How to make Lotus Notes clients shine!

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Previously we’ve talked about how to set up Parallels 8 to work properly on a Macbook Pro Retina. (You can read all about it over here), this final instalment isn’t targeted at Retina capable devices and thus should benefit everyone.

Now it’s time for some tweaking of the Lotus Notes clients themselves (Designer and Notes both) making them shine! Maybe you need to squint a bit, but the look will at least improve. Mission impossible? I think not! Before this article is over we’ll have a look at how to install an Eclipse plugin to manage themes. This will allow us to manage, share and edit the look of our working environment with ease. We’ll make some additional tweaks to the look and another couple of tips to improve and speed-up Domino Designer. But what are we waiting for? Let’s…

Get Started!

If you’re in a hurry – you can just download this setup file which I’ve handily prepared for your coding pleasure: Lotus Notes – Performance by Infoware

You will manually have to install my favorite font: Inconsolata
(Otherwise stuff will look way weirder then usual.)

You won’t get the theme plugin installed either, but you will get the color theme. Choosing this path I’ll assume you know what you’re doing, so I won’t go into any more details (like how to install the setup file). For the rest of you – Go get a cup of joe, because we’ll be here for a while…

Before we begin, last time around I mentioned a potential issue for Chrome users. It looked like graphical glitches when GPU accelerated CSS3 was involved. It worked fine in Parallels 7 as well as in IE10 and Firefox 15 under Parallels 8. Pretty weird stuff, if anyone were to ask me… But, fortunately, it worked itself out with an upgrade of Parallels. You can read all about the details (and workaround if it ever were to resurface) over here. Ok, on to the fun stuff: You’ve probably heard that Lotus Notes is now partially based on Eclipse? Well, if you haven’t – don’t sweat it. Just take my word for it (or have a look at this snasy Wikipedia article). As of 8.0 Lotus Notes client moved to Eclipse and from 8.5 and onwards we now get to enjoy(?) Eclipse in Domino Designer as well. True to their usual shenanigans, IBM won’t let us play with the all new and shiny: For Domino Designer 8.5.3 we’re stuck with the 3.4.2 version of Eclipse, also known as Eclipse Europe. The latest version, at the time of this writing, is Eclipse 4.2 (Juno). This has implications when using plugins, as we’re about to do.

The things I've seen

When things don’t go as expected

The plugins, that you’re installing in Domino Designer, needs to be compatible with Eclipse3.4.2 or horrible things may happen. You have been warned… If you’re running in a VM then just take a snapshot before trying out any new plugins.

Installing The Plugin

But, first things first! We need to enable the ability in Domino Designer to install plugins. This is the same procedure as you need to perform when you enable Source Control in Domino Designer. If you haven’t used SourceControl yet I highly recommend it, it will literally be a life changer! Your hair will grow back, your wife will look thinner and your kids will actually do what you tell them to! (Don’t know but the wife part, but otherwise it’s all good!) If you didn’t get to go to LotusPhere 2012 then here’s another couple of articles to get you started:

But, back to the matters at hand. To enable installation of plugins in Domino Designer: File / Preferences / Domino Designer – “Enable Eclipse plug-in install”

Enable Eclipse plug-in install

When “Enable Eclipse plug-in install” is enabled you’ll get additional menu options in Domino Designer: File / Application

Now you can manage your plugins here

  1. Click on File / Application / Install.
  2. In the following dialog, select: “Search for new features to install”.
  3. Click “Add Remote Location”
    Name: <Anything You Like> (I really went wild and chose: “Eclipse Color Theme”)
    URL: http://eclipse-color-theme.github.com/update
  4. Click “Finish”
  5. Make sure “Eclipse Color Theme” is checked.
  6. Accept the terms.
  7. Click “Next”.
  8. Click “Finish”.
  9. Select “Install this plug-in”
  10. Sacrifice a goat to the hacker gods and restart the client (The sacrifice is optional, but it can’t hurt)
  11. Done!

If all went as planned you should now be able to find the Eclipse Color Theme plugin in Domino Designer at: File / Preferences / General / Appearance / Color Theme

Eclipse Color Theme plugin in Domino Designer! Woot!

These are just the default themes to choose from. There are, at the time of this writing, 10240 more themes to choose from!
You can find the rest of the themes at http://eclipsecolorthemes.org as well as the plugin we just installed.

Someone might have noticed that this plugin doesn’t support Eclipse 3.4.2, but in my experience everything seem to work fine anyway.

My current favorite is “Zenburn” (bottom of the list). But do have a good look around for yourself, feel free to report back which one(s) you prefer or if you write your own.

Now, one might think that all is good and well. But, unfortunately, there’s still some kinks to work out on our quest to stardom. If you use LotusScript you won’t appreciate this new color scheme below:

Looks rather depressing, doesn’t it?

I don’t want an angry mob of LotusScript coders kicking my door down, screaming for blood! So, let’s fix this – quickly!

