2 + 2 = F5

This just made me laugh and I had to pass it on. IBM are doing "usability studies" for Hannover - the next release of Notes, which you knew of course.

A question was posed, to which I replied (although it appears to have been removed?), asking what should be done with the F5-locks-screen feature. Personally I think it should be dumped, as was suggested in their blog post.

The F5 button should have the same functionality as in Windows, whereby it refreshes whatever you're looking at. The fact that this functionality lies behind F9 is a constant annoyance to me. Whether or not a one key method of locking Notes is needed aside, I just don't think it should be the F5 key.

Anyway, with 90 comments to work with they went back to the usability lab, did their sums and came up with:

2 + 2 = F5 = Lock Computer.

Err. WTF!? If I want to lock my computer I'll press Windows key and L thanks all the same. If I pressed F5 expecting it to refresh the view only to find I had to unlock my computer I don't know what I'd do to the monitor. Notes has me screaming at it often enough already without other usability blunders being added.

It's a shame really. At first I thought it was great that IBM were asking us our opinions on things. Even though the majority of opinions posted seem to point in one direction they seem to be taking the other.


  1. Fundamentally, your experience is the difference between Lotus and IBM. Lotus would do what seemed right, but IBM wants to make sure it is always different than Microsoft.

    * shrug *

  2. BTW; the chief architect of Hannover is now blogging. Maybe he will listen........


  3. Hi Jake...

    Here's a great solution for you..... Why not switch the "F5" and "F9" keys on your keyboard!!!

    That way you'll be able to press the "F5" for your refresh!

    It should keep you happy and windows compliant!!!



  4. Jake -

    I suspect that they're heavily emphasizing backward compatibility (for lack of a better term). For those of us who never use F5 to refresh windows (I never even knew you could do that!), but are quite accustomed to using F9 to refresh Notes, making this change would be somewhat painful.


    • avatar
    • Michael
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 09:10 AM

    I'm a frequent F5 flyer and when I just can't wait for the next 'get ur phreak on pharm spam', I'm Alt-tabbing and hitting F5 like a race car driver. More often than not I boot myself out of Designer/Notes and Admin and wondering what I left running.

    I'm all for a change.... why can't they map the break key for the lock function? Hitting Ctrl-Break is hassle enough to stop various operations and that key by itself would be ideal. And to think it all came from that nutty recalc keypress in 1-2-3.

    BTW... Jake, apologies for Ytria home shopping channel dig the other day. I was having a bad day and should have turned off my sarcasm generator. ;)

  5. If only I had a penny everytime I unintentionally locked myself out of LN by pressing F5 to refresh. The more time you spend in web browser the more often it happens.

    • avatar
    • Mark Vincenzes
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 09:24 AM

    In a later entry, Mary Beth does indicate that she is listening to the comments on F5.

    I posted a request for comments on some issues with the use of the <font> tag here:


    in case readers of this blog don't frequent the lotus developer domain.

    • avatar
    • Rich
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 10:52 AM

    I thought 'F9' had its roots in Common User Access (or CUA) stuff that IBM developed in the late 80's. A pre-microsoft windows attempt at standardisation, to make some sense out of the chaos that DOS based apps were at that time - wordperfect and 123 had differing use of keys..123 even used to have keyboard templates in the box.

    Anyway - I hate it for another reason. I run 6.5 developer on a mac under parallels....F9 has an altogether different effect. Try it.

    • avatar
    • Michael
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 12:42 PM

    @Rich I'm fairly sure that F9 was the shortcut key for the menu option for Recalc under 123.... I'm talking way back.... before WordPerfect and 123 even knew each other days... more like back in the WordStar days.... ya know... the Ctrl-K era when everyone trying for some productivity was slinging SideKick in the background (the first popular TSR - terminate stay resident) app and running spell checkers like Lightning.

    I can almost hear those 5 1/4 drive machines booting up now. That brings up an idea.... why don't they add boss key functions to the sign out in Notes? Some cooler graphic would be better.

