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Tool #1; Lotus Notes - my favorite tool of all times!

Tags: Cool Tools Software Lotus Notes
My favorite tool of all times is without doubt Lotus Notes!

A picture named M2

I use this tool for almost everything. All from working with e-mail in a fancy new user interface, to storing all kinds of information. Lotus Notes has become completely indespensable.
Since I started with computers and programming back in 1980 (yes, with Sinclair ZX-80, ZX-81 and advancing up to Commodore 64 ...) I have always had some tools I favoured more than others. One of my basic needs have always been to collect notes and ideas, tips and tricks and so on. I guess I have a strong need to organize things, even if my wife probably tells otherwise

So, one of my first favorites was Sidekick ...

A picture named M2

I had the same additiveness to it as Notes. I was available everywhere as a so-called TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) application in DOS, and I could quickly access all my stuff. I used Sidekick for many many years and was super happy with it. But the age of Windows was upon us, and Sidekick for Windows didn't have the same flair; it was much slower and didn't feel "right" as the DOS-version did.

After a while Lotus came up with a good replacement for Sidekick with it's Lotus Organizer tool;

A picture named M3

So after a while I had converted all my stuff from Sidekick to Organizer, and lived happily with Organizer into the 1990-91 ...

In 1992 I was introduced to Lotus Notes 2.11;

Release 2.0 screen

I immediately recognized its potential for my personal need to store stuff. But hey! Notes was great at even sharing my stuff with others. I entered the age Communication, Collaboration and Coordination - The three C's!! This was in fact one of the better slogans I've ever  seen! Kind of strange to see that other software vendors now seem to catch up more than a decade later!! The age of the three C's meant the age of shared forums, Knowledgebases and document repositories!

So, back in 1992 all my personal data was once again converted, this time to Lotus Notes. And I have never converted my personal data again! I can even find my old receipts from computer purchases from 1995!

What makes Notes so great?
  1. Store anything! It's ability to quickly store content of almost any kind. Whether you have documents, spreadsheets or images Notes swallow them
  • Search & Find! The ability to search and find stored content! And one thing that often is forgotten, Notes is pretty quick at searching all your databases for information!!
  • Create! The ability to quickly create new databases for specialized purposes. Granted you got to be a programmer to do this. But even not-so-much-of-a-programmer can do simple databases. And hey, you've got a bunch of great, free, templates  that can get you a headstart. Why not head off to OpenNTF to grab some more brilliant open source templates? The system behind this very blog is by the way Blogsphere from OpenNTF!
  • Community! A vivid community with dedicated people, eager to tell you about all the beautiful things Notes can do, and even help you out on the way! Why not try out the extremely busy Notes 6 and 7 forum? The Notes 8 forum is also picking up speed. Or get over to the IBM page telling you about the Forums and Community!
  • Weblify! The ability to deliver applications to both the Notes client and to the web. Lotus Notes can very deliver an application to the web almost without any extra work. Granted, that  doesn't look as fresh and fine as many other sites around. But if you're a web developer, Notes/Domino can really deliver some powerful web sites!

    If you really want the latest and coolest look around, why not base your application on
    dojo or Ext.nd, two super Javascript frameworks, letting you create the fanciest Web 2.0 apps around
  • Programmability! Extremely programmable with support for a bunch of different programming languages. Fancy Visual Basic-type of application development -> go for LotusScript, a VB clone with powerful possibilities. Fancy Java or JavaScript, you've got it! Even lower?! What about C and C++ - you've got that too!

    And the best of it all; All the programming languages are built around directly exported C functions from the Notes client and server code. This means that what you has a programming interface, is the exactly same functions that the Notes client and server use themselves! All the programming languages uses adapters to connect to the backend functions. That said, the different languages still adapts to the specific features typical to their languages. The C++ adapter let you have an object oriented approach to the Notes API, and so does the LotusScript.

    With Notes 8 a completely new area opens up with the support for real  Java-development via Eclipse and Expeditor. More to come here!!
  • Integrate! The ability to integrate to other solutions. Hey, you can even run Microsoft Outlook as a client  to Lotus Domino server! Can that be done the other way around? You've got built in features as programming interfaces, DECS and Notes-to-DB2 which let you connect to external databases right out of the box, You can also purchase specialized tools like Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI) to really propel your need to integrate with other systems.
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