Notes blows goats

Here’s a rant I recently posted on a Notes enthusiasts’ blog:
I’m a corporate trainer. As an email/calendar/contacts client (and I’ve used quite a few), I have to say that Lotus Notes is among the worst. And that’s counting GroupWise.
I’m sure it’s an amazing database application, but most folks just want a standardized, efficient, and user-friendly email application that integrates nicely with their other office productivity software (which, for the vast majority of us, is Microsoft Office).
I keep hearing about these miraculous workflow applications that Notes supports, but to add insult to injury, I don’t think we use any of them anymore. Most people at my organization have moved to our intranet portal for discussions and document sharing.
Besides, most people want something that’s simple to use. A complex tool is wasted on an office where the majority of people think workflow is a network share full of spreadsheets.
The email interface is just a nightmare. Granted, I haven’t seen the wonderous new Hannover version, but release 7 leaves a lot to be desired. A big selling point of our upgrade from release 5 was support for the scroll wheel; no joke. There must’ve been 3 different engineers who worked on the interface, because there are at least as many different places you have to remember to look for various settings and options (File > Preferences, File > Security, and let’s not forget Actions > Tools > Preferences).
Commands are replicated in the most bizzare places. For instance, to create a new memo, you can click File > New > Memo, or Create > Mail > Memo, the New Memo button in your inbox, the New Memo button in the memo, or there’s that toolbar button that looks like dogs playing poker… But how about Ctrl + N? No, that gives you a new database.
Try explaining that to a new user: well, you see, Lotus Notes is actually a relational database management system that just thinks it’s an email application. The program’s motto should be "I just want to be your everything."
In most places, the right-click menu looks like someone swept up the floor and just threw everything into a pile (except the one command you really need). No organization is present (why is forward way up there, but reply is way down here?)
The simplest things, like inserting an image or adding a table, take forever. Case in point, consider how complicated it is to create a hyperlink in a Notes "memo." In most apps, you just type the URL, and it’s automatically converted to a hyperlink. In Notes, I have to type the address, select the address, copy it to the clipboard, manually insert a hotspot (Create > Hotspot > Link Hotspot), paste the address in the properties window, and then add an underline to make it resemble like a hyperlink. Wait…what was I doing?
Finally, there’s the issue of compatibility (in that Notes is not particularly comptible with the rest of the world). Notes should include a disclaimer that reads "does not play well with others."
Ever send a fancy, HTML-based email to a Lotus Notes user? If so, you wasted a lot of time on formatting and probably frustrated the hell out of your recipient, ’cause it’ll look like crap when viewed in Notes. External linked images? Forget about it. I think LN was the sole reason that "having trouble reading this message? Click here" was invented.
Ever get an email from a Notes user? It looks like someone emailed you a text file. That clever signature card that looked so good in Notes? Converted to an attachment and stuck to the bottom of the message, after the disclaimer that you adminstrator automatically appended (you know, the one that’s appended every time you forward a message, so there are 12 of them at the bottom of the message by the time it gets to you).
When I get a Notes-based email from somebody, I want to send them a care package, or make a donation to a fund somewhere. I just feel bad for them.
And that’s just the email client. Little stuff, granted, but it adds up. It’s like death by a thousand paper cuts.
So, I’m forced to use the Lotus Notes client, at least for the forseeable future. I’ve tried almost everything to escape the oppression: Outlook Connector, email forwarding to a non-Notes service, DAMO, hunger strike…nothing seems to get the job done.
Whew, that feels better. I’m open to any feedback you’d like to share. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
– Greg

One Reply to “Notes blows goats”

  1. Dude,
    Let it out.  I don’t have any knowledge of Lotus Notes, but I do understand the interop issues.  While not exactly as bad I hate the issues between MS Office for mac and the MS Office for Windows.  What sux is if you have a ppt created on the mac and give to a windows user, transitions, fonts, etc (pick an issue) are totally goofed up.  The thing that pisses me off about it is both platforms are manufactured by Microsoft. 


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