    • avatar
    • Bart
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 01:08 PM

    It's true that F5 is the refresh key in Internet Explorer and Window Explorer.

    But in Excel and Word F9 recalcs/refreshs and F5 is Goto. So, having F5 as refresh is not standardized across all of Microsofts products.

  6. As I said in my comment on the decision, this will have people carrying pitchforks and torches knocking on the doors in Westford.

    • avatar
    • Matt
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 01:41 PM

    Just a couple of thoughts...

    While this really isn't something that a lot of organizations probably use, but if there is a PC without different user accounts at the OS layer with Notes IDs for each user (i.e. a call center), this could certainly be a use of the F5 "feature". Granted, in this day and age, I doubt that anyone would have a setup quite like that, but one never knows.

    While undocumented (or at least I couldn't find it) from what I remember F5 also refreshes your security cache on your local machine...forgive me if that's a "duh" statement.

  7. Seems like this would be an obvious choice under User Preferences as a radio button or something.

    F5 Key:

    __ Locks Notes __ Refreshes View / Form

    Can't be that hard, can it?

    • avatar
    • Stephen Hood
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 02:46 PM

    F5 in (MS) Windows applications.

    Access F5 = Toggles into form design but not out. Btw, F9 refreshes fields just like Notes

    Excel F5 = Goto dialog

    Project F5 = Goto dialog

    Explorer F5 = Refresh

    Internet Explorer F5 = Refresh

    Outlook 2000 F5 = Refresh Mail. Btw in Outlook 2003 they changed it to F9 just like Notes.

    OneNote F5 = Save As

    InfoPath F5 = Save As

    PowerPoint F5 = Slideshow

    Word F5 = Find & Replace

    So I count 20 percent of MS windows applications actually use F5 as refresh and as you can see within that group their is NO standard function. In fact within a *single* application the F5 has different behaviours.

    So we should break backward compatibility for 125 million users to meet the requirements of a standard that doesn't actually exist? But somehow it's a reason/vindication of how IBM is willfully ignoring their users. Sorry but that just doesn't fly.

    How about another little exercise around those MS programs standards. Open each of the programs above and use the STANDARD Ctrl-F to find things...I mean everyone knows what that's supposed to do right?

    Hmm. Forward Mail? Different dialogs? Doesn't do *anything* were you would expect it to - like in my list of notes? What standard?

    Again the model is pretty consistent in Notes but not MS. Let's hope they DON'T follow those usability wizards at MS. That would be a tragedy on the consistency front. Take what MS does do well but don't take what they've made a pigs arse of - namely consistency and standards.

    Here is the confusion from my perspective. Notes is actually a very consistent model but it has *defects* in the GUI (focus related issues in particular) that aren't addressed. However that means you fix the defects NOT change a consistent model to follow an inconsistent one. MS just has no consistent model to follow on the windows application side so how can it possibly be followed?

    And of course following the Windows "model" doesn't take into account Mac and Linux.

  8. Here's a better idea. Anybody play Unreal Tournament, Halo, Ghost Recon, etc.? Ever remap your keys? Wouldn't it be nice if we could remap keys for Windows apps just we can in any game? Then we can all have our favorite.

    With thousands of game titles out there supporting this type of mapping functionality, I'd say that is the greater established standard to follow for usability. :-)

    Game on!

  9. Hey Jake,

    Sweet post :-) I was just enjoying myself in the world of Domino this day/evening doing some funky coding and I go and surf on in here and get wound up at how bad IBM are! hahaha.

    They seem to do anything that is non-standard to try to please .... erm ... who? None of the users!

    And 75 users means a decision has been made? That is just the ultimate joke. So weeks and months and years of collating data and user testing with big trial groups worldwide on different OSs and user types .... no. Even my "big" websites go through more usability testing than that!

    Stephen Hood above has done some thorough work and I echo his sentiments exactly - F5 is non-standard across all apps on the PC, including Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, it does happen to be refresh in both our web browsers and Windows Explorer ... which are probably/possibly the most used apps on the PC so I would err towards F5 being a refresh BUT

    no! Lotus has had F5 lock forever, and F9 refresh forever! Keep them, they WORK. What the hell is wrong with them!

