by Guest Contributor, Andy Higgins, IMCollaboration
The new IBM Notes 9 Social Edition client is much more modern looking and has even more potential for customization to suit the needs for your company than previous versions. For the longest time, IBM has promised this type of configurability in the client and with this version, they have delivered. In particular, the ability to configure the Discover Page (the new V9 home page) with a HTML-like company front end delivers the sort of configurability that has been long-promised with the Eclipse-based client. The article below shares lessons learned from recent project upgrading a large-scale environment from IBM Notes 8.5.2 to IBM Notes 9 including the configurable Discover Page already mentioned, key differences in installing the IBM Domino Administration and IBM Domino Designer clients, and recommended Notes.ini settings for Notes 9 and the Notes Browser Plugin.
The IBM Notes 9 Social Edition Clients
One thing that became clear on this upgrade project was that the IBM installation team regards the Notes client as a different product than that of the IBM Domino Administration and IBM Domino Designer clients. For the longest time, I have considered the Admin and Designer clients as simply an add-on to the Notes client, but with the advent of the Windows multi-user functionality and the support of that for the Notes client, I now understand that they are truly separate “products” so to speak.
The Notes Client
The Notes client can be set as a single-user or as a multi-user install. Choose the single-user install when you are sure that all clients will be used by one user only and if the data directory will be in a specific place on the directory path, e.g., C:\Program Files\IBM\Notes\Data.
If you choose the multi-user install, then the data directory will be created under the C:\Users\UserName\IBM\Data path. The benefit of the multi-user install allows for Windows user account data protection security on the IBM data directory. Additionally, the multi-user install is the recommended way to install Notes at present.
The Admin and Designer Clients
The Admin and Designer clients can only be installed in single-user mode. This is an important distinction to make when rolling out client installs. This is now an absolute requirement. You should identify who needs this Admin and/or Designer clients before roll out, which is different to before when they were simply add-on programs to the Notes client. However, this is all made much easier now with the availability of the NICE (Notes Install Cleanup Executable) client, which allows you to clean up previous installations and put a new installation in its place but retain the data and settings of the old client. Thus, the Admin client, for example, can easily be added to a user who may have a multi-user Notes client and the user’s Notes settings won’t be lost.
Installing the Notes Client
Regardless of whether you are running a webkit install or installing as part of a script, your first step in the install process (after removing old plugins through the Windows add/remove programs) is to run NICE on the program files only:
NICE.EXE –rp –qn
This will remove all of the program files in the directory apart from the Notes.ini which must remain for the overlay install to work correctly. –qn makes the process invisible.
The next step is to install the 9.0.1 single-client package directly over the 8.5.2 client.
For the all-client (Admin and/or Designer) option, do the same thing as above. The all-client package can be installed over the 8.5.2 client or the 9.0.1 Notes-only client package. It can even be installed over the 8.5.2 all-client package.
Using the above methodology, you could even install a Notes-only client over a previous Notes Admin client install and maintain the user’s settings.
Using NICE is a best practice when moving from one version of Notes to another. It’s also recommended when moving from a single-user install to a multi-user install, especially because it keeps the Notes.ini on the single-user install in the program files directory (it doesn’t remove it, so the multi-user install can use the Notes.ini that existed before from the single-user install).
For more information, see the Using the Lotus Notes Install Cleanup Executable (NICE) tool IBM technote.
Adding the IBM Sametime 9 Embedded Client to the Package
I don’t need to document adding Sametime 9 to your Notes 9 install here as there is an excellent blog article from the IBM install team that explains this very clearly. Essentially the post explains how you can remove the Sametime 8.5.2 embedded package from the Notes 9 client and then add the Sametime 9.0 embedded client right back in.
The above is a special case, and it isn’t currently possible to do the same thing with, say, the IBM Connections plugin package.
Changing Things in the Standard Notes 9 Package
In the Notes 8.5 releases, just about every additional package was included in the released product. In the V9 release, IBM has taken the opposite tack and removed just about everything. The Composite Application Editor is removed along with Symphony and Activities. OpenSocial is included but can be removed as can the FeedReader (for more details, see the Modifying the Eclipse Features section of the article.)
Notes Minder is still installed by default with V9. If you want to remove this from your Notes package, it’s a little more complicated than you might imagine. You need to edit the transform for the Notes install as follows.
If Notes Minder is to be not installed as part of the package, then add the string NOTINSTALL=1 to the Condition column in the NotesMinder row under Components in the Direct Editor, as shown in Figure 1.
Recommended Notes.ini Settings for IBM Notes 9
Following are two important recommended Notes.ini settings when installing the v9 package:
Include this in all clients’ Notes.ini as it will create all new DBs with the new ODS v52 which is now available using Notes 9 (For more details see this post on the IBM Domino and Notes wiki).
This setting enables some keyboard shortcuts that seem to have been removed in V9, so it is recommended that you make them available for clients that use them.
Notes Browser Plugin
I really like the new Notes Browser Plugin (NBP). It works nicely and allows seamless access to all Notes databases using your local browser. The only database it won’t access, however, is your mail database, but that is accessible using the Notes web mail access, so NBP will refer to the web mail interface.
Following are a couple of tips and tricks for Notes.ini parameters that you can include to make NBP work better:
- BrowserUseHttpForiNotes=1 will allow you to connect to IBM iNotes over HTTP instead of HTTPS. In some cases the actual URL to redirect to web mail is an HTTP URL which is then switched to HTTPS when accessing the web mail. However, for the original HTTP URL to work, this setting is required in the Notes.ini.
