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Why does Notes have two DBs?

Since we adopted a mail solution we have been using Lotus Notes from R4 till now with R6. My question is why in several releases of Notes until now one user as to deal with several databases, I mean names.nsf and the mail database itself, instead of a single one containing all its data like in MS Exchange?
There are many differences between a Notes client solution and an Exchange/Outlook-style one. Some are advantages, others disadvantages. The decision to split mail from the address book was made way, way back in the earliest versions of Notes. Two things to understand that influence changes but overall work to your benefit are:

  1. The product is completely backward compatible with each major revision, and has been since version 1.
  2. The "Mail Client" is in fact a Lotus Notes database that just happens to be designed to be handling mail. Any database can be a mail database, and any mail database can be created using available development tools within the product. Instead of a huge custom undertaking that cannot be changed, mail is just another Notes database.
This design philosophy has lead to many of the features in the development tools. Customers demanded mail functionality and the mail database had to be created with available development tools, so those development tools got enhanced with the needed features to make the better mail file.

All that said, there is no law that says you can't make your own or make your mail database also be your address book. It takes some development skill, but you can do virtually anything to your mail file.

Here's a very popular alternative mail design, produced by "Open NTF" -- an open source approach to Domino development. I know many of the people involved, and they do good work. This template is in use by tens of thousands of people.

If you really prefer the Outlook front end, you can use it. The Domino server is capable of appearing to be an Exchange server as far as the Outlook client is concerned. It's called Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook. If you want to see it, here's a presentation on IBM's site.

Personally, I prefer to use Directory Assistance and alternative name and address books or even LDAP to a central directory for my synchronization needs.

If this didn't answer your question -- or if it did -- drop me an e-mail to let me know.

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