Lotus Notes Domino Server is used widely in Industry not only for E-mailing purpose but also for maintaining important databases of the company. Lotus Domino Server is considered to be one of the most secured systems and this makes it popular choice of big players in IT as well as other Industry Segments. Lotus Domino Training can be broadly divided into Administration and Development. Administration deals with Lotus Notes Domino Server administraion and Development deals with application development.
Lotus Notes v8.5 is a milestone release, IBM team has given their best efforts to implement long pending wish lists of Domino Developers and Administrators. The new improvements has once again given this product strength and tools to dominate the Enterprise E-Mail Messaging and Collaboration segment.
Here is a quick link to the new enhancements being introduced in v85 release : Features of Lotus Notes 8.5
Training programs @ Swift Brains have been specially designed to cover the new enhancements introduced in Lotus Notes 8.5
Courses Offered by Swift Brains
Apart from this Swift Brains offers consultancy services in
Lotus Notes in General – Features, History, Version
About Lotus Notes and Domino
Lotus Notes is a client-server, collaborative application developed and sold by IBM Software Group. IBM defines the software as an “integrated desktop client option for accessing business e-mail, calendars and applications on [an] IBM Lotus Domino server.”
The Notes client is mainly used as an email client, but also acts as an instant messaging client (for Lotus Sametime), browser, notebook, and calendar/resource reservation client, as well as a platform for interacting with collaborative applications.
In the early days of the product, the most common applications were threaded discussions and simple contact management databases. Today Notes also provide blogs, wikis, RSS aggregators, CRM and Help Desk systems, and organizations can build a variety of custom applications for Notes using Domino Designer.
The Notes client can be used as an IMAP and POP e-mail client with non-domino mail servers. Recipient addresses can be retrieved from any LDAP server, including Active Directory. The client also does web browsing although it can be configured to launch the default browser instead.
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Features include group calendaring and scheduling, SMTP/MIME-based e-mail, NNTP-based news support, and automatic HTML conversion of all documents by the Domino HTTP task.
Notes’ integration with IBM’s Sametime instant messaging allows users to see other users online and conduct chat sessions with them. A chat session can be with one person or multiple people. Beginning with Release 6.5 this functionality is built into the Notes client and presence awareness is available in email and other Notes applications for users in organizations that use both Notes and Sametime.
Since version 7, Notes has provided a web services interface. Domino can be a web server for HTML files too; authentication of access to Domino databases or HTML files uses Domino’s own user directory and external systems such as Microsoft’s Active Directory.
A design client is available to allow rapid development of databases consisting of forms, which allow users to create documents; and views, which display selected document fields in columns.
In addition to being a groupware system (e-mail, calendaring, shared documents and discussions), Notes/Domino is also a platform for developing customized client-server and web applications. Its use of design constructs and code provide capabilities that facilitate the construction of “workflow” type applications (which may typically have complex approval processes and routing of data).
Since Release 5, Lotus server clustering has been capable of providing geographic redundancy for servers.
The first release of Notes included a generalized replication facility. The generalized nature of this feature set it apart from predecessors like Usenet and continues to differentiate Notes from many other systems that now offer some form of synchronization or replication. The facility in Notes and Domino is not limited to email, calendar, and contacts. It works for any data in any application that uses NSF files, which are the standard container for data in the Notes architecture, for its storage. No special programming, tagging, or other configuration is required to enable replication.
Domino servers and Notes clients identify NSF files by their Replica IDs and keep files with matching IDs synchronized by bidirectionally exchanging data, metadata, and application logic and design. Replication between two servers, or between a client and a server, can occur over a network or a point-to-point modem connection. Replication between servers may occur at intervals according to a defined schedule, in near real-time when triggered by data changes in Domino server clusters, or on an ad-hoc basis when triggered by an administrator or programmatically.
