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IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and iPad

This is a discussion on IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and iPad within the iPad Apps forums, part of the iPad App Store category; I just posted a long reply to someone's forum question but think it's worth addressing as a new thread... I wrote a very long article ...

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  1. #1
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    IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and iPad

    I just posted a long reply to someone's forum question but think it's worth addressing as a new thread...

    I wrote a very long article on the lack of support between iPhone and Lotus Notes/Domino, which is going to be published next week. I am very disappointed by IBM's entire mobile strategy and Lotus Domino/Notes is the worst offender. The whole raison d'etre of Notes is to provide document management and workflow - of which email is just one component - and mobile is CLEARLY the most ubiquitous, most pervasive and most convenient way to share documents and workflow processes with people inside and outside your organisation. Why they have ignore the iPhone/iPad platform completely escapes me. It has to rank up there with other incredible strategic blunders like when IBM let Bill Gates keep the MS-DOS OS for himself. What in the world is Lotus thinking??

    Anyway, my rant is over...

    I, too, have tried to sync Notes and iPhone/iPad. I don't have a solution for iPad - other than to do what another person in this forum suggested and access it through your Safari browser. On the iPhone, I would suggest the Exchange connector with the Notes Traveller on Domino. This syncs most things but not notebooks. It's also buggy.

    CommonTime
    Even better, my preference would be to use the middleware from CommonTime (they are based here in the UK, where I am writing this). They've been in this business over 10+ years and they run server-side software that mediates between your Lotus Domino Servers and your iPhone/iPad devices (as well as Blackberry, Nokia, etc). It will sync most of the data you need with a few exceptions (there's that notebook issue again). I have been a happy customer of CommonTime for over 8 years. I just wish that their custom design tools were easier to operate. This is useful when you want to have a custom Domino database made available to your iPhone/iPad. I have a bunch of custom-db-applications that I'd love to have replicate onto my iPad but the designing and programming is mind-bogglingly feature-rich and complicated. In the end, I subcontracted another firm to do the work for me.

    One especially nice feature of CommonTime is the ability to combine the data from several server-side contacts db's into the one contacts app on the iPhone. However, two-way replication is a bit tricky in this scenario, as you have to write scripts to determine where contacts created on the iPhone/iPad should be written back to.

    Google
    If you don't want to run middle-ware, then I would suggest using Google as the intermediary. I have successfully used Google to sync my iPhone back to Domino. Google supports iCal and the Mac Contacts as well, so that your Notes calendar and contacts information will appear in Google and in iCal on your Mac desktop, as well as on your iPhone. In some ways, this might be the best scenario if it remains future-proof. Google seems to be a pretty open player in this regard.

    For some (obvious) reason, Google isn't the most forward in promoting how to integrate the iPhone/iPad with itself and then with Domino. There are people out there who have published instructions for this, so I suggest you do a search first and research it. I remember that it took a bit of settings finesses to not have to use iTunes as the sync intermediary with some of the data... Google does support the Exchange connector, which is how it's able to sync over-the-air to your iPhone/iPad device.

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  3. #2
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    Lotus Notes Syncs great

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but Lotus Notes works great with the iPhone and iPad. Not custom apps, but mail (push), calendar, and contacts.

    What you need today is to have an 8.5.1 Domino server and run the Free Lotus Traveler add-on. It's really that simple. I think they actually launched 8.5.1 at MacWorld of all places. Basically Lotus Traveler is Active-Sync - licensed from Microsoft and makes the iPad/iPhone work with it. Since the iPad is so new, it's not really supported yet but I've been using it since iPad launch day with no problems.
    One of the nice things is that you don't have to have all your servers upgraded to 8.5.1 - you only need a single server running traveler to act as a 'gateway'. You'd mail file does NOT even need to be on the traveler server. It'll will connect to where ever your e-mail is.

    I have a very small review of the iPad and Notes with a bit on the setup here:
    Lotus NoteBook :: iPad - meet Lotus Notes

    Maybe I'm missing something in your post but IBM/Lotus has been getting more aggressive in the Mobile space. They've publicly committed to doing more. They're going to add support to Traveler for Linux servers and Android phones supposedly. They also have a Traveler companion app on the app store to better work with encrypted mail.

    Unfortunately there's nothing out yet to help with custom apps, but Mail, Calendar, and Contacts have been available for a while.

    Hope this helps.

  4. #3
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    I am going to start using MobileMe soon.

    I am going to be interested to see if there are problems or conflicts using both MobileMe, and Traveller. and if there are certain options I may need to disable in one or the other, so I don't end up with things like duplicated contacts or such.

  5. #4
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    Hi, Ed Brill here, Director of Product Management for Lotus Notes.

    IBM Lotus Notes on iPhone

    We have a pretty good strategy here, and a number of our business partners have extended Notes applications to iPhone and iPad. I don't feel behind anymore, though I feel we need to turn the corner from reactive to proactive.

