Why I dislike Notes

After I posted an entry called I Hate Notes Too recently somebody asked me to qualify this statement. Well, to be honest, I don't hate Notes - I just really dislike it some times (I try to reserve such strong words as hate for special occasions).

I am quite a shallow person really. I've always chosen girlfriends based on looks, hoping they have depth and personality underneath. Finally, I got lucky with Karen, who has looks and a great personality to boot. I've tried in the past to date girls I've known to be nice but who I didn't find overly attractive. It never worked out. In principle I could quite easily settle for a girl who was good fun and reliable, but I really have to like looking at her every single day.

Can you see where this analogy is going?

Notes is butt-ugly. If Notes were a girl I'd be embarrassed to introduce her to family and friends. Whenever I did I can imagine having to justify my choice afterwards, telling them what a complex person she was underneath. Not only is she ugly she's - how can I say this - a big fatty. Morbidly obese!

Not only is Notes ugly, but, due to her complicated personality, she's liable to outbursts and extreme irrational behaviour. Something else you have to continually have to explain to friends. It's like having a partner with tourettes. You just hope everybody appreciates what a great girl you have despite it all.

So, call me shallow, but that's what it boils down to with me. There are other things I dislike of course and, if you've been reading here long enough, you'll know what they are, but the UI is the single biggest point I dislike about Notes. I like this paragraph from the article that started all this off:

IBM wants to know what you think and says that results of a survey, at http://tinyurl.com/djlxz and intended for those using version 6 and above, will inform the next version. None of the options includes "rip up the interface and start again".

Hopefully with Hannover, where they appear to have done just that, I'll fall in love all over again and renew my vows. Otherwise there's likely to be an impending breakup or an affair with with a younger, slimmer, more attractive model.


    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 05:43 AM

    Great analogy Jake

    I wonder if this could spark a new debate - list all the available products and associate them with a celebrity?

    • avatar
    • Jake
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 06:02 AM

    Starting with Notes. Who does it best resemble?

    • avatar
    • Nick
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 06:10 AM

    Notes=Rosie O'Donnell?

  1. More like Margaret Thatcher: Wise, powerful, but not someone you would brag to your friends about.

    • avatar
    • Dave W
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 06:20 AM

    Notes=Ann Widdecombe. Could have achieved a lot more than she has, but all anyone cares about is her appearance.

    • avatar
    • Pat Read
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 07:28 AM

    Notes = Noel Edmunds

    Was once popular, with tacky gimmicks - now aging badly, tubbier and not really relevent.

    • avatar
    • tq
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 07:32 AM

    Notes = Heidi Fleiss

    Well known for being good at replication, but this wasn't enough to stop her being sent to the big house.

    • avatar
    • tq
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 07:34 AM

    Mike Davidson had a great post along similar lines yesterday comparing browsers to girls

  2. Hopefully Hannover will make Notes a little more like Scarlett Johannson. But I'll settle for Oprah (in a Notes way only, of course). :P

    ...You know, lose a lot of weight, become exponenially more successful, and expand into new markets. And when some one lies to your face in front of the world to push a sham product you spank them in front of their friends.

  3. So basically, you want IBM to take this low maintenance, easy to lay girl who's kind of homely and give her over to Dr. 90210 for a lot of nip, tuck, and enhance? You want ur girl to keep the no-nonsense, porn star abilities she has in the bedroom plus the knack for keeping the whole house running in perfect order without you having to lift a finger and now be able to make the other guys' jaws drop when she's out on the town with you. Is that what you're saying? If Hannover can do that, count me in!

    I truly surprised you're not more in love with Sharepoint, as that is as close to a good looking girl with an empty head as I have seen lately. But then again, after 10 minutes of talking to her, you'd run out of things to say and she'd need you to buy her another drink, give her a ride home to her other boyfriend's house, or figure out that she's really 13 yo and you could go to jail just for thinking those thoughts.


    • avatar
    • Jerry Carter
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 08:42 AM

    "Notes is butt-ugly. If Notes were a girl I'd be embarrassed to introduce her to family and friends. Whenever I did I can imagine having to justify my choice afterwards, telling them what a complex person she was underneath. Not only is she ugly she's - how can I say this - a big fatty. Morbidly obese!"

    ROFL! Priceless.

    I can't top Rossie Odenell as a comparison for the client. Obese, prone to outbursts, but somewhere in there you know sho has a heart... of... some sort. And since Notes will integrate with anything, well, I'll let you finish the parallel.

    So, outlook = Anna Nicole Smith? Sexy yet freakish interface with nothing going on inside, often promoted as being more interesting than she really is, and at the end of the day, she's just a gold digger.

