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  • Joe Wichowski 8:29 am on February 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Lotus Notes, ,   

    Eliminate the dreaded “reply-all” from your company… 

    We’ve all hate getting them – the dreaded “reply all” emails.  Too often, employees and co-workers continually use and abuse this button, to the extent that email is now “broken” in many companies throughout the business world.  Its sad really.  One little button can essentially ruin a function that was created to actually save people time.  Now however, it is one of the bigger time-wasters in our daily lives.

    It’s the equivalent to spam in the business to business world – only you can’t opt-out.  You can fight back, however, and set up your life to better manage these CC’s (and BCC’s) and get back to the world of the important and urgent.

    The goal of this post is to:

    • Make people “think” before hitting the reply-all button.  Should it go to a shorter distribution list, or does everyone really need to know this?
    • Punish those (a little bit) with an immediate confirmation “Thank you” back to the sender.  So, if they reply-all to 20 people, they will get 20 emails back saying “thanks!”
    • Explore the use of Social tools within the enterprise to try to curb the reliance on Email for non-critical / non-actionable information within the company.

    Setup a Rule

    The thing about email systems that most people forget is – you can make rules.  Rules are great – they automate the movement of emails and information as its sent to you.  It can be moved and replied to.  So, if you make a rule to move CC, BCC, and “Reply-All” emails

    To set this up in Microsoft Outlook, go into your rules.  You will need to add  separate rules for this.  This is due to the fact that the “reply” rule is a Server-side rule , and the “Move” rule is an Outlook (Client) rule, and Outlook will not let you build a rule that combines both.  But it still works fine with 2.


    Thanks for including me in your “Reply All” or “CC” email. I like to read these emails once a week (usually Friday afternoons), but sometimes it can take even longer based on my schedule.

    If there is something “actionable” that needs my immediate attention, please copy that piece out and resend it back to me (directly). Otherwise, I will read your email when I get a chance.

    Have a great day!
    Joe Wichowski
    Traction Consulting Group

    The same thing can be done in Lotus Notes as well.  However, you will also need to make an Email Agent (since the Lotus Notes rule system does not have an “auto-reply” capability).  But it still works pretty much the same – 1 rule to “move” the email, and 1 agent to “reply” to the originator.

    So, with this rule setup within your company, the next time someone CC’s 20 people, they will in fact get 20 emails back – right now – saying “Thanks! But I won’t be reading this anytime soon”.  If it is truly important, it will be up to the sender to re-send the information if it truly needs to be acted on.  However, more than likely they will just address the new email to those who need to see it (the remaining 18 people will be spared).  AND, the benefit for you is – you didn’t even see the email.  Its waiting for you in your “FYI” folder – when YOU are ready to read it.

    Implement Social Tools

    The thing about Reply-All’s and CC’s is that those emails are the pieces of information in the company that could truly benefit from Social tools.  If you this in terms of Facebook; what does Facebook really do for you?  It keeps you updated on your friends; it lets you see what they are working on; it lets you know their discoveries; it lets you know their challenges.  But the biggest thing Facebook does for you is – it lets you do all of this on your own time, when you are ready for it.

    So twist that around, and apply that to the business world.  Reply-Alls and CC’d are an attempt by employees and co-workers to keep you updated; let you see what they’re working on (or did); let you know their findings and resolutions; let you know where they are stuck.  It’s essentially the same goals.  But when it comes to your Inbox, it does not give you the choice of reviewing it when you are ready.  Instead, it often hinders productivity.

    To resolve that, a tool like Chatter or Lotus Live can help migrate these conversations within a context that matters – a social engagement tool that keeps people well-informed, while preserving the Inbox for immediate and urgent things.

    A Note On Customer Etiquette

    Often, my customers will “reply-all” to me.  I don’t mind.  But I don’t “reply back” to them either.  I usually build 2 sets of “reply” rules – one to reply to my internal staff, and the other to simply move the CC or Reply-All email into a separate “Customer FYI” folder.  I usually quickly scan those headers once a day, to see if anything really demands my attention.

    Bottom line for me – Customers always come first, but work needs to get done.  I think by creating the proper set of rules within your email system, and engaging in a social tool, will put your company on the healthy path to better productivity.