    And trying to jump on OS functionality within an application!?!?!? What other app can you be in, press a keystroke relevant to that app (not a Windows Key combination) and it LOCKS THE OS!

    I laugh.

    And cry.

    And ramble.

    • avatar
    • Stephen Hood
    • Fri 21 Jul 2006 07:57 PM

    Marty the only "real" solution is to allow those that wish to re-map the key to something else the option to do so.

    However that may mean you lose something else - like standard shift-click behaviour for selecting in views. Is that worth it? That's just an example I pulled out of my *ss. I have no idea what's really happening around shift-click in views etc.

    Having been in QA for many years there are trade-offs. You can trade features vs quality vs time (ie. deadline). If you want to meet the deadline then you are going to sacrifice features and/or quality. If you want more features or higher quality then be prepared to move the timeline. I don't really want to quibble with people about that because I know it's not quite that simple - but as a general rule I've found it's a pretty good guideline.

    So let's say it will take them 2 weeks to wire in and test the ability to trap the F5 - so it behaves like it does in the existing product. Another 3 or 4 days to add/test the option to re-map the F5 to something else. Now at roughly 3 weeks. Was that effort worth dropping maybe 4 or 5 or 6 other annoying GUI fixes/features that come relatively cheap and take a day or two each? Those 4 or 5 or 6 items that people would scream about in just the same way because they weren't done and now they scream about how IBM "blew" the chance they had?

    Not saying what is correct - just pointing out that maybe the OS lock feature was only a day to implement instead of weeks - I really don't know. Just something to ponder..

    P.S. I would argue that most *end-users* actually don't use F5 in explorer or Web browsers anywhere as much as admin, dev, tech geeks think they do. That's been my observation anyways - many don't even know it exists or continue to click the icon even after they find out.

    Ironically the people who do use the F5 key the most are the same people who should be the least confused/stuck if they lock the Notes screen. However they also tend to be the ones that drive the feedback and therefore the decisions for their poor end-users :)

    • avatar
    • Yuval
    • Sat 22 Jul 2006 06:00 PM

    This F5 thing was always used to show how notes is not consistent with other windows applications but this is just not true even in Microsoft own software and If you will try other windows applications like Acrobat, Photoshop, Flash, Paintshop, Skype or any other, you will find (:-) try word) that F5 is (if at all) rarely used for refresh.

    • avatar
    • ursus
    • Sun 23 Jul 2006 04:39 AM


    I was also thinking of getting a MacBook Pro to run Notes in Parallels - could you maybe contact me so that I could pick your brain about it?

    My email address is:

    ursus dot schneider at gmail dot com

    I bought myself a PowerMac G5 (2 x 2.5 GH) when they where new and wanted to do just what you are doing - must say that I was VERY disappointed - I used Virtual PC and could emulate a PIII quite well ;o)

    I would very much appreciate any info you could give me ;o)

    Thanking you in advance


  10. This is quite a rant and as usually I see the complaint differently. The key functionality in the Lotus Notes client predates Windows. Secondly the Lotus Notes client is built to be OS independent -- it is not MFC based. The Notes client was for Windows, Mac, and Unix back in the R4x days, The key operations were meant to be consistent across all clients.

    I do think Richard has a valid point as well. [shocked I wrote that grin ] A lot of call center software (pc base or mainframe) is written with an F5 to not refresh. If you want to complain than complain on how the Mac spolight can not index local NSF. To me you complaint seems pointless when most of you apps are using the web browser. (my rant now)

    There has not been any major rewriting of the Lotus Notes client (other than small modules revamp)m expect with Hannover. If the Lotus Notes client was to have this functionality it would take a big rewrite which is why the NEM (Notes Environment Management) client is going to be replaced with Eclipse. So what happens if Microsoft chsnges it mind and makes some other new fad for te refresh key? Is the expectation that all other apps would follow?