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 08:50 AM

    Love the Anna Nicole Smith comparison - sums up Outlook perfectly

    Hopefully Hannover will be like Halle Berry - looks superb and can play almost any role (excluding what it/she is not designed to do)

  4. Isn't notes more like a lady-boy - great until you get her knickers off!

    Sorry sorry sorry!

    • avatar
    • Jake
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 09:05 AM

    Sean. I'd probably be smitten with Sharepoint. However, staying faithful to my current partner is made easier because I rarely get chance to meet anybody else who might convince me to stray.

    Who is Rosie Odenell anyway? The name rings a bell.

    • avatar
    • Chadwick Monkeynuts
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 09:42 AM

    remind me never to go to one of Andy Davies' parties!

    • avatar
    • Jose M.
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 10:50 AM

    As the man I am, Notes is a girl for me too. I am able to have a relationship with her, but it doesn't mean that I allways understand her. Completely agree with "she's liable to outbursts and extreme irrational behaviour".

    Don't force Notes to do anything it's not prepared to and don't force it to do anything in other way it usually does. Just don't force it.

    If you want something in other way, you'd need to get under the pants and make a special efford to make her (Notes) happy.

    I've been under Sharepoint and Domino pants and I preffer Sharepoint's. Really.

    • avatar
    • Jose M.
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 10:52 AM

    Luky us there's no angry women reading this post...

    • avatar
    • Jerry Carter
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 12:21 PM

    Sorry Jake, Rosie O'Donell (spelling err due to o and e being right next to eachother on the DVORAK kb layout).

    She was an actress, then a TV show host who became famous for adopting a couple of children with her lesbian partner. She's known for big blowups with people who cross her (like Walmart dumping her mags after she came out of the closet). Great personality when you don't have to acutally work with her.

    This is kind of tangentical, but this reminds me of a conversation my wife and I had last night where I compared promotional writing styles to varying degrees of virtue in women. e.g. those folks who write four paragraphs of hype and tuck away one little bright spot of useful information in the middle of it just to get newsletter subscribers or to sell a book would be street-walkers (e.g. hoo-ors), and people who actually put useful information into print for the benefit of the reader are more like classy, demure dames, much like the afore mentioned and beloved Lady Thatcher.

    • avatar
    • T. C.
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 02:15 PM

    LOL... love that Anna Nicole Smith comparison too. <big belly laugh>

    hence the reason why, among many other lead Notes architec and developers, the creator of Notes/Domino Ray Ozzie got hired by MS as its CTO...

    • avatar
    • Darren
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 05:41 PM

    Okay, I asked for some justification, and I'm a little disappointed that looks are the reason. Not surprised, just disappointed. The girl-friend analogy may be amusing, but it's not really relevant. I'd find the analogy about hiring someone to do a job nearer the mark - after all, most people use Notes in a business context (this is a point I make to people who say "our users use Outlook at home*" - what you do at home is not what you do at work). So, would you hire someone based on their looks, or their capabilities? (This analogy doesn't work if you're talking to the guy in charge of Spearmint Rhino). If you did hire someone based on their looks I'd venture that it wouldn't be good business sense.

    * Re. using Outlook at home - I hear this often and I don't buy it. Outlook Express, Hotmail, G-Mail, etc... yes, sometimes Outlook, but not always. Outlook comes with Office, not every home computer is supplied with Office, ergo Outlook isn't on every home computer.

    • avatar
    • Mario
    • Thu 16 Feb 2006 08:27 PM

    If you are a real UI fan, you'll probably like OpenLaszlo technology. Take a look at


    Enjoy. :)

    • avatar
    • Jake
    • Fri 17 Feb 2006 03:29 AM

    Darren. It's not all about looks - "Not only is Notes ugly, but, due to her complicated personality, she's liable to outbursts and extreme irrational behaviour."

    To me it doesn't matter about looks that much anyway. I'm a Domino (i.e. web) developer, so it's like having an ugly bird that nobody ever meets.

    Assuming you read this site on a regular basis you'll notice there's hardly a week goes by whereby I don't whine something or other. It might look like I'm just the whining type, but there's more to it than that. I'm at the peak of my productive career (or at least I like to think so). Like a footballer I'm reaching my optimum age to perform. I'm being held back by Domino though and I hate it for that. I appreciate Domino's a godsend in many ways but in so many others it's a constant pain in the arse.

    Why don't I stop whining and move to another platform then? If only it were that simple I probably would. Instead I have to weigh up options. This site and my reputation/business has taken a combination of 6 years to get to where it is. To throw this away would be foolish. to say the least.

    It's impossible to sum up why you have such strong feelings towards something like Notes. It's taken a career of 9 years with Notes to get to this point. A lot's happened along the way to leave me feeling this way.

