Lotus Notes is a widely used product
market leader in what is termed “Groupware”. Groupware is a term coined by Lotus themselves to describe a product comprising several tightly integrated software components that help people co-operate closely on projects so it usually includes e-mail, scheduler, database, discussion forums etc. It is more than just the sum of these components since it also has enough flexibility to be customised for particular business needs - for example you can build a library management system with it.
Lotus Notes has additional features which make it interesting as a base technology for a library system - replication, the Domino Web server and a
full text search engine.
- Replication is Notes’ ability to keep several databases synchronised so you can have several small libraries in corporate branches running
fairly independently across the world with the catalogues and circulation details being kept mutually up-to-date with no special effort from the librarian.
Notes is told what to keep in sync and does it behind the scenes.
- The Domino Web server is an addition to standard Notes and allows documents from a Notes database e.g. catalogue records or reports etc. to be
available to a web browser by converting them to HTML on the fly.
- The full text search engine (provided by Verity) allows extra searching ability to enhance Notes’ somewhat limited (in librarian’s terms)
standard searching capabilities.
When coupled with the tight integration of e-mail and, in a Notes oriented company, the users’ familiarity with the general interface and operation,
a Notes based library system should have some potential.
One other useful features of Notes is its cross platform availability it will run on Windows 3.1, 95 and NT, Macs, OS/2 Warp, AIX, HP UX, and
Solaris useful in a mixed environment. The Domino server also runs on Netware.
The main drawback of Notes is that the database is not relational in design and so, although look-up tables can be kept for fields to aid
consistency, they do not have the global update and linking options that come with a relational based system. A Notes system can be linked to other databases via ODBC so a hybrid system might be possible.