Thursday, September 09, 2010

Help me, concerning the Lotus Domino Designer 8.5.2 Help database

I remain puzzled about the Domino Designer 8.5.2 Help database, which only seems to mention the previous 8.5.1 point release. This is what I found when I opened it:


This is the file help85_designer.nsf that I opened from the Help folder.

Thinking that somehow I might have “stuffed up” the installation (even though I deliberately installed the new release into a brand new folder and not simply overwritten the folder that I had used for release 8.5.1), I contacted one of my clients and he reported the same.

Is this a faux pas on my part, or were there simply no new application design features in the Notes/Domino 8.5.2 release which the IBM information developers found worthy of writing about?

Am I going crazy? … The answer to that rhetorical question is undoubtedly a resounding “Yes!” … But maybe I’m not the only one?


  1. The NSFs are not being as maintained as they used to be. For the most up to date help the place to go is the infocenter.

    Once you have a few search scopes set up it is much faster to find what you need in it.

  2. Nah, not good enough Simon.

    Firstly for speed/responsiveness reasons. The Boulder Infocenter databases are quite slow to access *and sometimes, even, are not accessible), and having them on your local machine is generally noticeably faster. As a general comment, I find lots of the IBM web sub-sites to be quite slow, not consistently fast like Google Search (which could almost be called "sub-second" and sets the benchmark). If they were as fast as Google then I might change my opinion on IBM's Infocenter.

    Secondly, I'm not always going to be connected to the Web when I want to access the Help.

  3. There are three areas for help.

    Infocenter - Online.
    Eclipse Help - Built from Infocenter and offline.
    Notes Databases - not fully maintained.

    So for going forward for offline help you should use the Eclipse help. The speed is much improved on the indexing. When searching I would recommend you build search scopes, so that when your looking for a LS command you don't get an XPages help page.

  4. Okay, then I suppose we'll grudgingly have to accept that it seems IBM won't be going to fully maintain the Notes help databases (the NSFs), and wrench ourselves away from relying on them.

    So I went to Domino Designer's inbuilt Eclipse-style help. There I find a section titled "Lotus Domino Designer Basic User Guide and Reference" and under that found -- guess what? Nothing more than "What's new in Domino Designer 8.5.1?" so that's another slip-up by the Information Development team, is it not?

    Forlornly, I go online to the Information Center, and expand the twistie section in the middle titled "Lotus Domino Designer 8,5, 8.5.1, and 8.5.2" which, on the surface of it, holds some promise. But alas, there's no reference whatsoever in this section to release 8.5.2 (still only 8.5.1). Indeed, all the pages in this section have the two-line heading "IBM Lotus Domino Designer 8.5 / Versions 8.5 and 8.5.1" so what's going on?

    When will the Information Centre be updated to include 8.5.2 coverage for Domino Designer? Or is it already there, and only the headings don't reference 8.5.2?

    I do agree that you'll be able to keep it up to date without the woes of having to distribute upgrades to Notes client databases and inbuilt Eclipse help. So, when oh when can we expect the Info Center to be updated with comprehensive online coverage of all that's new in Domino Designer 8.5.2?

  5. I have found the best way to get the most out of the "new" help is to turn the monitor upside down, shut your eyes and place your hands over your ears. Strangely it also seems to mimic the way the documentation team have responded to the pretty universal condemnation by developers of the mess we now ave as a "help database".