After my successful Webinar on how I use Lotus Notes and MindManager to get things done, Peter Simoons, an IBM Executive in the Netherlands, wrote to me to point out that I was still using the Notes Workspace to manage my databases:
...I had to smile when you showed your desktop, hey Eric you are on Lotus 7.02, the desktop is so Notes 4 or maybe even earlier! According to Lotus you should be using the bookmark bar and that one can still be divided into folders for better separation of the different chapters, like you chose Tabs in the desktop. that will give you another clean desktop. I made the switch when the Bookmark bar was announced...

Peter went on to blog about this in a well-written post: Lotus Notes: Workspace or Open List...

As an eProductivity specialist, I like to think of myself as a forward thinker, so Peter's email got my attention. We exchanged a few emails and I invited Peter to a web meeting so that we could show one another how we organize our Notes databases and why we do it the way we do. Peter accepted my offer and promptly sent me an invitation to use IBM's Corporate SameTime server for the meeting. I think SameTime is a powerful tool, and I use it daily to meet with clients and colleagues. It works great. Unfortunately, while IBM makes great stuff, they apparently don't eat enough of their own dog food but that's another very recently (and still) painful story.  Given the problems I encountered, I proposed that we ditch the IBM site and use my own SameTime 7.5 server. I'm pleased to report that my SameTime Server worked like a charm and we were able to meet without any further difficulty.

A productive meeting

Yesterday, Peter showed me his Notes workspace (He's on Notes 8 beta) and how he's using the bookmark bar to organize his databases. Next, I showed him my Notes workspace and how I organize my hundreds of Lotus Notes databases across a dozen tabs. It became apparent that the primary difference in our use is that Peter has access to only a handful of Notes databases - these can easily be kept on the bookmark bar and nested in bookmark folders. On the other hand, I routinely need quick visual access to a great many Notes databases and I like to see them all at a glance. I also like to see the number of unread items and the servers that the databases are on - something that is lost when using bookmarks.
You can probably tell that Peter did not convince me to switch fully to using the bookmark bar; however, seeing his Notes setup did remind me that there are some additional shortcuts I may want to drag to my bookmark bar. (Right now, I use my bookmark bar for frequently used databases and key shortcuts - e.g. mind maps or to create an new task, etc.)

My thoughts on using the Notes bookmark bar

1. The bookmarks replicate! Why can't my workspace do that?
2. Bookmarks are great for a small number of bookmarks or if you love navigating nested hierarchies. (I don't.)

My thoughts on using the Notes workspace

1. I have a single at-a-glance view of all of my databases.
2. I can organize my databases by context using tabs.
3. With unread marks enabled, I can quickly scan for activity in a database with a single dashboard by pressing F9 to update all databases.
4. I can immediately see which server(s) my databases are on with the Show servers option.
I realize that some of these items (2-3) can be enabled in bookmarks, but for some reason, I still find myself returning to the Notes workspace view.
What I really want is a replicated workspace

I love the ability to replicate Notes databases between computers with ease for on-line or off-line access. The only drawback, from my perspective, is that if you are using Notes on multiple computers, the workspace is not included in the databases that replicate between them. I want to be able to replicate my entire workspace icons and all. I find it amazing that in all the releases since I started using Notes 2.0 this has yet to be implemented. When I get my Notes workspace set up the way I want it, I manually move my desktop6.dsk to each machine. (Kids, do not do this without adult supervision and do so at your own risk.)

Replicated bookmarks are a good start and I do use them on a limited basis; as a result of writing this blog post I even read the docs on bookmarks and found a few new tips about things I did not know I could do with the bookmarks. Still, I wonder how hard would it have been for the Notes team to allow me to replicate my entire workspace? The replication mechanism is already in place. Am I the only person who would find this useful> I don't think so. I'm surprised that I've not found a 3rd party solution to do this. (Anyone? anyone?)

In any case, I'm thankful for Peter's email and the opportunity to meet him virtually and prove to myself once again that Lotus SameTime, properly implemented is a powerful collaboration tool.

Thank you, Peter!

I'd like to hear from you: What have you found most productive, and why?

Discussion/Comments (5):

Looks like Peter posted his thoughts, too

See: { Link }

Posted at 04/05/2007 10:55:05 by Eric Mack

The Notes workspace is so last century, or is it?

I'm with you Eric, I like to use the Workspace because I can see everything at a glance. When I work with you, I go to the ICA tab and everything I do for Eric Mack is visible.

I can set the bookmarks to display the unread count and server but it's hard for me to read in the list view. The workspace display is easier for me to read. I can set bookmarks to display as workspace, but then I don't get to see the unread count and server.

Of course it could be that I just like the workspace because I'm used to it. I definitely don't like the Open List feature of Notes 8 as I have a shoulder injury and it is sometimes difficult for me to use nested menus.

Posted at 04/05/2007 14:36:35 by Tanny O'Haley

I like to see the number of unread items and the servers, too, and...

I see the unread count and server names in my bookmarks. See here:

{ Link }

I don't recall whether this has been supported in bookmarks since R5, but it's not new. I've been relying on it for years.


Posted at 04/05/2007 21:05:46 by Richard Schwartz

The Notes workspace is so last century, or is it?

Hi Richard,

I can see unread marks and server names in the list view, just not in the workspace view. It really is useful information to have available.

Posted at 04/06/2007 11:21:27 by Tanny O'Haley

The Notes workspace is so last century, or is it?

I never use the workspace view of bookmarks. It's the worst of both worlds.

Posted at 04/06/2007 11:26:22 by Richard Schwartz

Discussion for this entry is now closed.