What If: Open Source Domino

Yesterday I speculated that a simple change to a Lotus template would have fixed the problem described, which would mean I could do away with the hack solution arrived at. If you read the comments to that post you'll see that I went on to try out the theory and actually make the changes myself. Sure enough, two simple design changes later and the bug (?) is gone.

Now, if Domino were open source I'd gladly submit this fix for the benefit of us all. Alas, it isn't, so I can't. This got me thinking though ‐ what if Domino were open source. Whether or not it's a good idea I don't know, but it's good to dream.

Anyway, I'm away for most of today so I leave you to discuss the following among yourselves: If Domino were open source what would you fix, change or add?


  1. My favourite bugbear - "Entry not found in index" - would soon be "Entry foo not found in index bar".

  2. i would expose the login mechanism, instead of '?login' command. it would improve the capability of integration with other application, such as iis/.net/j2ee etc. Now it's only work well with websphere :(

    • avatar
    • Rob
    • Wed 17 May 2006 09:07 PM

    I'd all the shaired objects such as subforms and shaired fields have name spaces.

    For example, supose your designing an invoice system. An invoice may have three different addresses: the ordering address, the billing address and the shipping address. I want to create a subform the has all the fields and validation stuff I need for an address. Call it ADDRESS.

    Then, each time I add it to my form Designer would prompt me for an name-space name. I'd add it three times with ORDERING, BILLING and SHIPPING as the name-space name.

    Each field in the subform would have the name-space name as aqualifer to its original name. I could then write code to access fields like




    The original Notes was designed before the Object Orentation craze, but they came just so close, so very close to being an object-store.

    • avatar
    • Foo
    • Thu 18 May 2006 02:58 AM

    SSO for Notes Client & Web Cleint.

    • avatar
    • Axel
    • Thu 18 May 2006 03:05 AM

    Ben Langhinrich should immediatedly ship a fork (Midas Notes) like the Geronimo guys did with JBoss.

    Those orgs which are heavily into RichText may switch to Midas Notes.

  3. But most of Notes/Domino *is* open. The mere fact that you, Jake, edited the form to fix a "bug" proves it.

    The only real difference is that the core code is not open. The moment that becomes open source there will be thousands of different versions, lots of database applications would break or only work on certain versions and the whole thing would be a nightmare to support. No I'm glad the system is closed.

    By all means add requirements to your wishlist of things to fix. IBM do listen (sometimes). Take yesterdays announcements which hit /. {Link}

    Open Source Notes? Thats a can of worms I never want to see.

  4. My take on the matter is did you fix meeting all your needs than versus does thisfix meet all test cases in the QA process. As the latter will be unknown, I would have to the former is true.

    The differnece with Open Source is all of the product is exposed. What we have in Lotus Software is just the templates are open source. We don't have the whole picture....

  5. @yafei,

    how does iis and .net work for AIX or Linux versions od Domino? remember this can do more on a non-windows os in concurrent threads and in mail the number of mail users per server.

  6. @patrick,

    maybe cross platform is a good characteristic, i mean providing a given mechnism is not important, but exposing the authentication and authorization mechnism such as DomAuthSessId cookie or LtpaToken cookie is my favourite.

    • avatar
    • Rob
    • Thu 18 May 2006 10:39 AM

    Since a form is a filter through which we create, change and view documents, I'd like greater flexablility in opening a document with the form of my choice.

    Right now the only two ways I know of doing this is: 1) a Form Formula and 2) change the value of the Form item on the document before opening it.

    For web work, why specify the name of the form in the URL? (&form=MyForm)

    • avatar
    • David
    • Thu 18 May 2006 12:51 PM

    @Rob - One other way is open the form you want and passing the param parentunid. Parentunid is equal to the docid you'd like to open.

    It looks something like:


    formName is self explanatory and the rest of the url should be easy to figure out. You'll need the unid of the doc you want to display which you should be able to get from your link and pass into the url.

    Others have posted this solution for a printer friendly form, but you could probably tweak for your use as well.

