Ben Langhinrichs

January, 2009
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Genii Weblog


Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Sat 31 Jan 2009, 07:32 AM
You're young (19?), you're female, you're pretty (you hope), and you have applied for a job as a pole dancer, a stripper with dance moves.  You've practiced and practiced... at home in front of your mirror, but the owner has asked you to the nightclub to talk on a Friday night.  You meet him backstage, peering nervously out at the drunken, leering males packing the nightclub.  The owner looks you up and down, nods slightly and says, "OK, why don't you head out on stage and show them what you've got."

Sheer terror fills you and you barely manage to gasp, "What?  In front of all those men?"

"That's the job, sweetie!" he says with a bit of a leer.

So, that is roughly the feeling I have right now.  Yesterday afternoon, after a few weeks of showing a demo here and there (highly controlled) and posting snarky posts on my blog (completely controlled), I released the first beta of iFidelity for Lotus Notes.  No special confidentiality agreements.  No real control anymore.  Today, I woke up to find the first blog post with a beta tester, Peter von Stockel, posting the results of his first test.  It even sounds like it went well and he was impressed, but as internally I chant mindless mantras such as "Wisdom of crowds" and "All publicity is good publicity", what I am really feeling is...

As I slowly step onto the stage and try to look composed and like this doesn't bother me a bit, the howls and shouts start.  On the outside, I give a sultry smile (I hope), but on the inside, I wonder, "What if they don't like me?  Worse, what if they do like me?  What have I gotten myself into?"

Would you like a front row seat to the show?

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Fri 30 Jan 2009, 03:05 PM
In this post, I talk about email once more, and about a topic particularly nostalgic for me, sections.  In 1995, my youngest son was born, and Lotus put out Notes R4.  I have to meet with my son's guidance counselor next week to decide what courses he will take in high school next year, and IBM (which bought Lotus shortly after that) has just released Notes 8.5.  But why is the topic of collapsed sections nostalgic?  The reason is that even before R4, my first Notes API add-on, the @YourCommand Toolkit, worked with rich text a bit, but with the advent of LotusScript, Notes R4 started to feel like a "real development environment:.  With the advent of collapsed sections, rich text went from mundane to magic, reflecting the games of peekaboo I would play with my son (this was long before the web and JavaScript and CSS magic).  Finally, in Notes 4.1 in 1996, the LSX Toolkit was introduced, and I started my first serious forays into rich text programmability with my Midas Rich Text LSX.  But I digress...

You might think then that IBM could not possibly fail to correctly implement collapsed sections in email.  After all, unlike my previous topic, tabbed tables, sections are a fundamental part of the email experience.  But if you thought that, you might want to read the previous five posts in this series to get a true feel for IBM's commitment to rendering.

I want to be clear that sections are handled better, although not perfectly, in the Domino 8.5 server rendering, but since more people use the Notes client rendering, I focused on that.  Besides, I think this example will show clearly how more than just looks is lost with poor email rendering. 


Two sections in a Notes 8.5 client

Sections in rich text



Two sections in a different Notes 8.5 client after being rendered by the Notes 8.5 client

Sections in Notes 8.5 after Notes 8.5 client rendering



Two sections in Outlook after being rendered by the Notes 8.5 client

Sections in Outlook after Notes 8.5 client rendering



Two sections in GMail after being rendered by the Notes 8.5 client

Sections in GMail after Notes 8.5 client rendering



Two sections in Outlook after being rendered by iFidelity (beta)

Sections in Outlook after iFidelity for Lotus Notes rendering



Two sections in GMail after being rendered by iFidelity (beta)

Sections in GMail after iFidelity for Lotus Notes rendering



Previous Topics in this series

In Part 1, I showed how IBM's rendering of MIME messages could lead your customers to think you were still running Notes R5, and how our upcoming iFidelity (sign up for the beta) would allow you to send out more professional looking email, rendered as it is in Notes.  In Part 2, I showed how content rendered by Domino on the web was likely to make prospective customers think twice, or more, before buying Lotus Notes, and how CoexEdit could dramatically improve that default rendering.  In Part 3, I showed how rendering is made even worse when the rich text is edited on the web, and how CoexEdit can improve that process as well.  In Part 4, I showed how HTML signatures are prone to some of the same rendering issues (as well as different ones) as we have seen elsewhere.  In Part 5, I showed how tabbed tables do not translate well through email, and how iFidelity could help. 

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Wed 28 Jan 2009, 11:17 AM
In Part 1, I showed how IBM's rendering of MIME messages could lead your customers to think you were still running Notes R5, and how our upcoming iFidelity (sign up for the beta) would allow you to send out more professional looking email, rendered as it is in Notes.  In Part 2, I showed how content rendered by Domino on the web was likely to make prospective customers think twice, or more, before buying Lotus Notes, and how CoexEdit could dramatically improve that default rendering.  In Part 3, I showed how rendering is made even worse when the rich text is edited on the web, and how CoexEdit can improve that process as well.  In Part 4, I showed how HTML signatures are prone to some of the same rendering issues (as well as different ones) as we have seen elsewhere.

In this post, I talk about email, and something that IBM even does reasonably with, at least in one engine, although not in the other.  The issue is not simple - how do you translate a tabbed table into an e-mail where you can't use JavaScript?  Essentially, you have to flatten the table out, but exactly how that is done is a matter for discussion.

I decided to use a tabbed table which was part of the fix list posts I used to do in the Partner forum (perhaps I should do those again), but with a nested tabbed table inside it to show how that works.

A few specifics to notice.

