Recent Contacts in Lotus Notes 8 – Good or Bad Thing ?

Your composing an email to someone outside your organization you rarely deal with but for some reason today, you need to send an urgent  email to this individual. This person is not in your Local Address book and you’re not sure if you kept any emails from them to get their email address. How nice would it be to be able to type in this person’s name you need to send an email to and have their name pre-populate for you automatically without having this person in your address book.

Well you can with Recent Contacts. Recent Contacts is a new feature introduced in Lotus Notes 8.x  where Lotus Notes determines this by keeping track of the number of times you send and receive mail from each person. After you send an email or close an email after reading it, Lotus Notes will store that contact in a different view in your local address book called called “Recent Contacts”.

As a Lotus Notes end user this feature is great. As a Domino Administrator supporting this new feature, sometimes can be a headache. The Recent Contacts and the Type-Ahead List feature is amazing to have because now you can start typing in someone’s name in the TO: field and now it will start populating, based on the people with whom you most often interact with. So if you deal with a John Smith/NewYork on a regular basis vs a John Smith/California whom you never emailed before. When you type in John Smith’s name it will pre-populate with John Smith/New York.

However for a Domino Administrator, this feature can also cause more problems for end users. What happens when a user is no longer with the organization but is in your Recent Contacts, it will still try to deliver the message and you will get Mail Router – Delivery Failure. Another issue I encountered was when we had to setup mail forwarding in a users Person Doc in the NAB (Names and Address Book). After removing the entry for the mail forwarding, anyone who sent emails to that user during this time period the forwarding was turned on, it will cache that forwarding address in the users Recent Contacts. Example: You setup mail forwarding on John Smith person doc to forward emails to Jane Doe because John is out of the office for several months. I send emails to John Smith which automatically forwards to Jane Smith. John Smith returns back to work and we remove the mail forwarding from John Smith’s Person Doc. I send an email to John Smith and John says he doesn’t receive any of my emails as well as other trying to send to him. Why is it doing this? Because its still forwarding to Jane Doe because in my Recent Contacts John Smith’s email address shows forwarding to Jane Doe.

Overall, Recent Contacts is a great idea and will make life easier for everyone. However from a Domino Administration point of view, Mail Forwarding, Local Mail Groups, Repeating Calendar Entries where a Recent Contact is pointing to the wrong person can make life a nightmare.

If you you want to disable this feature do the following:

  1. Delete all the contents in your Recent Contacts
  2. Go to: File – Preferences – Contacts – Select the Check Box  “Do Not Automatically Add Names to the Recent Contact View”
  3. If you would like to disable this for all users. Use the Notes.ini parameter DisableDPABProcessing=1 .


How to Change my Unread Emails from Bolded and Black back to Red

Another change IBM decided to do with Lotus Notes 8.5 was change how unread documents / emails displayed to the color Black and have it Bolded. Previous versions of Lotus Notes unread documents were simply the color Red. If you would like to have it back to the old way, you can change this setting by doing the following:

- Go to File – Preferences – “Fonts and Colors” Section

- Change the unread mail indication to: Plain Red Text from Bold Black Text.

- Click Appy and then OK.

How do I Select Multiple Emails in Lotus Notes 8.5

In Previous versions of Lotus Notes you were able to select multiple emails to delete or move them by placing a check mark beside the email messages.

With Lotus Notes 8.5 the default setting has now changed to the Microsoft Windows Explorer convention, which is to highlight and use the Control Key to select multiple documents or use the Shift Key to select multiple email messages in consecutive order.

Some people will enjoy the windows explorer type of selecting multiple documents but for me and those who have become accustom to the good old fashion check mark way, if you want to change it back you need to do the following:

- Go to File – Preferences – “Basic Notes Client Configuration” Section

- In “Additional Options” field scroll all the way to the bottom

- Check off “Show Check Marks in Margin for Selected Documents

-Then Click OK

Enabling Ghosted Calendar Entries in Lotus Notes 8.5

This is such a great feature to have enabled within your organization. What is Ghosted Calendar Entries?  It’s Monday morning, you just got in to the office after being off for a week and you had no access to email during your time off. You open your Lotus Notes and see you have 550 unread emails. You try to get through all the emails but realize theirs way to many to go through. You check your calendar and see you have a meeting in 15 minutes. But for some reason it’s gray in color.  You double click the meeting and realize that you haven’t responded to this meeting yet because you haven’t gone through all your emails.  It’s neither Accepted or Declined.  But how can this be? How is this meeting displaying in my calendar view without me responding or taking action on it.

