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Rnext Beta 4: Better or too much bother?

Lotus is counting on testers to give Rnext the once over before releasing any final code. We should learn the official product name of Rnext at Lotusphere 2002.

Lotus is taking its time with the next version of Rnext, the code name for the newest release of Notes/Domino. The messaging software is now in its fourth beta release, with Lotus counting heavily on beta testers to make Rnext reliable.

A source close to Lotus management tells searchDomino that the company will announce Rnext's official name in January at Lotusphere 2002.

Rnext includes greater client-side capabilities, from improved file management to expanded user options for e-mail. Server admins can also take advantage of Rnext's integration of server health monitoring and improved hosting services for Domino, IMAP and POP3.

But some server admins and developers, who blame themselves for not contributing enough to the beta program for R5, are vowing not to make the same mistake with Rnext.

"I didn't test the betas of [Lotus Notes/Domino] R5 and was stuck with all the inadequacies in the final product," said Oliver Wilcock, a systems analyst at the Electricity Distributors Association (EDA), a lobbying group for energy producers based in Toronto, Ont. "So, I'm hoping that input at this stage might improve matters for Rnext."

Wilcock said he likes many of the new features he's found in Rnext. He did report an incompatibility in Rnext B3 between LotusScript and one of his organization's applications. He has not checked to see if Lotus fixed the problem in B4.

Wilcock also hopes the fixes Lotus adds to Rnext might make their way back into R5. "Calendar printing in R5 is inadequate," he said. "And, notification for calendar and to-do events can be problematic."

EDA runs Notes/Domino R5 from a Linux server. Thirty-five of its PCs run Microsoft Windows and R5. But Wilcock is only testing Beta 4 at home, where he has a Linux server and a Windows 2000 client system.

Third-party developers -- anticipating the eventual, final release of Rnext -- are also reviewing Lotus' beta releases very closely.

"A number of our clients hold their data in Domino," said Richard Brown, who works for a CRM software developer in the United Kingdom. "Rnext will most likely be the version they are using when the final release of our product is shipped."

Brown said the beta versions of Rnext are helping him make his product fully compatible with Domino. For that, the Lotus software does not have to be fully functional.

Brown said B4 provides "an excellent, comprehensive and stable GUI for the creation and management of complex information objects."

He would like better integration between Domino and other data and applications, however.

Still, some see Rnext Beta 4 as one of the last opportunities to affect the quality of the final release.

Ed Brill, a senior manager at Lotus, says the company will release a feature-complete beta of Rnext early in 2002 and a final release before the end of next year.


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