Notes is just a tool – but very powerful, partially thanks to the community

On several blogs there have been postings and discussions about Notes development and if someone not embracing Xpages is "Amish". I know there are some people in the Lotus community who work with several different technologies, and even some who have switched to other platforms for different reasons.

Personally I echo what Eric Mack said. Lotus Notes is just a tool. It is what you make of it. But from what I have seen, Notes is an extremely powerful tool in comparison with other development tools. The other evening I sat down with a good friend of mine. She is a web and graphics designer (working with Flash, PHP, MySQL, etc), and she have developed her fair share of websites. I pulled up Domino Designer and created a very quick and simple application. Just one form with a few fields, then three views, categorized on different fields in the documents. I added Save and Close buttons to the form, a New button in the view, and then created a couple of sample documents. I then showed her how I could modify the design of the form, and all existing documents now had that change. Fin ally I opened a web browser, navigated to the database and showed her how it worked in two different clients with no additional changes. Things that we Notes developers take for granted and use every day.

She was very impressed. It took me about 6-7 minutes to do everything above (I did it slow and explained all the steps to her, and answered some questions along the way). I then challenged her to do the same simple application using any tools of her choice in less than 60 minutes (ten times what I needed in Notes). She will make an attempt later this week, she said.

So Notes makes me very efficient as a developer. It is truly a RAD tool. Both as in "Rapid Application Development" and as in the slang expression.

But as Volker writes: "It’s all about the people, not the software". This is very true. Over the years I have met a large number of great people from the Lotus community, mostly at Lotusphere, but also at IamLUG. I consider many of them my friends, even if we just meet once a year in Orlando. During the year I keep up with them by reading their blogs, following them on twitter and Facebook and occasionally message them on Sametime if I have some question. Lotus Notes and Domino would simply not be the same thing without the community.

I am the only Notes developer in my organization, and it is hard. I don’t really have any peers to talk to, something I think is true for many Notes developers in small or medium size companies. Because we are so efficient at building applications using Domino Designer, there is not a need for huge staffs of Notes developers. So Lotusphere is the time of year I can talk shop with people who know the product, and where I can absorb ideas and new ways to approach development. Every year I come back to work with my head full of new ideas, things I can improve or add to existing applications and even brand new applications that would help our users. All thanks to the Lotus community. So I consider the community something that makes Notes an even more powerful tool.

Now to the bad news. I may not be able to go to Orlando in January. It is still up in the air, but I heard rumors that the $3,600 it would cost (conference fee, airfare and hotel) is considered too much by some people at my work. I guess we will see what happens.


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