The Next Step (Maybe it is all time we step up Continued)

August 7 2006

It has been one week since my posting on this blog, Maybe it is time we all step up,  which Ed Brill and others picked up on. This community totally amazes me. What an explosion of response. Here is just the blog posting I found:

(If I missed any, please email me with the link and I will add it)

The reaction was very interesting. Publically, people are mixed on the thought of doing something that many believe is IBM's job. Some think the community can not come together. Others think it is already being done via efforts on Privately, the emails are 95% positive about doing something. Not about why IBM should do something, but about what we can do. I do agree with everyone ... IBM has to support this for the effort to work. I do not believe we need to have the complete IBM support details to continue. We need to pursue that option. Keep pressure on IBM. At the same time, we can take steps to move this from idea and blog chatter into a movement of action.

One issue I want to clear up. I am in no way trying to circumvent, replace, or disparage in any way. The work that happens on that site, lead by the efforts of Bruce, Vince, and Anil, is the cornerstone of our community. I personally use and have recommended that customers and clients use applications from When we get to the actual building of the sample application pack, the only place I can see the process happening is on OpenNTF. If anyone took anything from my thoughts as negative towards, the team behind the site, or the efforts and accomplishments they have made, please understand that is 180 degrees away from how I feel.

So now that we have hashed out the idea, I would like to try to direct us down a path. As my good friend Bruce Elgort suggested, we need a mission statement. We need a message that we can all stand behind. We may not all agree on everything, but we need direction. So here is my first take on one:

Community Samples Effort: The development of business templates and samples that anyone can use for demonstrations and development of best of breed Notes & Domino applications.

Now, please, feel free to discuss, dissect and rip the mission statement (added for emphasis so we do not go down a name argument path at this time) apart. I just wanted to give us a starting point. I have no issues with the end mission statement ending up being completely different. That is also a placeholder name ... I needed something to start calling it. Feel free to ignore that as well. Do not worry about hurting my feelings on this :-)

We can come up with a name, common UI theme, clients vs. web interface direction, and the details on the sample application to include later. Right now, we need a rallying cry to all stand behind. We need a unified message.

I plan on creating a place for this discussion to turn into a movement. I plan on putting up a discussion board or wiki ... any thoughts to which would serve us best?

To wrap this up, I want to answer the one question I get asked quite often ... has IBM said anything? That answer is not that black and white. I know IBMers are following the discussion (and not just Ed). I know there is rumbling inside IBM. As a community, we have brought some attention to the issue. I personally believe we have also gotten IBM talking, but that is just a pure guess on my part.

I look forward to what our community, including IBM, does going forward.

(NOTE: I will be doing a bit of content pruning here ... if you still want to argue our role, what IBM should do, or anything else, please use the Maybe it is all time we step up thread or your own site. This posting is not for that. No fake names. I know I will get hit on this. But as others say, this is my site. Please respect my wishes here. Thanks)

Updated: 8.8.2006 - fixed a couple typos, added Tim's link, bolded the direction to focus on the mission statement

20 Responses to “The Next Step (Maybe it is all time we step up Continued)”

  1. 1) Charles Robinson says:

    Are you looking for an overarching name for what we're trying to accomplish or a name for the end result?

    Personally I think a discussion board would would make more sense than a wiki. We're doing to be doing a lot of brainstorming and I don't see a wiki as the appropriate medium for that kind of interaction.

  2. 2) Julian Robichaux says:

    Another link for you: Tim Tripcony had an interesting entry on writing "nifty" modules instead of "nifty" templates:

    { Link }

    I can live with the name "Community Samples Effort". CSE. Yeah, I could do that.

    I'd almost see a discussion forum AND a wiki, actually. Forum for the initial and ongoing discussions, and a wiki for the apps themselves (because you can attach files in DominoWiki, of course).

    Unless you just want to use the OpenNTF project management template, which would seem to work for the projects too.

  3. 3) GarryL says:


    Service Oriented Templates, very nice!

    So we can created some CSE's using some SOT's in a SOA enviroment? Lots of jargon in there! Maybe IBM will be come interested now!

    Seriously though, sounds a good idea!

  4. 4) Thomas Schulte says:

    delivering a Common flexible configurable Base application where any developer can derived it's own application from without having to struggle with navigation, or translation issues.

