Q

Can I create a fully customizable app in Notes?

I need to provide a framework for the content manager (an end user with special rights to the database) that can define every attribute of the solution. For example:
  1. Page, form, text colors, attributes of the application (can be done by allowing the content manager to modify the Cascaded Style Sheet).

  2. The creation and definition of forms (i.e., content manager must be able to define a particular form, such as which fields need to be there in the form and their positions).

  3. The display of the data, which is similar to point number 2, where the content manager must be able to specify what data must be displayed where.

  4. Every link of the application must be configurable and should not be hard-coded or fixed (i.e., the content manager must be able to configure and position any link anywhere on the page and also define new links). For example, My Documents, which is a link, can be renamed as MyDocs and the parameters to this must also be given to show the documents on the current month (current month is the parameter).
There are lot of things that the application requires (i.e., the application must be completely parameterized -- NO HARD CODING at all).

Is it feasible to develop an application like this in Lotus Notes?
Yes, this is feasible without a problem. I am a bit puzzled over item 2 though. Suppose you are able to make this feature with Notes and the content manager is able to set up a new form with fields to his liking. So, then we have a Web user who is entering those fields and submits the form. If this needs to be flexible, how are you going to deal with the handling of the result of the input of this form? Surely a process needs to pick up the newly entered fields and do something with it. Making that flexible as well is going to be a bigger challenge than making the dynamic forms.

The point I am trying to make is, in my experience what you are asking for is a demand straight from the business, and I find it hard to believe that a 100% flexible system is required. Whether using Domino or another tool, you are trying to achieve something that could result in an overkill.

Yes, with Domino we can make the framework, dynamic CSS, dynamic content and no hard coding at all -- this is where Domino is at its best, actually. But making dynamic forms and fields to allow the user to create fields, I am not sure if that will actually be Domino's best. It can be done without a doubt, but what happens with the received content based on those forms? It will be stored in the Domino database, yet needs to be handled in some way, to use the results. In a nutshell, choosing Domino for your dynamic content management is a very good choice, but don't over-engineer.

This was last published in October 2003

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