My thoughts on Lotus Notes

Domino Web Access

Web access to email and calendar is provided by "Domino Web Access" (DWA). In many ways it's actually better than the full desktop client because the interface doesn't have as much cruft. Unfortunately, there are some glaring problems. Here's my story ...

I was away from the office, but I had my MacBook Pro, so I tried to use Domino Web Access to check my email. I hit my first problem before I'd even started: it doesn't work in Safari. There is a "WebMail" option for Safari, but it just looks hideous, so I fired up Firefox to see if that worked any better. I managed to log in and start reading my email. It even has drag and drop, which is nice. Then I hit my first snag. I could scroll down in the message list pane, but I couldn't scroll up! I tried using the arrow keys on the keyboard but that didn't work either. So I hunted for a preference and there's an option to show one page at a time. I turned that on and I could finally move up and down in my message list. I was happy for a minute, but then I tried to drag and drop a message into a folder. Drag and drop had stopped working! So, I then tried the "Move To Folder..." menu but nothing happened. Perhaps it was Firefox's pop-up blocker that was getting in the way, so I turned it off and tried again. Nothing. I couldn't move my messages! Changing the preference back to show all messages in the message list made drag and drop work again, but scrolling was still broken.

At this point, I was getting furious. I fired up XP in Parallels and got IE going and tried again. Now everything was working in DWA as expected. The message list would scroll correctly and I could drag and drop messages and the "Move To Folder..." menu worked. Hmmm ... whatever happened to "cross-platform"?

I then noticed that all my messages were marked as unread. This was infuriating as I had a folder of messages where I'd carefully left some messages as unread because I wanted to get back to them later. All that information was lost! There was no point leaving them as unread, so I selected "Mark All Read" from the "Mark Read" menu expecting it to mark all the messages in the current folder as read. Instead it marked all messages everywhere as read! Who in their right mind decided that that was a good thing!?

So, I gave up on using the read/unread indicator as a reliable "get back to this later" indicator. I created a new folder and managed to identify most of the messages I had left as unread and moved them to that new folder.

After the above episode, I did some more testing and found out DWA doesn't like Firefox 3 on the Mac. I went back to Firefox 2 and scrolling the full (non-paginated) message list worked, as did drag and drop. The "Move To Folder..." still doesn't work.

Here are some more random issues with DWA:
  • DWA repeatedly gives me following warning message in a dialog box: "Domino Web Access Warning. Sorry, we were unable to process your request at this time. If you are unable to continue working in your mail file, please dismiss the warning and select View, Reload from your browser’s menu." Nothing appears to be wrong with the application, but apparently it may be related to us using a version 8 client on top of a version 7 server.
  • When I navigate to a folder and then navigate back to the Inbox, the Folder list collapses. This is even more annoying than the full client.
  • Contacts aren't immediately available in DWA. I had to set up replication to replicate the data from my local contact to the server's contacts. Unfortunately, the most valuable aspect of Contacts, the "Recent Contacts" list, isn't replicated.
  • Using Firefox (either version 2 or 3), when I try to reply or forward a message that has a " (i.e. double quote) in the subject line, everything after the " is truncated.