    Open to other input on what we need to be doing to be even more successful than the hundreds of customer deployments we already have done with Lotus Notes and iPhone/iPad.

    Thanks.

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    Welcome, Ed!

    Glad to see you checkin in here, and that you are lookin for critiques, and ideas!


    I am loving the way Traveller works with my iPad.
    I had used, and liked it on a Win-mobile PDA, but with iPads, even more!

    .

  7. #6
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    Ed, it's really fantastic to see someone of your expertise and calibre here. Thank you for your feedback.

    Unfortunately, Domino 8.5.1 with iPhone support (Traveler) came to the party too late for us. We already had many Blackberry and iPhone devices deployed and people clamouring to use them. So, our IT dept caved in and migrated to Exchange and Blackberry services to support them.

    When I advocated a return to Domino (when Traveler was released), I had hoped that it would consolidate all our mobile device needs onto one platform. But upon further investigation, we ran into problems. First of all, we couldn't replicate our custom address books to all the devices out-of-the box. Then we had shared calendars that didn't seem to be supported either. Notes was finally able to view shared calendars but not able to update them, which was a bit useless. Many Mac users had migrated to iCal and were happily using multiple calendars for work and home, plus shared calendars - all of which happily sync'd to their iPhones. They didn't want this functionality taken away from them. People had become used to what they were using.

    iNotes doesn't work when there's no Internet connection, so it's not very practical when you're globetrotting. Using Traveler is fine for email, address book and calendar - as long as your Domino environment is simple (no shared calendars, no multiple address books, etc). But I respectfully disagree that Lotus has been aggressive in the mobile space. Apple has been aggressive in the mobile space. They have their own 'Notes' app that syncs basic text notes to multiple devices, an address book app that can accommodate multiple address books and sync to multiple devices, a Calendar app that manages multiple calendars (shared and otherwise) and sync them to multiple devices, a photo app that is probably a step away from being sync'd to their MobileMe Cloud. That's a great start. Where are the Notes apps? When Twitter appeared on the scene, why didn't the Sametime team flog a Sametime app? When Evernote appeared, why wasn't Lotus flogging a web clipping service like the one they had with Notes?

    I have loved Notes and Domino for many years but I have watched in anguish as other developers staked their claim on the iPhone and made Notes less and less relevant. I still use Notes for document management. There are a lot of compelling reasons to continue using it. But my Notes desktop has become isolated from my iPhone. And everytime a great new app comes along that copies another piece of Notes/Domino funtionality - that gap between the two just gets wider.

  8. #7
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    Now that I think about it, Facebook is a much better comparison. Why didn't Lotus do what Facebook did and create an app like that?
    The Facebook app has a built-in email client, Calendaring, Newsfeed database, Friends database, Chat client, photo app, to do (events), etc. In other words, here's an app that implements many of the different functions of Facebook in one complete, well-integrated package... and this was developed ages ago. Where is the Notes app? Again, I don't think that IBM has been anywhere near aggressive enough in this space.

  9. #8
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    I compare IBM always with a big oil tanker. Once moving, hard to stop and difficult to change course.

    But I see progress, actually when I recently joined my current job, I was "forced" to use Notes and I was really surprised to see, that IBM already had an iPhone integration somehow ready. Ok it's still lacking a few things (calender invitations, invitation acceptance), but it's a start.

    I need access to my Notes databases, at least a few of them. But then again, the storage on iPad is quiet limited. I see the catch.
    Most likely written on my iPad

  10. #9
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I apologize that my brain sort of wired in for a narrower discussion of "support for existing capabilities on mobile devices" versus "extending the power of Notes in broader directions". You raise some good points there road_warrior and we could get into a lengthy discussion about what directions we've taken or not taken with Notes.

    On the specifics of the drawbacks on the iPhone, I have to say here, we're at the mercy of what the Exchange implementation has done. Because that is the device's default client, we use it to its limits -- or limitations. I can't support multiple NABs/directories, calendars, etc.... at least not yet. We continue to provide feedback on these things and intend to continue to add to the support.

    You're right, we should be doing more apps. I'm carrying that flag back into our labs this week. We did just add our 2nd app to the iTunes app store -- one for LotusLive meetings.

    Thanks --Ed

  11. #10
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    I’ve tried to access to my Lotus Notes e-mail on my iPad through webmail, iNotes, and Traveler, but always get the same problem: I can read my e-mail, but I can’t respond or compose e-mail.

    I visited http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/dominowiki.nsf/dx/Traveler_Companion_FAQ, and sure enough, the issue is captured under FQ #1: “Traveler Companion is an iPhone and iPod Touch application that works with your existing Lotus Notes Traveler mail account to allow you to read encrypted Notes mail on your Apple device. Traveler Companion does not currently give you the ability to compose, forward, or reply to encrypted mail.”

    Is there a way to not only read LN e-mail, but also create e-mail? Thanks!


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