It's generally understood that you don't buy the first model of a new series on the market. It's best to wait a year, let the manufacturer work out the bugs and go for that model a year or so down the line. When IBM released Lotus Notes 8 in August 2007, administrators who did upgrade had heard rave reviews from users saying that this latest model gave them much more of what they were looking for than previous iterations. But not everyone was ready to jump on the latest model -- no matter how many cup holders it offered.
While most admins didn't do anything immediately, the February 2008 release of Lotus Notes 8.0.1 had Lotus Notes Domino administrators kicking the tires on this newest version. "The 8.0.1 type of release is what customers wait for," said Richard Hoffman, vice president of Lotus product development at AXS-One Inc. in Rutherford, N.J. "They don't want to implement the Lotus Notes 8.0 release because they recognize that it's the base and there may be a lot of changes."
One ongoing complaint that Lotus Notes administrators have heard from users is that the Lotus Notes user interface (UI) wasn't entirely user-friendly. Most of the changes that occurred in Lotus Notes 8.0 are client-side upgrades; not a lot of admin-side changes were made.
"A lot of people in the Lotus Notes community have been waiting for something that makes the users happy," says Michael Kinder, senior application developer and Lotus Notes administrator. "With Notes 8.0, we got changes that users can actually see. Overall, most users are pleased."
Although Lotus Notes 8.0 exhibited some sexy new features, it wasn't without a few snags. Lotus Notes 8.0.1 fixes some of the bugs in the previous release and offers some fairly significant new features, especially for a maintenance release. Following are highlights of new features added to Lotus Notes 8.0.1.
- To address complaints about slow performance in organizations with a large number of users, Lotus Notes 8.0.1 offers more speed. Many administrators have commented on increased performance and memory usage compared to the initial release.
- The addition of email compression also boosts system performance. Lotus Notes 8.0.1 can compress an email attachment and the body of the message as well. This function can be activated on a mailbox-by-mailbox basis.
- The truncation feature in Lotus Notes 8.0.1 removes either the attachment only or the attachment and the body of the email message and places them into the archiving folder. Users receive a preview of the email message, but must retrieve the full message from the folder to read it in its entirety.
- Administrators have the ability to create archiving policies to either delete a message after a certain period of time or archive a message before deletion.
- The addition of Notes Traveler gives IBM Lotus Notes and Domino Web Access users real-time replication of email messages, including attachments, calendars, address books, journals and to-do lists. Traveler also supports Microsoft Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices and works over all wireless networks.
- The MyWidgets capability in Lotus Notes 8.0.1 places lightweight components into the Lotus Notes sidebar (when integrating with Google Gadgets) to incorporate stock tickers or RSS feeds, for example, into the Notes client without requiring any major programming. The LiveText feature with MyWidgets adds clickable links to certain text automatically.
- Webmail "Lite" is a condensed, yet fully functional, webmail interface to Lotus Notes mail.
- Drag-and-drop capabilities let users move email messages to their calendars and tasks easily. They can also move text between Notes and a Web browser via drag-and-drop.
- Users now have type-to-find functions within a docked Open list.
- The calendar function now displays a second time zone.
- Users can view individual mailbox quotas and usage in their individual navigation windows.
- Inline spell check can be enabled or disabled on a per-field basis.
- Supports Citrix Presentation Server 4.5.
Archiving solutions have been improved in Lotus Notes 8.0.1; however, they're not without fault. A Lotus Notes archiving administrator may create archiving policies, said Hoffman, but he has no way to confirm that archiving occurs.
While the Lotus Notes 8.0.1 archiving solution is intuitive, it takes a Lotus Notes document out of one database and puts it into another on the main Domino server. "There is some benefit to doing this, but you're not moving it onto less-expensive storage and you still have to back up," said Hoffman. This does enhance a user's email experience, but it doesn't solve most long-term archiving problems, he added.
Overall, the Lotus Notes Domino community is slowly taking advantage of the features available in Lotus Notes 8.0.1. As part of IBM's quarterly maintenance releases (QMRs), the next iteration -- Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta -- was released in May 2008. Have you started kicking the tires on this version? SearchDomino.com wants to know. Email us to let us know some of your favorite features or pain points in Lotus Notes 8.0.1 or the Lotus Notes 8.5 beta release.
Michelle Boisvert is the Features Editor for SearchDomino.com.