Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange Migration: Access Lotus Notes Links in Outlook 2003 – Part I

In this post I’ll discuss how Lotus Notes document and database links are accessed using Outlook 2003.

Before I go any further I’ll first cover a top level overview of the Domino and MS Exchange environment.

The Exchange Notes Connector is configured to be used for directory updates and also as the avenue for message transfer between the Domino server and MS Exchange server. This is a fairly basic explanation but it’ll do for the purpose of this topic.

This means mail-enabled applications (databases) and Domino mailboxes have messages routed through to the Notes connector to get to mailboxes on the Exchange server.

lotus notes to microsoft exchange migration

Also the environment includes workstations with Lotus Notes 6.5.5 and Outlook 2003 client installed and configured.

As mentioned already there are two ways an Outlook user can receive Lotus Notes document or database links:

  • <!–[if !supportLists]–>From a mail-enabled application – this could be agent that sends a report of all new documents posted in a database.
  • A message from a Notes mailbox – sent by a user using a Lotus Notes client.

Naturally in a Lotus Notes to Lotus Notes message the document or database links will look like this:

Lotus Notes Document and Database Links

Now from a Lotus Notes mail-enabled application to Outlook 2003 the document or database links will look like this:

Lotus Notes to Outlook 2003 Document Links

The document links (when the message passed through the Notes Connector) each Notes links were converted to OLE objects presented with a Notes DocLink icon and a corresponding URL links. Each Notes DocLinks icons and URL links are numbered to identify they point to the same Lotus Notes link. There are two ways to open links from this message:

  • Click on the Notes DocLink icon
  • Click on the URL link at the bottom of the message

Either method will open the same document/database the links point to.

Now here’s the catch when opening Lotus Notes generated emails with Outlook 2003. Ensure the Lotus Notes client is running when you attempt to open the message. The reason for this is that Outlook attempts to open/access the links embedded in the Notes message before it actually displays message. If Lotus Notes is not running in the background then Outlook will invoke it i.e. it will launch the application.

The first time I opened a message with Notes links, I thought I accidentally pressed a keyboard shortcut to launch Notes because when I switched to Notes it was prompting me to enter my password.

At the same time I thought my Outlook has hung because it wasn’t responding to any commands. (But in Task Manager didn’t report it was not responding).

I exited Notes because at the time I didn’t need it. And I had to terminate Outlook thinking it crashed. Then I relaunched Outlook in an attempt to ready the same email again.
Same result. Notes launched (I noticed this time) and Outlook stopped responding to commands. I thought my system was playing up. So anyhow, I decided to enter my Notes password in.

Only after when I entered my Notes password, Outlook came back to life and displayed the message I initially wanted to read.

The problem with this behavior is that if an unsuspecting user opens an email and didn’t have Notes open and didn’t notice Notes was requesting for the password then they’ll immediately think Outlook has crashed because it hasn’t displayed the email and Outlook stopped responding to user commands.


Another problem is that if you received an email with lots of Notes links from an mail-enabled Notes application then it could take fair while for Outlook to access each links. If the email had 100 links it will attempt to access all these links before displaying the message. You’ll actually notice your Notes clients flickering while Outlook does it’s thing. Talk about lost if productivity not to mention the frustration.

During our Notes to Outlook migration we had several divisions using the Notes client to send emails and the migrated users on Outlook 2003. It was certainly an frustrating experience to our staffs when they didn’t quickly pick up on this issue. And it didn’t help the acceptance of Outlook 2003 since our users were long term Notes users. This problem quickly died down as soon as we got all our users migrated to Exchange since the only Notes email being received where the ones automatically generated by agents. Which were only received by users once a day.

The recommendation? In a Lotus Notes and Exchange environment where mail-enabled applications and Notes mailboxes sends documents/db links to Outlook 2003 clients reduce(if possible) the number Notes links and ensure their Lotus Notes client is also launched before opening the emails.

The points that stick out here is how do you know which emails have Notes links? Well you don’t unless you have the Outlook Reading pane enabled. The other thing are users need to remember to launch their Notes client. I suppose this is just something that has to be part of the user routines every time they logon to their workstations.

Personally I don’t like that last point. We’ve been in this model of environment for almost 2 years now and it still catches most of over users with this problem.

 

Related posts:

  1. Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange Migration: A look at Lotus Notes Links in Outlook 2003 – Part II
  2. Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange Migration: A look at Lotus Notes Links in Outlook 2007
  3. Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange Migration: How to send Lotus Notes Database links from Outlook – Part I
  4. Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange Migration: Lotus Notes Document Link Creator for Outlook
  5. Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange Migration: Resources

5 Comments

  • 1
    sada
    April 18, 2008 - 4:20 am | Permalink

    Good experience sharing.We need more articles like these.

  • 2
    April 21, 2008 - 11:29 pm | Permalink

    sada,

    thank you for the feedback =)

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