Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Notes 8 thoughts

I've been using Notes 8 Standard for doing development for a couple of weeks. Overall it's not been a very positive experience.


I tested on three computers:
  1. My home PC, which is an Athlon64 X2 5600+, 4GB DDR2-800 RAM, 160GB SATA-II 10,000 RPM hard drive, a nVidia 7600GS video card with 512MB RAM, and Windows XP 64-bit.
  2. My work PC, which is an Athlon64 X2 5000+, 2GB DDR2-533 RAM, 180GB SATA-II 7200 RPM drive, ATI Radeon X1650 512MB video card, and Windows XP 32-bit.
  3. My other work PC, a dual Xeon 2.8Ghz with 3GB DDR2-400 RAM, 64MB nVidia Quadro video, and 72GB SATA-II 7200 RPM hard drive with Windows XP 32-bit.
I turned off the "scan on access" setting in my antivirus client, then did some tests. The startup time after logging into Windows and waiting for everything to load averaged about 45 seconds across all these systems. Once loaded the time to open mail averaged 20 seconds, and often there was no hourglass icon to indicate anything was happening. Opening the Calendar averaged 15 seconds, again usually with no hourglass. Once loaded, switching from Mail to Calendar took approximately 1.5 seconds.

To me that's not acceptable. I shouldn't have to wait for anything on any of those machines, but I can actually watch Notes 8 Standard paint the screen on all three. The client machines I support are mostly in the late P3 and early P4 range, many have 256MB RAM, and nearly all have shared video memory. I didn't even bother testing on any of those.

Missing functionality

A few things got lost in the shuffle of moving Notes from a traditional C or C++ binary to a framework that is based on Eclipse. Here is a short list of the things I know are missing from Notes 8 Standard.
  • Roaming users - not available with Notes 8 Standard, and there are "issues" with roaming users in Notes 8 Basic that prevent you from creating new ones. The solution: don't register roaming users.
  • Citrix / Windows Terminal Services - not supported with Notes 8 Standard. You'll have to wait for 8.01.
  • The Productivity Editors are not integrated at all. You can access them from Notes 8, but I could just as easily add a shortcut to Word. That doesn't make it integrated. Actually, Word is better integrated since I can do Send To > Mail Recipient from Word, but I can't from the Productivity Editors.
I probably missed a few, but those are the biggies that people keep bringing up.

Stuff that changed

There are a number of things that don't work the same but the official response is that this is the new way it works (darkness is the new standard for light?), or it is being considered for a future release.
  • Double-click the Sametime icon in the notification area (system tray) and nothing happens. Right-click and all you get are some status options. Originally they wanted to do away with the icon altogether so I guess this is progress
  • The immediate Inbox refresh no longer works. You have to wait for your refresh interval to kick in and refresh your Inbox.
  • Using a custom image for folders is broken in Notes 8 Standard. Your old image gets skewed and looks warped, and you can't change it from the Standard client. You have to do that from Notes 6, 7, or 8 Basic. A fix is being considered for 8.x.

Upgrade issues

Some settings from Notes 7.x are not preserved.
  • The Universal Toolbar gets hidden during an upgrade from Notes 7 unless it has been modified. The other toolbars don't adjust accordingly so there's just a gaping hole in the toolbar area. So far the response is "this is working as designed".
  • When you show the Universal toolbar it sometimes has repeating icons.
  • The Chat toolbar gets hidden, too.
  • "Automatically add Option Explicit" gets turned off in Domino Designer.
And then the bugs...
  • Toolbars move around on their own.
  • "Open in Client" from Domino Designer doesn't work consistently.
  • Graphics artifacts when dragging dialog boxes around the screen.
  • The Replicator page sometimes pops to the foreground when there is no replication interval set. Once it starts happening it happens on 15 minute intervals, and going to the Replication settings, making a change, clearing it and clicking OK makes it stop. This only happened on one of my test machines.

Usability issues

I find many of the UI elements much too small. The Sidebar selector is so small I miss it more than I hit it, so I just go through the menus if I need it. The icons in the bookmark bar (docked Open bar) are also way too small for me. I find the new preferences dialog extremely confusing, even bewildering. The layout of the preferences is just as foreign (as compared to other Windows applications) as the old one was, but now it's both foreign and different from previous Notes releases.


As far as I'm concerned the Notes 8 Standard Gold release is actually Beta 4. It behaves so randomly that every time you open Notes it's like Christmas morning... or maybe it's more like Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and sometimes you end up with the vomit flavored one.


  1. Beta 3 was far more stable thats for sure.

  2. "The startup time after logging into Windows and waiting for everything to load averaged about 45 seconds across all these systems. Once loaded the time to open mail averaged 20 seconds, and often there was no hourglass icon to indicate anything was happening. Opening the Calendar averaged 15 seconds, again usually with no hourglass."

    I agree that these times are unacceptable, most notably the switch from calendar to mail when they're both loaded.

    However, this is COMPLETELY out of whack with my own experience on lesser hardware. When I open mail, it takes less than 4 seconds. My Calendar takes about 3 seconds. Switching between them is instant. This should accurately be reflected in my Camtasia on my blog.

