by December 5, 2002 0 comments

This is going to be the next major release of Lotus Domino and Notes after the release of version 5 in 2000. We received the second pre-release of version 6 for testing and found quite a few interesting features in the pack. 

You can create policies, which are a group of different settings you can predefine and assign to a group of users

Features of Domino Server
We installed Domino Server on a P4 2.0 GHz machine with 256 MB RAM and Windows 2000 Server. It needs Microsoft Service Pack 3 to run, and the installation immediately brought this to our notice. Two installation options are provided: Domino Mail server and the Domino Application server. Once installed, launching the server for the first time runs a setup wizard to configure it properly.

Once up, the server runs as a process in a Win 2000 terminal window. It’s administered using the Domino Administrator, which has been made much easier to use. You don’t have to hunt around places for running different administrative tasks. There is a server bookmarks bar running vertically towards the left side of the interface. This has buttons for accessing your Domino Domain, your favorite domino servers, or any other Lotus applications that might be running such as Notes client or Designer. You can also drag a server you administer frequently from its domain onto the favorites button making it quickly accessible later. Similarly, all servers you open are shown in a separate horizontal bar allowing you to shift between them easily. The remaining Administrator window shows administrative tasks for individual servers. These tasks are also divided into six easily accessible tabs for People & Groups, Files, Servers, Messaging, Replication and Configuration. 

Snapshot

Meant for: Corporate workflow
Features: Customizable user interface, network-traffic compression, policy creation 
Pros: Much easier to work with 
Cons: MS Office installation becomes corrupt if Notes is uninstalled
Contact: IBM India, Delhi. Tel: 3702020.
E-mail: vandanar@in.ibm.com 

A lot of attention has been focused in improving the server’s performance. For one, replication has been improved in both Domino and Notes. A single server request can pull in all data. It uses network compression to reduce the network traffic, which can be extremely useful for servers connected over WAN links. 

Another interesting and powerful feature is policy creation. These are a bunch of settings you can apply to a group of users at one go, whether it’s during new user registration or later. This makes deployment and management of Domino much faster and easier. So if a group of users have the same registration and mail server, password options, welcome page, etc, then you can define one policy for them that will make these settings for them at one go. 

There are tons of other features in Domino that make it a very powerful server. In messaging, for instance, users can now access their mail over a Web browser if need be. Plus, there’re some anti-spam features to block this growing menace.

You can create policies, which are a group of different settings you can predefine and assign to a group of users

Features in Notes
Installing the client was pretty straightforward, though we did face a few glitches, which were probably because it was a pre-release version. For one, it gave an error message about a missing Notes.ini file. The installation wizard immediately prompted to correct the problem, and the remaining installation went without a hitch. There are two installation options, single and multiple user install. Under single user, an option to do a shared installation is provided. It gave us an error message if we didn’t select shared installation. Shared installation installs Notes to a file server only, so users only get a data directory on their local machine. The installation wizard also provides configuration options for mail, news, directory services, Internet proxy server and replication services. It didn’t allow us to skip any of these configurations in the Pre Release. The proxy server settings were automatically picked up from Internet Explorer.

The first notable feature in the Notes client is the welcome page, which looks different and is more customizable. By default it provides you access to your mail, calendar, personal address book, to do list, personal journal, and search. You can customize this look to show whatever items you want and the locations you want them in. This is a bit like Microsoft Digital Dashboard, which added similar functionality in Outlook. 

However, the interface has many other interesting features added in. Something called Quick Notes allows you to run any of the Notes functions (like mail and journal entry) without opening the respective application. Two new bookmarks called Startup and History have also been added.

On the mail front, it has added lots of features that have become essential for any user today, and are already available in other mail clients. For one, it displays the number of unread messages in a mail folder. It automatically refreshes the mailbox to show the new messages every time it checks for them. Messages can also be color coded according to sender. One thing we couldn’t find here was facility to import email messages from another mail client like Outlook Express. It could only import vCard files. One feature worth mentioning in mail is the new iNotes Web Access, which allows users to access their mail from a Web browser. 

Another problem we found was that if Notes is uninstalled from a PC, the Microsoft Office installation goes for a toss. All Office applications give at least three to four error messages before opening. In fact, it doesn’t even let your run the Office setup program to rectify the problem. The only solution to this is reinstalling Notes. 

The Bottomline: There have been a lot of changes to the interface to make it more user friendly, and several other useful features have been added to improve its performance. The final version is expected very soon, and might even be released by the time you read this article. 

Anil Chopra

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