What The Man Behind StackOverflow.com Thinks Of Domino

For those of you not in to Twitter or who don't follow Jeff Atwood (codinghorror), creator of StackOverflow.com, you might find his tweet from today annoying/amusing, depending on how much of a Notes-head you are:

websites with page extensions ending in .nsf are like little "abandon all hope ye who enter here" signs

Personally I found it kind of funny (because it's true), although I did reply and ask him to substantiate it with some examples. I'll let you know if he does.

Wonder if he knows what file type NSF is...


    • avatar
    • jake
    • Fri 19 Mar 2010 08:31 AM

    Oh, he knows. The sad part is, he's right, notwithstanding what can be done in Domino with a competent web developer.

  1. When default = ugly, well, you get "default" a lot.

    1. I know we could argue a lot around this topic but in my book its more because domino makes web dev too easy. Its often an app not designed for the web but domino can render it. Servlet or jsp does not look good default, rails does not look good default, php does not look good default. What looks good default?

      What can be done is really amazing when you are full ajax with dojo or extjs or jquery. The fact thats its document rather then sql is an enabler. Look how strong nosql mouvement is growing with couchdb, cassandra, persevere and many more. Domino is great once you glued your interface with the backend. NotesDocument -> JSON -> Javascript, Javascript ->JSON -> NotesDocument. We have made a lotusscript library to parse json into a notesdocument or reverse, from there everything went awesome.

      Show the rest of this thread

    • avatar
    • Dragon Cotterill
    • Fri 19 Mar 2010 09:15 AM

    Really? Just as well there is no .nsf url parts in my major websites. Thats what Web Site Rules are for.

    In fact I know of a shedload of Domino websites that do not have .nsf in the urls. Some of which you'll probably end up thinking "there i no way those are Domino sites". But you'd be wrong.

    1. Hiya

      You know, it would be good to have a showcase website like cssmania.com for Domino.

      I could start one and host it, if someone's interested in helping with the dev work (I'm snowed under just now) ?



      Show the rest of this thread

  2. My rant...

    It's just sad really. People who are not developers, who are developing in Domino.... really makes Domino look bad. Notes client, web client... doesn't matter.

    I see it at every company I consult for. Some developer, who thinks they know what they are doing, creates a simple web based domino application, with page refreshes, etc... and the performance is just horrible. Since the "developer" doesn't know any better, he thinks that is what Domino can do and since that is the platform, it must be that Domino is bad. Then users start using these bad applications, and then they hate Domino... thus everyone wants Domino gone.

    Heck, I've see poeple who claim to have 10 years experience with Domino development, develop crappy solutions and you sit there and think... really... this is what you are doing with this product.

    It's really sad. Domino, in my opinion is a great product. Sure, we have to do some goofy things at times to provide good UI, but for the most part, it's still faster and easier than most languages out there. Heck, just try to install Sharepoint and all the products you need to make it work correctly and you will appreciate the simplicity of Domino.

    • avatar
    • Mike
    • Fri 19 Mar 2010 09:41 AM

    He's so right

    I abandon hope every time I enter Codestore.net :-)

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Fri 19 Mar 2010 09:43 AM

      Me too.

      Show the rest of this thread

  3. I find it amusing (but for reasons that remind me of high school english class as well) because if you are seeing it on the web, there is no problem (OK, maybe UI) because it is up and running and as most of us will produce screenshots showing, 6 months of uptime is not uncommon, some go longer.

    Besides is he trying to hack the server? Then that explains it.


    • avatar
    • Bob Congdon
    • Fri 19 Mar 2010 05:39 PM

    This isn't really "new" news. Jeff has disliked Notes for a long time:


  4. Domino's abstraction of the web is a miserable failure. In fact, I'm pretty convinced by now that almost all abstractions of the web are a failure. Even in the .NET world more and more people are jumping on the ASP.NET MVC train because the desktop-like development model applied to the web as used in ASP.NET Forms has its limits and caveats.

    The web is abstract enough. HTML, CSS and JS is the abstraction already. Languages like PHP, Ruby, Python, and even ASP.NET (which is not a language but you know what I mean) embrace this. And guess what, there have been little reports of lost productivity.

    If you develop in a model where you have full control over your front-end and you're not constantly fighting the abstraction, the UI is all up to you. It can be as good or as bad as you want it to be.

    Of course I am generalizing here. I very well know that it is *possible* to build good UI in Domino or any platform, with or without abstraction.

    I like to end with the statement that remembering HTML tags and CSS rules is only the tip of the iceberg of what you need to know about UI design. Properly applying those techniques and knowing a lot about web usability is what it is all about. I do not believe in the stereotype that developers are poor designers, everyone can learn it.

  5. Remember a lot of early government websites were in Notes, and developed using the principals of Web development 1 or whatever it was we used to take when we wanted to be PCLP's in notes 4.5.

    I give you a hideous example from my home town of Darwin.

    The NT Government legislation database. - I urge you all to check it out.

    Open a document if you dare and check out the colour scheme.

    I daily feel like phoning them up and offering to fix it for free, just to get rid of the shame of it all for us domino heads.


      • avatar
      • Giulio
      • Sat 20 Mar 2010 06:19 AM

      Hmm.. lurv that bright yellow ...then you open a document and it's bright blue.. and those hard coded document links.. wow, i think i heard my retina's pop inside my head !

      They just don't make'em like that anymore..LOL

      Sure is uuuugly, but you have to ask yourself how many Microsoft web sites developed in MS Frontpage circa 1996 are still being used and on the web ?????

