April 25th, 2001

Lord Yupa

Lotus Notes Development. . . not for web use.

Okay, supposedly Lotus Notes development is really nifty, partly because it can be used efficiently to develop both thick client applications (utilizing the Lotus Notes client), and thin client applications, utilizing a web browser only.

In theory, this is a great idea. In practice, it's been so horribly implemented as to be nearly worthless. When you try to use Notes development for web applications, you discover that 90% of the functionality available in thick client applications are unavailable to you, and that it's very difficult to work around these limitations.

I just spent 3 hours trying to get a function working, before finally finding a small footnote buried in the Notes documentation telling me that something I used in my function is unavailable to web clients. Making the whole thing, and everything I did in the past 3 hours, a waste of time.

The more I work with Lotus Notes, the more I realize that there are some truly great ideas here. And, the more I realize that they are implemented so poorly as to be worse than worthless. I keep getting the feeling that someone came up with an idea, then had someone else try to implement it, without fully understanding it. Only, it doesn't seem like just one person implemented it, it seems like 10 different people tried to implement it at once, all without ever talking to each other.

There are so many inconsistencies, bizarre things that work one way in one place, and a different elsewhere, or not at all somewhere else, that it's a royal pain to understand. You can't help but wonder if the program had a dozen different development managers, each with a very different vision for the program, and each trying to make his vision happen at the same time.

If it were rewritten from scratch, and implemented correctly, I think Lotus Notes has the potential to be one of the most powerful, useful, and impressive tools for application development I've seen. Unfortunately, I don't think it can realize that potential without a complete, or nearly so, rewrite. There's just too many fundamental problems and design flaws in it.
  • Current Mood
Lord Yupa


Okay, I'm forgetting about Lotus Notes for at least 40 minutes, and enjoying the delicious Chinese take-out that a guy down the hall picked up for everyone.

For a little while, life is good. ;-)
  • Current Mood
Lord Yupa

"Now about those skills of yours. . ."

I've just found out I'm going to be doing some VM/MVS work with my next project, including learning Rexx.

I've always thought it'd be good to get at least a little bit of mainframe experience while I was here with IBM, but I'm a little hesitant, too.

You see, I'm comfortable with smaller systems. Give me an x86 PC, or even a Unix workstation or Server and I'm ready to go at it. Admittedly, I have very limited experience with the high end "enterprise" Unix systems, but I'm comfortable enough with Unix that they don't bother me much, and neither would working with them. Sure, it's a very different mind set working on "enterprise" systems, but the environment is the same. It's still Unix.

However, the more I see of mainframes, the more I'm convinced it's truly a different world of computing than the one I know. When I bring up a host login to a VM system, I feel like a fish out of water. I feel like most of my computer knowledge is worthless for this work, and that feeling sucks.

I've made a huge investment in my skills and knowledge in computing, and I'm good at what I do. I could build a PC from parts in 30 minutes without blinking, I could set up a mail server, a web server, a file server, a DNS server, or a firewall and have it ready for you after lunch. I can program with reasonable proficiency in half a dozen languages.

And I don't know my ass from yours when I'm dealing with a mainframe. I guess I'm just frustrated because I feel so ineffective and pathetic. Here I am, so confident and arrogant in my abilities, and I can't get a directory listing of files in my account without having my hand held by my project leader.

I feel like Will Smith's character in Men In Black when "K" (Tommy Lee Jones) says,
"Cool, Slick. Now about those skills of yours. . . as of right now, they mean precisely dick."
Ah, well. I suppose now's a good time to go find a book on VM, MVS, and Rexx. . . and start reading. ;-)
  • Current Music
    Alice Cooper - No More Mr. Nice Guy