- INOTES_REDIRECTOR_PATH=<Server Host Name or IP address> is required when you need to use specific redirector server and/or port (For further information, see the Unable to access iNotes from Notes Browser Plug-in IBM Technote).
A Note on Embedded HTML in Mail Items
Be careful using Internet Explorer 10 with Notes; rendering HTML inside of the Notes client (in mail items) doesn’t work too well if you have the setting in your Notes client set to use the operating system browser. IBM currently suggests you disable the HTML rendering by OS embedded browser option using the following Notes.ini setting:
BrowserRenderDisable=1 This checks the setting in the Basic Notes client Configuration shown in Figure 2.
Contrary to what is printed in some sources, this setting disables the use of the operating system’s embedded browser. For Windows, this is always Internet Explorer; it is not the OS default browser as set by the user. It also is not referring to the Notes embedded browser the code for which is effectively used when this setting is not checked (Be careful, it’s confusing!)
The first and most important thing you should understand about Plugin_customization.ini is that, unlike Notes.ini, it is not read every time the client starts up. It is only used for the initial client install. If you want to change settings that have been set in the Plugin_customization.ini, then you need to change them via a Desktop Settings policy.
For example, the Plugin_customization.ini parameter to set the client to always use the operating system browser rather than the embedded Notes browser is as follows:
The only way you can change this later is through a policy in the Desktop Settings under Custom Settings → Managed Settings. Click Edit list and edit or add the changed value, and shown in Figure 3.
Here are some useful Plugin_customization.ini parameters for modifying the Notes 9 client’s appearance and functionality:
This setting allows for the display of the Discover Page shortcut as seen in Figure 4.
This setting allows for the display of the Notes Home Page shortcut as seen in Figure 5.
- com.ibm.rcp.ui/com.ibm.notes.client.workspaceshortcut=true This setting allows for the display of the Notes Workspace Page shortcut as seen in Figure 6.
This setting allows for the display of the Notes Contacts shortcut as seen in Figure 7.
- com.ibm.rcp.toolbox.admin/toolboxvisibleChild=false Enables/disables the My Widgets panel (this can also be done in the preference page if it is visible). If true, the widgets shelf will be visible, unless enableSametimeLiveText is set to false.
- com.ibm.rcp.jfaceex/overrideAutoStart=com.ibm.rcp.gettingstarted.GettingstartPerspective This setting stops the “getting started page” appearing automatically.
- com.ibm.rcp.ui.browser.launcher/USE_EMBEDDED_BROWSER=false This setting allows for the use the OS web browser, not the built-in Notes web browser.
- com.ibm.collaboration.realtime.location/showProfWindow=true This setting shows the alert for editing location settings at location change again.
- com.ibm.collaboration.realtime.alertmanager/pref_alertbubble_close_alerts=false This setting determines whether to automatically close an alert after it appears. TRUE = automatically close alert; FALSE = do not automatically close alert.
- com.ibm.collaboration.realtime.alertmanager/pref_event_0_option_1=false This setting prevents bringing the window to front for one-to-one chats.
- com.ibm.collaboration.realtime.webapi/startWebContainer=true This setting needs to be set to true for web-based Sametime presence awareness to work correctly – I always recommend to have this set if you want Sametime awareness working in web browsers.
The Eclipse Install
In basic terms, the Eclipse installation piece is done “within” the actual Notes client install (the Microsoft installer). You can see this reflected in the MSI logs when, at certain points, the MSI goes into a waiting mode. This is essentially where it has handed the installation process off to the Eclipse install; the Eclipse install returns to the MSI install and passes parameters telling it whether the Eclipse install has been successful or not. This is important because you need to look here to check if the MSI install fails as it may not be a problem with the MSI but with the Eclipse install. You can debug a problem by viewing the Eclipse logs under C:\Notes\Data\workspace\logs. Under this location you can see “error” and “trace” logs – the former being less descriptive. Look at the lowest numbered log for the most recent information; most times it’s fairly obvious what the problem is.
Modifying the Eclipse Features
You can remove (or change) certain Eclipse features but only the ones containing the <installfeature> property required=”false” in the Notes install kit’s install manifest (install.xml). These include the Composite Applications Editor, OpenSocial, Lotus Symphony, Connections (Activities), embedded Sametime, and (for single user install) Domino Designer and Domino Administrator clients. All other supplied features must remain as supplied in the install kit.
For example, you can remove the OpenSocial feature from the installation by editing the install.xml file to configure the feature to not install by changing the value below:
<installfeature default=”false” description=”%OpenSocial.description” id=”OpenSocial” name=”%OpenSocial.name” required=”false” show=”true” version=”9.0.20131022-1138″>
When customizing the install.xml file for supplied features, focus only on the installfeature element, not the sub-level feature element.
Note: Do not edit any installfeature element whose “required” attribute is set to true.
Changing the Discovery Page
With the advent of Notes 9, there is a new homepage in Notes called the Discovery Page, as you can see in Figure 8.
This page is fully customizable, but the process is not totally straightforward. If you have an Eclipse programmer on hand, you can direct them to the Notes getting_started feature/plugin, and they may be able to do all the modifications through their Eclipse IDE. You could also engage a consulting company like Davalen to help you with this.
In summary, this article has addressed many of the options that will help you configure your enterprise Notes client to be more to your users. More user-friendly, more efficient and more effective. The Notes client is a powerful client and Version 9 brings even more power to your users.
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