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Pistolstar hits new target with custom Notes applications

The Pistol star is the brightest-known celestial body in the universe. It releases 10 million times the energy of the sun and is large enough to fill the entire diameter of Earth's orbit.

The company of the same name, Amherst, N.H.-based Pistolstar, Inc., is looking to be as prominent to Lotus Notes and Domino enterprise users in search of custom software solutions.

Message Link for Lotus Notes and Domino is the first of several new niche offerings from Pistolstar.

It allows one to connect any alpha series electronic moving display sign to the serial port on a Domino server. Users physically at the server, or across the country, can open the custom database and post messages that appear on the LCD or other type of sign.

Pistolstar co-founder Thomas Hoey said because the Message Link sign can be strategically placed up to 150 feet from a server and the message is easy to manipulate, it can serve an unlimited number of functions.

"Say you're in a workflow environment, like a factory, and the shop floor had an LCD display connected to Notes," said Hoey. "If people are taking customer orders into this database, and then the orders are put up on the display, the shop floor gets a heads up on what's coming down the line."

Hoey said Message Link can also work with custom agents that retrieve specific information over the Internet and feed it to the display.

For example, a company could set up a custom agent or program which would get that company's most recent stock price. It could then be brought back to the Message Link server and automatically displayed for employees or visitors to see.

Other offerings

Pistolstar co-founders Hoey and Michael Brown spent six years at Lotus subsidiary Iris Associates, developing core features of Lotus Notes. Now, they are on their own designing software that takes over where Notes leaves off.

"We think our market niche is the fact that we're from Iris Associates and we offer a lot of expertise," Hoey said. "We know the internal [Notes structure] very well, and we know the ins and outs of what works. We know tricks to develop software [add-ons] that aren't in the product right now, so we fill a lot of holes."

One upcoming program called VB2Notes makes life easier for Microsoft Visual Basic users programming for Domino by combining hundreds of code lines into a single routine.

"There are people that don't know a lot about Notes but want to interface to it. They don't want to go through the pain of writing all [the code] themselves. The idea is you don't really have to know any of the complexity of Notes, you just have to call these atomic routines," Hoey said.

VB2Notes will include twenty different atomic routines that, for example, would create databases from a template, send e-mail, and set and get fields in a document. All the routines are single functions that can be called from VB.

Pistolstar also offers a program called Single Login Network Provider. It replaces the Notes Single Login GINA, in essence synchronizing a Notes ID password and an HTTP password with a single click.

Pistolstar offers Message Link, including software, electronic display, and 150 feet of serial cable, for $299 through its Web site. Final pricing and availability for VB2Notes and other upcoming products have not yet been confirmed.

Dig Deeper on Domino Resources - Part 4

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