Notes/Domino 8 Beta Reveals UnLotus-Like Improvements
March 19, 2007 Dan Burger
What could be more fun than getting your hands on the IBM‘s Lotus Notes and Domino 8 beta release? Bamboo splints under your fingernails might be one of the more popular responses, based on the experiences of long-time users of this e-mail and collaboration software with the not-so-user-friendly reputation. Things change, though, and IBM is legitimately thrilled to be introducing a beta version of Notes/Domino 8 with a redesigned interface, handy e-mail conveniences, no-cost productivity editors, and greatly expanded search capabilities.
In other words, IBM has made some serious, and long overdue, efforts to bring Notes/Domino up the ease of use standards that have led to the success of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. And to give Big Blue its due, in several ways it has one-upped its rival.
Take, for example, the productivity editors that are based on the OpenDocument Format. Not only do they create “light” versions of spreadsheets, word processing, and graphic tools, but they take aim at Microsoft’s tradition of loading up customers with licensing fees for such tools. You can bet this will not go without mention when Notes and Outlook are compared.
Also on the conveniences check list for N/D 8 are improvements in the management of emails. Specifically, the inbox view has new grouping options that, for instance, allow users to organize messages by conversational threads rather than simply by date and time. Other useful features are the extended search capabilities that go beyond e-mail and contacts and into the areas of Web and file searches, without leaving the inbox. Instant messaging is also embedded.
IBM will also take every opportunity to skewer Microsoft over the number of computing platforms and software systems that Lotus supports, including Linux (Novell‘s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10) and Windows XP on the client side and i5/OS, AIX, Linux (both from Novell and Red Hat), Sun Microsystems‘ Solaris, and Windows on the server side. IBM Lotus officials say users can upgrade both the client and server from prior releases and that hardware requirements and compatibility does not change with N/D 8.
IBM expects a warm welcome for composite application development capabilities, which allow users to combine multiple software components into Web-based, situational applications. In this example provided by IBM, an organization could automatically initiate a request for currency exchange rates from within a server-based Domino application. The rates could then be plugged directly into an expense reporting application or stored in a database for future reference.
The beta code is currently available and can be downloaded at www.ibm.com/lotus/getnd8now. Lotus Notes and Domino 8 is expected to be available in mid-2007.