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Lotus Notes Versus CouchDB

2300 words, including a timeline: NoSQL: The Love Child of Google, Amazon and … Lotus Notes. Here’s a key excerpt:

“CouchDB creator Damien Katz wasn’t inspired by Google or Amazon or any other web giant. He was inspired by Lotus Notes, an online collaboration platform originally developed in the 1970s and ’80s.”

A short recap on what notes actually was

The codeline for Lotus Notes was started in 1984. Notes was that document-syncing technology (including “work offline”), with a easy-to-program UI capability for simple business applications, and built-in email (that was shit), and a semblance of end-to-end security.

What about the UI side of Lotus Notes?

Part of the benefit of Notes as a platform was that it provided an easy UI technology as well as the distributed document merging. There is absolutely nothing from either CouchDB or Couchbase that comes close to a “easy” or “recommended” UI technology, let alone one that is built-in, like it was for Notes.

Ray Ozzie, the other well known Notes personality, did some Lotus-Notes Redux work with Groove some years ago that was acquired by Microsoft, and progressively neutered over the following years. It concentrated on the experience and much less on the document-syncing backend. At least, much less on the “work offline, and sync later” aspect that’s possible with Couch (and Notes).

What the Couch people should do

They should get closer to the Knockout and Angular projects and at the very least provide easy examples of interop using those technologies. If they want to push into the space that Lotus Notes was formerly sold into (internal enterprise app development), they need to have something built-in. I’m guessing they don’t want to be that thing, and want to remain focussed on the doc-sync aspects, with services and smarts around that. In which case they need to publish the simplest Knockout and/or Angular examples they can.

The Knockout team have published learn.knockoutjs.com which is a decent portal for newbies, and an example about how to step past your familiarity with your own technology and change the language to usher a wider group of newbies into your world.

Full disclosure: ThoughtWorks used (uses?) Lotus Notes.

We used it extensively. I hated it and railed against it from the day I joined. We stopped using it for Email in 2009 when we shifted to a corporate Gmail solution, and reduced our dependance progressively after that. There were many inside TW who liked it though (sorry guys). It pleases me that sites like ihatelotusnotes.com exist!


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