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What is Lotus Notes?

Lotus Notes is a collaborative application developed by Lotus and is also known as IBM Notes. It provides the following different functions to assist the groupware business firm:

  • Email
  • Calendars
  • To-do-Lists
  • Contacts Management
  • Database
  • Discussion Forums
  • File Sharing
  • Microblogging
  • Web server
  • Programming

Lotus Notes is a desktop application mainly used for emailing in the corporate environment. It also supports to access the distributed databases within the organization. Being a groupware application, it is a multi-platform i.e., it runs on many different platforms. It uses standard email protocols such as POP3 and SMTP to provide efficient emailing service.

Lotus Domino

IBM Domino or Lotus Notes Server is an application platform for email messaging services. Lotus Notes uses a client-server architecture. Lotus Domino is a HTTP/HTTPS web server component. It provides platform needed for messaging and workflow. It also assures to provide security to the mail files and application databases. Domino server has security model for controlling the access of Notes document. Users can also replicate the databases over LAN or WAN Server.

Domino Servers are independent of the hardware and software. It can be accessed by using the web browser.

Domino Server


Lotus Notes Storage Facility

  • Lotus client and Domino server use Lotus Notes Storage Facility(NSF) to create and manage Notes databases.
  • Only NSF function can create a Notes database from scratch and can access, modify and delete objects.
  • The file extension used by Lotus notes application is .nsf

Lotus  Notes Storage Facility structure

A Notes database contain any number and type of file. There is an information in database header and each note header supports simultaneous access and database replication.

Database Replication

Database Replication means the duplication of the database with the same replication ID as that of the original database.

Lotus Notes allows the user to replicate the database on their local machine so that they can work on data files when they are offline.

Lotus Notes Database Replication

This replication facility of Lotus Notes is not limited to emails, contacts, and calendars. It is applicable for any data in any application which uses that Notes Storage Facility(.nsf). Once user gets connected to the network, all the changes sync with the server and messages are sent to the appropriate user. Different databases on different servers are automatically synchronized and change conflicts are resolved.

In IBM Notes, the database replication is disabled by default. To enable the replication, the user doesn’t require any special programming skills.

Notes/Domino Security

Notes/Domino provides a robust security model by limiting the ways in which various user can access or manipulate the data in a database. It maintains to provide security at the following levels:

  • Network Security: It protects the data confidentiality & integrity from the unauthorized access over the network.
  • User Authentication: It is the process in which both Notes client and Domino server validate and authenticate the user when user tries to access the Domino server.
  • Server Security: This refers to controlling access to each Domino Server. Server access is control using server access list in Domino Directory.
  • Database Security: It controls the access to the database on Domino Server. Every database has an Access Control List(ACL) that specifies the level of access a user or server can have in the database. ACL determines what task can be performed by the particular user. Only a user having manager access can create or modify ACL. To secure local databases, Notes let the user encrypt a database and enforce an ACL on the local database.
  • Design Element Security: It controls the access to forms, views, and folders. Although user can have access of an application, but may not have access to design elements. While designing the Lotus Application, the developer can use access lists and special field to restrict the access to specific design elements.
  • Document Security: It controls access to the field, section, and paragraph in a document or entire document. Readers and Authors field are used to control the document access.


Lotus Notes is a powerful, open and rapid application development platform. This development tool gives the flexibility to build innovative and security-rich applications that enhance the productivity of an enterprise. It provides a platform for the user to update Notes application by using the variety of open technologies such as Java Script, HTML, Java and Lotus Script. Developers who already know some of these technologies can easily develop the Notes Application.

Domino Designer

Domino Designer is an Integrated Development Environment for an application that runs on IBM Notes and Domino. It helps developers to develop and deploy Lotus Notes application more easily and quickly than through manual coding.

Issues With Lotus Notes

Many users face lots of issues while using Lotus Notes. Even providing a secure and versatile platform, Lotus Domino users facing many troubles which make them look for an alternate application. Some of the commonly faced issues of lotus Notes are:

  • Poor UI: Most of the user’s complaint about the bad experience of the user interface. It is a bit an unfriendly as compared to other software.

Issues With Lotus Notes

  • Buttons, Buttons and more Buttons: Lotus Notes Shows unnecessary buttons for any action. It constitutes of a number of buttons whose use is almost absent or meaningless.
  • Issues With Lotus Notes

  • Limited Integration with other tools: It is not capable to integrate with other applications such as Microsoft generated applications. For example, it cannot handle the meeting invited from Microsoft Outlook and thus shows an error.
  • Limited Search Capabilities: It is not able to create the complex queries. The Quick filter can only be used for searching single attributes like either by sender or by a subject line. The "All Mail" option searches only the current or selected mail folder.
  • Error Messages: Overflow pop-up warning or error messages is another issue that may be troubling the users.
  • Conclusion

    Lotus Notes/Domino is a first collaborative solution for enterprises. It uses client/server architecture where Notes is a client and Domino is a server. This groupware is highly secured and uses several security layers. IBM Notes also allows database replication so that users can also work when they are offline. The whole infrastructure of Notes/Domino handles security, database, storage, scripting, emailing etc. There is no alternative that can do everything that Notes/Domino can do. But IBM Notes has some issues which cause trouble to its users. IBM is working on the UI and updated it to Notes latest version but still its interface is lacking. Capabilities of searching and integrating with other tools are another limitation.