Ben Langhinrichs

June, 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.


Mon 29 Jun 2009, 09:47 PM
For many years, I have heard stories about how users have mentioned Lotus Notes, and gotten confused responses from others who equate Lotus Notes with Lotus 1-2-3, and think the product disappeared long ago.  I had not had that experience personally until recently, when I had it twice in three weeks, once with a college friend of my wife and once with a man who works with "Unix software development" and initially asked, "Didn't that disappear in the 1970's?", and when I replied that he was thinking of Lotus 1-2-3 (though even then he is inaccurate), and I was speaking of Lotus Notes, said, "Well, pretty much the same thing.  Nobody actually uses it anymore, do they?"

I could draw snarky, and probably undeserved, conclusions about IBM marketing or public perceptions, but I have a different point to make.  These are people who know nothing about Lotus Notes, nothing about the corporate email wars, nothing about standards.  My wife's friend, the Unix developer, my parents, a couple of neighbors - they know nothing at all about these issues that consume our time and focus.  And yet, when my wife goes on to say that I have a new product, and they ask politely what it is, she is able to explain.  She just says, "You know how sometimes you email somebody, and when they reply, your original email looks terrible?  His product fixes that."

Then something happens that has never happened to me in my life as a software developer.  People who know nothing about Notes or email fidelity or standards light up - my wife's friend, my Dad, my neighbor - and they say, "Yeah, I know just what you mean.  Do you think his product could fix my email?"  People get it.  They understand what I'm doing, and they want it for themselves.  Not people who think making rich text dance is hot stuff, or people who are worried about the coexistence of doclinks between Domino and Exchange, but ordinary folks who not only aren't part of the choir, they don't even know the choir exists.

You may ask yourself (if you have gotten this far), "So, what does this have to do with me?"  Well, think about it a minute.  I'm not likely to sell my wife's friend or my Dad or my neighbor on Notes, but what about a small business owner who uses Gmail and curses because it is limited and messes up emails to clients?  What if you could talk about Lotus Foundations, and say "Your email will get to your clients looking just like it left your mailbox, even if it is fancy and carefully formatted"?  Don't even mention iFidelity - talk about the results.  If my Dad can perk up about email - he uses a free email service that probably has more ads than features - imagine if a restaurant owner who wants to impress customers heard about a truly full-featured email client that sends mail which looks crisp and professional without paying a service to create fancy HTML emails.  He or she might just perk up too.

This is functionality that people get, not just here in the choir room, but out there where people aren't listening yet, but might be persuaded.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Mon 29 Jun 2009, 01:39 PM
A few days ago, we announced the release of iFidelity, and made an offer to IBM Business Partners who sell or work actively with Lotus Software: a free server license to use so that emails you send, or receive in either iNotes or the Notes client, can be rendered with the highest iFidelity quality.  Thirty-eight business partner companies have filled out their requests, but that still leaves quite a few of you out there in the Yellowverse who have not.

What's stopping you?  Are you afraid your customers will object to more professional emails?  The license is free, as in beer (I'd say "free as in milk shakes, but too few people offer me free milk shakes").  The support and upgrades fee is included free for the first year.  You just have to ask (before we end the offer) by filling out the iFidelity BP Order form.  And for you customers, feel free to try out the free evaluation license.

I do want to reiterate, the free license is only for BPs actively working with or selling Lotus software, not for people who have just signed up as Business Partners to get access to the resources.  I'm afraid we have to be the final judges of that.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Mon 29 Jun 2009, 12:59 PM
Having worked extensively with Notes rich text for about fifteen years, with HTML for about ten years and with CSS for, what, eight years (I'm less sure of this), I have had lots of opportunities to compare the features in rich text and the features in HTML/CSS.  Some things have been easier in rich text; others have been easier in HTML/CSS.  Of course, the comparison has been made more difficult by frequent advances in each.  At this point, most things that can be accomplished in HTML/CSS can be accomplished in rich text in Notes 8/8.5, and vice-versa.  One simple, and seemingly minor,l feature which I have long missed in rich text is still missing in 8.5 and beyond.  That is the ability to have cascading fonts.

Imagine that I create a Notes rich text document with some text in Zombie, a font my son downloaded a while back.  For example, This text is in Zombie 14pt, which looks to me (and to you if you happen to have download Zombie yourself or had your son do you the favor), .  Despite the decidely horrible impression this particular choice might make, it is the choice I made, but I can't force people to download the font themselves.  I could use an image, but that is very limited.

But what I can't do in Notes rich text but can do in CSS is determine what font to use if the font is NOT on the end user's system.  I wish I could.  In CSS, I could specify font-family: Zombie, Impact, serif; and the browser would first look for Zombie, and if not found it would look for Impact, and so on.  Since Impact is a good del more likely to be found than Zombie, at least on Windows systems, it would likely be used, but if not, at least some serif font would be used.  Here is the same text as above shown with this technique and passhru HTML: This text is in Zombie 14pt.  In Notes rich text, if the font wasn't found, it would likely drop to a Default Sans Serif font, which might be highly undesirable.

I think I first proposed this in an ND6 beta.  I guess I'll go propose it again, but here it is on IdeaJam as well:

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Thu 25 Jun 2009, 05:09 PM
iFidelity 3.0 and iFidelity Gateway 3.0 are available for all Windows 32-bit (or 64-bit with 32-bit Domino) and AIX 4.3.3/5.x 32-bit, as the well as most distros of Linux, including any officially supported by IBM for that version of Domino.  If your company has a need for iFidelity on any other platform, please let us know.

We fully recognize the need to support Domino 64-bit versions, but we couldn't make it for the initial version.  Version 3.1 should support Windows 64-bit Domino.  All other plans are up in the air.  If this causes you a great inconvenience and you happen to have 150,000 people to license in a hurry, let us know and I'm sure we can make it happen very quickly.  Otherwise, it will happen... fairly quickly.

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Thu 25 Jun 2009, 12:12 PM
Granted, they are free licenses, but I've never had 26 companies licensed to use a software product that I just released 12 hours earlier.  Makes me glad I did so much testing.  Sheesh!

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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Thu 25 Jun 2009, 10:19 AM
Now that iFidelity is officially released, and now that the first twenty-four Business Partners have requested their free licenses, I thought I'd mention a small iFidelity feature that may be unknown to people.  I haven't mentioned it because I don't want to give anybody the mistaken impression that iFidelity is made for sending HTML mail - it isn't.  iFidelity is made for sending well rendered email, the vast, vast majority of which is regular rich text mail that you just want to get to the recipient looking like you sent it.

But the truth is, every once in a while, there is an advantage to including some HTML, either for an entire message or for a simple URL based image or something that you want to appear "just so".  With that in mind, iFidelity does recognize passthrough HTML and include it.  To show a really simple example, in this case with the whole message in HTML:

Email as it was sent from Notes





Email as it would be received elsewhere

Sad face.  I do not have iFidelity.orHappy face.  I have iFidelity.

Dear Customer:

Are your emails reaching your customers looking somewhat less polished than you might hope - tables garbled, fonts changed, information missing? How would you like a solution that you can drop in and forget that will make your emails render in Outlook or elsewhere the way they looked in Lotus Notes? Try the revolutionary new plugin, iFidelity for Lotus Notes.

************************************************
iFidelity for Lotus Notes
Version 3.0
Genii Software
http://www.GeniiSoft.com
************************************************

Request an evaluation license today and see what you have been missing: Evaluation request

Best Regards,

Ben Langhinrichs
Genii Software
Ben@GeniiSoft.com
+1 216-991-5220

Copyright © 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

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