Creation of a local replica of an NSF file on the hard disk of a Notes client enables the user of the client to take full advantage of Notes databases while working off-line — with the client synchronizing any changes when client and server next connect. Local replicas are also sometimes maintained for use while connected to the network in order to reduce network latency. Replication between a Notes client and Domino server can run automatically according to a schedule, or manually in response to a user or programmatic request. Local replicas on early releases of the Notes client did not always maintain all security features programmed into the applications, but starting with Notes 6 enforcement of application security is automatic for all local replicas. Early releases also did not offer a way to encrypt NSF files, raising concerns that local replicas potentially exposed too much confidential data on laptops or insecure home office computers, but an optional encryption feature for NSF files was added in more recent releases, and as of Notes 6 it is the default setting for newly created local replicas.
Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client-server and server-server authentication and for encryption of data, and it remains the product with the largest installed base of PKI users. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, Lotus was prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. The effect of this was that users of Notes outside of the US had stronger protection against private sector industrial espionage, but no additional protection against spying by the US government. This implementation was not a secret – in fact it was widely announced – but with some justification many people did consider it to be a backdoor. Some governments objected to being put at a disadvantage to the NSA, and as a result Lotus continued to support the 40 bit version for export to those countries. Comment on this issue Under current US export laws, Lotus supports only one version of the Notes PKI with 128 bit symmetric keys, 1024 bit public keys, and no workload reduction factor. The Domino server’s security tools also include S/MIME, SSL 3.0 support with industry standard key sizes for HTTP and other Internet protocols, X.509 client certificates, and an integrated certificate authority.
Lotus also employs a code-signature framework that controls the security context, runtime, and rights of custom code developed and introduced into the environment. With Release 5, Lotus introduced Execution Control Lists at the Client level – starting with 6, ECL’s can be managed centrally by server administrators through the implementation of Policies. Since release 4.5 the code signatures listed in properly configured ECLs entirely prevent code execution by external malicious sources, and therefore virus propagation, through native Notes/Domino environments. Administrators can centrally control whether each mailbox user can add exceptions to, and thus override, the ECL.
Every database has an access control list (ACL) that specifies the level of access or rights a user or a server can have to that database. Although the names of access levels are the same for users and servers, those assigned to user determines the tasks he or she can perform in a database, while those assigned to a server determines what information within the database a particular server can replicate. Only a user or administrator with Manager access can create or modify the ACL.
To control the access rights of a Notes user, select the access level, user type, and access level privileges for each user or group in a database. You can set default entries in the ACL when you create the database. You may also assign roles if the database designer determines this level of access refinement is needed by the application.
Notes/Domino is a cross-platform, secure, distributed document-oriented database and messaging framework and rapid application development environment that includes pre-built applications like email, calendar, etc. This sets it apart from its major commercial competitors, such as Microsoft Exchange or Novell GroupWise, which are generally purpose-built applications for mail and calendaring that offer APIs for extensibility.
Lotus Domino databases are built using the Domino Designer client, available only for Windows; while standard user clients are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. A key feature of Notes is that many replicas of the same database can exist at the same time on different servers and clients, across dissimilar platforms, and the same storage architecture is used for both client and server replicas. Originally, replication in Notes happened at document (i.e. record) level. With release of Notes 4 in 1996, replication was changed so that it now occurs at field level.
A database is an NSF (Notes Storage Facility) file, containing basic units of storage known as a “note”. Every note has a UniqueID and a NoteID. The UniqueID uniquely identifies the note across all replicas within a cluster of servers, a domain of servers, or even across domains belonging to many organizations that are all hosting replicas of the same database. The NoteID, on the other hand, is unique to the note only within the context of one given replica. Each note also stores its creation and modification dates, and one or more Items.
There are several classes of notes, including design notes and document notes. Design notes, which are created and modified with the Domino Designer client, represent programmable elements, such as the GUI layout of forms for displaying and editing data, or formulas and scripts for manipulating data. Document notes, which are created and modified with the Lotus Notes client, via a web browser, via mail routing and delivery, or via programmed code, represent user data.
