Lotus Notes has had a hard earned and well deserved black eye for many years regarding it's user interface and lack of eye candy. While it never bothered me too much, many people grew to resent using an application that looked like it hadn't changed visually since the last century.

I'm testing the beta version of Notes 8.5.2 and now that the ban on blogging has been lifted, I want to share one of the little things that Mary Beth Raven and her team have done that I think will make a BIG improvement in the perception of Notes in the marketplace. Support for 32-bit color icons has just been added to Notes 8.5.2!  

Consider these two Notes applications and their icons:

20100420-32BitIconSupportInNotes852-1.jpg

The database icon on the left is the standard 16-bit color icon we all grew to know and love in the last century in the Windows for Workgroups 3.1 era. The database icon on the right is a PNG file that I selected as my DB Icon using the new 8.5.2 Designer client.


The new Notes 8.5.2 Designer client allows me to edit the application icon resource and when I do, I now have the option to choose between the classic icon (16 bit color) and the new 32-bit color icons which can be in GIF, JPEG, Bitmap, and PNG image formats.

20100420-32BitIconSupportInNotes852-2.jpg

I've long defended Notes against its visual detractors on the basis that Notes is one of the finest information management tools in its class. I still do. For me, it's always been about my ability to be productive not the pretty colors or shiny buttons. Frankly, I could be almost as productive in Notes 4 or 5 as I can be in Notes 8.x.

That said, everyone likes to look at pretty and shiny things and tools that attract more than repell are inherently more productive. With Notes 8.5.2 and the new eye candy it offers, the personal satisfaction some is sure to increase as the product becomes increasingly pleasant to look at.

It's the seemingly little things that are often really big things.

Thank You Lotus!

Disclaimer: I'm using a beta version of Notes 8.5.2. Screen shots and features are subject to change and probably will before final release.

Discussion/Comments (18):

Carl Tyler (http://www.epilio.com): 4/20/2010 4:38:39 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Eric, do you know if the new icons still show when you're in the textured workspace?

Thanks.


Colin Williams (): 4/20/2010 5:16:30 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

@Carl - yep!

Any bets on how many releases it will take IBM to update the icons in the bundled templates? ;)


Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 4/20/2010 5:36:21 PM
re: With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Hi Carl, as Colin wrote above, I believe the answer is yes. I was able to do some basic testing all all works well so far. I'm wishing for them to add the ability to paste an icon but it's not a showstopper not to have it.


Carl Tyler (http://Http://www.Epilio.com): 4/20/2010 5:47:14 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Great!!


Keith Collyer (): 4/21/2010 9:14:50 AM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

I think the back-reference is to Win 3.1, not Win95 :-)


Gavin Bollard (http://dominogavin.blogspot.com): 4/21/2010 5:33:12 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Woohoo!!!

You don't know how long I've been waiting for this feature... then again, maybe you do. :-)


Tony Austin (http://notestracker.com): 4/28/2010 8:36:08 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Apart from the brilliant new eye-candy effect, there's a bug in the Domino Designer 8.5.1 icon editor that prevents a classic 16-bit icon being copied from another database and pasted straight into the icon editor grid in current database (this you could do in Domino Designer 7 and all earlier releases). I was going to report this, but won't bother now.

QUESTION: Will the new 32-bit icon only be visible to 8.5.2 (and later) Notes clients?


Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 4/28/2010 9:43:19 PM
re: With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Good question, Tony. I have no idea. I'm sure we will see fixes with future release, though. At least I hope so.


skip (): 4/30/2010 8:16:09 AM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Great addition but when I try to change to a new png there is no option to make the change.


skip (): 4/30/2010 12:12:03 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Let me clarify my original - on one of my apps once I change to a new 32x32 png and then want to change to a new png the option to change is not there. On some other apps I can change to a new/better png.


harkpabst_meliantrop (): 5/24/2010 11:57:41 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Actually, the "classic" icons are not 16 bit color, but just 16 colors! :-)


Mark Demicoli (http://www.ClickBook.net): 5/25/2010 11:40:21 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

That's right. Which is 4bit. What a disgrace! :)


MarvinK (): 6/9/2010 8:03:46 AM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

Windows 95 didn't suck *that* much. To get 16 color icons, you have to date yourself back to Windows 3.x.

I think Lotus was on the same schedule for adding real-time spell checking in Notes... Microsoft had them beat by almost 2 DECADES there, too.


Hedi Regaya (http://hediregaya.com): 8/26/2010 4:59:31 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

IBM Lotus team are doing a great job improving Notes design especially with the combo Notes + Eclipse.

Hope they will always keep the Base mode.


JoelG (): 9/28/2010 12:50:37 PM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore, but it is still the same piece of crap

Never been a fan of Lotus Notes, I can really care less about how it looks, it just does not work.

Three weeks ago I attempted to install 8.5.2 on my windows 7 machine, THREE WEEKS!!!. I'm currently running notes admin 8.5.1 on WinXP vm, I've going back and forth with IBM support, but nothing, NOTHING!!


Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 9/28/2010 1:00:00 PM
re: With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore, but it is still the same piece of crap

Joel, I'm sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience with IBM support for Lotus Products. The person to contact with any concerns is Ed Brill, who is the product manager for Lotus Notes. Ed's a great guy and eager to help. Ed's blog is at www.EdBrill.com.


Abe Bubush (): 4/1/2014 6:45:39 AM
With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

No right-click edit subject on the inbox anymore. Stupid removal of a widely used function.


Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 4/1/2014 1:02:54 PM
re: With 8.5.2, your Notes apps won’t look like Win95 anymore

I agree on that one. In many ways I found the prior version more "Productive". But overall, I still like where they are headed.



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