Today a new OpenNTF project was created to develop the next generation of the Notes/Domino discussion template. There is no release yet, but only one document describing some of the initial ideas on how to enhance the template, the proposed project schedule, community contributions. etc.

Download this document from here.

The purpose of this document is to generate feedback regarding this proposed project. To post your comments, please use the 'Discuss' tab of the discussion project. If for some reason you don't want to share your input publically you can also send a mail to Steve and me directly (niklas_heidloff at de dot ibm dot com and steve.castledine at uk dot ibm dot com).

IBM Lotus Notes/Domino has provided a discussion template since version 1. It is a sample application that demonstrates the value proposition of Notes/Domino. It shows how customers can use Notes/Domino as an application development platform and how users can use Notes/Domino to collaborate by creating documents and responses which can contain arbitrary content (semi-structured data) including file attachments.

Since version 1 the discussion template has been extended several times to make use of some of the latest Notes/Domino application development features. The most recent significant extension was done in 8.5 when the web user interface was refreshed using the new XPages capabilities. While this delivered a new user interface for the web, the Notes client experience has not been updated and certain feature enhancement requests have not been addressed.

Discussion template as open source

The Domino developer community has been extending the discussion template for almost two decades. IBM believes that open sourcing the discussion template on OpenNTF will tap the creative potential and ensure the next generation discussion template meets the communities needs.  
This approach has also other benefits:
1.        People (customers, ISVs, all other developers) can influence better the direction of this template by helping in different ways including coding;
2.        Updates to the discussion template can be made available sooner than having to wait for the next Notes/Domino release;
3.        Anyone may freely use the template as a base for their own similar applications subject only to the restrictions of the Apache license version 2.

Option for IBM to take extensions into product

IBM will evaluate contributions made to the open source discussion template and consider adding them to the version of the template shipped with Lotus Notes and Domino. Some customers need a fully supported version of this template since they want to continue to base their production applications on it. The new OpenNTF Alliance provides a good IP model based on the Apache license (ALv2) that allows IBM or other companies to take the code and incorporate it into their commercially shipping products.

Value proposition

One of the goals is to build the next generation of the discussion template so it can serve as THE Notes/Domino application development sample. For example, good coding practices should be used  from which other developers can learn. Also developers should be able to use the new generation of the discussion template as starting point for their own applications by just removing pieces they don't need and adding other functions. In addition to this, the next generation should be built as a list of re-usable XPages controls so that certain controls can easily be reused in custom applications.

As other Notes/Domino applications as well the discussion will continue to have both a web user interfaces and rich client user interface including offline capabilities. An important value proposition of Notes/Domino applications is to support both a web and rich client interface including offline capabilities. The goal is to update the rich client user interface and provide functions that showcase the capabilities of the Notes client (e.g. add mails to discussion).

Furthermore new functions should be provided that many customers have asked for, e.g. different states of topics (draft, expired, archived, locked, etc.), categories of discussion topics, etc.


In Domino 8.5.1 there will be a couple of improvements in the discussion template. The idea is to make the 8.5.1 version of the template available as open source. Our goal is to produce a good build that could be demonstrated at Lotusphere 2010. This date determines a lot of milestones  such as when other contributors need to be involved, how many iterations can be done before this, etc.

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