My thoughts on Lotus Notes

Thoughts on Lotus Notes

Monash University, where I work, has recently purchased Lotus Notes 8 and is now in the process of deploying it to all its staff. I was migrated to Notes in May this year and it was an utter shock to have to use such an infuriating piece of software. I can truly say that no single piece of software has incensed me more than Notes has.

I've been reporting all the problems I've found to our Notes change management team, but I still feel a need to vent my frustrations, to scream with fury. Hence this website. I'll be using this space to document the bugs, deficiencies, annoyances and frustrations with using Notes. At the risk of just becoming another of the numerous "I hate Lotus Notes" websites out there, I'll try to write in the spirit of constructive criticism, and perhaps even attempt to try to find some things that I like about Notes (though, that may be very difficult).

I'll be writing from the point of view of an end-user of the Notes mail and calendar applications. I'm not a Notes administrator or developer and I really don't care that nifty applications can be built within Notes. Notes has been deployed at Monash primarily for email and calendar (though other applications like Team Space and Chat are planned) and that's what I'll primarily be using it for. As an email and calendar client, Notes is simply put: appalling. This is not because Notes is lacking some essential feature (most of the usual suspects are there), but rather, it has innumerable small bugs, user interface quirks or inconsistencies that all add up to a death-by-a-thousand-cuts experience.

What I write will be coloured by my past experiences, so some background before I start venting:
  • I understand that Notes is very customisable, so some of the issues documented here may not be IBM's fault, but could be attributed to local Monash customisations. From my point of view, I can't tell. To me, it's just "Lotus Notes" that's broken.
  • We're running the version 8.0.1 client with a version 7 server. Some of these problems may be resolved when the server is upgraded to version 8.
  • I haven't found a decent resource on the web specifically about the version 8 client. There are a few websites documenting problems with previous versions of the client, but they don't seem to have been updated in a while, so they don't cover version 8.
  • I was using Thunderbird 2 prior to being converted to Lotus Notes. I've been a long-time user of Thunderbird, though I've also used Outlook Express and have had some recent experience with Gmail. I think all three have their warts.
  • Our calendar system was Netscape Calendar.
I haven't enabled comments here, but feel free to email me your thoughts (click "Contact Me" at the bottom of this page). If I start getting some traffic, then I might have a look at opening up comments.