  7. @Rob, you can change the form used to open a document by using @Command( [SwitchForm] ; formName ) to execute immediately, or @Command( [ViewSwitchForm] ; formName ) after all other commands.

    • avatar
    • Dick
    • Thu 18 May 2006 01:30 PM

    I always enjoy the "Open Source" debate. Many of those who, in fact, make their own living writing software, are alwys eager for others who write software (IBM, Microsft, et al) to turn the code over to the public domain. Arguably there are some major successes (FireFox - though it couldn't be considered a success within the enterprise), but the profit motive is what drove Lotus Notes to become as widely installed as it is. The profit motive drove Microsoft to be the largest software company in the world. The profit motive is the driving force behind why most of us visit your website i.e. to pick up a few tips and tricks.

    Certainly there are those who are compelled to donate their time and talents to open source software, but I suspect the best and brightest are gainfully employed.

    </rant off>

    • avatar
    • glyn
    • Thu 18 May 2006 07:18 PM

    re-skin and re-design the client so u dont know u are using lotus notez

  8. @Dick

    There is plenty of profit to be made on top of an open source product. The fees IBM charge for their software pale in comarison to the consulting and hardware agreements they sign with customers. Making it work is the profit, not making it. There are far too many similar cheaper options for the software to be the profit driver anymore and IBM's marketing and sales models prove they know it.

    I think with Sun open sourcing java there is going to be some strong pressure on MS with .net and IBM with Websphere and Notes to follow suit... and they'll all still make piles of cash.

    If you do open source it, mind the bacwards compatibility you are inheriting. I personally would take the fork suggestion and release a version that didn't support anything earlier than R6, strip out all of the Rich text structure and code and hire Ben to write a new module in that regard. I'd pay for his time marketing support and consulting services on the lighter, cleaner and more standard compliant version. I'd also add Garnet back in and also add a PHP wrapper class. Pushing the underlying structure towards a library name space OO layout would allow users to pick and choose what they deploy or compile in to applications.

    Oh yeah, the darn HTML rendering would get an update and have editable config files that would inkect the proper html / xhmtl enoding scheme on application load. And all java applet support would get the boot and be replaced with an ajax API.


  9. I'm CLP since 4.6 and do most of my business with Domino.

    Lotus Notes/Domino is very stable, is very powerfull, is very respectfull of Internet standard, in a word is a very good product.

    Yet many "dummies" prefer MS Exchange/Sahrepoint/.net and all that crap because MS is a leader of "real business solution".

    Yet many other "open minded people" prefer open source software (like Drupal) because it's a good alternative to the evil empire of MS.

    In the midle Lotus stands and is perceived as a closed system controlled by a 100 years old company (IBM). Not a very exiting position.

    So if Lotus was fully open (not just open NTF templates), we'll be much better off because will combine the "open attitude" with the "real business solution". It's just marketing (or anti-marketing).

    Lotus is getting there : they don't bother with software keys, they start to give the server away, they support Linux, they are going to support ODF, but it's far too slow.

    We'll be doing way more business when will have Open Source Domino.

    • avatar
    • Rob
    • Mon 22 May 2006 07:57 AM

    Dave & Ester Strom, thanks for the tips about opening documents with form of my choice. I'll try'm out. Rob:-]

  10. Jake, it's a fallacy to believe that just because Domino is proprietary you have no way to submit your fix. As a customer with a support contract, you can submit a bug report and a workaround/fix to go with it. As an IBM PartnerWorld member (which costs you nothing) you can join the Lotus Partner Forum which allows you to submit a "PBR" (possible bug report) which bypasses front-line support and can include your fix, and you can also submit a proposed tech note for the Domino knowledge base.

    There are no guarantees, of course. Your tech note may or may not be accepted. Your bug report may or may not be accepted, and if your report is accepted youf fix still may not be if someone on the inside feels that a fix in core code instead of in the template is more appropraiate. And even if your fix is accepted, it will have to go through triage, prioritization, rigorous QA across platforms, yadda yadda, and may or may not make it into a release in our lifetimes. But on open source projects of huge scope, the same thing happens to your contributions if you're not part of the core team.

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