As some may already know I was recently laid off after 14 years as a Notes and Domino developer at my workplace. I suspected for a while that some staff reduction would be coming soon, but I was a bit surprised that I was included since I am the only Notes developer in the company.
I had for a while considered to do consulting and freelance development. My wife as well as several friends have been encouraging me for years. So this was just the push I needed.
I am starting my own company, Demand Better Solutions, where I will focus on Notes and Domino Development, application modernization and migration as well as building brand new web applications and websites.
I realize that me being laid off is just a business decision. It is not personal. Several of the business critical applications at my former employer are developed using IBM Notes, but the executives have for years been talking about moving away from the platform. Of course they don’t realize the huge amount of work needed to do this, but never the less this was/is their ultimate goal.
The reason is that they feel (based on what they hear from other executives) that Notes is old technology. The fact that IBM has been slow in modernizing the interface, and that many of the templates still look like back in 1999 when version 5.0 was released does not help this perception.
Last fall all our email at my old job was moved to Outlook, and ever since I have heard users complaining about missing Notes and certain functionality they were used to. A lot of integration between Notes applications and Notes mail were also lost, and I had to re-create it in different ways. You often hear stories about people complaining about the Notes client, but most of our users wanted nothing but to get it back…
My old employer also uses Visual FoxPro, a product where the last version was released in 2004. It has officially been discontinued by Microsoft, but we use it for several important applications. So I don’t think that even a product being discontinued is driving a huge number of migrations. It is the perception of how modern the product is that matters. And that perception is almost 100% the way the product looks.
To a user the interface is the product.
Create a modern looking application and nobody will question (or care) what tool was used to build it.
The last 3-4 years I have been learning new web technologies, like jQuery, Bootstrap, Ajax, JSON. I have been able to use much of that at work, as well as in several side projects. I also started learning C# and .net. After the layoff I sat down and started looking at (among others) php and mySQL as well as researched frameworks like AngularJS.
As a developer I have to keep up with new technologies, or I will be left behind. But it is hard when you work full-time, have side work and then have a family and house to take care of. Having some free time the last few weeks enabled me to focus on learning some new things.
I don’t think the Notes client will be developed much more, almost everything is moving towards web applications these days anyway. But IBM Domino is something totally different. It is an very capable and powerful development platform. With some skills in web technologies and a good understanding of the Domino platform one can build some amazing applications.
IBM recently released FixPack 7 and announced that the current version of Notes and Domino will be supported for at least five more years, until September 30, 2021. New functionality will be provided through Feature Packs, not version upgrades.
But Domino is just one tool of many. I am looking at LDC Via as another data store, as it very closely resembles Domino with a MongoDB-based NoSQL backend. Salesforce also has many similarities with Domino. The transition would therefore be fairly easy. AngularJS is another popular technology, with version 2.0 soon to be released. And we of course have IBM’s BlueMix offering, where MongoDB is just one of many technologies offered.
As a developer we need to learn new things constantly, the language or tools we use does really not matter. We should pick the proper tool, whatever fits the project.
Do you want to modernize your Notes and Domino applications?
Let me and Demand Better Solutions help you!
Good stuff, Karl-Henry! I think your analysis is spot on. Companies are trying to cut costs and modernize their IT by moving to cloud based standard applications. This causes friction as many handy, tailor-designed apps and short-cuts disappear and people just never realized they were there until they are gone. I also see a different but related effect – as systems move to the cloud, integration becomes a very serious problem. In the case of my previous employer, we had different systems for finance (SAP), accounting, reporting (home-made Excel spreadsheet), CRM, marketing automation – none of them integrated so you had to swap from system to system. But at least it is cheap – for licences. But look at the time wasted for all the hundreds of employees and you see the true cost. Anyway, good luck with the business. You were brilliant already when we worked together as reporters at Computerworld in Sweden so it will be awesome!
Hi Karl-Henry, Good luck in your new project ¡¡¡