My thoughts on Lotus Notes


Although my personal laptop is a Mac and I sometimes use it for work, I haven't installed Notes on it because it requires Leopard and I'm still running Tiger. So I haven't had a chance to see how Notes behaves on a Mac, but another Monash Notes Mac user, Andrew Norman, sent me his list of complaints. So, here's his list with some of my comments in square brackets:

  • Size of the install - 819MB. [This seems to be almost twice as big as the Windows install.]
  • It is not apparent how you can disable or remove the "Sametime" item that adds itself to the menu bar in the top right. Uninstalling and reinstalling Notes made it go away.
  • If you don't install Sametime, you still get a Sametime menu under the tools menu.
Non-standard keyboard shortcuts
  • Closing a window is Ctrl-W, not the standard Cmd-W (and this cannot be overridden).
  • Cmd-W launches a strange "search" dialog.
Application Interface
  • The Preferences window resizes itself automatically (as you view options), sometimes resizing itself off the display. Widening the left column of the Preferences window results in a proportional resize of the entire window.
  • The Dock icon for Notes reads "java", and not "Notes".
  • Closing down Notes results in the dock icon being replaced with a java terminal icon for a few seconds, and then quitting.
  • In the message list view, Notes wraps the senders email address across multiple lines, expanding each message line vertically. [This also happens on Windows.]
  • If you change your week to start on Sunday, then in the "Week View", the last two columns are narrower than all the others (as Notes thinks they are weekends). As a consequence, Friday gets squashed up, and Sunday is extra wide.
  • If Notes can't connect to the server, it throws window after window of warnings telling you that it can't connect to the server. Setting the mode to "offline" still throws error messages saying that it can't connect to the server.
  • In the Mail window, with a preview pane, if you click and hold on the scroll control and move it up or down, the contents of the window does not scroll up and down. You only see the results when the you let go of the control.
  • When creating a new calendar entry, the fields are misaligned, and text is hidden.
  • Lotus Notes "steals" the focus when loading. When the splash page loads, it steals the focus again. And again when "Home" loads. Unlike other apps, it does not play nicely in the background. [This also happens on Windows.]
  • Links in email messages appear with a bright green underline. There appears to be no way to override this.
  • Mailbox folder names are case insensitive. If you mistakenly type "Web managers", but then decide to rename the mailbox folder to "Web Managers", you can't. Notes tells you that you can't rename a mailbox to a name that exists. The only way around this to use an intermediate name (rename to "W" then rename to "Web Managers").
  • What is the difference between a "Holiday" and a "Vacation"? [Beats me.]
Missing application features
  • You can't link to email items from within other applications or documents. With Apple Mail, you can drag a message and drop it onto a text document, and then annotate some notes about the item. Clicking on the email link, takes you back to the mail message. Notes does not support this behaviour.
  • Clicking on the "Next Unread" button in the toolbar only advances you to the next unread item in the current folder you are accessing. It will not traverse sub-folders, nor does it go from the Inbox to Folders.
  • New mail delivered into sub-folders (by either server side mail filtering or Notes rules) is not identified in your unread message count in Notes. It only seems to be interested in the Inbox for unread email. [This seems to be different than on Windows. I have some Notes rules that file some messages into sub-folders and I can see an unread count against each of those folders.]
  • I now have more Spam in my Inbox than ever before. Notes spam filtering just does not work. [I noticed this as well, but changing the Junk Mail rule to look for 3 stars instead of 5 seemed to fix this for me.]
  • Quicklook for attachments.
  • Notes defaults to top-posting when replying and there's no way to change this to bottom-posting. Top-posting messes up the order in which people normally read text. [Although I agree that it messes up the reading order, I personally prefer top-posting, only because I get tired of constantly scrolling down to see responses. A bigger problem is that Notes doesn't blockquote the quoted text, so if I want to respond inline, then I need to fiddle with font colours or some other formatting to distinguish the quoted text from my response.]
Speed Issues
  • Time it takes to load and view a single email from cold start:
    Apple Mail ~ 2 seconds
    Notes ~ 51 seconds
  • Time to quit:
    Apple Mail ~ < 1 second
    Notes ~ 7 seconds
Many thanks to Andrew for sending this to me.