You’d avoid using Lotus Notes if you were me – Part II

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Not so long ago, with my interface/application designer’s hat on (yes, I designed the interface and wrote the documentation for this), I posted a whinge about Lotus Notes. Thomas Adrian was kind enough to comment, and I can understand that he was displeased because from what I can see on his site, he’s big on the subject (although, hats off to him his English is better than my Swedish).

Now don’t take this as a personal attack Thomas, but here’s more Lotus Notes inadequacy:

  • Copy from an HTML or rich-text document, then paste into a Lotus Notes email. Then wait. And wait. And wait a bit more. After several seconds (or several more) it will eventually paste. Why not immediately? What on earth is taking Lotus Notes so long to paste metatext?
  • So you’re typing along quite happily when an alarm window pops up for a meeting. I don’t object to alarms – they’re very useful – but they do introduce when you’re mid-flow. They also respond to key depressions so if it happens that you press ENTER or ‘O’ for OK you suddenly find it’s closed the window and the following stream of characters have been interpreted by whatever underlying application you were running. I’ve very nearly lost work with this happening. Not good. Also, why call it an alarm? Do I want to be alarmed? No. Call it an alert instead, so that I’m alert and alerted, not alarmed.
  • Why can’t I delete labels? When I first started using Lotus Notes I would occasionally type the wrong thing or mis-spell words, and anyway my work has changed since I started so I’d like to delete or rename labels please. If it’s possible then please tell me how. But don’t blame me for not finding out how to do it myself because I’ve looked through the online help and the web and apart from finding one other people with the exact same problem, there’s no mention of how to do this.
  • And finally, another alarm problem. Why, if I have several at the same time, am I reminded of them all in one alarm? Because to date I also haven’t figured out how then to set different ‘snooze’ times to each alarm because there’s only one ‘snooze’ field. So I have to set them all to the same value, which seems to separate them out into individual alarms, to which I can then set different times.

I shouldn’t have to do this. Irrespective of operating system, I shouldn’t have to wait to cut and paste, or nearly lose work, or be unable to delete labels or take several steps with multiple alarms. The version I use (at work) is at number 7. Why weren’t these usability issues addressed in versions 1 to 6?

Granted, it’s a stable package but as I said before, these usability issues can only be because it isn’t given sufficient priority within the development team. They will probably tell me it’s my fault for not figuring it out, or that there are ways around the problems that I’ve found. Well, I shouldn’t have to figure it out, or work around it. It should just work. Properly.

Give me Outlook any time. No, really.

15 thoughts on “You’d avoid using Lotus Notes if you were me – Part II

  1. Hello Ghost, you look very angry.

    I do not take it personally. I actually like to hear people sharing their experience in Lotus Notes.

    Let me try to give you some answers:

    – If you are using Lotus Notes only for Email I would also go for Outlook, just enable pop or imap on the Dominoserver and you are all back in the MS world.

    – OK, Lotus Notes is not very good on HTML rendering, they have promised better support in Notes 8

    – Sorry about this but “I need help” understanding what labels you are talking about

    – Regarding alarms, Why don’t you just disable the popup and enable sound or system tray notification.


  2. firstly, I think it is taking ages to paste the HTML because you are behind a proxy server and you have not told Notes about your proxy server in your location document. When HTML is pasted what is on the clipboard is the literal HTML. Notes starts it’s local web retriever process (which accounts for a few seconds first time it is needed) then tries to retrieve any images or other stuff in the HTML. It can’t get a response from the website (because it should be going through the proxy) so you see it doing squat for a while as the request eventually times out.

  3. Hey, thanks for the responses! And so quick too! This is real-time blogging!

    Thomas, thanks for the advice. The Labels I’m referring to are the categories I use in my To Do list – when I set up a To Do, I like to assign it an account label so that I can view the list either in terms of priority, or in account order (eg Account X, Account Y etc). I got this a bit wrong at first on a few occasions and some of my accounts have changed, so I’d like to delete or rename some of the labels, but I cannot figure this out. If you can help, help!

    I like the suggestion of using less intrusive alarms. I’ll certainly look into your suggestions.

    Alan, you could be right – I’m not that clued up on the way the proxy server etc work. Generally I just paste special/in plain text so that’s my workaround. But thanks for the reason why this is happening.

    Both these responses will help me be less angry! Although I’m friendly, really…!

  4. I am also curious what “labels” you refer to in your post. I can’t think of anything that might be described that way that is not editable.

    As for the HTML pasting, it is certainly not good, but I think the proxy answer is partly to blame. I can paste HTML quickly, but it contains more tables and such than it should. That is something IBM seems to be working on for Notes 8, thank goodness, as it drives me crazy.

    On the other hand, I’d much rather have my alarms together, as it is annoying to have sequential alarms. It is much more efficient to collect them. I have seldom had a problem with their popping up and interrupting me, but perhaps I don’t use them as much as you or type as quickly.

