Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lotus Domino is Exchange, SQL Server, Access, Visual Basic, and IIS all wrapped together

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What Is Lotus Notes?
by Julian Robichaux
revision 1.1

For as long as I've been working with Lotus Notes, people have asked me, "Just what the heck is Lotus Notes anyway?" That has always been a difficult question to answer, because there are no equivalent products to compare it to. A typical conversation will go something like this:

"Does it do e-mail?"
"So it's like Exchange, right?"
"Only in the sense that it's an e-mail system. It's actually primarily a database system that happens to have built-in e-mail functionality."
"Okay, so it's like SQL or Oracle or something."
"No, it's not a relational database system like those are. It's more of a flattened data structure."
"What's that?"
"Probably nothing you should worry about. It's a database."
"Okay, so how do I manipulate the data? Write an Access front-end or something?"
"No, that's all built-in to the client. It's also got support for several programming languages, and a web server component that allows you to access the data from a web browser."
"Then it's like Exchange, SQL Server, Access, Visual Basic, and IIS all wrapped together?"
"Sort of. But it's packaged so that you don't see all those separate components individually. That's what makes it such a powerful workflow application."
"I don't think I understand..."
"I know. I think I'll have to show you some sample applications."

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