite Applications exercises
    • Introduction to Eclipse and Lotus Expeditor infrastructure
    • Introduction to Notes 8 Java sidebar plug-in development
    • Sidebar plugin exercises
    • Recap day 1, 2 and 3

Among the topics covered XPages and MyWidgets/LiveText are the ones that garner the most interest by far. Once attendees discover how quickly and easily they can construct applications using XPages they are very excited. It's funny to simply sit and observe them as they complete the "simple" introductory exercises where they create XPages, play with data binding, auto-suggestions for text fields, themes, styling etc. They tend to smile a lot! They are amazed of how easy it is to develop applications and how quickly they can produce a professional looking application. The fact that all the @Functions have been converted to JavaScript is of course a big win as even Notes 6.5 / 7.0.x developers are productive right out of the gate.

Couple this with the fact that XPages will run natively in the Notes client come Notes 8.5.1 and they're definitely sold! They'll never go back to WebQueryOpen agents again that's for sure! :-)

After XPages comes MyWidgets and LiveText in popularity. Many, if not all, start out with the same approach to widgets as I had when I first heard of them namely "why would I ever want widgets in my Notes client?" and "how can a Google gadget make me more productive?" Once they are introduced to the technology, see how easy widgets are to develop and how widgets can be coupled to the Notes client using LiveText they are sold. They see why MyWidgets and LiveText might be the easiest and most powerful way to add functionality to the Notes client and why it may be one of the greatest additional to the Notes client in a long time.

Now comes Composite Applications. Understanding the concepts and the technologies behind Composite Applications and seeing the benefits and how Composite Applications can be applied in the real world is difficult to some of the attendees. All are able to follow the exercises and all see what IBM Lotus is trying to achieve with Composite Applications but few will start developing Composite Applications back home. I think this is due to the concept being a bit too abstract and because it's too difficult to develop the applications. There's too many things you "just need to know" such as obscure component/page preferences and the UI is not up to par. I tell attendees that much has changed for Notes 8.5.1 but I fear that many still find it too difficult to bother messing with. I hope I'm wrong but that's how I see it.

The final topic covered is Java plugin development for the Notes 8 client. Attendees get an introduction to Eclipse/Lotus Expeditor and the plugin architecture of the client - basically I do a presentation like my Lotusphere 2009 session before they do exercises. I also show to series of demos of stuff that can be done using plugins that cannot be done any other way.

I find that many attendees like the flexibility and power they get from Java plugins but that the feedback is also that the learning curve is too steep. Many attendees lack the application development and Java skills required to develop these kinds of plugins. For many it also becomes a question of where they get the most "application development bang for the buck!" Spending their time learning XPages and MyWidgets and hoping that MyWidgets grow more powerful in time, or start learning Java to embrace Java plugin development. Many opt for the former which I guess is understandable.

To sum up the feedback from these workshops have been great and they are a big win to our customers. Attendees see the power of the Notes platform and I feel that attendees leave with renewed excitement about the platform and I trust that they carry this excitement back to their respective jobs and companies. They leave with a renewed interest in Notes and seeing it as a platform - not as an e-mail client