Saturday, March 14, 2009

I have been Flexed, a New Adventure in UI Design

Over the past couple of months I have been optimizing our IBF 3.0 technology to develop applications. One of the goals of the project is to develop Notes applications with an interface design that is effective for users, especially small business users. The design team and myself have gone through a number of different designs understanding the limitations of the Lotus Notes Basic client. I thought about designing just for the Lotus Notes standard client, but I do not like it because it is big, slow, and the UI is buggy. As many who know me, I would have preferred that IBM revamped the Basic client rather than go with the an Eclipse framework. I understand why IBM went with the Eclipse framework, my I still do not like it. I am a proponent of small and lite clients. The Lotus Notes Basic client is much leaner and faster, but the UI and controlling it even with all the tricks that I and others like Chris Blatnick and Nathan Freeman has come up with is still lacking. This is especially important since we are developing commercial products that are marketed to small businesses. Each time we ran into design issues that stopped us because of known bugs or design deficities that has never been fixed some of which have been there since Notes 5 and 6. I remember asking IBM at the Ask the Developer session at Lotusphere when the CSS problems would be fixed and the response was in the next version (Notes 7). Well if is still there even in Notes 8!

With XPages as the new buzz word, we thought about developing our applications as a pure Web solution. However, the response is not there and we still wanted the ability to have offline capability and start off it as an application like we have in the Notes client.

Therefore, after researching different RIAs we have decided to try creating an Domino RIA application using Adobe Flex. The combination of Flex and AIR hoping will give us what we have been looking for. It might be a dead end, but from all the research that I have done it may provide 90 to 95% of what we need.

Would this replace the Lotus Notes client, I seriously doubt it. After this exercise, we might be back to the Notes client again. Programming and experimentation many times results in dead ends.

If you are interested in Flex with Domino there are some good blogs on this subject. So far I have found these blogs on Flex and Domino very helpful. If there are others, let me know.

Angel Figueroa and Mark Ambler
http://flexingdomino.blogspot.com/

Jake Howlett
http://www.codestore.net/store.nsf/blog/

There is also a list of videos on Flex from Adobe. I would like to thank Mark Myers for the link.
http://sessions.adobe.com/FlexInAWeek/feed.xml

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on the Client, and i have been though this as well and keep coming back to redesigning mode ,Flex is give me another option that is not only a complete off-line / on-line solution but it will give us ( the designer) the option that we have not be able to deliver to our users and that is very pro look and Feel - I hope that IBM and Adobe will bring us a API that we can bring this technology closer together - Pálmi