IBM sold Lotus Notes to the Indian copmpany HCL in 2019, who have rebranded it as HCL Notes. HCL Notes is a Groupware product for document management and electronic mail. Other major e-mail products like Microsoft Exchange are designed as e-mail systems, with APIs to add other functionality, whereas Notes is designed as a document-oriented database with a messaging framework that includes pre-built applications like email. Is it really a database system? HCL Notes is classed as a Document-Oriented Database, and is neither a relational, object or hierachical database and it does not require a schema, so it is arguably not a formal database. However it has enough database like facilities for me to take a pragmatic approach and include it in the database section.
Notes has been in decline for several years, with little in the way of upgrade activity or new features. While I have used it recently in 2018, that was while working for IBM for a short while. HCL seem to be keen to develop the Notes product, with version 11 released recently and a version 12 planned for next year. We will have to see if this can revive the product's fortunes.
HCL Notes and HCL Domino together to form a client-server application envirnment. The Notes client can run as an IMAP client without a Domino server and can provide email, calendar, instant messsging discussion/forum and blog services. While it competes with Microsoft Outlook, in some ways it is more like a combinantion of Outlook and Sharepoint. Notes is designed to be portable between operating systems, which means that the internal structure of the Notes databases are hidden from the operating system. Most storage management utilities have to work with large database files, each of which can contain hundreds of documents. One immediate challenge is backup, as if one document is changed, the whole database is eligible for incremental backup. This pageset looks at some of the issues involved in managing HCL Notes.
The Notes client comes in several different versions depending on which platform you are on.
HCL Lotus iNotes allows Mobile Notes users to access Notes mail, Notes calendar and scheduling features from a web browser, or a normal Notes client. Both these clients access the same user mail file, and while the mobile client can run in 'off-line' mode, the data is synchronised when they come back online again. This means that mails in an inbox have the same consistent read or unread status whichever brosser is used. Lotus iNotes users can send and receive mail, view their calendars, invite people to meetings, create to do lists, keep a notebook, and work offline. Users can also synchronize contact information in their Notes Contacts with information in their Lotus iNotes Contacts List.
HCL iNotes includes three modes:
Full mode gives you a full set of features including mail, calendar, notebook, contacts, and to do list.
Lite mode is more optimized for performance if you are short of bandwidth and provides access to Mail and Contacts in a streamlined user interface.
Ultra-light mode is designed for use on a mobile device and is initially supported on the Apple iPhone or iPod touch.
You need to log into HCL iNotes with your name and Internet password. When you logout, you get the option to delete all of your personal data from the mobile device, and if you really want to be secure, you can also delete all traces of HCL iNotes and all other Web pages in the temporary Internet files folder.
HCL Notes Traveler is a mobile application that provides a similar functionality to iNotes ultra-light. If your company uses Domino and Notes, then it is a free add-on. Notes Traveler runs as a separate task on a Domino server and as a client App on Android mobiles. The Android App synchronises the data between the mobile client and the domino server. However Apple iOS phones can use the basic Apple iOS functions for data synchronisation. The Notes Traveler Task monitors the user's Domino server for changes to functions such as messages, emails or calendar updates and pushes them out to the mobile device.
HCL Verse is either a web email client or a mobile email client for iOS and Android. It can plug into a company Lotus Notes database and present the data as either a mobile or browser client that allows you to view and browse the content quickly.
The links below will take you to the various pages that describe HCL Notes.