Lotus Notes and Domino have been able to survive for 20 years, how? - 2 reasons why

Not many software programs or platforms can brag about having survived 20 years and still being used by millions of people every day.

Lotus Notes/Domino is one them, but how?

To me it is exactly to two things that has made the Notes/Domino the surviving software.

The Note
The idea of having everything as a Note, is a simple but ingenious idea. I find this to be an exceptional brilliant, bright and beautiful idea.
You have a Note, a Document, a Design Element or what ever. It is all a container in which you can add data as an item in a flexible manner. Just add it to the Note.

THIS is what makes Notes/Domino shine!

Email is a perfect match for this kind of data structure. Each email contains different kinds of data, different number of items, no problem just add it to the document.
Upgrading the server?..no problem ...we are talking minutes to do it. Why? Because a design element is a Note, an elegant and flexible way to store code
Compare this to Microsoft Exchange and their upgrade path for the Exchange 2010 server, which looks like a daunting task for even the most experienced administrator

The idea of storing everything as a Note is still as brilliant as it was 20 years ago.

The other thing BIG THING is replication. Any Notes database can replicate with another database with the same ReplicaID, either Server to Server or Server to Client.
Design, Code and Data it all replicates. Just update your database on your hub server, and it will replicate, spread to your 90 other servers around the world. And you won't have to do a thing.
On the road? Just replicate your data and bring it with you. Update the data and replicate it back to the server later.

It is Brilliant!

Replication was a huge differentiator 10-20 years ago, and still is. The importance of replication is diminishing, since in time we will all be connected to the Internet 24/7, ....but we are not there yet

These 2 things is really what has keep Notes/Domino alive as a product and platform

Other things that helped keeping Notes/Domino alive

Domino and REST
In the mid nineties Notes was on the road to obliviance. The Internet was taking everybody by storm, but Notes was very much a proprietary thing and was about to be left behind.
Then someone came up with the idea of Domino, a real-time translation of a Note/Document to HTML. Suddenly Notes/Domino was back in the game.

What also was truly remarkable was the "RESTful" nature of Domino. Every resource has a unique URL, at least when it is combined with a command (opendocument etc)

This is one of the fundamental ideas of REST, and this is years before Roy Fielding had even come up with the idea of REST

Notes/Domino has strong security model built into the platform, all the way down from the server access level to the field level encryption.
It is a very clear model and it is just there for the developer and administrator to use. Elegant!

Other platforms has over the years been struggling to get it right, often leaving it to the developers to "cook something up" which might work (or might not).

Posted on 12/07/2009 04:42:10 PM CET