    If you would like to discuss your productivity challenges, and get some insight into Social tools that may help your organization, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

  • Joe Wichowski 9:12 am on January 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes, ,   

    Updates on Lotus Notes & Domino (Lotuspehere 2012) 

    Some interesting news from Lotusphere 2012:

    IBM has announced a couple interesting items at this week’s Lotusphere – namely, the new “Social” edition of the Lotus Notes client, as well as extended email capabilities within their IBM Connections product (their Social Business tool).

    I’ve summarized some of the highlights below – if you would like some additional information on them, please don’t hesitate to shoot us a call.

    IBM Connections 3.0

    Social in the business setting is an interesting proposition. Most notably, it can help larger corporations engage disparate resource teams, and help them better mine innovation that already may already exist within another business unit.

    IBM’s version of Social is pretty much the same as Facebook – users can make profiles of themselves, tell colleagues “what” they are working on, share files and start discussion threads with specific groups, and so on. However, one thing that sets Social Business apart from Facebook is in the “Activities” department.

    IBM Connections allow you to create centralized activities, and “invite” other users to participate in the task in a Social way. So if you envision the “email overload” that most companies face, this might just be the solution – If your users can take an incoming email, and turn it into a larger “work effort” through Activities, you can essentially eliminate all of the spreadsheets and “FYI” emails that cripple today’s Inbox’s.

    What makes this more compelling is that before you were required to have Lotus Notes email in order to “move” an email into IBM Connections. Otherwise, users were required to “copy and paste” the email information inside the Activity. Now, with their direct “Inbox app”, IBM Connections can link directly to the Inbox of Microsoft Exchange as well as Lotus Notes & Domino. So just about any company can now benefit from the Workspaces and Activities apps within IBM Connections.

    IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.4 – Social Edition

    The new Lotus Notes release, called “Social Edition”, has a new feature set called “Embedded Experiences”.  This capability should let developers make applications that can “live” inside a Lotus Notes email message.  For example – if a customer emails in an order into your Customer Service Inbox, there can be an embedded “What would you like to do?” type application directly inside the email.  The embedded application could prompt the user what to do – automatically initiate the order inside ERP, start a new collaborative Activity regarding the order, “snooze it” for later review, and so on.  These embedded applications can be dynamic to the content that it is “reading” – so you can make Smart Email by comparing the From of an email with your CRM system, to provide different actions and capabilities for Vendors and Customers alike.  Pretty powerful stuff.

    Lotus Notes Plug-In Lets You Run Standard (Legacy) Lotus Notes Applications Inside A Web Browser

    Also in 8.5.4 will be a Firefox plug-in to let you run Lotus Notes application directly inside the web browser (no conversion required).  This can help companies eliminate the Lotus Notes Client entirely, yet still utilize their old Lotus Notes applications unchanged.  From what they are saying, these will be standard Notes applications.  This poses some difficulty, as a lot of the development in Lotus Notes is now utilizing XPages and Composite Applications.  The plug-in will not work for these apps (which is why we believe the plug-in will not work for Lotus Notes email).  In addition, it will be a 100meg download – not huge with cable modems these days.  But the size is something to consider (to be fair, Java is about 125megs, and Adobe Reader is close to 70megs – so the idea of a “small plug-in” has been abandoned long ago).

    IBM XWork Server

    On a side note, IBM has a new, “slimmed down” license for IBM Lotus Domino.  If you have moved off of Lotus Notes email, but still have some applications running inside the Lotus Notes client, the IBM XWork Server allows you to reduce your cost.  The charge is $2,000 fixed-price yearly.  So if you have over 100 users, this would make sense.  Or, if you have an old Domino server that is not currently under maintenance, this is a good way to get back to current without having to repurchase full Lotus Notes client licenses.

  • Joe Wichowski 1:22 pm on January 3, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Data Integration, Lotus Notes,   

    Talend Components for Lotus Notes released… 

    We have just released our Talend Components for Lotus Notes.  What is Talend?  It is an ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool, that allows us to perform better data integration than just utilizing tools like Lotus Domino Enterprise Connection Services (DECS).

    With Talend and our components for Lotus Notes, we are able to offer true integration to just about ANY system – cloud services, web services, Big Data, traditional databases, excel worksheets, and more.

    If you have a project that requires data integration, give us a call.  We’d love to explain how we can eliminate the “swivel chair” within your company.

