Bob Balaban September 29 2007 10:05:52 AMGreetings, Geeks!
Please raise your hand if you are using Notes 8.0 on a regular basis.
Ok, for those of you with your hands in the air (don't worry, nobody will notice), lower your hand if you do NOT know what a Notes 8 "Java View" is. I sure wish I could count the raised hands.....but I'm guessing something less than half of N8 users know about these. But, I could be wrong.
Anyhow, let me try to 'splain it. In Notes 7 and before, there is special view-rendering code that knows how to draw a picture of any view on the screen. This code is very smart, written in C and C++, buried in some DLL or other in the install kit. It reads the contents of a View design note, interprets all of the settings, finds the appropriate data in the View's index, computes any formulas it finds, and draws the picture. Furthermore, this code knows how to handle user interaction -- keystrokes, mouse clicks, whatever, to do scrolling, lookahead, sort-on-the-fly, launch individual documents in an editor window, and all that stuff.
This same code exists in Notes 8, but the actual picture-drawing and UI event-handling code is now different, because Notes is running inside an Expeditor/Eclipse owned window. Instead of calling down through an internal isolation layer to the Windows API, for example, it now calls (eventually) an SWT graphics package (coded in Java) inside Eclipse to do the rendering. But that doesn't matter, for most views, the picture looks pretty much the same as before.
For some views, however -- Inbox, Calendar, in fact all the folders and views in your mail NSF, plus Contacts and a couple of other things I'll just refer to as the "PIM views" for shorthand -- you get special rendering. Instead of being drawn by the old Notes C/C++ code, these "Java Views" are rendered using Java code directly, with a rather different look and feel -- yes, some of the shortcut keystrokes work differently in Java Views, a fact which Mary Beth Raven is no doubt hoping I will finally leave her alone :-)
This new view/folder UI was demoed extensively in the 2 years leading up to the release of Notes 8, and I think some people were rather surprised to discover that not all views/folders adopted it. There are several reasons for this:
1) In order to make use of the new UI for views and folders, your app has to be structured as a Composite Application. The new rendering logic kicks in when Notes notices the presence of a special xml file in the database. Of course there also has to be a CompApp-friendly navigator pane, with the appropriate wiring set up between the 2 "components".
2) Obviously, very few NSFs pre-Notes 8 (probably none of yours, certainly none of mine) were set up this way.
3) This is a feature that might have been exposed in a general way, so that designers could "update" their NSFs to use Java Views. It wasn't, though, primarily because the need for extensive testing, documentation and samples would have delayed the release of the product. That's not to say it won't ever happen, just that it didn't get into 8.0
So, fellow geeks, I have a couple of questions for you:
a) Do you think that the new PIM UI (using Java Views) is better than the old UI? If so, what features of the new UI do you like most? If not, why not?
b) On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is "don't care" and 5 is "If I don't get it, I'll die", how important do you think it is to be able to make any view or folder render as a "Java View"?
c) I'll assume that nobody would object if what you (the designer) had to do to make this happen is, say, click on an InfoBox checkbox. But I'm trying to get a sense of how much work people would be willing to do to get this feature: would you be willing to go into Designer and do something for every view/folder you wanted to render this way? Even if you had dozens, or hundreds of changes to make? Would you prefer one setting per NSF, where the setting applies to ALL views/folders in the db?
d) Would you be willing to transform your view into a Composite App in order to get the Java View rendering?
I'm looking forward to seeing your comments. Keep those cards and letters coming!
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