    You know you can remedy this you're with those new fangle keyboard that remap the F keys. Then you can F9 mapped to the F5. Oh well my 2 cents or mappy a ruppie.

  11. @Ursus,

    There is not anything secretive on running Parallels on MAC OS X. Vitrual PC is just a bad virtualization application and now it is worth $0 as Microsoft is giving it away. Too bad VMWare has a superior client.

    After installing Parallels you just create a guest OS and it works. If you want similar windows Keybaord functionality you may to use the Wireless keyboard as the MacBook Pro keyboard requires a lot of multi-jey pressing for thing like page up/down, etc.

  12. The function keys are for arbitary application specific functions. There should not be "standards" for them. I can see auguments for having a "help" key on a keyboard, and I can see auguments for having a "refresh" key on a keyboard and having standards for applications to implement appropriate functionality on trapping an event from these keys. I can see a decent reason for having a lock application button, and a lock OS button, but Notes is about the only application to properly implement "lock application" functionality and it sounds like that is going away. It certainly should not be an application specific keybinding to lock the operating system

  13. Well, according to the CUA-Guidelines, wich all modern GUI's use consistently :-), F5 is actually Refresh, while F9 is... "Show Key-help" in a "Help Window".




    Read the Whole book (All those who develop SW)


    • avatar
    • Rich
    • Fri 28 Jul 2006 03:34 AM

    Just to add a completely superfluous "F9 spotted doing this" thread...Lotus Improv uses (used?) F9 to recalculate. Thats the windows version...not the NeXT version.

    Dag, great links, thanks


  14. @Dag,

    Have you use other UI interfaces? Did IBM ever sa it follows those standards? I think the point you missed is how their interface works the same on all OSes with the NEM client. That is before Windows ever has any GUI. Even Microsoft does now follow the standards you cite as another post denotes.

    • avatar
    • Pete Burn
    • Mon 31 Jul 2006 07:23 AM

    As a Notes/Domino developer since V2.1 I'm delighted to say that by far the majority of the developments I work on are now browser based so fortunately I have very little to do with or say about the Notes client. Maybe instead of looking at whether the F5 key is necassary, perhaps IBM should be looking at whether the Notes client is necesary. Maybe then development resource could be shifted to giving us a decent designer IDE (IDE? Whats an IDE?).

    I'm sure there are many reasons for preferring the overweight Notes client to the elegance and versatility offered by IE/Firefox/Opera. I just can't think of any...

    All IMHO of course.

  15. The web client will never the depth of security as the Lotus client. It has a higher security the sesion base cookies.

    IDE is a good idea but I would like to see an eclipse plugin for Notes.

    But web programming is just a small amount of what you can within Lotus Notes or Domino. The Lotus Notes is far more flexible in that I can incorporate any internal solution within the Lotus client. You can't do that with web programming and overall you are limit to writing server-side code which can compromise the sever instance. The Lotus client does more than what people realize.

    • avatar
    • Pete Burn
    • Tue 1 Aug 2006 09:42 AM

    Agree and disagree :)

    In it's time the Notes client was revolutionary. I was building Notes based "Intranets" years before MS had even thought of Internet Explorer. To be honest, with all of the new developments that are coming out in Web technologies, I can think of very little that I can do in the Notes client that I can't do in the browser (I'll put my hands up at this point and admit that I've not done anything with R7 client side).

    While I agree that there is a lot that you can do clientside which requires server based agents on the web browser, most servers and networks in the Corporate environment are beefy enough to cope with this these days and with Javascript, DHTML and AJAX available there's very little that can't be done in the way of dynamic content in the web browser, sometimes better. I always remember the hassles with Hide-when formulas when there were too many of them on a form and the dreaded red box when using embedded tables. As I said I'm speaking from experience up to R6. I hope that things have improved for client side development with R7.

    Each to his own I guess. There will probably still be a market for both of our skill sets for some time to come (hope so anyway!)

    btw, the Eclipse plugin for Notes is a great idea. Massive improvement on what's there now.

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