A serious blow for AppDev on Notes – the proof of entitlement for Lotus Sametime is seriously screwed up!

As you probably know you are entitled to a Lotus Sametime Entry license when you have a “Lotus Notes for Collaboration” license. This is really great and a real selling point for Notes since Sametime is a “first class citizen” in the Notes 8.x client as it provides you with awareness throughout the client and in custom applications including sidebar plug-ins. It also allows for awareness in web pages using either Sametime Links (stlinks) or the newer and much better Sametime webapi (as used in Lotus Connections 2.x).

So now comes the problem – have you ever read the PoE or Proff of Entitlement for Lotus Sametime as it pertains to the Lotus Notes for Collaboration license? Probably not. Read below and weep!! (or read the full document – the text for “IBM Lotus Notes for Collaboration” is on page 2 of that document)

“A valid POE for the IBM Lotus Notes for Collaboration does not include the right to:
1. … (omitted for brevity)
2. … (omitted for brevity)
3. Enable or use IBM Lotus Sametime Limited capabilities beyond the default settings in the Program as provided to You, or as established by policy within IBM Lotus Sametime server, including without limitation: Lotus Sametime Connect client, IBM Lotus Sametime Web conferencing capabilities, access from a mobile device, use of IBM Lotus Sametime Gateway, voice chat, video chat, file transfer, geographic location awareness, IBM Lotus Sametime toolkits or APIs, or plug-ins and applications built using the IBM Lotus Sametime unique APIs available in the IBM Lotus Sametime toolkits, with the exception of the chat logging service provider interface.

A POE for IBM Lotus Notes for Collaboration includes all rights granted hereunder for IBM Lotus iNotes for Collaboration.”

So this is lawyer speak and quite convoluted but in essence it says that a Lotus Notes for Collaboration licensed user may

  • use Sametime for chat and awareness using the default settings on the server (meaning no custom business card or photo)
  • not use file transfer
  • not use any Lotus Sametime API besides the chat logging API

The first two are IMO hopeless restrictions but the last one is really, really, really, really bad! It’s beyond words actually. It means that you as a developer must require that a user has a Sametime Standard license in order to use Sametime awareness in your own applications. To be fair it could be that this is only the case for sidebar applications and SWT based composite application components and doesn’t pertain to forms/views (though you could argue that they use an API as well). Another thing that this entails is that you may not use Sametime awareness in Lotus Connections as it uses a API to do the awareness (Sametime webapi). I just checked the PoE for Lotus Connections and no further Sametime entitlement is extended there.

So what does this mean for me as an application developer? Well it means that the sidebar applications I’m developing have to distinguish between Sametime users and make sure that Sametime functionality is only exposed to Sametime Standard license holders. How do I do that? Not sure as I don’t know of an API which tells me which Sametime license the current user has. Oh – and it has to be a Notes API as I otherwise technically violate the license agreement on behalf of the user.

Who came up with this? What sense does it make to provide less functionality in API than in the UI? I really don’t get it. If I had anything to say at all the restriction on API’s in the client should be lifted. It is these API’s that makes the platform strong and feel coherent since applications running on the platform can leverage the platform.

So from being really psyched about the appdev perspective in Notes as it pertains to Sametime and how Sametime could be used throughout the client I’m now really bummed out. From a customer standpoint it’s going to be difficult to tell them that many of the demos that IBM do require a Sametime Standard license. And then we have our own applications where we have to informing and making sure they understand what they may use based on the license they hold.


(As always I could be wrong about this but I have just been through IBM Lotus here in Denmark which says I have understood the PoE correctly so I’m probably right.)

7 thoughts on “A serious blow for AppDev on Notes – the proof of entitlement for Lotus Sametime is seriously screwed up!”

  1. I’m on my blackberry in a class so I can’t provide a thorough response right now. The API restriction does *not* exclude awareness inside a Notes application – that’s a checkbox, not an API call (*your* app is not accessing the Sametime API.

    Otherwise, yes, Sametime Standard is a separate product. I am not sure why that is a death knell for notes app dev. We can clean up the language but it doesn’t change the distinction between Sametime Entry and Standard.


  2. My point is that it severely restricts the use of Sametime within an organization and that very few, if any, customers know of this limitation. I recognize that IBM Lotus have any right to limit the capabilities that I as a Notes for Collaboration licensed user am entitled to use (free of charge I know) but I still feel that the limitation is wrong. The fact that applications within the platform cannot show such a simple thing as awareness without the user having a Sametime Standard license is just plain wrong. It cripples the platform as a whole and will limit the solutions ISV’s can deliver. It’s that simple.


  3. Strange, I always thought it was like that and it sounds ok to me. If you want to use more than the integrated basic stuff you need a license. For your sidebar application I am not sure if it is not the Notes customer that has to ensure they are properly licensed. As you have already mentioned your application needs a full Sametime license anyway (at least that is what I read out of your post). But it is good that you wrote about it. Who reads all the stuff in license agreements?


  4. I’m sorry, Mikkel, I don’t agree with the strong language.  It is a restriction that affects building apps that access the API directly — it does not affect awareness in the millions of Notes NSF-based applications that use a names field somewhere in them.  Maybe you could give some more examples of where this is "crippling", and if others likewise did, i could look at what we could do differently.  For sure, though, there is a reason that we sell Sametime Standard with a whole bunch of features not found in the integrated instant messaging entitlement, and that business model isn’t in play right now.


  5. It’s always been like this. IM and PA inside the Notes client (embedded). Any API call has always been a full Standard ST license ever since R6.x when the entitlement was added (logging notwithstanding).

    Now, you have a point about sidebar apps and that they may now make "extending ST via the API" more compelling (the Standard R8.x client is way better than earlier versions) but the entitlement has always been the entitlement, right 😉


Comments are closed.