Much ado about scripting, Linux & Eclipse: card subject to change

2007-08-18

Notes 8: Better Than Notes 7, Still Room To Improve

Notes 8 has been released, and because I know people who know how to get things, I've managed to score a copy to try it out. Compared to Notes 7 and its less-than-Linux-friendly forebears, Notes 8 is an absolute delight to install as an upgrade to Notes 7.

  1. Download zip & unpack
  2. $ sudo su
  3. # chmod +x setup.sh; ./setup.sh
  4. # exit
  5. $ /opt/ibm/lotus/notes
  6. Configure Notes (same as in Notes 7)

However, putting on my Usability Police hat...

  1. The installer still doesn't create a K-menu shortcut -- though that's a KDE-needs-to-reboot thing. It also doesn't create a desktop shortcut, presumably because RHEL and SLED (the officially-supported platforms) put their users' desktops in different places than the MEPIS/Kubuntu convention of ~/Desktop or because no one's ever thought to ask root where to create the .desktop file. Also, there's no notes.png for me to make my own shortcut, just a notes.ico (which can easily be converted with GIMP, but still).
  2. Databases are now called "Applications". Why? Search me -- after 8 years of using Notes mail & application databases, not enough people were confused by the concept, so it was time to rebrand. This begs the question -- if my mailbox is now my Mail Application, wtf is Notes itself? My Mail Application Application?
  3. I created a custom 'Home' page involving two frames -- Inbox & Calendar. It accepted it & saved it, but then didn't display it -- just the 'welcome to Notes' page. Then, I hit 'just give me the default' and my page appeared. *Weird*.

  4. Notes 8 still features the Workspace, but it didn't find any of my existing Notes 7 databases (even though they're referenced in the same folder), so I'm going to have to recreate all those all over again (as I did when moving from Notes 6 to 7). The good news is that the Workspace is now pretty much irrelevant because the "Open" menu / Bookmark Bar provides about the same functionality, without the ugly (albeit colourful) Workspace tabs.

  5. File > Import still only works with structured text and Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets. Why can't I migrate from an old Workspace or Desktop file to a new one?

Usability issues aside, here's some of the new features I discovered:

  1. Notes 7 was built on Eclipse 3.0.2. Notes 8 leaps ahead two years and is built on Eclipse 3.2.2, including EMF 2.2.2, GEF 3.2.2 and XSD 2.2.2. Strangely, it includes PDE and JDT too, not just the RCP and platform stuff. Why? No idea.
  2. Notes finally remembers non-Notes (Internet) addresses when composing an email!

  3. Browser settings are now global, rather than per-Location.
  4. The "Office" location is now called "Online", which contrasts better with the "Offline" location (previously called "Island"). Kudos on finally using the same terms as all other mail clients with this capability -- though I still prefer the way Netscape Mail (and now Thunderbird) handles the "Work online/offine" toggle, with its "plugged in / unplugged" icons.
  5. Preferences are no longer split into multiple submenus (File > Preferences > Location Preferences, File > Preferences > User Preferences) -- instead, they're in one centralized multi-page Eclipse-like Preferences dialog. However, File > Security > User Security is a still separate preferences page. Mail/Calendar settings are still done within that database (which makes sense because those are per-database, not global).
  6. I can run Notes 7 and Notes 8 at the same time -- which is handy because I have to manually recreate all my "Applications" in my new Workspace. However, running Notes 7 on the same desktop/workspace file messes up Notes 8 (see below).
  7. UPDATE: The SameTime (7.5.1) / Day-At-A-Glance / (RSS) Feeds sidebar rocks. Turns out that yes, you can break it apart (Open In New Window) or reorder the views, despite my previous comments. Oops. It also remembers where I left it (including detached SameTime window).
  8. The new "Open" menu can be modified by simply dragging shortcuts around to reorder them. How do you add a new shortcut/bookmark? Open some application/database and select Create > Bookmark, then put it in your "Bookmark Bar" (aka "Open" menu).
  9. There's a new "Show Thumbnails" button next to the new "Open" menu, which is a neat feature, but about as useful as the password entry box's distracting/changing "keychain" icon and "XXX = one typed char" protection system (image above).

Unfortunately, things got a little hairy after trying to run Notes 7 and 8 at the same time:

  1. I shut down Notes 7, but now my Notes 8 Workspace was blank. Notes 8 itself wouldn't shut down, so it was time for some killall eclipse java. That didn't work either, so I had to kill -9 the notes2w process.
  2. Now, Notes 8 wouldn't start -- instead I got this li'l beaut':
    This software has encountered a problem and needs to close.

