In our last installment, we walked through setting up the Lotus Notes client and configuring it for the first time.
But once you have Notes up and running, what then? How do you use the client? What are all the icons for? Where is a particular setting?
There are tons of great places to find info, and not-so-strangely enough, you can start right within the Notes client itself.
The Help Database
Lotus Notes has its own built-in Help database, and it’s the best place to start.
This database covers all aspects of the client and allows full-text searching in order to locate information. (See screen shot.)
Now I know that most people hate built-in help. That is because it has been notoriously bad in so many programs. The Notes client is much different however. In addition to help for very specific topics, the Notes help acts as sort of a tutorial for those new to Notes.
I recommend that all new users of Notes read the following sections under Getting Started:
- Elements of Notes — This has a small screen shot outlining the different parts of the Notes client. Understanding this screen shot will help you understand the terminology used in the client.
- Getting Help — This will tell you all the ways to find help within the client and various Notes applications.
- Working with bookmarks — this section will explain the Notes bookmarking system, and how the client handles your bookmarks and bookmark folders.
- Folders and Panes — This shows the difference between views and folders in Notes. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one.
- What is a Notes database? — This whole section is very helpful in helping you learn what a Notes database is, and how the client uses its own database format.
There is a ton of additional information here, all you have to do is dive in. Everything from using your Calendar to how to use your Mail and Address Book is covered.
Please, do not shy away from the built-in help. It’s the best way to get started.
Alan Lepofsky’s Blog
Alan Lepofsky works for IBM Lotus in Competitive Marketing Intelligence. In his free-time, however, he has compiled a rather huge list of tips and tricks to use within Lotus Notes.
His blog is a must-read for newbies and veterans alike. Alan has a way of succinctly explaining all of the features of Notes in an easily understandable way. He even manages to come up with tips that this 10-year Notes veteran didn’t know.
IBM Developer Works For Lotus
IBM’s developerWorks (formerly notes.net) is a resource that can cater to newbs and long-time users alike.
DeveloperWorks houses technical articles, tutorials, Lotus documentation, community links and more.
Among those community links you will find the Lotus Notes and Domino 6/7 forum. This forum is primarily for developers and administrators, but a simple search can many times give you the answers you’re looking for in day-to-day use.
If you encounter an error, or cannot figure out a certain feature, searching here can many times find you the answer you are looking for.
If you run into problems in Notes, and a search of the forum doesn’t find you an answer, you can also use links from developerWorks to get to the Lotus support site.
You can search the knowledgebase as well as the forums from here, and you can jump to specific support pages for the different Lotus products.
There is even a dynamic area which shows you the most frequently used technotes.
In the last several years, we’ve seen a boom in the overall blogging community. In addition, there have been quite a few Lotus Notes and Domino blogs launched.
Some are personal sites, some are tips sites, and some others deep-dive into development or administration content.
Dominoblogs.com is a directory of Notes-themed blogs broken down by region, type, and category. You can look through the lists and find some of the best Notes bloggers and keep tabs on what they have to say.
With the recent release of Notes and Domino 7.0.2 and the newly included blog template, I imagine we will start to see an upswing in blogs based on Notes and talking about Notes.
Dominoblogs.com should help you keep tabs on the new additions to the community.
If you don’t have time to search out blogs, or read all the various blogs for specific tips, you can always check out the Notes blogging community’s Show-N-Tell Thursday effort.
Show-N-Tell Thursday started earlier this year as the brainchild of Notes bloggers Bruce Elgort (founder of the open source Notes site OpenNTF.org) and Rocky Oliver (IBM employee, author and owner of Notesgeek.com.)
Show-N-Tell Thursday was created as a way for Notes bloggers to post their best tips, tricks, and success stories for the community to share and use. You will find end-user tips, as well as administration, coding, and application tips.
Richard Schwartz hosts an aggregator for the Show-N-Tell posts and you can also find posts tagged at Technorati as well. At this point there are nearly 500 posts from some of the best minds in the Notes and Domino blogosphere.
Time To Dive In!
Hopefully I’ve given you a great jump start on where to find the best help, tips, and tricks that Notes and Domino have to offer. With a little effort, you’ll be up-to-speed in no time.
About This Series
This series of articles on intranet solutions with IBM Lotus Notes/Domino is intended to help readers understand the fundamental methodology and capabilities of the product and how to utilize it to deliver a feature-rich, secure, and functional corporate intranet solution.
It will include implementation strategies, case studies, industry-tested tips and tricks, and, with your input, true value to the administrator or developer who wants to utilize IBM Lotus Notes/Domino technologies to deliver winning intranet solutions.