    • avatar
    • Maxime
    • Sat 20 Mar 2010 04:05 AM

    I have to strongly disagree with some of the statements made above.

    Whilst I agree that prior to version 8.5 some of the tasks of rendering things like Domino views on the web were "esthetically challenging", even for the best web developers, this isn't true anymore with XPages.

    The problem with ugly Domino web sites is fundamentally that for some reasons, and contrary to any other sensible web developers on other platforms, Domino developers think that can can do without a web graphic designer, and therefore attempt what they are not trained or talented for, with the disastrous results described above.

    Using Domino 8.5.1 with jQuery, Dojo and a good CSS framework like Blueprint when you start off from a decent and creative graphic design prototype on photoshop, will give results that can match any modern Web 2.0 web site.

    Things will change when companies using Domino start to understand that web design is actually a skill and web development another. The best example of this nonsense can be found looking at IBM business partners' own web sites that are usually the worse of all.

  6. Perhaps someone might like to send Jeff a link to IQJam. He could then see that there is little or no need for Web sites containing .nsf to look that much different to Web sites such as his own StackOverflow Web site. I would bet IQJam was probably developed in a fraction of the time/cost. I don't know if IBM has one but it would not hurt to have a Web page that provides links to some of the really cool public Web sites out there that show the true power/potential of Domino Web development (with or without XPages).

    ps: if IBM already has such a site it says something about either me or IBM that I don't know about it!

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Mon 22 Mar 2010 04:02 AM

      "IQJam was probably developed in a fraction of the time/cost."

      Which shows. It's missing the polish and and UX of the site it copies.

      If we're going to hold a site up as the poster boy for Domino then it's ought to be a lot better than iqjam.

      I don't know what site that would be.


      Show the rest of this thread

    • avatar
    • Dan
    • Sun 21 Mar 2010 01:01 AM

    Interesting, a domino StackOverflow clone. If would be interesting to know how well it performs with a lot of data in. If it has all the graph-like inter-relationships between data that StackOverflow has I would have thought domino would run into problems.

    I had an idea that StackOverlow was developed by a very small team. I don't think you can really compare the development time of IQJam anyway as most of the hard work - the how the site works conceptually,how to encourage participation and build community, how user experience works etc. must have just followed what StackOverflow did.

    1. I suspect that domino will have troubles scaling to the traffic that StackOverflow has. While you can design your way around the many documents "problem", the fact remains that Domino http is not very scalable on high traffic sites. Of course, once again, you can work your way around that by designing your app so that you can keep throwing domino boxes at it, but I believe Jeff runs StackOverflow on a couple of Windows servers. :)

  7. Self plug but sites can look good and be valid. Check out gallery at struturo.com. I generally strip .NSF but mostly to clean and shorten the URL.

    • avatar
    • Helmut
    • Mon 22 Mar 2010 10:43 AM

    The limits of UI on .nsf web based applications are based on the creativity and budget that developers might have. Personally I don't face any problems concerning UI and Domino.

  8. I echo Troy's comments above, it disturbs me how Domino gets a bad rap, especially when people create bland, no-frills sites with it. This isn't a problem with the platform as much as it is the skills and limitations of the developer. This is true of any platform, but somehow people always attribute it to Domino.

    Whenever I show non-domino developers the sites I've done with it, they step back and can't believe it. They often utter phrases like "I thought Domino was just for mail" or "Wow, I didn't know it could do that!", or "Isn't Domino going away?" I've been hearing that last one for a long time :)

    It's a good feeling to break these misconceptions, especially among peers who have never really known what it's capable of.

    I love Domino for both my business and personal sites!



    1. Hi Frank,

      Very true what you say

      Congratulations on your sites.

      Here's one of mine ;)


      Show the rest of this thread

  9. all hail Domino :) http://www.ClickBook.net

      • avatar
      • Alastair Grant
      • Tue 23 Mar 2010 07:29 AM

      Nice site

    1. Very impressive! I like the usage of AJAX and dynamic calendar content navigation. I want to spend a few hours looking at how you did everything :)

      • avatar
      • sandi
      • Mon 12 Jul 2010 08:38 AM

      Are you still working on clickbook? I don't see any responses from you since March 2010 anywhere for that matter!

  10. by the way, stick filetype:nsf into Google. 800K odd sites. Now just need to figure out how to make it sort by pagerank... hmm

  11. I'm not holding this site up as a paragon of design. In fact I agree with Maxium above. I'm just illustrating that you can eliminate the .nsf from the site URLs if you want. Here's my example:


  12. I've been developing Domino based websites and web applications for quite some time now, and I've grown to love Domino. It's a great tool for the job, that is, if you know how to get the most out of Domino.

    Too many hacks give the professionals a bad name. However, by that extension, you could also say that HTML and JavaScript are terrible tools for the job, as there are even more HTML/JavaScript hacks screwing the pooch.

    • avatar
    • Martin
    • Sun 12 Sep 2010 07:46 PM

    Substitution rules matching incoming URL patterns to replacement patterns can work for you if your page design is using absolute links to refer to design elements. Simply setup two substitution rules:

    /path/db.nsf/view/* -> /path/db.nsf/view/*

    /* -> /path/db.nsf/view/*

    the first one takes precedence over the second one making absolute links work for design elements (or old links) while the second one enables the use of friendly page titles.

    and you can even use groups:

    /path/*/* -> /stores/*.nsf/*?OpenPage

    or even clean up the query part of the URL:

    /search/* -> /search.nsf/docs?searchview&query=*

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