    Download the components here:

    • tNotesInput – Reads data from a View (or @Function Select formula) and exposes as rows within Talend.
    • tNotesOutput – Write data to a database (Inserts and Updates)
    • tNotesRunAgent – Runs a background agent in Lotus Notes
  • Ken Sobieski 2:05 pm on December 12, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes   

    LotusScript for the VB Developer 

    So, you’re a VB developer and you need to modify a Notes app without much Notes knowledge? Hopefully you are not just a .Net programmer and have either some experience with VBScript because that will help quite a bit with LotusScript. If so, here are a few tidbits that may lessen your pain as you dig into the code…

      1. Notes is extremely flexible! (Maybe too flexible?)
        If you come from a structured data background, Notes can be a bit disconcerting. Notes documents are designed to mimic a real-world document; you may have a pre-defined structure but, if necessary, you can mark in some other information. If you run across a field in a script that you can’t seem to locate no matter how hard you look, it is quote possible that the field and data were created on-the-fly. Check your document events and shared scripts; chances are you’ll eventually find what you are looking for.
      2. Beware the variables
        If you work in an environment that demands explicit declaration of variables, you may find areas where implicit variable types exist. In Notes, Option Declare (or Option Explicit) must be speified to enforce explicit declarations. Without, you may find a script peppered with Variant types that “just show up.” (And, just in case, LotusScript is not case-sensitive.)
        LotusScript will also let you declare multiple variables on a single line, each with a different (or no) datatype. If you run across a scenario where the data type appears not to be defined, there may be two possibilities:

        1. The variable is implicitly cast as a Variant (Object) type or,
        2. The variable may be cast using shorthand declaration (e.g., aString$, anInt%, etc.):
          Keyword Suffix Data Type Range
          Integer % Integer -32,768 to 32,767
          Long & Integer -2,147483,648 to 2,147483,647
          Single ! Floating-point -3.402823E38 to 3.402823E38
          Double # Floating-point -1.7976931348623158E308 to 1.7976931348623158E308
          Currency @ Currency -922,337,203,685,477.5808 internal format to 922,337,203,685,477.5807
          String $ String ~16k characters
          Variant NONE Can contain any of the preceding, plus Date/Time, Boolean,and objects
    1. LotusNotes documents and mail are tightly integrated
      Need to send an email? There is no “special” e-mail function in Notes because it is inherent in the design. Simply tack a “To” and “From” to a document (at a minimum), invoke “Send” and, voila, you’ve sent an e-mail (assuming your mail is configured correctly). OK, maybe it’s not just that easy, but pretty close so, if you see a document with this going on, it’s becoming mail.
    2. A lot of (if not all) fields have indices
      When is a checkbox not a checkbox? When it’s in Notes! Don’t expect to find a “checked” property available to your script. Instead, a checkbox may have multiple values set and, if checked, you will need to check the value of the control. If multiple options are selected, they will be accessible by index (e.g., if a checkbox “LightColors” has options “Red”, “Yellow”, and “Green”, and each is selected, LightColors(0) will be “Red”, LightColors(1) will be “Yellow, etc.) if NO options are selected, index 0 will evaluate to an empty string (“”).
      Textboxes, too, may have indices. Index 0 will return the text in the box. If the textbox is multi-line, the indices will refer to each line, as defined by the delimiter (space, new line, comma, semi-colon or a blank line).

    More to come…

  • Lisa 9:17 am on November 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes,   

    Finally! Move your calendar entries and contacts from Lotus Notes to Office 365 

    When we migrated from Lotus Notes to Office 365, we had to move our calendar entries manually to Office 365. After some digging around, I have found out how to migrate your calendar entries and of course your contacts.

    In Lotus Notes, go to your calendar and under the lists view click on calendar entries.

    • Highlight all of the entries that you want to move over.
    • Click File, then export.
    • Navigate to where ever you would like to save the file.
    • You want to change the ‘save as type’ to Calendar Entry (.ics)
    • Put in a name you want to give the file and make sure that you put .ics after the file name. (This is to make sure it exports as a .ics)
    • Click Export.