    If you split this it is also delivering Modules like Openlog for

    - Navigation

    - Escalation handling (aka Workflow)

    - Document history logging (changing of fields who changed and what was changed)

    - FieldValidation

    And so on.

    So i would extend this:

    Community Samples Effort: The development of business templates and samples that anyone can use for demonstrations and development of best of breed Notes & Domino applications.

    To that:

    Community Samples Effort: The development of core modules and based on those modules business templates and samples that anyone can use for demonstrations and development of best of breed Notes & Domino applications with a solid UI.

    If we would come anywhere near this in the next year this would be a huge success.

  5. 5) Bruce says:

    Check out { Link }

    { Link }

  6. 6) Declan Lynch says:

    I've checked out OpenSlice before and while it is a good starting point for applications one question we must answer is if we want to start with that framework or write our own.

    Is there anything in the OpenSlice license agreement that would restrict how templates built upon it can be distributed etc, Do we need to leave in a reference to OpenSlice in anyway? If we do then in my opinion then it's a bad starting point as none of the templates should advertise any business partner.

  7. 7) John Head says:

    @Charles and everyone else - Do not worry about the name, focus on the mission statement. Name's are much easier once we have a direction and purpose ... Heck, most authors I know name their books after they are written if possbile :-)

  8. 8) John Head says:

    @Declan - I think the more important question when it comes to licensing is what license type would allow us to work with IBM? I do not think we can use a GPL or something, because that just makes lawyers cringe. If we want to get IBM to support and distribute these (as a goal for the project), then we need to take that into account.

  9. 9) Julian Robichaux says:

    Seems like IBM is pretty comfortable with the Apache license, seeing how they released Derby under that license, and have integrated several Java components in Notes/Domino (Xerces, Axis, etc.) that use the Apache license.

  10. 10) Richard Schwartz says:

    First of all, I like the word "Project" better than "Effort", and I think it would be best to keep the word "Samples" (and "templates", too)out of the title of the project because we might decide to include things that aren't samples or templates at some point. Already there is discussion of "modules", and who knows what else we might decide should go hand-in-hand with this... so let's keep the title open.

    Another key point: I think "promotion" must be part of the mission. We can't just stop with development.

    So, here's what I've come up with:

    The Domino Community Collection Project: Development and promotion of free and open source, peer-reviewed business application templates and samples that anyone can use to demonstrate the capabilities of Lotus Notes and Domino, and which are built with user interface and programming techiques that serve as a model that any application developer can follow and extend in their own solutions.

  11. 11) Tim Tripcony says:

    Your updated statement touches on some key elements of what will make this project powerful. In particular, I like the aspect of providing a model to follow... some comments in this larger discussion have mentioned the need to avoid overwhelming fledgling developers. If an element of our focus is instead to provide a "real world" tutorial for newcomers, then the documentation and even the architecture of the constituent templates will be molded to reflect that focus.

    One more comment about the module concept: as we package together these templates, we'll naturally identify common functionality, layout elements, etc. Here's where I feel that modules could play an integral role: if we extract these common items into a separate "framework" template, not only will that reduce the effort required for us to construct additional templates using the new framework, but it may serve a marketing purpose in its own right. Specifically, demonstrating this aspect of why Domino is such a rapid (yet powerful) development environment may influence potential customers as well as identifying how some existing customers can further leverage their existing investment in the product.

  12. 12) Charles Robinson says:

    I e-mailed Laurette with a link to this entry to get further comments on openslice.

    It sounds like we're looking to provide three things, so I'd like to address them separately. First is a set web and Notes client UI guidelines. What do we want to use as a baseline? The Notes 7.01 mail template?

    The second is a documented development methodology for delivering the UI guidelines. This is in line with Tim's post about nifty modules and single-element design templates. It's not that the component concept is necessarily new, it's applying them in a Domino environment that is unique and bears documenting.

    The final piece is putting the first to together and coming up with sample applications, modules and templates. Bruce Elgort suggested we take the top 20 downloaded templates from OpenNTF, others have suggested we mirror the templates provided from Sharepoint which means a lot of new development. Does anyone have an opinion of which direction we take?

    Does this breakdown make sense or am I making more of it than I should?

