Lotus Notes: It Sucks…Hard

As part of the transition from FCG to CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation), we are also switching our mail system from Outlook/Exchange to Lotus Notes/Domino/Whatever.

There can only be one immediate reaction up on switching from Outlook 2007 to Notes 6.5:


Surely, this application which looks like it crawled out of the late 90’s cannot be the primary enterprise messaging system for a large, publicly traded company, can it?  Maybe it’s a clever ruse to get people to stop using email and actually interact with one another by ecouraging calls instead of email…maybe. I can’t believe IBM actually sells this product and I can only imagine the painful life endured by the Notes sales team and all of the mockery they must live with.  If my parents worked on the Notes team in development or sales, I’d ask to be disavowed for their crime of bringing such a shitty piece of software into existence.

I think I’m going to start my own trail of why Lotus sucks posts, but Lotus Notes Hater already has a headstart on me.

The truly absurd thing that I’ve learned is that there are actually standalone programs that have been written to clean up crashed instances of Notes!  No kidding, I got the following email from a company wide distribution list:

If Lotus Notes crashes, you don’t have to restart your PC anymore! Just run ZapNotes and allow it to clean up what Notes left behind so you can restart Lotus Notes. ZapNotes works on Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP

Lotus Notes Hater comments:

Cassetica charges US$1,500 for NotesMedic Pro and US$2,500 for the enterprise level of NotesMedic. The fact that a company makes money from a product that shouldn’t even exist makes us ask, “Why haven’t the owners of Lotus Notes put Cassetica out of business by incorporating the feature of NotesMedic directly into Lotus Notes?”

NotesMedic is not the only product out there. There is also ZapNotes. And KillNotes. There are at least three products that have no reason to exist.

Awesome!  Now I’m really gonna look forward to using Notes!

I also got to chat with some of my teammates in Vietnam just to see how they felt about it.  Who knows, maybe their Asian sensibilities would lead them to be more polite and less judgemental.  Maybe their allegiance to their employer would cause them to accept Lotus as their fate and use it dutifully.

Mumble mumble says:
Did you guys install Lotus yet?
Vietnamese Guy says:
Mumble mumble says:
What do you think?
Vietnamese Guy says:
Vietnamese Guy says:
very slow
Vietnamese Guy says:

So there you have it, even the Vietnamese hate it.

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8 Responses

  1. JP says:

    If you dont have version 8.01, you’re missing out on relevant features you’re missing.

  2. Chuck says:

    Unfortunately, in a corporate environment, it’s not my choice which version I use :-/

    In the future, I think that knowing that a company uses Lotus Notes would actually prevent me from even interviewing with the company.

  3. Ed Brill says:

    Chuck, of course it’s not your choice what version to use… but do you think it’s reasonable to rant about a version of Notes that was released five years ago as compared to a version of Outlook released one year ago? Four years of innovation can make a big difference. As JP says, you really should check out Notes 8 (http://www.lotus.com/getnd8now ) and help encourage your employer to upgrade…

  4. Chuck says:

    I think it’s completely fair.

    Even comparing it to Office 2003 + Exchange + SharePoint, the Microsoft stack is a superior product in every respect from an enduser’s standpoint (I’m not sure how it compares in terms of systems management, but from what I’ve read, it doesn’t compare well at all).

    If you really look at the Office 2007 suite — including Outlook, Word, SharePoint, and so on — it’s not like these UIs are revolutionary. Rather, the 2007 suite is an evolution of the 2003 suite. For the most part, aside from the Ribbon and a few other UI enhancements, the application hasn’t changed _that much_. I’d readily take Office 2003 over Lotus 6.5.

    But like I stated in my post today: collaboration is more than just workspaces, workflows, and task lists. Collaboration only thrives when its easy for people to collaborate and that’s truly where the Office suite wins because the fact of the matter is that business exists in Office with the three pillars being Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It’s only _natural_ to ride on the Microsoft stack in terms of integration and collaboration.

    Aside from that, I really don’t understand what the Lotus suite does that Office doesn’t.

