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Application UI Development - Lotus Notes Client Standards or 'Teh nEw H0tn3ss'?

I've been - as several people suggested - following a Twitter keyword search for "Lotus Notes".

Note: I warn any yellowbleeder thinking of doing this - you will hear the most inane, hate-filled, and saddening complaints about Lotus Notes you've ever heard. Twitter - if anything - has given everyone creative license to air their grievances, and creates 140-character Int ernet Tough Guys.

Some complaints are valid, of course, but one in particular made me stop and think. Here's the exchange:

In training for lotus notes 8.5. Now it sucks *and* uses all your ram!

My response:

curious - and not trolling - what don't you like about Lotus Notes?

And their responses:

it's slow, uses strange non-standard ui for no reason, and I've never used an app with a more cluttered interface

it's all about the ui. its 2009. Don't give me a 1994 interface! I'm used to macs and iPhones!

This got me thinking... How should we be developing our Lotus Notes Client applications? I understand the move to Web 2.0-UIs for Domino Web Applications, but the vast majority of Lotus Notes Client Applications have a similar basic layout:

An example of a typical Lotus Notes Client Application User 

Left-hand navigation, top-row action menu, and a NotesView pane where all of the action is. NotesDocuments are often modified via Open in New Tab, ModeChange to Edit Mode, Save and Close. Some Notes Client Applications allow for multi-NotesDocument processing via gutter selection, clicking an action from the View Design Element's Action Bar, and finally refreshing the NotesUIView.

Is this wrong? Wait... that's not fair. Does this meet the user experience expectations set by the majority of today's consumer-facing, popular, and heavily-adopted solutions?

I guess my real question is this: If you were not restricted by limitations of the given client, how would you design your application user interfaces?

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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