Fixing LotusScript

In Domino Designer – File / Preferences / Domino Designer / LotusScript Editor / Fonts and Colors

In the right pane, change:

  • “Normal Text” – Color: rgb(246, 243, 232)
  • “Identifiers”- Color: rgb(246, 243, 232)
  • “Keywords” – Color: rgb(223, 190, 149)
  • “Comments” – Color: rgb(128, 128, 128)
  • “Multi-line Comments” – Color: rgb(128, 128, 128)
  • “Constants” – Color: rgb(165, 194, 77)
  • “Directive” – Bold, Italic, Color: rgb(165, 194, 77)

Changing the font

While we’re at it, take the opportunity to change the hideous Arial font to something nicer. It’s easy! Close your eyes and take a pick! Or use the one I prefer: Inconsolato.

Now isn’t that better?!

But why stop there, we’re on a roll here! Let’s change to the same font for everything in the Lotus Notes clients:

In Domino Designer: File / Preferences / General / Appearance / Colors and Fonts.

– In the filter box, search for “fonts” (without the quotes) and replace everything with your new shiny font. I also took the opportunity to remove anything that’s set to bold, just because…

In Notes Client: File / Preferences / Basic Notes Client Configuration / Default Fonts

– Just set everything to the new font of your choosing.

Again, in Notes Client: File / Preferences / Fonts and Colors / Mail view font

While you’re in the preferences box, you might want to take a peek under: Windows and Themes / Theme and set to “Operating System Theme”.

I counted to no less then 9(!) different fonts for the different parts of the interface, now it’s much more consistent and hopefully a bit easier on the eyes.

If I haven’t bored you to tears just yet, I’ll finish you off with a couple of more tweaks:

Have a look at this excellent article by Nathan T. Freeman
Making Domino Designer work like you want

Also I recommend changing the memory config of Domino Designer with this little utility:
Designer Mem Config

Let’s do a summary, shall we?

We’ve enabled the ability to install Eclipse plugin in Domino Designer and touched briefly on the dangers of using plugins for newer versions of Eclipse than 3.4.2. We installed the Eclipse Color Theme plugin, configured that and made some much-needed adjustments to the LotusScript editor theme. I gave you a couple of links with tips of more tweaks to top it all of.

But that does seem like an awful lot of steps doesn’t it?! You feel like you’ve read all of the above and deserve some kind of reward, right? Sure you do! As I stated in the beginning I’ve saved a file that does all of the above (including Nathans tips and adjusting the memory configuration of Domino Designer) + some small tweaks of my own – thrown in their for good measure. (AutoSave every 15 minutes, “Right double-click closes window”, disable “Check Subscriptions” and disable “Enable Java Applets”

All you need to do is to install the Inconsolata font (or follow the instructions to change the font to something else) and import my settings!

If you followed Nathans advice then, in Domino Designer, you should have a tab that says “Package Explorer”. If you haven’t, then here’s where to find it:

Window / Show Eclipse Views / Package Explorer

  1. Under Package Explorer, where its white space – right-click.
  2. Select “Export”, from the popup menu. (We’ll get to the import, just make a backup copy of your preferences first).
  3. General / Preferences
  4. Export All
  5. Name it and save some place… Safe.

Then, Import / General / Preferences, Import All and select the file you downloaded from: Lotus Notes – Performance by Infoware.

Restart the client and…. Stick a fork in me, I’m Done!

If you believe I’ve missed something essential, please share in the comments below.

As always: follow @jBoive for the latest of the greatest!

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AD103 – Embracing the Eclipse Within

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This was a really informative session with lots of “aha”-moments.

I use a real computer (read Mac ;)) and I’m annoyed that the they’re not releasing a designer client for Mac now when it’s Eclipse based it should be a piece of cake right? Well, it turns up that they didn’t rewrite it and there’s still a lot of stuff left (windows and forms for instance) In the old Windows environment. So don’t hold your breath for a Mac release of Designer anytime soon…

First thing: The Local folder in Project Explorer is in fact…. Wait for it… Local! Who would have thought, huh?! 😉 This means anything you put here is local to your machine and doesn’t come with the .NSF. Apparently a lot of people are having questions regarding this.

Here a list of shortcuts in Designer that may make you moe productive:

  • CTRL F6 – List open tabs
  • CTRL F7 – Switch between panels
  • ALT SHIFT B – Show breadcrumbs
  • CTRL SHIFT 8 – Switch perspective
  • CTRL SHIFT R – Search and open any resource
  • CTRL SHIFT L – Show the entire list of shortcuts

You can search for code across your workspace or only in selected elements and save those searches for later use.

A great use for this is if you use a later version of Designer then what your client have. Then do a search for 8.5.3 and it will display all elements that contain a feature that require that version with the specific code easily accessible. A good sanity check to perform before deploying.

Local history only works for Eclipse editors like XPages, not forms and views, and only lasts during the session. But we all use source control now any way, don’t we? 😉

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