Ben Langhinrichs

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December, 2010
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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.


Fri 10 Dec 2010, 02:47 PM
Perhaps I terribly misunderstand the business world and what makes organizations tick, but I think the calls for a free version on Lotus Notes, or now of Lotus Domino, completely miss out on what works and what doesn't.  There is a role for free software, and a time and a place for it as well. Taking a product that has been sold quite expensively to many, many customers for twenty one years, and offering it for free to any significant number of people (e.g., companies with 100 employees or fewer), gives a terrible message.

It scream desperation.

It says, the product you paid dearly for and believed in is close to dead.

I would hazard a guess that such an approach would lead many companies of significant size to abandon Lotus Notes/Domino.  That's right, it would cause people to leave because it would confirm the worst rumblings of the naysayers, and chop the feet out from under the advocates.  This is not because offering software for free always does that. It is a great way to build a market with a new product, but there is a time and place for everything.

A better approach would be to simplify the process. Ruthlessly chop away the layers of complexity, and make it drop-dead easy to purchase a license, to OEM, to bundle, whatever. We live in a world where nobody has the time and energy to fight through the thicket to acquire licenses.

As a business owner, I will pay a reasonable price for a product, but only if I can get it done before going off to fight the next fire.  I have tried to start two small (separate) ventures that would have required a Domino Express license, and given up both times.  That's right, I have dropped the ventures, stayed out of the business, not bought the software. I am about as tight-fisted as they come, but the price was never an obstacle. I simply didn't have time to fight through the hassle and move on.

Skip free. Free is a terrible idea with a terrible message attached. People want me to give products away for free all the time, but I have the same issue. If I started giving Midas away, many people who believe in it would jump immediately to the conclusion that it is dead, while in fact it is doing better than it has in years. Free is a great approach in your first year or two of a product, and a disastrous approach in your twenty-first year, but simple is never a problem. Every year, I struggle to find ways to make my products simpler, and every year it pays off. Lotus Domino's biggest obstacles are a) it is too closely associated with email which is now a commodity, and b) it is damned hard to purchase.

Distinguish it from email and make it as simple to purchase and to bundle as it is to install, and you will build back a customer base.

Make it free and even I am likely to start building applications for Microsoft or Google or somebody else.

Copyright © 2010 Genii Software Ltd.

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Fri 10 Dec 2010, 10:23 AM
In building the Virtual Bookstore as part of the Lotusphere 2011 Sessions DB, I originally thought that I would avoid editorializing and include every relevant book.  Nothing squashed that idea faster than looking for books on XPages.  There are two books out that are explicitly about XPages, and one looks very, very good and will ship by Lotusphere.  The other looks very, very bad, and is available now.  Save your money and wait.


Very, very good.  Recommended
This was written by members of the XPages development team, and is highly praised by those who have reviewed, and highly anticipated by anyone else in the know.  Order it now, and you should get it the moment it arrives, shortly before Lotusphere.  Seriously, go order it and come back.  I'll wait.



Very, very bad.  Not recommended
This book, titled "Xpages", was not written so much as ripped off from Wikipedia (they admit that on the cover), by people who seem not to know anything about the subject.  I won't even link to it, but I'll include the image and title to warn you off.  I will quote the one review, left by Wayne H. Mackirdy:

There is nothing of value in this book. I paid $38 for 9 printouts from Wikipedia. Really? There is nothing about XPages development - in fact, there is only one page about XPages in 65 pages. It then gives the Wikipedia articles for IBM, Lotus Notes, Domino, JavaServer Faces, Eclipse, etc. For the life of me, I see no reason for this book even being published! 




Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any other books available.  Come on, authors, you can do better.  TLCC and IBM both have courses available, and those will be in the Sessions db, but if this is the big saving grace for IBM, wouldn't you think somebody could have jumped on it faster?

Copyright © 2010 Genii Software Ltd.

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