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Lotus Notes Domino, Blackberry, WAP, and forgetting your portfolio (and Ego)!

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accurate... I was driving while recording this... I found myself in a pretty interesting situation today: I had a customer that had a need that I could address with a very low-tech solution. And it got me wondering if we don't put too much on building this monolithic solution that leverages the greatest cutting edge technology to date and something that's completely unique and amazing... just to sorta pad our own egos -- me being a huge offender of that very thing! I will often take a look at a situation and say, "Hmm, I know how everyone else would handle it; how should I take a look at it?".

And for better or worse, I talk about these really cool, unconventional ways of addressing an issue.

Well, I try not to do that for customers and in particular I didn't this time around. Now, the problem (if you will) or the request was simple: they had a Lotus Notes Client-based application that they wanted to be able to take to the mobile device. Now, the mobile device in question was a Blackberry. They run their own BES server; it's all in-house. They have people in the field that access their backend environment with Blackberries.

Everything was setup, so all I had to do was take the data out of the NotesDatabase and put it into a format that would work on the Blackberry.

I could use direct HTTP Requests... so I went that route.

Instead of developing something in XPages; instead of even developing in HTML and making it a true browser-based application: I went old-school and delivered a WML (or a WAP Browser-accessible) application.

Now the Blackberry works great with WML-based applications. All I really needed to do was build the deck or the WAP deck, and I'll talk about that this week and upcoming posts about building WAP decks and leveraging that with Lotus NotesData.

I actually really lends to the construct of a View and having your main page ('cause that's what I did - I had a View setup and I used a $$ViewTemplate for mobile -- mobile being the View -- and I played around with a few things...). I've talked about this in the past but it definitely deserves revisiting.

This application took me maybe... an hour all said and done? They were sitting in the room when I developed it and that is one of the coolest things any developer - any consultant can do - but specifically any developer can do. When you sit there and take an idea or request out of the users hands and you say, "Okay, let me see what I can do...". And within an hour -- with them watching -- being able to turn it around.

It speaks volumes for all of the platforms involved and really makes you look like a superstar.

(If only they knew you were just throwing together a few lines of markup and the platform pretty much did the rest... )

Now, like I said: I didn't go XPages, I didn't go JSON data libraries based off the NotesData, I didn't go with HTTP Request proxies to bring the information in and drop it in a DMZ-accessible environment so they can access it, no. This was All. Simple. Stuff.

And yeah, I'm not going to add it to my solutions portfolio when I go into customer sites and say, "Hey, I've done stuff like this!".

The work actually benefitted the customer. They've seen what's possible with the platforms. I think that really makes them take a look at Lotus Notes Domino and Blackberry and say, "This is a viable solution. I can get it to do what I want it to do." And that's a great thing!

When you can turn around and reassure the customer that they've made the right decision (in not only hiring you) but they've made the right decision in their technology investments, it's a win all the way across the board.

Like I said, I'll be writing about WAP development for Blackberry devices specific to Lotus Notes Domino development (and Lotus Notes Domino Developers) on the website.

About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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