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Review of Mark Elliott's Lotus Notes Developer Toolbox book

This is a surprisingly readable book for beginners and it provides a good foundation for Notes application design. Roughly 1/4 of the book is spent describing how all the design elements of Notes works together. Another 1/4 covers the basic application types the author thinks you can classify Notes applications into: calendaring, collaboration, reference, workflow, and web; the book also includes a useful outlline for gathering what's needed for a Notes application. The next 1/4 consists of various tips/techniques on Lotuscript, @Formula language, views, agents, and form design. The last 1/4 covers some administration and what you can look forward to in Notes/Domino 8.0 (first time I've seen this in a book!)

The highlight for me is that the book includes library for calendar apps (including repeating entries!). Notes developers have asked Lotus repeatedly to document the API calls that the mail template's C&S code uses to generate repeating entries, but this is the first time I've seen a useful calendaring library (though it doesn't do some of the more complicated things that the built-in Notes one does like handle holidays). For beginners, this alone is worth the price of the book.

There are a few disappointments in coverage, however. In the workflow part of the book, Mark doesn't cover signed sections; this is an essential part of using Notes to automate authenticated paperless workflow because it provides true validation that someone signed it instead of having a hacker insert some text into an appropriate field. In the web application part of the book, the latest web features of Domino 7 (e.g., style sheet inline in web app instead of in style sheet) are not used so that the techniques apply to R5 of Notes. In the tips section, the sequential numbering tip doesn't take into account that Notes apps can be disconnected, which I think is a fundamental issue that beginners have to understand (which is why it's the #1 FAQ in the programming tips of my Lotus Notes FAQ web site).

IBM Press should be commended for excellent proofreading for the book. I didn't find any silly typographical or grammatical errors in the book. Lots of links for further reading on developerWorks are scattered throughout the book and it's as simple as going to the web site and putting in the reference code in the search box. The links could be put on the IBM Press site so you can get to them when you register instead of only allowing you to download the code.

Last Modified: July 1, 2018