Lotus Notes is now IBM Notes — in March 2013 IBM officially launched IBM Notes 9 Social Edition without the Lotus brand name.  While the Lotus brand name will be missed, the IBM brand name is a top 10 global brand and provides the Notes product line with even stronger worldwide recognition.


IBM Notes 9 and what’s awesome about it

While there have been many enhancements as well as bug fixes from Notes 8, here is a summary of 10 notable improvements:

1. Improved Mail Template

The mail, calendar, and contacts themes have changed with new functionality.  In addition to the new Outlook-like feel, users have more options for laying out their mail file – messages can be grouped by date, newest messages at the top, message snippets visible in the Inbox view, preview images in attachments, and searching mail and archives at the same time. URLs are now clickable while in Edit mode. All the new features and even the Notes 9 theme itself can be enabled or disabled.

2. New IBM Theme

The new IBM Notes 9 Social Edition shares the look and feel (called a ‘theme’) of IBM’s other applications and services and is geared toward integrating Notes with IBM’s suite of applications, most notably IBM Connections. ‘Big Blue’ has incorporated more muted tones in blue and gray for their theme including the colors and designs of Notes smart icons. There are ‘Discovery’ and ‘Home’ pages for the Notes client and Designer with links to tips, tutorials, and favorite applications. Quick links to mail, calendar and apps are now found in the Tabs bar to be accessed at any time. New shortcut buttons open mail, calendar, and other applications – these can be hidden or add your own.

3. Improved Calendar Template

New calendar features include a new Weekly Planner view showing the days of the week in two columns, a rolling calendar view, that you can scroll through one week at a time, and easier to find ‘today’ with a colored background, colorized calendar entries by category, and automatic processing of meeting updates. The rolling calendar feature allows you to see monthly calendar starting at any point in the calendar, not just 1-30. For instance, you can view weeks that are between 15th of one month to the 15th of the next.

4. ‘Embedded experiences’ for embedded social networking applications in mail messages

IBM has been touting the phrase ’embedded experiences’ as a major new enhancement with Notes 9. It appears to be mostly a way of integrating their IBM Connections application into Notes so that users may act on items from within an email message. Instead of ‘pivoting’ from the email client to a browser application, the browser app can be embedded within the email message and acted upon from there. Other than for IBM Connections, the documentation is light but apparently Twitter and Facebook objects can be embedded within email messages, for example.

5. Notes 9 browser plug-in for accessing Notes databases via a browser

With the release of Notes 9, IBM has also made available a Notes 9 browser plug-in that allows using a browser (Windows versions of IE and Firefox only right now) as a Notes client.  It still uses NRPC (the Notes protocol, as opposed to HTTP) and the Lotus Notes ID to access standard Notes databases via a workspace. So now, most Notes DBs are instantly ‘webinized,’ and no Notes client software needs to be installed. There are some limitations, but for most Notes DBs, the functionality is preserved with the same Notes client appearance.

6. Major enhancements in Domino Designer for coding and debugging

Notes/Domino developers will also see major enhancements to the developer workspace with improved content assist and hover help for LotusScript, Xpages, JavaScript, and Java. The Extension Library has also been included in the core, adding 100+ new XPage controls. A Java element has been added for adding JARs to designs directly. There is even a debugger for server side Java and JavaScript (Notes 9 Domino server is required.) PNG files have been added as an image type.

All in all, Notes 9 is a significant improvement over Notes 8.5 and offers fresh and innovative features breathing new life into the Notes client for both basic users and Domino developers – a highly recommended upgrade!


7. Quick Find feature improved

Find emails, calendar entries, and documents quickly. From your mail, start typing the subject, sender’s name, or date, and a window will pop up and help you find what you need. The Quick Find feature (Ctrl-F or just start typing a search phrase) will allow you to search particular sorted columns or all columns – type-ahead will offer suggestions. There are also some additional options for case sensitive searching, search forward or backward, whole words, just like searching within a document.

8. New keyboard shortcuts

There are new shortcut buttons, that let you open mail, calendar, and other applications. You can hide these shortcuts, or add your own shortcuts. Finally, there’s a way to issue the Paste Special command with the keyboard (Ctrl-Alt-V) and even Paste as Plain Text (Ctrl-Shift-V)

9. Attached image files display thumbnails

Image file attachments in rich text fields now display a thumbnail image. As well, PNG image formats are now supported as an image resource

10. Traveler 9 now includes To Do tasks

If you have the Domino 9 server installed, Notes Traveler 9 includes To Do tasks in addition to email and calendar entries. More features for Traveler are slated for future versions of version 9.

All in all, Notes 9 is a significant improvement over Notes 8.5 and offers fresh and innovative features breathing new life into the Notes client for both basic users and Domino developers – a highly recommended upgrade!