  13. 13) Richard Schwartz says:

    Of the 20 projects currently listed on the OpenNTF home page, quite a few are clearly not business applications, so if those are the top 20 downloads, I don't think that's they way to go. But some of the OpenNTF apps clearly are suitable. They are business apps, so clearly they will be good demos of business apps.

    Honestly, I would go back to the source: the Nifty Fifty, and to the immediate precursor: the SharePoint samples. Pick some of the ideas there, and run with them. Some of what is in the nifty fifty could be useful with just some modernization of the UI and web-enablement. Some should be thrown out entirely and re-done. But just because the app may be lousy by today's standards, that doesn't mean that the idea for a demo business app was bad. E.g., here's the original nifty fifty:

    From there, I'd suggest looking at things like these:

    - Budget Planning

    - Business Card Request

    - Contract Library

    - ECO

    - Executive Briefings

    - Job Postings

    - Job Candidates

    - (Microcomputer) Industry News

    - Presentations

    - Real Estate Management

    - Shotgun Email

    - Tech Tips

    - Values and Goals

    I'm not saying we should update or duplicate them all, and I'm not saying that we should only do things like this and ignore BlogSphere, DomBulletin, DomWiki, not to mention VIC CRM and !!HELP!! or Vacation Request up on OpenNTF.

    But if demos of business apps is a key part of the mission, and I think it is _the key_, we need to get a bit out of our swiss-army knife collaboration tools and web 2.0 mindsets, and concentrate on creating some applications that provide collaborative solutions for well-defined business tasks.

  14. 14) Laurette Rynne says:

    In regards to openslice, as I have mentioned before, we are happy to offer it as a foundation for this effort, and are happy to contribute to further documenting the UI and development standards involved, as well as contributing to building some apps. It already covers most of the things mentioned by Tom @4 plus more

    The licensing for openslice is the standard LGPL open source license, which shouldn't restrict any re-use or distribution. We don't require any visual element in the user interface which points to openslice or liquidtoast, but the license requires the reference to openslice to stay in the source code (primarily the script libraries). The goal of openslice isn't to generate advertising or marketing, just trying to help get projects up quickly.

  15. 15) Gavin Bollard says:

    I think we need to add some words to the mission statement, particularly...


    I'd also like to see the word "supported" in there, though whether or not the support is from the developer, the community or IBM needs to be debated. Perhaps IBM could host a web site that contains the templates and their support?

    I'd still also be keen to see some sort of certification from IBM (if nothing else then at least: Certified for Domino 7).

    It could also be useful to get some "vendors/developers" to submit some small applications (in return for which they'd get advertising rights on the about page and the bottom of the navigator). This could be beneficial to them because it may get these developers some business and recognition.

    I've got lots of Apps and code that I'm willing to share, but my development skills are probably quite feeble compared to what others will have.

  16. 16) Richard Schwartz says:

    I'm perfectly happy promoting the use of standards in Domino web development, but I don't see it as part of the stated mission here.

    I don't like the way IBM throws the phrase "standards-based" around for everything that is Websphere and Portal based, yet won't run on any other J2EE server. I don't think we should follow their lead when we have the exact same problem: if it's standard's based, how come it doesn't follow XXXXX standard (take your pick -- there are always more standards that could have been followed), and why does it only run on Domino?

  17. 17) Thomas Schulte says:

    both have its strengths and weaknesses.

  18. 18) Charles Robinson says:

    @14 - Thanks for clearing up the licensing for openslice. That sounds acceptable to me and I think you've already made great strides toward covering a lot of what we're trying to achieve here.

    @15 - Did you know innerhtml is not in the W3C spec, so using that goes against the published standard? I agree with Richard, I don't want to end up with a mission statement that reads like some pseudo-technical marketing slick.

    I'm also on the fence about support. This is open source so support cannot possibly be guaranteed, unless we start involving a commercial element. The most we can hope for is best effort.

    @17 - I see a template for Drivers, but System has no files posted. Do Help, System and Drivers all use the same base template then have their own respective templates with the custom design elements?

  19. 19) Bruce says:

    { Link }

  20. 20) Thomas Schulte says:

    !!Drivers!! and the all internal !!SLM!! (ServiceLevelManagment) do share the same base template.

    !!Help!! does not because it was the first of its kind. I think we will change that some times.

    And if anyone wants to have the base template, feel free to contact me.

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