    Then this, slightly more educational (though equally useless) message:

    Failed to login
    CLFRJ001OE: Notes initialization failed

    And finally, this console log:

    2007/08/18 01:19:55.328 CONFIG eclipse.buildId=build20070731-1521
    java.fullversion=J2RE 1.5.0 IBM J9 2.3 Linux x86-32 j9vmxi3223ifx-20070714 (JIT enabled)
    J9VM - 20070713_13151_lHdSMR
    JIT - 20070109_1805ifx5_r8
    GC - 200701_09
    BootLoader constants: OS=linux, ARCH=x86, WS=gtk, NL=en_US

    Framework arguments: -dir ltr -personality com.ibm.rcp.platform.personality -product com.ibm.notes.branding.notes -plugincustomization
    /opt/ibm/lotus/notes/framework/rcp/plugin_customization.ini
    Command-line arguments: -os linux -ws gtk -arch x86 -dir ltr -personality com.ibm.rcp.platform.personality -product com.ibm.notes.branding.notes -data /home/nickb/lotus/notes/data/workspace -plugincustomization /opt/ibm/lotus/notes/framework/rcp/plugin_customization.ini ::class.method=com.ibm.rcp.core.internal.logger.frameworkhook.writeSession() ::thread=main ::loggername=com.ibm.rcp.core.internal.logger.frameworkhook
    2007/08/18 01:20:00.706 SEVERE CLFMW0008E: Error returned from bootstrap dll during init call. Closing down the client ::class.method=com.ibm.workplace.noteswc.NoteswcPlugin.writeToLog() ::thread=main ::loggername=com.ibm.workplace.noteswc
    2007/08/18 01:20:06.009 SEVERE CLFMW0030E: Error Initializing Notes, Check the logs for details of the error ::class.method=com.ibm.workplace.noteswc.NoteswcPlugin$1.done() ::thread=main ::loggername=com.ibm.workplace.noteswc
    2007/08/18 01:20:06.513 SEVERE CLFRJ0013E: Notes initialization failed ! ::class.method=class com.ibm.workplace.internal.notes.security.auth.NotesLoginModule.initialize() ::thread=ModalContext ::loggername=com.ibm.workplace.internal.notes.security
    2007/08/18 01:20:08.199 WARNING CWPST0306W: Exception calling proxy method ::class.method=com.ibm.rcp.internal.security.AbstractProxy.invoke() ::thread=main ::loggername=package com.ibm.rcp.internal.security

    java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException
    ...

On restart, I had a shortcut in K-menu > Office, and Notes 8 once again worked and let me log in, even without being VPN'd (though the built-in SameTime 7.5 client complained about not being able to connect, as I'd expect). Too bad there's no Zap Notes 8 available yet. UPDATE: To Zap Notes 8, just run nsd -kill.

CONCLUSION: After 3 and a half hours of poking at it, I'd say at this point Notes 8 is visually and functionally better than Notes 7. It's easier to install, adds some nice new features, doesn't introduce any significant annoyances, fixes a few old issues, and stays true to its roots. Kudos!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

so how do us normal users get hold of it - i'm currently using notes 7 under wine because the linux version of notes 7 is so bad.
All i can see on the ibm site is the release announcement and lots of images/videos, but no actual download - is it actually released or not? Looks like vaporware for the moment.

Wassim Melhem said...

In the calendar screenshot, it appears as though you had lunch plans on Aug 16 at 11:30am. How did the lunch go? ;)

Chris Aniszczyk (zx) said...

You need to replace your mail template with the latest Mail R8 template. It is still using the old template. Once you do that, things will look prettier.

Nick said...

anonymous: try here. If you can't find a link to buy it, click the 'call me' button and talk to a sales rep.

zx: where can I get the R8 template?

Chris Aniszczyk (zx) said...

It should be bundled with your install.

Make sure advanced menus is turned on (View->Advanced Menus)

File->Application->Replace Design and find the Mail (R8) template.

Farhoud said...

Hi Nick

I have just done the install on Open SuSe 10.2 x64 and the installation seem to go fine, after the install I tried to launch notes 8 for the first time and I got the error you got below

Failed to login
CLFRJ001OE: Notes initialization failed

How did you end up getting around this?

Nick said...

Farhoud:

I didn't get that error, perhaps because I was upgrading from Notes 7 to 8 on the same system w/o uninstalling 7 first.

Did you try the Notes/Domino 8 Support Forum, or any of the other helpful links I suggested?