Ben Langhinrichs

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A funny thing happened on the way to mobile

Wed 24 Jul 2019, 03:33 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
For at least the past decade, IBM has been talking heavily about mobile devices with promises such as "Mobile First" and "native apps", but while many companies have moved many apps to web interfaces using classic Domino, XPages, and various hybrid technologies, mobile app usage in the Notes/Domino/Sametime/Connections space has garnered much less of a mind share and customer share than might be expected. 
HCL has taken a curious step... backwards some might say. With Nomad, Notes client apps could be run natively on the iPad, and at the Factory Tour, there were presentations and demos of that approach spreading to Android tablets and both iPhone and Android phones. GPS functionality has been added to LotusScript, and formula language extensions have been added so your app, your native Notes app, can be device-aware with its UI.
Now, this direction has a lot of different meaning for different audiences. For long time customers, it means some of those Notes applications that have grown dusty over time can be dusted off and have continued use with a mobile workspace. For developers, it means that with traditional low-code to mid-code Domino Designer, they can create apps that run well on every mobile device as well as the desktops which still rule the desks in the corporate world.
But there is another implication which may go largely unremarked by anybody except, well, me. This direction means that rich text is not only not dead, it is not relegated to applications that are no longer maintained or updated. Developers can legitimately add rich text fields to apps that will run on an iPhone or Samsung or whatever, knowing that those rich text fields can be read and edited with the "normal" rich text editor, because what is running is essentially the Notes client (sans the clunky Eclipse part).
One of the demos shown at the Factory Tour was using the Notes mail client to create a rich text email. While at one time, HCL suggested that email would not be ported, it has been and will be part of the package.
Lest you think that rich text implies nothing but fonts and colors, bear in mind that it means doclinks, tabbed tables, layers, collapsible sections,etc. The following are snapshot of ordinary rich text fields, all of which could be created without a lick of programming by a power user to display on the entire panoply of mobile devices.
The following are not really on an iPad, I just copied them onto a template image to remind you this is possible right now with Nomad.
Tables with dynamic images and mouse-click text
Inline JPEG image
Nested tabbed tables
Inline JPEG image 
Forms with all the Notes niceties and no special coding required
Inline JPEG image
Of course, all of this comes with an important reminder. What is created in rich text still needs to be rendered well. Somebody creating the content above in email or forwarding a form or report may still be sending it to Outlook365 or Gmail or a Notes customer in a different domain, and to retain the appearance and integrity you will need CoexLinks Fidelity. And while all this content may be created by hand, far more intricate work can be created far more easily using the Midas LSX. This fancy content may also be used to drive apps using DERN/NERD stack or Node JS or whatever, and that may require AppsFidelity.
Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to post a few demos showing the value of the Genii suite of products in both your existing and upcoming world of Notes/Domino (and Verse and Sametime and possibly Connections, but more about all that later).
For now, just remember that rich text is back, baby. Like it or not.

Copyright 2019 Genii Software Ltd.

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