A Lot From A Little
22 August 2008 1 Comment
As may well become apparent over time, I’m not too enthusiastic about Lotus Notes. It’s fair to say that, had I remembered that my current employer is a corporate Notes user, I would have tried to negotiate a higher salary by way of compensation.
Be that as it may, for a developer Notes is a glorious nugget-laden river of blogging opportunities. The client software on my work PC was recently upgraded to version 8.0.1, which seems pretty current. I think, therefore, that it’s fair game.
Let’s look at one aspect that I noticed and delve a bit. In a mail folder, there are columns, as you would expect, some of which use small graphics to provide information. It’s a common UI metaphor. These are the column headings I see:
Nothing surprising there, I think we’d all agree. Look at the paperclip toward the right side. What would you expect it to denote? If you muttered “attachment” then award yourself a small non-monetary prize.
A slightly harder question, now: what would you expect to see when a message has an attachment? A paperclip? Another prize. Moving swiftly on, and for the hat-trick, what do you expect to see if you hover your mouse pointer over such a paperclip icon? Something like “1 attachment(s)” or “114K attachment enclosed” or some such? Whoops, hit the bar.
What you get is this:
…which, I trust we can all agree, is exactly what it is. Perfectly accurate and utterly useless.
What can we glean, in a sort of software-archaeological sense, from this? I’m thinking we can make the following predictions, in vaguely ascending order of likelihood:
- Within the Notes team at IBM there’s a standard that says non-textual elements should have tool-tips (or whatever the Eclipse/Java name for such things is).
- If there was a formal specification for this element of the program, it was incomplete. Or worse, the spec’s author thought “Paperclip Icon” was appropriate and nobody thought to question it.
- QA within Notes is non-existent or pitifully understaffed.
- The Notes development team is woefully inexperienced and/or has very little interest in delivering a quality product, choosing instead to ship a (bad) copy of Outlook (which has its own flaws, let’s not deny it) to institutions who have yet to acquire the corporate gumption to obliterate it.
- The Notes team don’t eat their own dogfood, for email at least. Let’s face it, who would?
Which is quite a lot for one funny little tooltip.