I am testing the latest drop-code for Domino Designer 8.5plus and it is my first development experience with XPages. I just thought I will write down my first experiences, maybe it may be useful one time. At first I was not sure enough to publish this, but it was announced that design partners may write about the design program I fell more confident to do so. For now working with XPages can not be described as love on first sight.
Coming from a generation of Notes developers prior to 4.5 this version of Designer impresses me most. It makes Notes 5 as ‘super human software’ a joke. The other releases 6 and 7 where not spectacular, you just saw Notes getting behind other development platforms.
So 8.5plus gives a refreshment and hope for the future.
With high expectations come also delusions.
As learning example I use a workshop designing in XPages by Emvege and Declan Lynch lines of articles how to create a basic XPages based application. I also followed the short tutorial in the Designer Help for as long at that one is helpful. Their is definitely a need for adequate developer’s tutorials IBM, you can’t release a new way of developing without providing proper educational material. The Developers Help is just not supportive enough.
Application (database) properties
Much better! The prior properties box for database was difficult to read. Too bad that text / labels can not be copied as text to the clipboard.
DIVs are poorly visualized
In Declan’s tutorial he uses DIV’s to position blocks of data. When editing the XPage in Designer the present of DIV’s are seen when looking at the source code. Some nice mouse-over with dotted lines would make this more clear.
Okej this gets reduced when you place your DIV’s in custom controls.
Line numbering and being able to collapse blocks of code are nice new add-ons.
Source code view
Oh boy your XPages are a mess when you view the source code. Some people like to indent their code, since they know someone after them are going to give support on the applications. Indenting the source code is a disaster. Tab forward is doable for multiple lines of code but tab backwards? I wonder how the code for IBM templates will look like… Please take a look to example at good WYSIWYG editors where you can indent blocks of text via buttons.
I guess no-one wants to be hand-over unreadable messy-spreaded code, do you?
I guess you have to do your homework a bit for understanding the oneUI theme (or other defaut themes). When I tried to apply some common styles from that theme on elements on my XPage I got some unwanted results. This forces me to go back to my common CSS knowledge and not able to exploit the features in the oneUI theme. Does anyone know a good description for all the styleClasses?
Dojo is still a mystic for me, I have worked a lot with Prototype and Scriptaculous before, but basic knowledge of Dojo seems to be necessary if you want to go beyond basic XPage development. New courses seem to become available but in these low economic times budgets are frozen. Okej for now I could do with a good book on Dojo.
I do not know what your experiences are but XPages are far from fast. Just put in a rich text field and see how many files are being called.
From moving to a senior Domino programmer into a novice XPage developer feels a bit awkward. Some goals you want to achieve are so basic knowledge in previous Domino development. In XPages I find it hard to find a way to solve the question. I guess my more novice co-workers will find it even hard to understand how they must develop in XPages. Best practices, tutorials that have broad range of topics and go beyond using the default usages of core controls are rare. So no head-starts here.
I guess I am not alone in this area, so maybe an official IBM place where you can post your question and get some leads how to solve you problem would be a winner for most developers. I guess for now the 8.5 forum is that place to be. We all know that that place has never won a price for usability (sigh).
I guess finally we will come to a point where we release our first XPage based application and where we are proud of. For now we are far from that. Luckily the winter starts early in Sweden and it will be long so we have a lot of time to be inside and read and study.
In the meantime I am just saving all your XPages blog-posts in a Notes database so I can use that as a reference when my colleagues start developing in XPages. “Good practice does follow” so please keep contributing your findings via blogs…
IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and Lotus Notes Traveler 8.5.1 is prerelease code and there are no guarantees from IBM that the functionality presented or discussed will be in the final shipping product.