Document notes can have parent-child relationships, but Notes should not be considered a hierarchical database in the classic sense of IMS. Notes databases are also not relational, although there is a SQL driver that can be used with Notes, and it does have some features that can be used to develop applications that mimic relational features. There is no support for atomic transactions in Notes, and its file locking is rudimentary at best. Notes is a Document-oriented database (document-based, schemaless, loosely structured) with support for rich content and powerful indexing facilities. This structure closely mimics paper-based workflows that Lotus Notes is typically used to automate.
Items represent the content of a note. Every item has a name, a type, and may optionally have some flags set. A note can have more than one item with the same name. Types include Number, Number List, Text, Text List, Date-Time, Date-Time List, and Rich Text. Flags are used for managing attributes associated with the item, such as read or write security. Items in design notes represent the programmed elements of a database. For example, the layout of an entry form is stored in the rich text Body item within a form design note. This means that the design of the database can replicate to users’ desktops just like the data itself, making it extremely easy to deploy updated applications.
Items in document notes represent user-entered or computed data. An item named “Form” in a document note can be used to bind a document to a form design note, which directs the Lotus Notes client to merge the content of the document note items with the GUI information and code represented in the given form design note for display and editing purposes. The resulting loose binding of documents to design information is one of the cornerstones of the power of Lotus Notes. Traditional database developers used to working with rigidly enforced schemas, on the other hand, may consider the power of this feature to be a double-edged sword.
Notes applications development uses several programming languages. Formula and LotusScript are the two main ones. LotusScript is similar to, and may even be considered a specialized implementation of, Visual Basic, but with the addition of many powerful native classes that model the Notes environment, whereas Formula is unique to Notes but similar to Lotus 1-2-3 formula language.
As of version 6, Lotus established an XML programming interface in addition to the options already available. The Domino XML Language (DXL) provides XML representations of all data and design resources in the Notes model, allowing any XML processing tool to create and modify Notes/Domino data.
External to the Lotus Notes application, IBM provides toolkits in C, C++, and Java to connect to the Domino database and perform a wide variety of tasks. The C toolkit is the most mature and the C++ toolkit is an objectized version of the C toolkit, lacking many functions the C toolkit provides. The Java toolkit is the least mature of the three and can be used for basic application needs.
Notes includes a DBMS but Notes files are different from relational or object databases since they are document centric. Document-oriented databases such as Notes allow multiple values in items (fields), don’t require a schema, come with built-in document-level access control and store RichText data. There are some Object-Relational features being developed and Domino 7 supported a restricted release add-on allowing the use of IBM’s DB2 database as an alternative store for Notes databases. With Domino 8 this is available without a special request. You can map a Notes database to a relational database using tools like DECS, [LEI], JDBCSql for Domino or NotesSQL.
It could be argued that Notes is a multi-value database system like PICK, or that it’s an object system like Zope, but it is in fact unique. Whereas the temptation for relational database programmers is to normalize databases, Notes databases must be denormalized. RDBMS developers often find it difficult to conceptualize the difference. It may be useful to think of a Notes document (a ‘note’) as analogous to an XML document natively stored in a database (although with limitations on the data types and structures available).
The benefits of this data structure are:
No need to define size of fields, or datatype;
Attributes (Notes fields) that are null take up no space in a database;
Built-in full text searching.
Use as an email client
Lotus Notes is commonly deployed as an end-user email client in larger organizations, with IBM claiming a cumulative 145 million licenses sold to date. (IBM does not release the number of licenses on current maintenance, nor does it track number of licenses in current use.)
When an organization employs a Lotus Domino server, it usually also deploys Lotus Notes for its users to read mail and use databases. However, the Domino server also supports POP3 and IMAP mail clients, and through an extension product (Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook) supports native access for Microsoft Outlook clients. Lotus also provides Domino Web Access, to allow the use of email and calendaring features through Internet Explorer and Firefox web browsers on Windows, Mac and Linux. There are several spam filtering programs available, and a rules engine allowing user-defined mail processing to be performed by the server.