With the Ghosted Calendar Entries enabled – “Display new  (unprocessed) notices.” Meetings that are sent to you will automatically populate in your Calendar view, which you haven’t responded to yet in a gray color. So if you have missed accepting or declining a meeting in your inbox or haven’t gone through your 550 emails, you will still be OK and won’t miss a meeting because you have your Ghosted Entries displaying in your calendar.

To turn this Preference on – Go to More – Preferences – Calendar & To Do – Display – Views – Place a check mark in “Display new (unprocessed) notices”

I want my old calendar views back !!

One of the issues we’ve had to deal with is that the new version (8.5x) of Lotus Notes seems to have taken away a number of ‘old favorite’ views in your calendar, like the ‘work month.’ The work month calendar was particularly nice because it gave you a fill month’s view of your calendar, without the weekend days.

Turns out, there’s a way to get them back, although this trick doesn’t “stick”, so you’ll need to do it every time …

So, we can start here:

This is the “default” month calendar in Notes 8.5x.

But, people liked the “old” month calendar. By hitting Ctrl-Alt before you click “Month”, you can get the old calendar:


And, better yet, this view scrolls, so you can have a month view that includes a couple weeks from one month, and a couple from the next. Note where July 1st falls in this screenshot:

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to being able to get the old view back, you get the old functionality back, meaning you can view a month (a whole month), or you can view a “work month” (meaning as full month, but not showing weekends).

By clicking the dropdown at the Month tab, you can select “Work Month”:

And the result is a scrolling month, with no weekends:

Wish my real-life calendar was this empty!!

More widget resources

Okay, I apologize for the ‘one-track’ topic thread this week, but have been doing some investigating (could you tell??) about widgets and I wanted to pass along some of the things I found.

You should know Mary Beth Raven, a well-know woman at IBM Lotus, who has a great blog about various things to do with development of the Lotus Notes Client.

Mary Beth discussed widgets, and more importantly, pointed at a public widget catalog. See her blog post about it HERE.

Also, thought I should pass along a link to the Lotus Learning Widget. This widget is kind of a tutorial about Lotus Notes – and a great way for end users to learn more.

Check it out!

Widgets from the admin’s chair

After my post earlier this week about widgets, it seemed like it would make sense to talk about the other side of the widget coin, the admin side.

Specifically, what needs to be done to deploy widgets for the iNotes webmail client.

The work quite differently there, and unfortunately, the end user doesn’t have much control – it’s all up to the administrator. Additional information available from the Domino Wiki and from the InfoCenter.

So, here are the steps, admins. You end users can skip the rest of this for now!

For the purpose of this document, here’s what my sample iNotes screen looked like before any of these instructions were carried out:

To enable Widgets on iNotes, steps are as follows:

  1. Set up widget catalog (on server)

    (By default, it will be named “toolbox.nsf” and unless you proactively change things, iNotes is looking for a file with that name.)

    Although catalog setup is beyond the scope of these instructions, the widget catalog is the ‘repository’ for widgets in your Domain.

    Any given Notes client can be bound to only ONE widget catalog (although you could have different catalogs for different users based on policy assignment) – but ALL iNotes users will be bound to a single catalog.

  2. Create (if not already existing) an “inotes_config.xml” file (on server). A template should already exist in the <Domino Program Directory>\data\domino\HTML folder:

    This file tells iNotes what catalog to use, and what categories in the catalog to make available to the iNotes client

    You can create a live file from the existing template by copying and renaming, from “inotes_config.xml.template” to “inotes_config.xml”. You can essentially accept the defaults.

    Note that it pushes down two “sample” widgets – you can comment out (or remove) that text from the file and it won’t push those two widgets.

  3. Create a Mail Settings policy document (or make these changes to an existing one). On the Lotus iNotes tab, click the Configuration tab and under the “Widgets” section:
    a) Change “Show the Widgets folder in the Mail outline” to ‘enabled’
    b) “Allow users to create widgets from XML” to ‘enabled’

    Save the settings document, and make sure you’ve attached the settings to a policy that you’ve assigned to certain users.