  5. On the one hand, I’m a very long-time Notes user, developer and administrator. On the other hand, I’m very passionate about clean user interfaces. Here’s my response in general…the Lotus Notes user interface has suffered for years, over a decade is what my gut tells me (personal opinion only). In the last two years, IBM has realized it’s an issue and has put significant resources into it for Notes 8. I see version 8 as a strong step forward. I also see the work as “not done” because it’s unrealistic to do it all in just one release. I don’t think anyone could do it in one release. It takes time for the changes to settle in and see what else needs to be done. Also, I think the UI team has only been at the forefront for version 8, which means they need time to learn Notes at the very deep level, which means they need to put out a very solid release and then get feedback on what remains to be done. I think you see the details coming out in the version 8 forum. IBM will get a ton done for version 8, but more refinements will come in the release afterwards. I also think version 9 will come a lot quicker than the gap between 7 and 8 because so much of the plumbing was changed in version 8, and not as much will change moving towards version 9.

    Anyways, the bottom line is that I agree with what you’re saying and I also know that things are changing thanks to the hard work of the team at IBM. The UI team and the developers are very passionate about their work, they just have a huge job moving the client forward. They’re making greate strides and I encourage you to take a look as they release version 8 (or give it a shot with the beta, but have at least 1 GB of RAM…yeah, I know, that’s a lot). 🙂

  6. ah, the lables you refer to are “categories”, in general in views categories are generated automatically from the documents in the view, the capitalisation of the category is based on the first document that would go in that category and generally to remove a category just cause all the documents in that category to go somewhere else. Now in the specific case of the Todo form something rather more interesting is going on. The formula which defines the options available is
    xxNotesCats := “Holiday|H”:”Vacation|V”:”Projects|P”:”Clients|C”:”Phone Calls|PC”:”Travel|T”;

    which means you get some standard options (Holiday, Vacation, Projects, Clients, Phone Calls and Travel) plus whatever is in the usercategories field on your calendar profile document. The calendar profile document is what you see when you press the tools/preferences action button. In the Calendar & Todo tab on the basics subtab there is a field containing your personal categories where you can edit the list of categories. If you make a change you would have to go back to any old misscategorised items and change their category to the new one.

  7. As many people say around the world:
    “Take i or leave it”. I really do not care about complaints for notes client because mo of the time the problem is:
    – lack of education on the product
    – really bad administration (still lack of training)
    – really bad developpers (lack of training)

    When MicroStuff crashes well it seems normal and obvious for everyone so “Take it or leave it”.

  8. I am a huge Notes fan but to be fair I do find that pasting in content from the web does take a while, I am not behind a proxy server.

    Having said that I have just tried it and it works fine so I am not sure what the pattern is !


  9. Many thanks for all the responses here. I think the suggestion that the UI team has only just been brought in makes a lot of sense – even today I’m still finding idiosyncracies in the interface but I’ve decided to let it lie. This has been by far my most popular posting and it would be a cheap way to increase my hit rate! Regards FG.

  10. You people really need to grow up and get a life. Notes is not something you should spend so much time hating and whining about. Your level of ignorance about the product is astounding but this does not seem to inhibit you from spewing. Outlook??? You got to be kidding?

  11. Simon Templar: I am grown up and have a life. That is why I am searching the web to find out how to gain back some valuable minutes of said life which have been wasted by forgetting to do a PASTE SPECIAL from the web into Lotus Notes. And yes I am still ignorant after NINE YEARS OF STRUGGLING with Lotus Notes. Lotus Notes??? You gotta be kidding?!?!

  12. My thanks to the Ghost, Thomas, and Alan Bell. Since the Notes “help” contain little info of use, I often turn to the blogs.

    A few years ago my company decided to “standardize” email tools. We had 10 or 15 tools in use company wide. The CIO choose Lotus Notes. We have since given him a chance to seek employment elsewhere. That siad, we are stuck with Lotus Bloats.

    I too had difficulty deleting To Do catagories until Alan posted.

    Mr Templar,
    As I understand the history of Lotus Bloats, it did not start life as an email tool. That was an afterthought, a kluge if you will.
    If Bloats help was actually helpful, or the same information could be found any ANY user available Notes documentation, we would all have more “life”.
    To answer your rude remarks, BLOW IT OUT YOUR KAZU.

  13. I was a certified Notes developer in the mid-1990s. Then there was a huge gap until March 2008, when I started using it again (v6.5 – I have no control over that). I’m not developing in it now; I’m just a user these days.

    Here’s my biggest Notes peeve, although there are many:

    Once I decline a meeting, it is invisible to me forever. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to bring that meeting back. What if my other commitment goes away and I can go to the new meeting after all? Tough. There doesn’t appear to ever be a way to deal with an accidental decline, either. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    If you took the calendar and e-mail out of Notes, I’d say it was a fine product. Those two elements of Notes are so incredibly awful, it boggles the mind.

    Mozilla Thunderbird crushes both Notes and Outlook for e-mail. It’s easy, intuitive, and doesn’t corrupt its entire e-mail database if one message goes bad.

    Outlook e-mail sucks, but its calendar is brilliant compared to Notes.

  14. Still using notes 7 here. I have the copy/paste error, and it is very annoying. I tried the proxy thing and IT WORKED! Thank you very much Alan Bell, you have lowered my blood pressure by quite a bit =)

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