    • avatar
    • Darren
    • Fri 17 Feb 2006 04:12 AM

    Jake, it's okay, I understand. There are bits I don't like about Notes, which in my job role is perhaps something I shouldn't admit. But they are far outweighed by the things I do like and which I find productive day in day out. And that's the defining factor for me.

    I know we're not talking about Outlook, but take that as an example. On the days I've used Domino Access for Outlook to get the Outlook user's perspective I've had to give up by lunch-time because the list of things I can't do have stacked up too high. That's only natural since I've used Notes for 14 years and all the productivity tools I have are Notes-based. An Outlook user would probably feel the same if they had to use Notes for a day if it were just in the context of e-mail / calendar. So herein lies the issue. When companies put Notes / Domino in, they have to ensure that it's a tool that helps people do their job. That's why companies have IT departments - it's about business, not technology. Since the Guardian article we've been busy collecting quotes from customers who believe that Notes (for all it's perceived faults) does significantly contribute to their business. Many also have a best practise around explaining to their users why they have Notes, the value of collaboration, what goes on at the back-end (something that users shouldn't care about but helps them to understand why the decision was made, that there's a bigger picture beyond the choice of e-mail client).

    Sounds like a marketing pitch - sorry, just the way it comes out.

  5. This topic (rather the article mentioned in it (rather one of the sites linked to in the article)) compelled me to post a multi-part series of rebuttals of to the 80 ways Notes sucks on my site.



  6. @Re Jose M. (Thu 16 Feb 2006 10:52 AM)

    "Luky us there's no angry women reading this post..."

    Probably because most women gave up in disgust at the whole conversation.

    Sure, Notes might be ugly, but surely there are better analogies to use that won't offend half the population...

    • avatar
    • Jake
    • Wed 22 Feb 2006 04:32 AM

    Laurette. If I were a lady I'd have written the same thing only about Domino being an ugly man.

    If you're offended I'm sorry about that, but I don't see why you would be. It was a tongue-in-cheek dig at Domino. Not an attack on the female of the species.

  7. Jake, it's not that I'm personally offended - as a women working in a male-dominated industry you learn to develop pretty thick skin.

    I completely get that it was meant toungue-in-cheek. But when the joke continues for several pages (my comment was for everyone, not just you!), and references real people, albeit, celebrites, it can come off as in a little bit of bad taste. A bit like a private locker room joke among a group of guys.

    You, I imagine, have a pretty large number of people reading your site, and while it's mostly excellent and fully of great technical info, sometimes I think you forget that many people read your site who never make comments, and just because no one else said they were offended doesn't mean it's not the case.

    I'm not a wowser or even much of a feminist, but I don't like poking fun at anyone, particularly in public, when you don't know who is listening. I would never write about ugly (or fat) men, women or children in public - it just seems like a way to get a cheap laugh.

    Anyway, I just wanted to throw in a quick comment, not start world war 3 between the sexes (or skinny & fat people!)! Keep up the good work - just remember that many people are watching!

    • avatar
    • Doug Finner
    • Wed 22 Mar 2006 10:58 AM

    I come at Notes from a different perspective. We use Notes 'inside the firewall' for our own use, client only. We don't sell our stuff, it doesn't need to be sexy, it just has to work.

    When I look at Notes, I don't see an unappealing person of an alternate gender, rather I see a plain, understated and brilliant partner. S/he/it has a toolkit to die for and an appetite for hard work. I am in love.

    Example - we recently migrated from 4.6 to 6.5 for both clients and server. We have 30-ish templates and another 10 or so stand alone dbs. Some apps are relatively complex, many are interlinked. I had to change ONE CHARACTER of code, ONE (we use the catalog and IBM inserted a column so I had to change a col ref in a dbcolumn - if I'd used field names, that change would not have been required).

    We changed OS (NT to XP), hardware, Domino server and client. Total conversion, including writing up plans, risk assessments, testing, writing reports, moving dbs, everything but the client roll-outs, a week and most of that paperwork.

    Now, go build yourself a LAMP system using Red Had, Apache 1.3, MySQL 4.0.something, and PHP 4.3. Create your website(s), all 30 of them and get things running nice and pretty.

    OK, now switch to BSD, Apache 2.x, MySQL 5.x, PHP 5.x.

    Clock is running - how soon will you be up and running again?

    Oh wait, forgot to toss in IE/Moz/Opera/FF/browser of choice...tick, tick, tick. I'm doing work and you're doing....re-code, test, re-code, test, re...

    Simple and ugly isn't necessarily bad and I'll tend to gravitate to systems that don't put me down and out for months trying to figure out why code stopped working because of some change to one of the components.

    For what it's worth, I am running a WAMP system at work and LAMP at home - nothing wrong with learning new and different ways to do things.

    Keep up the good work and best of luck with your new love (the real one, not Ruby!)


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