How Notes differs from other email clients
The designers of Lotus Notes aimed to build a collaborative application platform where email was just one of numerous applications that ran in the Notes client software. Lotus lore has it that the first mail inbox application written by Lotus was a proof-of-concept for a sales presentation. The Notes client was also designed to run on multiple platforms including Windows, OS/2, Mac, SCO Open Desktop UNIX, and Linux. These two factors have resulted in the user interface containing some differences from applications that only run on Windows. Furthermore these differences have often remained in the product to retain backward compatibility with earlier releases, instead of conforming to Windows UI standards. The following are some of these differences.
Properties dialog boxes for formatting text, hyperlinks and other rich-text information can remain open after a user makes changes to selected text. This provides great flexibility to select new text and apply other formatting without closing the dialog box, selecting new text and opening a new format dialog box. Almost all other Windows applications require the user to close the dialog box, select new text, then open a new dialog box for formatting/changes.
Properties dialog boxes also automatically recognize the type of text selected and display appropriate selections (for instance, a hyperlink properties box).
Users can format tables as tabbed interfaces as part of form design (for applications) or within mail messages (or in rich-text fields in applications). This provides users the ability to provide tab-style organization to documents, similar to popular tab navigation in most web portals, etc.
End-users can readily insert links to Notes applications, Notes views or other Notes documents into Notes documents.
Lotus Notes made near-instantaneous full-text searching available before other email applications, including Microsoft Outlook.
Deleting a document (or email) will delete it from every folder in which it appears, since the folders simply contain links to the same back-end document. Some other email clients only delete the email from the current folder; if the email appears in other folders it is left alone, requiring the user to hunt through multiple folders in order to completely delete a message. In Notes, clicking on “Remove from Folder” will remove the document only from that folder leaving all other instances intact.
The All Documents and Sent “views” differ from other collections of documents known as “folders” and exhibit different behaviors. Specifically, mail cannot be dragged out of them, and so removed from those views; the email can only be “copied” from them. This is because these are views, and their membership indexes are maintained according to characteristics of the documents contained in them, rather than based on user actions interaction as is the case for a folder). This technical difference can be baffling to users, in environments where no training is given. All Documents contain all of the documents in a mailbox, no matter which folder it is in. The only way to remove something from All Documents is to delete it outright. A sent email message cannot be removed from the Sent view, since that would imply that a message that used to be sent was no longer ever sent, which would be absurd.
Lotus Notes 7 and older versions had more differences:
Users select a “New Memo” to send an email, rather than “New Mail” or “New Message”. (Notes 8 calls the command “New Message”)
To select multiple documents in a Notes view, one drags one’s mouse next to the documents to select, rather than using ? Shift+single click. (Notes 8 uses keypress conventions.)
The searching function offers a “phrase search”, rather than the more common “or search”, and Notes requires users to spell out boolean conditions in search-strings. As a result, users must search for “delete AND folder” in order to find help text that contains the phrase “delete a folder”. Searching for “delete folder” does not yield the desired result. (Notes 8 uses or-search conventions.)
Like other popular commercial software packages, Lotus Notes has had its detractors as well as supporters. Critics[who?] assert that there are dedicated email clients that are simpler, more intuitive and have a lower purchase price. Proponents argue that richer capabilities and advanced programmability are available, and that purchase price is a small fraction of total cost of ownership. Also that its bomb-proof security against viruses and trojans is not matched in any other email system. Many of the differences mentioned above are seen by some as weaknesses in the product, especially when the user interface is compared more specialized applications.
Later releases of the product have made great headway in addressing end-user complaints.
Notes 8.0 (released in 2007) became the first version to employ a full[weasel words] user-experience team , resulting in a greatly improved Notes client experience. Additionally, Notes 8.0 now runs in the open source Eclipse Framework, opening up more application development opportunities through the use of Eclipse plug-ins. The improved user experience builds on Notes 6.5 (released in 2003), which upgraded the e-mail client, previously regarded[by whom?] as the product’s Achilles heel. Features added at that time included:
- drag and drop of folders
- replication of unread marks between servers
- follow-up flags
- reply and forward indicators on emails
- ability to edit an attachment and save the changes back to an e-mail
- Criticisms of the product include:
Lotus Notes has a history spanning more than 20 years. Its chief inspiration was PLATO Notes, created by David Woolley at the University of Illinois in 1973. In today’s terminology, PLATO Notes was a message board, and it was the basis for an online community which thrived for more than 20 years on the PLATO system. Ray Ozzie worked with PLATO while attending the University of Illinois in the 1970s. When PC network technology began to emerge, Ozzie made a deal with Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, that resulted in the formation of Iris Associates in 1984 to develop products that would combine the capabilities of PCs with the collaborative tools pioneered in PLATO. The agreement put control of product development under Ozzie and Iris, and sales and marketing under Lotus. In 1994, after the release and marketplace success of Notes R3, Lotus purchased Iris. In 1995 IBM purchased Lotus.
