Yesterday afternoon, I had the honor of sharing an Admin2006 stage with Mary Beth Raven for a session entitled "Lotus Notes 'Hannover' -- What it means to you".  We had somewhere around 150-175 people in attendance, and almost all stayed for the entire session.  I haven't read the evaluations yet, but based on the hallway conversations and other informal feedback, I think the session hit its mark.

I started out by doing a quick 2006 Notes/Domino plan overview -- talked about the 7.0.2 features that I highlighted the other day and some other current tidbits.  Then we moved into talking about "Hannover".  The more I talk about our objectives for the release, the more impressed I get with the work that research, development, usability, and everyone else are putting into it.  At some point in the presentation I had a "wow" moment over all the innovation going into this release.

As I do more of these presentations, I'm finding ways to make the message simpler.  Next week at DNUG/IBM Lotus Technical Forum, Kevin Cavanaugh and I will carry these same themes for Notes "Hannover" forward as well.  They are:

  • Best-in-class usability and capabilities
  • Open client platform
  • Composite applications
  • Activities
Since the second, third, and fourth items on that list are all in the area of innovation, the presentation necessarily has to spend time talking about them conceptually as well as our implementation plans.  So I did that, then turned it over to Mary Beth for the latest on "Hannover" usability.  Things I learned from this section included:
  • There are six full-time UI designers on Notes "Hannover" -- more than any other Notes release
  • They never talk about "the user", but rather about the personae that Mary Beth described on her blog the other day.  Pictures of these end-users are in the conference rooms in Westford, and developers are essentially being forced to think about usability from one of these perspectives.
  • Notes mail will have both a sequential view and a conversational view -- with the latter being a great way to view threaded interactions (aka reply-to-all-with-history battles).
  • The workspace UI is a key focus for "Hannover".  Almost 100% of the people in the room said they still use the Notes workspace to navigate vs. bookmarks.  To some degree, this makes sense for an admin-focused audience -- they have stacks and stacks of similar databases on different servers to view.  But the audience represented that their users still mostly use workspace, too, and some never even train on bookmarks.
One of the great things about this presentation is how focused the interaction was between those in the audience and Mary Beth.  I was honestly expecting to get some "I don't like that in blue, can you make it green" kinds of input, but all of the questions and comments were at a much more global level.  And had some very useful input.

Mary Beth also demonstrated the new pernames.ntf template.  Interestingly, she did this demo from my Notes 7 client, rather than a Notes "Hannover" alpha build.  I found this to be a powerful reminder that "Hannover" is Notes.  The UI will look better in a "Hannover" client, but the compatibility is there like always -- no rip-and-replace.

Some of the specific features she showed were the popup dialogs that allow end-users to apply their own labels to fields in the address book, as well as indicate a "primary" e-mail address or phone number for the contact.
Image:Admin2006: What "Hannover" means to you

Last, she showed that the contact form is now streamlined in read mode, showing fields with data in a useful format (even useful in preview mode).

Image:Admin2006: What "Hannover" means to you

We wrapped up the session with a discussion of plans for the next Domino server release, including the over-my-dead-body mail retraction feature.  Still don't have a detailed spec on that, so we couldn't answer questions on what criteria are established for whether a message can be retracted or not.  Good news for a couple of people, though, was the committed plan to be able to disable this feature or control it by policies.

I can't post the slides from the session since it's not an IBM conference.  However, some of the same content will be in the DNUG/IBM Lotus Technical Forum presentation next Monday.  I will post a PDF of those, as well as updated Notes "Hannover" screen shots, Monday evening.

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