DDE Does Disruption

This week we received an incident about an application that was not accessible any longer. It turned out that all the design elements where signed with my Notes ID which has (of course) insufficient rights to run in the Production environment.

The curious case here is that nobody intentionally replaced or refreshed the design of the application.

The application still had the “inherit design from template” option enabled. However the template resides on a different server and there is no replication between the Production and this staging server.

I know I have the two databases somewhere in a Working Set in my Domino Designer so most obvious option for the design refresh must have come from my workstation even though I have not worked with these applications this week .

Have you experienced something similar also? What was the cause?

Domino Blog tip: set XML/Content Encoding value

Apologies that this blog starts to look more like an archive but I have been lately been involved in non-development activities like attending Lotusphere 2012. I will write later an article on that one.

Today I received an incident report from a collegue about a problem with the Domino blog template (the one everybody wants to have with XPages, hint IBM (this time with documentation))…

The RSS feeds were broken, or at least throwing up an error. It turned out to be that Swedish characters in names were causing the problem. Since I work for a Swedish company it is likely that the error would occur more often and in more blogs/places… so worth a search on Google.

I found the following document very helpful:


The Fix
– Added the value ‘ISO-8859-1’ to the configuration document, under the Syndication tab, field ” XML/Content Encoding:” down towards the bottom.

When replacing the computed value with “ISO-8859-1”, it appears to be working. Have not changed the lookup form value. This is probably in some documentation somewhere.. but there’s no documentation with the template.

The character set was set to UTF-8 because they should support Swedish characters (link). When setting them to ISO-8859-1 the errors did no longer occur.

My second OpenNTF project

Today I have posted my second project on OpenNTF (@Vince: now I may rest for the next 5 years?). It is an application that I have posted before on this blog but now I made the time available to make some minor modifications and upload it to OpenNTF so it will probably be shared a bit more.

Another reason for starting the project on OpenNTF was that I received a question if the database could be shown in a presentation about design option in Lotus Notes.

About the project

This application can be used as the default template for new development projects for the Lotus Notes client.

The database is intended for Notes 7 / 8 audiences using the Notes Basic Client (no support for composite application). With a minimum of graphical elements (images) the database looks similar in both client versions.

The template is kept clean at a minimum BUT provides a simple, flexible, attractive framework to distribute your Forms and Views with/in.

The template provides 2 sample forms that demonstrate several layout options you can use:

– 1 or 2 column layout
– labels and input fields besides or below each other.

The example forms try to re-use design principles that can be found throughout the PIM applications in Notes 8.

Some thoughts

I like the concept of composite applications and the Java views in the PIM applications. However I can imagine that these techniques are not widespread in a lot or organizations (both with developers and with supporting Notes client installations).

So I assume the usage of old-fashioned frames in Notes client oriented will be common practice for a while, also because it gets a lot of things done in a short development time , even when it has its limitations.

Another thing what I have not seen is branding in composite applications. I would like to see some good examples about the options here, so I would be thankful if you could share me some samples / screenshots.

With XPages support in the 8.5.1 Notes client I wonder how far I will actually come, using Java views and so?…

Anyone using the blog template? What did you modified?

We received  an interesting but rather large request from an internal customer for the IBM blog template. Basically the organization wants to have the template available to order for everyone in their organization.

So I have now two tracks to fill in:

  • Which modifications do I have to make in order to optimize the blog template itself?
  • Which preparations do I have to make so people can order a blog and how can we support it?

I have pretty adapted the look & feel of the blog via CSS and added some images so it comes close (read: it looks better to my opinion) to our Intranet.

I did not go away from a table layout, as used in the default setup. I experienced with using 3 column layout via CSS (aka Holy grail) but I experienced some problems and this was basically because of additional HTML pollution Domino spits out.

Next steps was to spit through the Lotus Notes Domino Blog Template DX Tag Dictionary to see what was available more under the hood. This resulted in some modifications in the Block Templates (available under Advanced \HTML Templates) for the LeftSideBar and RightSideBar documents. I added:

  • Hot Topics
  • Blog roll
  • Recent edits

Under the item templates I added the author image in the document Default Item. This image is taken from a user profile document, when registered.

For now the blog looks and works great, but I guess there is always room for improvement therefor the following question:

  • I am just wondering what other available options I might have overlooked and which you think are added value ?

I know there are a lot more options (documented / undocumented) available in the template.

So far for track 1.

For track 2 I was thinking about setting up a Wiki (or another blog?) to give users support how to use the blog. In the blog itself I want to include a link so people become aware that there is a common place to look for information / instructions. I know that there is help available in the normal Help database but users tend not to start looking here.

I also would like to setup an Feed aggregator that collects all the RSS streams from all the blogs. This aggregator could work as the homepage when people enter blog.company.com.

  • Which Domino based solution would you suggest for such an aggregator?

I know on OpenNTF there are some initiatives for Feed aggregators, but I have not tested them myself, maybe you have done already? It would be nice to have something running before Project Vulcan comes available =)

I also have to figure out the easiest way to setup a mechanism for url mapping so each blog installation is mapped to a user name ex. blog.company.com/patrickkwinten and users can check availability of a suffix.

Hmmm… more work to do then I expected…