Domino 10 App Dev Thoughts – Be Scared, Be Excited
Today’s webinar on Domino 10 brought a lot of announcements. I won’t cover the announcements about Notes Client here – we were teased about a slimmer client and auto-updating of that client, but I’m sure we’ll find out more at IBM Think. I’ve already blogged my thoughts about the Notes Client as well.
There are more small but beneficial user improvement enhancements about mail and calendaring. Personally my mail client has been Verse for a while now, so hopefully they will also be available there. Verse is not yet perfect or fully feature-comparable, but it’s changed my mail and calendaring experience for the better.
The big announcements were around app dev.
In terms of the backend, there were some significant announcements like increasing database size to 256Gb. Personally, with DAOS and now externalisation of view indices, and particularly with the changing application architecture that has come from XPages or other web applications, the current size limit has not been a problem. But I’m sure this will be welcomed. Repair and monitoring improvements will also be beneficial for admins / devops. There were also a lot of announcements around flexible security and authentication options, and oAuth was announced as part of the future feature-set. Admittedly oAuth is something I’m only touching on at the moment, mainly through Watson Workspace. And it’s still a flow that confuses my little brain a bit. But there are obvious areas it would have significant benefits, both from Domino and from external solutions.
Improvements in full text search updating and resilience was interesting but, in the context of search, overshadowed by the announcement of ElasticSearch. There were rumours of this being investigated in the context of Verse on Premises and it’s been an obvious potential enhancement that no one in the community has took forward – or, if anyone has, they haven’t chosen to share it. I admit I don’t know much about it. I’ve heard it mentioned frequently, as a standard tool outside the yellow bubble and the candidate usually mentioned for replacing full text searching. I don’t know how hard it would be to integrate, how to set it up, what else would be required or what its limitations might be (rich text?). But it’s welcome.
There will also be Docker Enterprise Edition images. Docker Enterprise Edition is not a free option, as far as I’m aware. But Domino on Docker is another good step forward. Gab Davis made a good point at the UK Domino 2025 Jam, that Docker will bring strongest benefits if different Domino services can be surfaced through different Docker containers. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’m pretty sure it’s not something that can be delivered in the Domino 10 timeframe. But what we have is a good step forward and I think IBM can appreciate the reasons why splitting services across Docker containers would be beneficial.
One elephant in the room here is what this means for Rich Text. Rich Text is the data equivalent of a Notes Client application: everything is bundled together, presentation layer and content, and therein lies the problem. Once your app is outside of Domino, all you want is the text and, at best, some semantic information like these are bullet points or this should be emphasised or this is a second-level title. Wherever the text is displayed should handle how those semantics are formatted, in order to be consistent with the rest of the application. It’s the remaining proprietary artifact, without an obvious well-integrated alternative. Personally, for me, MarkDown makes more sense in a future world than Rich Text.
As you’ve probably seen from this blog post, what this does mean is a lot of new technologies and tools for application development. Domino has historically been very proprietary and closed to the outside world. The “yellow bubble” and its community has been criticised by many for not stepping outside of NSF-development. And those who have wanted to do so have often struggled against a lack of integration with external standard technologies. No longer. But this means if you really want to leverage the future, it’s time to bite your lip, swallow down that sickly taste that is fear of the unknown, and start learning new these new technologies. The good news is that, like I’ve seen with a fair amount of XPages and with a lot of the Java libraries I’ve used, I expect it to be implemented in a standard way. So the blog posts from outside the yellow bubble will be relevant. It’s scary, but exciting times, no doubt with a lot of opportunities if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get involved in blogging, speaking or more. I would strongly encourage everyone to embrace the technologies and opportunities that will be coming along.