When Lotus Notes was initially released, the name “Notes” referred to both the client and server components. In 1996, Lotus released an HTTP server add-on for the Notes 4 server called “Domino”. This add-on allowed Notes documents to be rendered as web pages in real time. Later that year, the Domino web server was integrated into release 4.5 of the core Notes server and the entire server program was re-branded, taking on the name “Domino”. Only the client program officially retained the “Lotus Notes” name, however end users are generally unaware of this differentiation, so even though more than ten years have passed since the re-branding, references to the “Lotus Notes Server” are still fairly common.
IBM Lotus Notes 6.5 default Welcome Page
IBM Lotus Notes 7 customized Welcome Page
IBM Lotus Notes 8 Welcome Page
Since the IBM acquisition of Lotus, some industry analysts and mainstream business press writers, along with IBM competitors, have made predictions of the impending demise of Lotus Notes. One noted example of this was an article published in Forbes magazine entitled “The decline and fall of Lotus”, published in April 1998. Since that time, IBM claims that the installed base of Lotus Notes has increased from an estimated 42 million seats in September 1998 to approximately 145 million cumulative licenses sold through 2008 . (IBM does not publish the number of licenses on current maintenance. Additionally, Lotus users who no longer pay maintenance are permitted to keep using the software — they are simply not permitted to install subsequent releases.)
Speculation about the decline of Notes was fueled by lingering market confusion emanating from IBM placing marketing emphasis on Websphere and IBM Workplace in 2003 and 2004. IBM Workplace, however, has been discontinued, thus this source of confusion about the future of Notes and Domino has been rendered moot. While the future of any product in the technology sector cannot be predicted, IBM has made announcements that indicate that it continues to invest heavily in research and development on the Lotus Notes product line.
Notes 8, which was previously code-named “Hannover” (after the location of the 22nd Deutsche Notes User Group meeting, where it was first shown to the public) incorporates Notes into a larger Eclipse framework and includes support for productivity editors based on the OpenDocument format. (These editors have also been released in a standalone package called Lotus Symphony.) In addition, IBM executive Ken Bisconti has made public comments on several occasions asserting that there will be releases 8, 9 and 10 of Notes and Domino.
In 2005, some analysts concluded that Lotus is losing market share to Microsoft Exchange. There is no general agreement, however, about methods of accurately calculating share in the messaging and collaboration market. Figures based on seat count may be skewed by the presence of unused seats that are counted as a result of “bundled CALs”, and figures based on customer count may be skewed by difference in typical customer organization sizes. IBM has asserted that growth shown in the revenue figures for the Lotus brand, as published in their audited annual financial report, show the continuing strength of the Lotus Notes product in the market. According to these figures, the Notes and Domino product line has sustained double-digit growth since late 2004 and continuing through 2006, including 30% year-to-year growth in Q4 of 2006.
IBM contributed some of the code it had developed for the integration of the OpenOffice.org suite into Lotus Notes 8 back to the project. IBM also packaged its version of Open Office for free distribution as IBM Lotus Symphony. Notes/Domino 8.0.1 shipped in February 2008, with 8.0.2 coming in the summer. Version 8.5, which includes a Mac client, support for Ubuntu in addition to Red Hat Linux and SUSE Linux, as well as an Eclipse-based Domino Designer, shipped in December 2008. Version 8.5 also offers a new Ajax-enabled web programming paradigm called XPages.
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