1) In Notes client rendering, the tab labels are lost completely, as are the tab background colors if the table is set to alternate row colors as opposed to set explicitly.  Nested tabs are very hard to distinguish.

2) See how in the Domino server rendering, IBM has done a better job, since it includes the tab labels and tab background colors, but nested tabs are still somewhat hard to distinguish.

3) In the iFidelity for Lotus Notes rendering, the nested tab labels are offset further to the right, making it easier to distinguish a nested tabbed table.


Tabbed table in Notes client in rich text

Tabbed table in rich text



Tabbed table in Outlook after being rendered by Notes 8.5 client

Tabbed table in Outlook after Notes client rendering



Tabbed table in Outlook after being rendered by Domino 8.5 server

Tabbed table in Outlook after Domino server rendering



Tabbed table in Outlook after being rendered by iFidelity (beta)

Tabbed table in Outllok after iFidelity for Lotus Notes rendering



Tabbed table in GMail after being rendered by Notes 8.5 client

Tabbed table in Outlook after Notes client rendering



Tabbed table in GMail after being rendered by Domino 8.5 server

Tabbed table in Outlook after Domino server rendering



Tabbed table in GMail after being rendered by iFidelity (beta) - Shows how it is slightly different

Tabbed table in Outlook after iFidelity for Lotus Notes rendering

The comparison in a nutshell

Rendering decision

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Mon 26 Jan 2009, 02:00 PM
We are busy putting in some final touches based on information learned and advice received at Lotusphere, and the actual beta test for iFidelity for Lotus Notes will probably start later this week.  If you would like to try iFidelity and see what it feels like to trust your email's fidelity, fill out the iFidelity beta evaluation request and we can set you up.  If you have any questions prior to filling out the beta evaluation request, feel from to drop me a line at   or comment on this post.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Sat 24 Jan 2009, 01:07 PM
In a recent post, Bill Buchan, yes, Wild Bill himself, wrote:
In the coming year or so, we're all under HUGE pressure to cut costs, be better, row harder, etc.
And then a but further on:
And heres' one more think. Be more positive. Especially Administrators. Only shoot something down if you have a better suggestion. Its not a bad rule. And no-one wants to be the 'first asshole out the door', right ?
This got me thinking, especially in light of my not-so-nice posts regarding IBM's MIME rendering, but also in light of the recent Lotusphere talk about xpages.

Go back a year.  What was talked about this extensively at last year's Lotusphere?  That's right, composite applications.  Not so much this year, right?  There were still some sessions on composite applications, or that at least mentioned composite applications, but about half as many as last year, and there was hardly a mention in any major event.  Now, I think there is a difference between composite applications and xpages (namely, I think the latter has a far better chance of working and providing value), but I think the lesson to be learned may NOT be that now is the time to be nice, or even more positive.  Trust me, we can kumbaya all the way to the unemployment office, but I'd rather make sure of the next sixteen quarters of Lotus growth.  And that means taking Bill's latter advice:
Only shoot something down if you have a better suggestion.
Now that I can stand by.  I'm an ISV, so I won't just say "This MIME rendering sucks!"  Instead, I've done something about it and created iFidelity.  For those of you who can't or won't create the solution yourself, at least make some noise about it.  As an example, take a look at Tommy Valand's post Thoughts on XPages hijacking the id-attribute, in which he complains (rightfully, I think) about the decision to use the id-attribute for xpages, but also suggests some reasonable alternatives.  We need more of that... complaining about xpages and making sure it is as robust and sturdy and usable as possible.  That, and not mindless cheerleading, is what is going to spur more use of xpages and a better reputation for Lotus Domino development.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Sat 24 Jan 2009, 09:13 AM
In Part 1, I showed how IBM's rendering of MIME messages could lead your customers to think you were still running Notes R5, and how our upcoming iFidelity (sign up for the beta) would allow you to send out more professional looking email, rendered as it is in Notes.  In Part 2, I showed how content rendered by Domino on the web was likely to make prospective customers think twice, or more, before buying Lotus Notes, and how CoexEdit could dramatically improve that default rendering.  In Part 3, I showed how rendering is made even worse when the rich text is edited on the web, and how CoexEdit can improve that process as well.

In this post, I am moving back to email, and specifically the issue of Signatures.

I have a confession to make.  I don't use a mail signature, so I was not really aware of the issues involved, but I sure heard an earful at Lotusphere.  I will probably make a longer post about email Signatures when I have a chance to fully research the topic, and it is even possible that I am missing something now, so please feel free to correct my impressions if you know something I don't.

I decided to make myself an HTML signature, as that should give me some real control over appearance.  (Unfortunately, I forgot we were dealing with Lotus Notes.  Whacks head with palm of hand.)  So, I created a nice little signature in HTML, using a single table with some nice borders and padding, then checked it in both Firefox and Internet Explorer to make sure it would look good.  Here it is, first as originally intended, then as inserted into a Notes 8.5 client, then finally as received by another Notes 8.5 client using the generally preferred Notes 8.5 client rendering.  Of course, complaining without proposing solutions is just annoying, so I suggest you try this with our iFidelity beta and see what a difference a professional signature can do for your image.



HTML signature in Internet Explorer as designed

HTML signature in Internet Explorer



HTML signature after inserting in Lotus Notes 8.5 using Other - Insert Signature

HTML signature in Lotus Notes 8.5



HTML signature as received in GMail after being rendered by Lotus Notes 8.5 client

HTML signature in Internet Explorer



HTML signature as received in another company's Notes 8.5 client after being rendered by Notes 8.5 client

HTML signature in Internet Explorer



Annotated comparison between original HTML signature and that received by other Notes 8.5 client

HTML signature in Internet Explorer

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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