    Now, you need to have Outlook set up on your desktop. (The client version, not OWA)

    For Outlook 2010:

    • Click File, then open.
    • Click Import.
    • Choose import iCalendar (.ics)
    • Navigate to the .ics file you just exported and click open.
    • You can either choose to import it in a new calendar or import it into your own calendar. (I chose to import in my current calendar).

    Once I did that, my calendar entries imported. Note that in Lotus Notes, if you have some reoccurring entries they may not import into outlook because it contains a recurrence pattern that Outlook doesn’t support.

    Onto importing your contacts. Make sure that you copy all of your contacts to your local address book database. They will export better this way. Once copied over do the following:

    • Click File, then click export contacts.
    • Fill in the name of the file you want to give it and make sure it is saved as a .csv file
    • Pick which options you want as far as what contacts you want exported.
    • Click Export.

    You will now see the csv file where you saved it. Open it up and clean up the columns.

    When that’s cleaned up. Go to your Outlook and import them. Your contacts can be imported through Outlook or OWA.

    For Outlook 2010:

    • Click File, then open
    • Click Import and choose import from another file or program.
    • Choose comma separated value (Windows) or which ever applies to you.
    • Find the csv file you just exported and click next.
    • Under your mailbox find ‘contacts’ (or where ever you want the contacts to import at) and click next.
    • Click Finish.

    It should import your contacts.

    To import your contacts through OWA:

    • Go to your mailfile and click on contacts.
    • Right above the search your contacts box there is an import button. Click on that.
    • Navigate to the file where your exported contacts are.
    • Once you click next it will import your contacts.
    • Sherri 4:44 pm on November 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      You saved my life with this, just completed migration from lotus to outlook and recreating my calendar was going to be a nightmare. Thank you for the tip!

  • Kurt Higley 8:01 am on November 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes,   

    TeamWork on the Go 

    More specifically, Mobile TeamWork.  We have had a mobile interface for the iphone for a while now.  Recently we have begun the process of giving it a face lift and adding some additional functionality.

    Before, it was just a quick informational reference.  No editing allowed.  No iphone integration.  The new version allows editing of the contact information as well as initiating a new email, phone call or sms right from the contact information.

    Below is a sample image of the new contact form:

  • Kurt Higley 8:11 am on October 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes   

    My button is gone! 

    In my last article we left off discussing how Domino specific design elements do not transfer to the “other” email platform.

    For one client we solved this problem by using the web browser.  In a nut shell, we moved the “guts” of the button into an Lotus agent.

    We still send out the email, but instead of a Lotus button, we include a HTML URL link.  The user follows this link to a landing page that contains the necessary verbiage and a link/image/button to invoke the “button” agent.

    While not the perfect solution, it does provide a temporary solution until the application can be ported to a web application.

  • Kurt Higley 12:18 pm on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes,   

    Migration and Co-existence 

    When changing messaging platforms, email may not be the only moving part that needs attention. Custom and proprietary applications are usually part of the messaging environment. This is especially true if you are moving away from IBM Lotus Domino.

    Messaging is one of the core functions of Lotus Domino and is easily integrated into applications. After all, email in Lotus Domino is just another application. So odds are one or more applications have messaging functionality incorporated into the design.

    Some of this functionality makes it through to the “other side”. Database, View and Document links make the transition in tact more or less. The “links” get converted to urls with notes: as the protocol. When clicked, the Lotus Notes client is launched and the linked object is loaded(provided the client is installed).

    One piece of functionality that does not translate are embedded Lotus Notes buttons. These buttons can be either coded with the @formula language or LotusScript. The buttons are removed when the messages leave the Lotus Domino environment.

    My next post will take a look at solving the deleted button scenario.

  • Ian Leu 5:00 pm on July 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes   

    I recently had a request from a customer that required some dynamic renaming of view column titles in a Lotus Notes view.

    As you may be aware, the column titles cannot be directly changed in Lotus Script, at least not easily, but I found a pretty interesting solution using the CreateColumn and RemoveColumn methods. Once a week, I have an agent that removes the columns that need new titles, and recreates them with the new title.

    I feel it should be easier to just change the name, but if you are looking for a simple solution that can rename the columns in your view, this one works like a charm.

  • Kurt Higley 6:10 pm on April 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes,   

    Should be interesting to see how Sugar integrates this into their current solution.

