Yet another new eXPerience

Any of you who have been coming here long enough probably know about my apparent love affair with Microsoft. Not the company but the products. Ok, so they have their faults but, most importantly, they work.

I am also a big Linux fan but can't see the day it will become the new Windows until they make it an awful lot easier to install/use.

The latest OS from the MS stable is of course XP. I had held off installing until now as I wanted to see what "eXPerience" others had. With nothing too bad reported (Lotus may not "support" R5 on XP but it works) I installed it yesterday. I love it.

One of the first things you see is of course the Start menu. At this point my initial thought was that they are starting to treat us like kids. After a while I was getting used to it though. Notice the Lotus Notes link at the top of the grab below. On a clean install this defaults to Outlook Express but, because I upgraded and had Notes as my default mail client, Microsoft was nice enough (quite out of character really) to add the Notes link instead.

I remember at university in 1995 I saw a fellow student with a sticker on his folder saying "Windows 95 = Mac 86". At the time I had no idea what this meant. Starting to get the jist of it now though...


What's this got to do with Domino? Well not much really; it's more to do with the subtle changes that have been made to the implementation of IE6 that XP ships with.


Some of the not-so-subtle changes are in the dialog boxes. Here's the old and boring login prompt.


And here is the new one. A definite improvement, I'm sure you'll agree.

Similarly with the JavaScript Confirm prompt:


Out with the old:


In with the new:

And now for something worth reading (maybe):

That's all very well but that has nothing to do with me as a Domino developer. Wait, the changes go further and actually alter the appearance of forms in the browser. An example:


And the same form in IE 5.0:


I like this new XP look. I never liked the old one much so I have always found myself using CSS like that below to try and improve the appearance (like on this site):

@media all{
input, textarea, select{
border-top : solid 1px #847D71;
border-right : solid 1px #CCCCCC;
border-left : solid 1px #847D71;
border-bottom : solid 1px #CCCCCC;
color : #666666;
font : normal 11px verdana;

The problem with this is that if you use this CSS on XP it will use it in preference over the new nicer look. This leaves us with the decision of what to do. Use CSS so it looks nice for non-XP users or leave out CSS for those using XP who like the new look?

A compromise:

The solution to the above quandry is of course to only use CSS when it's not XP. We can do this by adding a field called HTTP_User_Agent to all our forms. You can then parse its value to determine the type of browser. Here's the content of the CGI Variable for my browser:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; Q312461)

In the HTML Head Contents for our form we can now add a formula like this:

"<link rel=\"stylesheet\" href=\"" + @If(@Contains(HTTP_User_Agent; "Windows NT 5.1"); "xp-y"; "xp-x" ) + ".css\">"

Is this a good idea?

Hmm, good question. Don't think I'll be going down this route. Where does it end? When the next Windows is released do we add more checks and more stylesheets? Better off to simply decide on one approach to all situations. Personally, I am yet to decide which one I will use.

Apologies to those who feel slightly disappointed in this article. Not my usual type of content I admit, but it's still something we need to know about. After all, forms are probably one of the most common applications of Domino in the browser.


    • avatar
    • Alexander Schuth
    • Tue 22 Jan 2002

    Win XP = Mac OSX

    In regard to the quoted sticker ("Win95 = Mac 86"), I feel that the "new" XP looks a lot like last years Mac-GUIs (especially Mac OS X, but also 9.5x), which have been on the market a couple months before XP (and - as far as I can see- strongly influenced the look of stuff like Netscape 5.1).

    That's good news for Microsoft, because it shows they don't lag 9 years behind anymore, only a couple months. ;=}

    So, since they now are so close as per the OS, let's see Microsoft change the X-Box into a proper PC to take on the new iMac (aka " that new Ikea lamp that Jobs wants to sell us"). How'll Gates rise to the challenge, morph X-Box into a kitchen-blender? A vacuum cleaner? A toaster?

    1. Not even close. Win XP = Xtra Problems

      Sure, windows is imitating Macs again, but it looks more like Mac OS 7 with a strange Kaleidoscope 'theme' than like OS X.

      XP is in no way remotely equal to OS X.

      OS X gives you the elegance of the Mac with the power of unix. Windows gives you a defective imitation of Mac OS over a defective imitation of unix.

      (Sorry Jake. I love your site, but not Windows.)

      Show the rest of this thread

    • avatar
    • Tom Edmonson
    • Tue 22 Jan 2002

    Which rel. of Domino are you running on XP?

      • avatar
      • Wei Chen
      • Wed 23 Jan 2002

      Re: Which rel. of Domino are you running on XP?

      I think all versions work, I'm running 4.67 and 5.08 on the same machine. No problems.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Wed 23 Jan 2002


  1. MacLindows...

    The new Mac Linux Windows operating system? sorry!...

    • avatar
    • Brian Miller
    • Wed 23 Jan 2002

    Keep in mind...

    Remember that XP users have the option of using the "classic" windows interface, and there's no way to tell from the browser string that they've done so. You're better off strictly controlling what the user sees to the best of your ability.

    Come up with a look that works, and make it consistent across all browsers. It'll save you trouble in the end. Especially when a "skinned" OS UI comes out where people can adjust their form elements to be anything they want, causing all kinds of chaos...

  2. Which version of XP do you have?


    Which version of XP are you using?

    I'm involved in rolling out Notes on XP at a client site and there were a few issues. After battling with the newly Lotus-absorbed-into-IBM website to try and find a solution I came across a statement saying that the Home version will NEVER be supported.

    It sort of struck me as a rather odd statement to make. What is Iris's caper?


      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Thu 24 Jan 2002

      Re: Which version of XP do you have?

      I'm using XP Professional. Which was itself an upgrade on top of Win2000 Professional. I noticed that a clean install of XP on a PC is slightly different to the one I am running and probably alters the way programs behave.

      HTH Jake Howlett

    1. Re: Which version of XP do you have?


      I know for a fact that under WinXP Home, it is not possible to join an NT domain. This alone could be enough reason for Iris not to ever support XP Home edition. It is only possible to join a workgroup using XP Home.

      thanks, Joe.

      Show the rest of this thread

  3. Better to leave widgets as-is

    I know many will disagree, but...

    For better usability, leave the widgets alone! Seriously, if the user (or their company) chose [insert OS name here] let the widgets look like all the other apps they are used to. Don't try to change them by adding all kinds of CSS. If you do then they have to learn your widgets. I see developers do this all the time - trying to be unique and creative. This is just annoying for most end users.

    There are plenty of ways to be creative other than to mess up their widgets.

    This is the biggest problem I have with Netscape 6/Mozilla, but that's another story.

  4. the onmouseover effect in XP (IE6)

    Would there be a way to get the onmouseover effect on form elements that is used in IE6 on XP. Maybe with stylesheets?

    In the option menu in IE there is an option to activated or disactivate it ... .

    I would like to know how it is done! Thanks in advance, Johan.

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Author: Jake Howlett
Category: Miscellaneous
Keywords: XP; Scrollbar; Button; IE6;


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