While at EntwicklerCamp a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to share a couple of usability enhancements which seem to have slipped under the radar of some developers.
The first is a useful resource for developers using XPages. As many will know, SVN is possible within Domino Designer now and from all the demos recently it is being made easier for 8.5.3. But SVN only allows you to control versions of design elements checked in. I for one have often been in the situation where I am frustratedly trying to get some code working and end up screwing my design up even more. I’m also aware of some developers who have encountered issues with drag and drop multiplying some code on their XPages. Historically some may have worked around such problems by periodically copying design elements or even copying whole chunks of code out of Domino into, e.g., Notepad.
As part of the in-built Eclipse goodness there are a host of right-click menu options surfaced in Designer. Along with the abilities to format code and toggle comments on for blocks of code, there is a very useful menu for Compare With… -> Local History. This allows you to compare side-by-side the current XPage or Custom Control with a previous version you have saved on that PC. From the compare screen you can then merge changes back into your current version or even completely replace the current version.
I’m not sure where these versions get saved (it doesn’t seem to be within the workspace folder), but the comparison is based on the design element name. So if you change the name of the XPage or Custom Control, you lose access to the history. But if you change the name back again, you regain the history.
Not only is this available for XPages and Custom Controls, it also seems to be available for text-based Resources (File Resources, Stylesheets and Themes), doubtless because they also use one of the Eclipse editors that supports Local History. The functionality is not currently available for Script Libraries, but may be added if suitable editors become available as the underlying Eclipse base version becomes more up-to-date.
The second useful introduction is available for general users. My understanding of Java is limited, so forgive me if my interpretation of the underlying challenges is incorrect. But the major change of the R8 client is that it is built on Eclipse, which is Java-based, and because there is just one main UI thread this means processes can hang. I will stress at this point that although this may cause frustrations, the benefits of the Eclipse base (I will only mention extensibility, which alone should be enough to end the arguments) far outweigh this frustration. And there are times when Notes will not start responding, or at least not soon enough. This is the time when admins and helpdesk staff would resort to Kill Notes or some other functionality to gracefully exit Notes and clean up all the processes. Those who have investigated the Start menu (in Windows, not sure for Mac) may have found that under Lotus Applications there is now a new sub-folder called Support. This has two options – Collect Lotus Notes diagnostic data and exit Notes and Collect Lotus Notes diagnostic data and leave Notes running. The first will run a batch program that will exit Notes and Designer and clean up all the processes, allowing Notes to be restarted without resorting to Task manager or restarting the PC.
There are also some additional options like Remote Server Setup which, from a brief perusal of the Help documentation, are more aimed at Admins. But this is a menu I will keep a close eye on during upgrades to see what other goodies get added.