Thursday, December 13, 2012

IBM Notes 9 Browser Plug-in, Why do I want Xpages anymore?

So I installed the beta IBM Notes 9 today, Love it so far. Mainly been playing with the web browser plug-in.

I am constantly asking myself, why do Xpages now. I know Xpages, I teach the classes, but form a purely fiscal standpoint, how can i justify the expense of doing my apps with Xpages when the plug-in works so well?   (Click in the image to view full size)

I have tried some code i use to update the ACL form the application itself, so non-managers can add team members to a Teamroom db, and it worked perfectly, no rewriting the code to work as ssjs or a server agent call from the Xpage. What's not to like?

I want as many opinions on this as I can get. I find myself recommending solutions to clients an want to be able to answer this intelligently.

So what will it be?  Xpages? or the the Note 9 Browser Plug-in?


  1. I look forward to being able to run the browser plugin on my iPad!

    Oh... wait...

  2. One very compelling reason might be that some thing are painful or impossible in Notes Basi are easy in XPages.

  3. I had a similar thought back after Lotusphere 2012. This is what I wrote on my blog at the time:
    "Biggest cheer of the OGS, the Notes plug-in for browsers. Details are sketchy right now, but basically you'll have the equivalent of 90% of the Notes Basic client able to run inside a windows browser. So how do I think this will be used? My gut is this will be used as a migration tool for folks moving away from Notes. Sure there will be some that use it on their path migrating to Xpage apps, but my gut is that most will use this as a tool to help their migration away from Notes. Now here's the thing, if that is the case it won't be reflected in Notes CAL sales very quickly, I imagine this is going to require a Notes CAL to be used, which means that customers before which were moving just stopped paying maintenance will now stay on maintenance to get the plugin. I think what IBM hopes will happen, is this will speed up the adoption of XPage apps, personally I think the opposite will happen, I think maybe companies that were considering moving some Notes apps to Xpages, will now just say, you know what, we can save a tonne of money by just giving people the notes app in the browser instead of rewriting it, and any net new apps will be done on some other platform. I can imagine there being companies that even expose some of their "Legacy" (not my choice of phrase but IBM now use it) Notes apps inside Sharepoint via the plugin. "

  4. One word: UGLY.
    Making things beautiful is a multi-billion dollar industry. Ignoring the need for beauty is the fastest way out. And then there are iPad, Smartphone, Mac, Linux... all won't run the browser plug-in.

    ... and consistency. The loss in productivity for users who have to mentally switch between "web app interaction" and "hybrid between Notes and web" adds up quickly

  5. You also need to account for moving users back and forth between the plugin and iNotes. The look and feel as well as fluidity will make an impact.

  6. I see it differently from Carl. I see the plugin as the way to keep customers from migrating away from Notes. I see it playing out this way... *Phase 1* Customer: "Our apps are old and ugly, and we don't want a thick client." IBM Champion: "Migration is going to take time and it's going to cost you a lot of money." Customer: "We know, but we we're determined to improve our user expierience, and we're determined to get rid of thick client." IBM Champion: "Well, tell you what. You can get rid of the thick client today. Instead of waiting until you've migrated all of your apps, before your project is a success, we can set you up with the new Notes 9 browser plugin now and that will be your first success. No matter what you decide about your platform, you want this plugin! You can get rid of the thick client now at step one, and that's your first victory. Then we can start making a priority list of apps to modernize." Customer: "Sure. Getting rid of the fat client now would be a big win. And we have a list of our 20% of our apps that need to be migrated - priority one." IBM Champion: "Well, you can migrate them, but I thought you're real goal was to modernize them." Customer: "Yes, that's right. We need a better user experience, and we need it running on a modern platform." IBM Champione: "So your plan is to migrate the 20% of the apps now, and when will you get to the other 80%?" Customer: "Well, that's going to take a few years. We'll do another prioritization, and another, and some of them might really never need to be migrated." IBM Champion: "So, you think there's a likelihood that you're going to still have some Domino running 2, 3 maybe even four years from now, to keep those lower priority apps running in the browser plugin?" Customer: "Yeah. Gotta be realistic about that" IBM Champion: "You know, I thought that would probably be the case. It often is, and frankly it's one of the reasons why migration is always so expensive, because coexistence always continues longer than anybody expects. But let me ask you: What if coexistence didn't increase your costs? What if you didn't have to pay any new license costs while you are modernizing your apps? No new systems, and very limited new training? Wouldn't that cut your modernization costs?" Customer: "Of course it would, but it does't sound like we're modnerinzing." IBM Champion: "Oh, but you are. You're getting all your apps out of the thick client, and you're modernizing 20% of your apps to run with the new XPages technlogy that brings all modern browser-based app technologies to bear into your apps, and it keeps them running on the same Domino servers you already have, so there's no new investment! Then you'll modernize another 20% of them using XPages, still on the same Domino servers you already have. And at this point 60% of your applications are still running in the plugin, still working, and if you want to modernize them you can with XPages, or you can leave them as they are. You're pressure to migrate them is gone because your modern platform is running on the same servers as the legacy platform. You can declare vicotry on all counts: you got rid of the thick client, you modernized key applications, you kept the rest of your apps running, and you did it at lower cost on a single infrastructure! This is win, win, win!"

  7. Unknown, yeah we're on different sides of the coin.

    It kind of reminds me of DAMO, the Microsoft Outlook access for Domino, I saw that as a perfect tool to help people move away from Domino, by aloowing them to get rid of the Notes client, and migrate to the Exchange backend at their own speed, without the cries of I hate notes from the end users. Others saw it as a great way of keeping people on Domino.

  8. Thanks Guys this is good feedback, In my post, I was quoting a clients comments, so I am not biased either way, just wanted some other views on this. Keep them coming

  9. BTW: Unknown was me. Not sure why it didn't pick up my identity. (I'm Rich Schwartz, in case it fails to pick it up this time, too.)

  10. See... It failed again. Even though I gave it my Google account info. Whatever...

    So here's the thing: there are a lot of big shops that have moved to Exchange but still do have Notes/Domino apps as long as a decade afterward. There are a lot of big shops that have gone to iNotes for mail because they want to get rid of the fat client, but they still have lots of little groups that are dependent on Notes/Domino apps so they can't get rid of the client as easily as they had hoped.

    I think the plugin is directly aimed at those shops. It's 5 years too late for a lot of other shops, of course, but the aim is to make it so cheap and easy for these customers to sustain the bulk of their legacy Notes apps that "shut the Domino servers down" is permanently taken out of the migration project plan. And once the ultimate objective is out of the plan, there's an opening to scrap the whole plan.

    To put this in terms of John's original question, my answer would be to identify 20% of your applications that are most used and most in need of new features and modernization, and start planning to move them into XPages, but with no artificially imposed schedule based on some unachievable Big Bang migration plan. The remaining 80% can be supported with the plugin for as long as you want, with no time pressure to migrate them anywhere. Of course, if you do find some more apps that need to be modernized, the logical thing to do will be to go with XPages since you already have the platform.

  11. Once you have started the webbrowser you now have the choice between a) a platform designed to display hypertext documents and b) a platform designed to run collaborative business applications. Users will notice the difference.

  12. Hello Gentlemen,

    Thanks for this great discussion!

    Maybe I missed the point (I really hope so :-)). I'm asking myself, what's the benefit in using the Browser Plug-In if I need to install the client on my machine before?

    Will it once work as a "self-installing" plug-in, that anybody can use without installing the full-client? Is it intended to work this way?