  4. Be aware these changes don’t take effect instantaneously. Policies are pushed down to clients once they’ve been processed by ADMINP and the client has logged off and logged back in. So, don’t be alarmed if it seems to take a few minutes for the change to show up. You can speed up the process by giving a console command to have ADMINP process more quickly: “Tell ADMINP process mail policy” or “Tell ADMINP process new.”
  5. However, given a few moments (or given the effects of the command line instructions for ADMINP), a new entry will show up on your iNotes navigation panel:
  6. When clicked, the widget entry in the iNotes navigation panel will show any widgets that have been “pushed down” such as the two sample IBM widgets shown above. However, users can now right-click on the Widget outline entry and select other widgets from the catalog they’d like to deploy on their client:

    Note: Only those widgets that you’ve categorized as “iNotes” in the widget catalog will show up in this list.

    Users simply select the widgets they’d like to use, click OK, and then those additional widgets will be available for them under the widget outline item:

    The user then clicks on the widget they want, and even has an opportunity to decide whether to open the widget in another iNotes tab, or another browser window:

  7. Note that widgets in iNotes do not open in the right sidebar – they open essentially full screen. So you may find that widgets that work well in the Notes client do not scale well to iNotes – or you may need two versions with different layouts.

And that’s all there is to it …

A few relatively easy steps to widget-admin nirvana!

Admins, keep in mind that there are version requirements here … widgets are 8.0+ … so older versions of iNotes, etc., won’t be able to play.

It’s Widget Wonderland!

One of the most-touted features of the new Lotus Notes client is the capability to add “widgets”. These are similar to the types of things you can add to your home page in Google or Yahoo, for example – you can add stock tickers or weather watchers or any number of other useful (and sometimes not-quite-as-useful-but-a-lot-of-fun) widgets to your client.

The Notes client shown below has had the Weather Widget installed:

The nice thing about this is you’re already spending a tremendous amount of time working in your Notes client as it is – here’s a chance to bring even more personal productivity to your client.

It’s pretty simple to add a widget.

First, open the “My Widgets” box on the right sidebar of Notes. You may or may not find anything in there:

Incidentally, if you don’t find the “My Widgets” box available to you, check your preferences. Go to File > Preferences > Widgets, and make sure that the option “Show Widget Toolbar …” is checked:

You may noticed that mine is greyed out. That means that mine is turned on by a policy that the administrator set – it’s possible that yours is TURNED OFF by policy, in which case, you can’t play with widgets … so go have a chat with your Note Administrator … (Lee and I always recommend being nice to your admins – take them to lunch, bring them candy [especially chocolate])

Anyway, back to the point.

Open your “My Widgets” sidebar panel by clicking on it.

If it’s empty, you’ll need to fill it.

So, in the upper right hand corner of the panel is a menu icon (highlighted below), and if you click it, you get a substantial menu of the things you can do:

If you click “Catalog”, it brings up another menu, and you can choose “Browse” from here:

It will bring up a copy of the Widget Catalog available to you through your organization. You can select one that looks interesting and simply drag it over and drop it in the “My Widgets” panel:


Once you’ve put it there, some widgets may open up automatically.

If yours doesn’t, you can right click on the icon for your widget in the My Widgets panel. You have a number of possible configuration options, not the least of which is the ability to tell the widget how and where to display (open in tab, open in sidebar, etc.):


And, that’s all there is to it!

In addition to items you may find in your organization’s widget catalog, you can also add Google Gadgets.

If you choose “Configure a Widget from …” on the menu, you can select to add a widget from a Google Gadget, a web page, an RSS feed or from Notes itself:

So, campers, go widget yourself!

Admins: worth noting

A new product called ITANA came to my attention. I don’t know too much about it, but I’m going to start digging in further …

Basically, it’s a set web applications for the iPhone giving access to the Tasks / To Dos  and Notebook / Journal found in Lotus Notes.

Admins, you might want to check it out: ITANA from Hughes Connect.

How to synchronize contacts with blackberry

So how do I synchronize contacts with blackberry? In previous versions of Lotus Notes when I wanted to sync my Lotus Notes address book/contacts with my blackberry I would have to go to my Inbox – ActionsSyncronize Address book manually.

Now with version 8.5 it does it automatically for you with your Replication & Sync. To set it up do the following:

Go to File – Preferences – Contacts – Check of  Enable “Synchronize Contacts” on the Replicator

Now go to Replication and Sync icon on your Bookmark side bar, which is located on the left hand side

Verify that Synchronize Contacts under Enabled is Checked Off. You can now click the Start Now button to start the synchronize or wait until it replicates. Moving forward this will automatically synchronize your contacts from your Lotus Notes Address Book into your Blackberry and vice versa.

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