Lotus Notes email

What idiot designed the email component of Lotus Notes? How is it possible that something so broken can be so popular?

Who decided that replying to an email with an attachment inside it should send the attachment back to the original sender? It’s in my Sent Mail; I don’t need to see it again. Waste of space and bandwidth!

And who decided that when replying it should ignore the From address and use the Sender address instead? Yeah sure I sent it from my Gmail, but it was on behalf of xyz; replies should go to xyz!

And why does it sometimes screw up email names and addresses? I’ve just seen something CCd (unsuccessfully, I assume) to John.Smith@company.comJohn.Smith — WTF?!

(And elsewhere in Lotus Notes… have you seen the state of the permalinks it produces in web sites?! I mean really, does anybody think something like http://www.doi.vic.gov.au/DOI/Internet/transport.nsf/AllDocs/CF55EBCAB40CEB3DCA2571F80004823E?OpenDocument is a sensible URL to present to human beings?)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

6 thoughts on “Lotus Notes email

  1. Scott

    I would like to ask how is Lotus Notes broken?

    You offered 4 items of discontent which I would like to address:

    1 – Lotus Notes offers multiple reply options, the first is reply which does not include the original message or attachment, Second is reply with history which does include the original attachment and 2 new options in version 7 allows you to reply without attachments and internet style history which is plain text without attachments. I would like to also point out that gmail includes the original attachments as well as the history by default.

    2 – Please read the RFC’s regarding e-mail standards and not Microsoft’s or Google’s interpretation on what should happen with this.

    3 – You assume incorrectly if it is within the Lotus Notes domain.

    4 – So http://www.geekrant.org/2007/10/16/lotus-notes-email/ is any better? If I offer a link on a web page I can make it as long or as short as I want, when you click on it and it expands to something that long does it matter?

  2. daniel Post author

    Thanks for the feedback Scott.

    1. Interesting. Do some versions not offer that choice? Because every time I correspond with someone using Notes, I get my attachments fired back at me.

    2. Hmm. OK, I’ll take a look.

    3. The messed up email address was observed twice in replies from Notes users.

    4. Yes, it’s better. The URL is short enough not to get broken in emails due to line wrap. The URL has more meaningful characters in it (reflecting the date and subject) which are more human and search-engine friendly. And it can be split into component parts to return all posts for the day, month or year, if the text part at the end is left off (eg if one was to pass the URL on verbally).

    You’re right — URLs wouldn’t matter much if it was always just a link from a web page, only ever clicked, never passed by email or word-of-mouth. But they are, so it matters. See Jakob Nielsen’s piece on this.

  3. daniel Post author

    RFC 822 section 4.4.4 says that the reply should go to the From address, not the Sender. So yes, Lotus Notes gets it wrong. Sender is only intended for bounce messages and the like.

  4. Richard Schwartz

    1. Reply with/without History have been options in Notes for as long as I can remember. Reply Without Attachment(s) is a relatively new feature for Notes. IBM’s UI designers and customers have been debating for a long time exactly what order is “best”. There probably isn’t a right answer. But, unlike most other email clients, in Notes the order of choices is easily customizable. If you don’t want to do the work to customize, you can just go to the OpenNTF web site and download their open source modified mail template and use it. It makes Reply Without Attachments the first choice.

    2. Actually, RFC 822 is obsolete. RFC 2822 supersedes it. And it says “In the absence of the “Reply-To:” field, replies SHOULD by default be sent to the mailbox(es) specified in the “From:” field unless otherwise specified by the person composing the reply.”

    Note the capitalization, which is original, not mine.

    RFC 2119 defines the meaning of terms used in other RFCs, and it says the following of the word SHOULD: “This word, or the adjective “RECOMMENDED”, mean that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.” In other words, an implementation that sends replies to the Sender is not a violation of the RFC, though it does go against recommended practice.

    Now, I’m not sure what version of Lotus Notes you’re complaining about. Go ahead and send me a message with a Sender header, and I’ll tell you what a reasonably current version does. Also note: the behavior of Lotus Notes is very, very customizable. You may, in fact, be complaining about what someone has customized, rather then the out-of-the-box behavior. If I agree that Notes is broken, I’ll gladly admit it. And I’ll report it to IBM and see how they respond.

    3. That would in fact be a syntactically legal address in Notes and Domino, most likely resulting in a non-delivery notice to the sender for the one recipient, but definitely acceptable at time of submission. That’s because Notes had its own addressing scheme back in 1989 and its own email protocol, long before anyone outside of a very small circle of scientists, academics, military, and computer companies had ever seen an SMTP message. And it still works, because IBM has added SMTP functionality while maintaining 100% compatibility for the customers that have been using their system for 18 years.

    Furthermore, as a developer of systems that have to work with email messages, I can tell you that I have seen all sorts of badly malformed headers. I can tell you that malformed addresses get pulled into users’ address books all the time. There’s only so much that a mail client or other mail processing system can do to deal with this. The RFCs actually allow things that most people (who think they understand email addresses!) wouldn’t believe to be legal, but the real trick is writing code that tries to make sense of all the illegal stuff that it is given. Seeing weird stuff in headers as a result of this is definitely not unique to Notes and Domino.

    4. What you are complaining about is the automatically-generated URL. Notes uses 16 byte unique identifiers for objects, and the server’s URL parser knows how to deal with them. With no work at all, a Domino application can use that URL format and it will work. But Domino also knows how to deal with URLs in other formats, and if the programmer of the Domino application had bothered to do a little extra work s/he could have set up URLs that looked like this:

    http://www.doi.vic.gov.au/DOI/Internet/transport.nsf/AllDocs/SomeDocKey

    Of course, if the key for that particular document changes (for any reason, good or bad), that URL won’t make a good bookmark, but the automatically-generated URL would continue to work.

  5. daniel Post author

    Interesting; thanks Richard. Appreciate that some of the responsibility goes to the users/admin to set things up right. But it does seem there are a lot of systems set up this way.

    I don’t have an offending email handy at the moment, but will dig one out and check the version.

Comments are closed.