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For a second there, Lotus Notes appeared to do all the things • The Register

For a second there, Lotus Notes appeared to do all the things • The Register

2024-01-20 10:54:15

Retro Tech Week It might appear that progress in expertise proceeds in a linear vogue, with new developments changing older ones. From this viewpoint, newer expertise will at all times be higher, since it’s presumed to have constructed upon what got here earlier than it and improved on it.

Get older, and also you begin to understand that this is not at all times the case. Progress does not at all times go in a straight line. Simply take a look at how private computer systems largely changed the hulking mainframes and minicomputers that got here earlier than them, then proceeded to slowly accumulate the superior options of these older programs, like multi-user help, redundancy, and safety.

There are additionally applied sciences that appeared forward of their time, or which business veterans could look again on with fondness as a result of they provided one thing lacking from our present world of excessive tech.

Considered one of these is Lotus Notes, the mere point out of which is probably going to attract derisory feedback from readers as a result of it definitely wasn’t with out its faults; its resource-hungriness prompted this system to be known as “Discover Masses” amongst some customers, for instance.

Nonetheless, you would nearly run a complete firm on Lotus Notes (plus its Domino server back-end), and plenty of did simply that. This system was a bizarre mixture of electronic mail, databases, and workflow that allowed firms to face up customized functions and deploy them to related teams of employees inside Notes.

This author labored for one publishing firm that used Notes extensively, and I discovered it to be extremely helpful in its day. It supplied not simply your electronic mail, however an inside phone listing, contact database, reserving system for day without work, firm handbook, and extra, all accessible through a single utility and a single set of credentials, lengthy earlier than single sign-on grew to become a factor.

These days, it is not uncommon for many if not all of those capabilities to be delivered through separate web-based functions, every requiring a special login so you have to have dozens of various credentials, and every one sporting a special consumer interface. So I suppose you would regard the net browser as an app runtime that’s the final successor to Notes?

When you wished some concept of how helpful Notes was, contemplate one of many apps this author had entry to to be able to help my function as a evaluations editor. The journal (bear in mind paper magazines? How quaint!) used to run about 30 pages of product evaluations in each month-to-month difficulty, and we had a database on Notes to assist maintain monitor of all the things.

Laptop equipment to be reviewed used to reach on the writer’s workplaces and can be given a serial code and logged in to a storeroom by a member of workers. As evaluations editor, I might get a notification on Notes that it had arrived, so the reviewer could possibly be advised it was awaiting their pleasure, and I used to be ready so as to add it to the desk of merchandise to seem within the journal difficulty at the moment being labored in the direction of.

The writer’s inside photographer (this was the Nineties, when publishers had extra money) had a view of the identical desk, so that they knew which merchandise to {photograph} for that difficulty. This workflow had been constructed internally, all on Lotus Notes. There have been many related functions that others within the firm had entry to.

Maybe I’ve a rose-tinted view of Notes, however I recollect it being fairly straightforward to handle your emails because of a threaded view for electronic mail message chains, and it appeared an actual retrograde step once I later labored for a corporation that used Outlook as a substitute.

Nonetheless, Notes had began to look considerably clunky and dated by the flip of the millennium, and its appreciable consumer base began to dwindle as corporates defected to the mix of Microsoft Change Server and Outlook, which have been maybe simpler to combine with Microsoft Workplace functions and Visible Primary for Purposes when it got here to workflows.

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Ultimately, IBM, which had acquired Lotus in 1995, introduced in 2012 that it might be discontinuing the Lotus model altogether, earlier than offloading Notes to Indian software program outfit HCL Technologies in 2018.

The platform nonetheless survives, with HCL releasing Domino 14.0 final 12 months, which, as The Register commented on the time, speaks to the “stickiness” of the customized workflows constructed on the platform.

For these , one firm has printed a detailed history of Lotus Notes, from its beginnings to the present day.

However Notes is nowhere close to holding the file for the oldest piece of software program nonetheless getting used. The US Protection Contract Administration Company (DCMA), which takes care of contracts for the Division of Protection (DoD), is claimed to have a program referred to as Mechanization of Contract Administration Companies (MOCAS), which was launched in 1958, making it almost twice as previous. ®

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