By Michael Caton  |  Posted 2006-01-16 Print this article Print

Like Novells Groupwise, Lotus Domino provides a broad range of client options.

In addition to the Notes client, Domino has a Web-based client, Domino Web Access, for accessing e-mail and calendars. Domino also supports Microsofts Outlook, but GroupWise still does the best job of providing native client support for Windows-, Mac OS- and Linux-based desktop operating systems by providing a native Mac OS and Linux client as well as the Evolution Linux client.

Read more here about Evolution.
Although the Notes client supports only Windows 2000 and Windows XP, IBM has done a good job of providing feature parity for Mac OS and Linux users through Domino Web Access on Mozilla Foundation browsers. The Domino Web Access user interface resembles the Notes client and provides a rich client experience through drag-and-drop capabilities and the ability to view mail threads.

IBM updated the Mac OS Notes client with Version 6.5 of Domino and Notes; that version can be used with Domino 7.

While most Web mail interfaces are still progressing from a tool of convenience to something that could be used all the time, Domino Web Access includes the kind of core functionality and convenience features that make it a very usable client. For example, we could import holiday lists, create stationery, and bring e-mail and calendar information offline.

Changes to the Notes client largely refine the user experience and will be welcome for companies that tap the full capabilities of the client. The resource and room scheduling function has been changed so it works in the same way as in calendaring and scheduling, eliminating the possibility of double-booking resources. In addition, users can now transfer reservations so that, for example, long-standing reservations can be passed to a successor when a user role changes. Users also can set up the client so that preferred lists of resources come up when scheduling.

We particularly liked that Notes can now automatically open any windows that a user had open the last time he or she logged out, as well as its ability to close all tabs using a single menu option.

We also appreciated some of the tweaks IBM has made in the mail client views, as well as some of the shortcuts that have been added. For example, IBM has added a number of iconic elements that will help users quickly see to whom message replies were sent, as well as the relative size of a distribution group. In addition, the right-mouse-button menu now supports follow-up actions, making it easier to flag messages.

DB2 debut

One of the biggest changes introduced in Version 7 of Lotus Notes and Domino is also one that isnt widely supported.

With this release, IBMs DB2 Universal Database can be used as a back-end store for Notes application data. IBM currently is offering only limited support for this capability. Companies can test the feature for internal development, but applications using DB2 as the store cannot be deployed.

DB2 support will allow companies to build more scalable and robust applications than they would ordinarily be able to by storing data in Notes native NSF (Notes Storage Format) data structure. The use of DB2 wont eliminate the need for Notes-specific development expertise, however, as developers will still need to work within the Domino Designer 7 client to create views and forms.

Developers will get better access to Notes data, however, which can be stored as NFS data within DB2 tables. And, rather than using Notes view formulas to present data within a Notes application, developers will be able to use SQL to present the data using DB2 Access Views in Designer.

IBM has done a good job of putting the necessary tools at hand for integrating Domino and DB2. We liked the DB2 Access Views tools within Domino Designer, and the Domino Administrator client has the necessary form for managing a users credentials that the Domino server will pass to the DB2 server.

Companies shouldnt expect to suddenly be able to move core Domino applications to DB2, however, as databases must be specifically created as DB2 databases.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.


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