  5. Rob McDonagh says:

    I’d offer to help you understand what you’re missing, but you’re clearly not interested in a serious discussion of the question. Ranting is fine, I do it all the time. But you may want to temper your future rants with just a *tiny* bit of actual knowledge on the subject you’re discussing. You can’t say something doesn’t compare to the Microsoft stack without making any effort to understand how the other stack works.

    For example, you seem to be unaware that the CURRENT version of Notes includes the open source office productivity suite called Lotus Symphony, which is built on OpenOffice.org, thus answering your contention that Office is the natural basis for collaboration (I could debate that contention, since Lotus invented the collaboration space before MS Office even existed, but that’s a larger discussion).

  6. Chuck says:

    Rob, your perspective is obviously different from mine. OpenOffice and Symphony will never replace Office and Word as the dominant document creation software platform.

    With regards to 8, it’s completely irrelevant because I’m not using 8 and who knows when CSC will upgrade to 8. Until then, I have no real live point of comparison **from an end user perspective** to judge Lotus aside from 6.5…which is indisputably (at least in my house), a steaming pile. You can give me theory and sales pitches all you want, but in the end, nothing will sell it to me as a superior platform without actual usage of it. So until such time that I am forced to spend time with 8, the point is moot…the only thing I’m comparing is Office in 2003/2007 variants and 6.5 and 2003 or 2007 both handily smack it down from a usability perspective.

    As for development and server platform support, it’s true that I know next to nothing about Notes development. But I’ve picked up SharePoint on the fly over the last year and there is really nothing challenging about it; it’s so easy that I’m to the point of boredom with my day job at this point. Integrating with SharePoint is either as easy or as hard as you want it to be (it’s built on top of ASP.NET and you have multiple options on how you want to approach developing solutions web parts, layout pages, heck, you don’t even have to use ASP.NET, you can purely use the web services).

    As for who "invented" collaboration, that’s a moot point as well. Google didn’t invent Internet search, OK? The only thing that matters is who does it better. To be honest, I think they both have it wrong (it’s just that Lotus 6.5 gets it wrong and is horrid to look at on top of that); everyone has it all wrong. No one uses workspaces because it interrupts the natural flow of a user’s interaction with others. Discussions, chat, and e-mail are the natural interface points for collaboration. Users don’t want to know a workspace exists, users don’t want to manage workspaces, users don’t want to visit workspace sites and pages and what not. None of the solutions are seamless enough, but if I had to choose one, I’d choose SharePoint because it integrates natively with Office and last I checked, it was still the mainstay in big businesses and held a sizable majority over OpenOffice.

  7. Sheeva Lazar says:

    Sorry you feel this way. We’ve been using Lotus NOTE/Domino since 1997 and have had no issues of any significant note. We’re currently on 8.02 and our users are completely happy with it. For one thing, users that prefer the Outlook client, we are able to provide them the Outlook client since Lotus is more accommodating on this sort of thing – you can’t do that with Exchange as it ONLY uses Outlook. With MS anything you have not choice. Any oiy, the patching and fixing and bugs and . . . . .BLAH.

    Providing users with the Outlook client is only one of many things that Lotus does so much better in the enterprise field than MS. If you’re only comparing mail to mail then fine Exc/Out is as good as LND. But if you’re a serious organization just try replicating with Exc/Out, you can’t at least not until 2008 Exch. another expensive upgrade. LND not only replicates mail but archives as well and is always backward compatible so deployment is a breeze. Exch. can’t provide these functions or stability. And on and on. LND is a complete product where as the MS Exc/Out + sharepoint+etc. stack is costly and limited.

    At the end of the day if your shop is MS everything go for it. But if you need true scalable open standards and true collaboration then LND is the better man.

  8. Chuck says:


    One of the interesting roadblocks I’ve run into recently is that Lotus 6.5 does not seem to support server side processing rules. That is, I cannot seem to set up forwarding rules on the server, only on the client (or maybe they’re just not working).

    I’ve been avoiding Lotus like the plague.

    I’m not saying that Exchange/Outlook is /the/ paradigm either — I personally do not use my desktop Outlook; I use Gmail or the web client provided by my hosting provider.

    – Chuck