    SugarCRM buys Lotus Notes tools, cozies up to IBM

  • Ian Leu 1:09 pm on January 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes,   

    Working on enhancing an existing notes application for one of our customers.

    Part of this involves adding some fields to a data warehouse that we set up to sync notes with SQL server(using talend). This allows them to generate reports using SQL statements rather than setting up custom reports in the notes application. Setting up a data warehouse for notes data is a great way to simplify reporting.

  • Kurt Higley 10:54 am on January 31, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes   

    Coming Soon… 

    …to a Lotus Domino server near you.

    Agent Log Information Consolidation Enhancement

    Agent Log Information Consolidation Enhancement

  • Ian Leu 4:03 pm on December 16, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Excel, Lotus Notes   

    I’m currently in the final stages of a larger project to develop a brand new Notes application and integrate it with an existing suite of lotus notes applications for a large global customer. We designed the application to work seamlessly with Excel, essentially using Excel as a user interface that most users are already familiar with. All of the data from Notes is opened into an Excel template and any changes are saved back into corresponding Notes documents automatically.

    One of the main challenges with this application was in ensuring that all of the values(labels, drop down selections, etc.) be handled dynamically based on whatever language they need to be in for a given user, but also to save all of the data such that we can pull all of this data together and generate reports accross all languages/countries later. It is imperative that everything “just works” no matter what language the user speaks. This is something that we as a company have a lot of experience in.

  • Rayan Hanoudi 3:12 pm on November 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Lotus Notes   

    We had a project to migrate a Domino server from a dedicated host to new Virtual Machine (VM) host.  We typically don’t do much server administration.  Having migrated over a hundred Domino servers in my previous job, I didn’t think this would be any different than any other Domino migration.

    The requirement for this project was a migration instead of a move.  The customer wanted a clean server install without any legacy installs from years of previous Domino installs, plus the new OS was newer and it was running 64 bit.  There were a couple of complications, the customer is running all of these services:  DAOS, Transaction logging, BES, Traveler, ReplicAction, SMTP.  Having all these services running on the one Domino server.  We decided to move BES to a new host and replace ReplicAction with another tool.

    I setup the new Domino server with a new name, setup transaction logging, DAOS then started replicating the databases over to the new server.  At this point everything worked great.  I had a user switch to the new Domino server and everything worked fine.  To minimze distrubtion with having users switch to the new server name, we opted to switch server ID files and updated DNS.  The next day we started hearing from users that they couldn’t open certain files.  We then realized that the DAOS encrypts the files with server ID, the attachments replicated during the setup period of the new server were encrypted with the temporary ID we used to setup the new server and the original server ID could not decrypt the attchments.  I found a good article here that explains DAOS encryption:


    Luckily we were able to copy the encrypted DAOS NLO files and corrected the problem.  For anyone reading this, remember to turn off DAOS encryption (DAOS_ENCRYPT_NLO=0) when swapping servers.

  • Ian Leu 8:02 am on November 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Lotus Notes,   

    Recently had a project to move an old notes database to a read only ASP application. Using our custom Talend component to pull data from notes along with Ironspeed (the rapid development software for ASP) we were able to quickly and easily pull the data from notes and create an ASP application that allowed the customer to find all the old data they needed.

    With these tools, this is a process that can be replicated quite easily.

    • Juan Yip 7:16 pm on December 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I’m new to Iron Speed and have been searching for a way to migrate notes to ASP. Do you have a quick ‘how to’ video or specs doc you can share? Feel free to email me, yip_juan@yahoo.com. Thanks!

      • Ian Leu 8:57 am on December 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I don’t have any specific materials like that but I can tell you that to get started you just need to be able to get the data out of notes into something like SQL server. We use our own in house tools to accomplish that but any method is fine. You will need enough knowledge of notes to keep the referential integrity and rebuild the relationships in the new database. Given that notes isn’t inherently relational, you will need to use unique IDs, REF values for response documents, or built in key values(it will all depend on how the notes application was designed).

        Once you have the data exactly the way you want it with the relationships perfect, ironspeed can build the basic application for you easily, the rest is custom ASP code and UI tweaks to make the functionality mimic notes (in my case above, I was making a read only app for archive purposes, but anything is possible), there is some very helpful ironspeed documentation on how to get started with new applications on their website.

        Hope that helps!

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