    So there's SOMETHING about the configuration difference between the platforms that's causing this dramatic decline in performance. I have no idea what that could be, but I sure would like to find it!

    I know it's not unique to my personal hardware, as there's someone else in my office with exactly the same machine, running VISTA, and getting performance identical to mine on Notes 8.

    What anti-virus package are you running?

  3. I'm running TrendMicro on one work machine, Symantec Client Security on the other work machine, and aVast at home. I set them all so they don't scan files on access.

    I installed Notes 8 Standard on three different machines just so I could get a broader perspective of how it performs. I was honestly surprised that it was as bad as it was across the board. There were some instances where it was quite good, but on average it was quite bad.

    Even if the performance was okay, there are enough other issues that I wouldn't consider deploying this in production.

  4. I understand you have other issues, Charles. It's just that you, and a number of other people, have reported performance issues that I'd very much like to get to the bottom of. Whether you deploy it or not -- finding out what the conditions are that cause the performance problems is useful for everyone, don't you think?

    aVast is actually what the guy running Vista here is using. It zips right along for him!

  5. I get the screen painting issue, especially in the followup pane for some reason. I notice it a lot more, now. Thanks, Charles. heh...

    Seriously, though, your performance sounds worse than mine, which is impressive (and not in a good way). Are these drives encrypted? Compressed? Other scans than virus scans? I'm surprised that anyone can top my performance issues, but it sure seems like you have and I'm very curious about the cause.

    Have you tried disabling everything you can think of to see if it makes a difference? Not that you could really run that way, of course, but it might be an interesting test. I actually can't do that on my work machine.

  6. Trackback

  7. Charles -

    2 things:

    1) while I agree the Editors need to be integrated, how many people actually use File | Send in Office? I do like 80% integration work for a living, and not a single customer uses that. Now, it needs to be there, but I think we are totally overblowing that one.

    2) ""Automatically add Option Explicit" gets turned off in Domino Designer."

    Works for me. So this :

    1. Open Designer.
    2. In any db, create a new LS SL
    3. Make sure the checkbox is checked in Properties
    4. Close designer
    5. Try again.

  8. May I add something: Anyone try Nomad using R8 (you know, Notes-On-A-Stick)?

    Just askin'. ;-)

  9. @Nathan - I agree that finding the cause of the performance problems is probably important to Lotus, but please understand that doesn't make it particularly important to me. I don't mean that in a snarky way, I'm just not interested in helping Lotus beta test this any further.

    @Rob - I don't use encryption or compression. The only thing I'm running anywhere that I can shut down is the virus scanner. I tried that on the machine running Symantec Client Security and it didn't make much difference. If it were just one PC I would write it off to that particular configuration, but when I see similar things across three differently configured systems with pretty high end specs, that tells me something somewhere is very wrong. I'm not ruling out the possibility that the something is actually, somehow, me. ;-)

    @John - At one of my clients the accounting and marketing groups use Send To constantly. It's easier for them to find the right file in Excel or Word and open it and use Send To than it is for them to browse in the attachment dialog.

    If I re-enable the option explicit setting it stays put, but the point is this is a setting that sometimes gets overwritten on an upgrade. It happened to one of my three test machines. I only found out when I was writing code and starting getting weird results since Option Explicit wasn't turned on like I expected it to be.

  10. the performance of Notes 8 is poor but acceptable.

    on the same machine I also have outlook installed and opening outlook is also a crime and everytime you write a new message it has to launch ms word as editor.

    if I have to choose for the lesser evil, I still recommend Notes 8

  11. Gregg,

    NOMAD is supported for Notes 8 Basic, but not yet for Standard. I'm certain a person could do it manually but it would be no small task, as the Eclipse cross-file reference structure is COMPLICATED.

  12. @John - we use it. It's pretty nice to have.

    I wonder if this is perf related or could it be networking stuff with the notes client being hung up by slow response from domino? What were the N7 times?

  13. Could there be an issue with the Java configuration itself?
    Another item could be the expiditor client looking for various files in the windows file system using environment path variables to search for stuff.
    WordPro and 1-2-3 would look for files in our network (the default "file open" folder was located there) and there would be delays while the server and client would check authentication and such.
    I'm getting response numbers like Charles - except my machine is an IBM NetVista P4 1.6Ghz with 1GB Memory -That's a six year old machine.

  14. I'm not sure what you mean in this one: "The immediate Inbox refresh no longer works. You have to wait for your refresh interval to kick in and refresh your Inbox." My inbox refreshs when I get a new email?

  15. Alan, mine doesn't and it's been reported a few times in the Notes 8 forum.

  16. I'm noticing big performance issues as well (2 GB ram & dual core 2 ghz laptop.) Maybe it is a remnant from upgrading the system?

    I have noticed that the inbox seems to refresh is working a bit differently from V7... I seem to get messages in the inbox in large batches rather than when they come in (even if I try and refresh.)

  17. Where can one adjust the Java memory settings in Notes 8?
    Xmn and Xmx?

    Since it is an Eclipse RCP, I figure it is somewhere, but did not see it in the notes.ini