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A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

Bill Malchisky  February 14 2011 04:29:12 PM
One of the sessions I attended on Day 2 (Day 1 for coders), was the INV107 - Application Development Strategy. The session covered the application development trend line with Brent Peters listed, but he was unable to attend on the session. The best part, in my estimation, came during the Q&A period.

I looked to my left at the end of the row next to the microphone a passionate man holding his Mac Book Pro laptop high in his extended right hand, all while making a great point. This man was Bill Buchan and with his explicit permission, I include him in this piece. He gave a spirited delivery on the reasons why IBM Software needs to port Designer over to Mac and Linux. His points were heartfelt and well substantiated.

He decried that the kids today really needed to see their chosen tools on "cool operating systems like Mac and Linux." Kids don't want to use Windows--it's boring. They want open source friendly operating environments. The two IBMers on the stage listened intently. Bill ended his remarks with one of the best lines I've heard in my 13 Lotusphere events, "If you don't port Designer over to Mac, and rather keep it on Windows, then the only people who will use it are old people like you and me." Brilliant. The applause Bill received was astounding. People rose from their seats in the areas that I observed, and clapped with zeal.

The IBM response was typical and had I chose to pull-out the Ask the Product Manager BINGO boards I printed, I would have been able to clear a few sheets with just the rhetoric in their response to Bill's query. Quite amazing how they danced around this one piece obviously omitted from their presentation. The most common excuse or justification --- depending upon your perspective --- was that "It's just a lower priority for us." IBM stated this three times in the same response. "Lower priority." That says it all, quite honestly.

The two guys on the stage really wanted to provide a more substantiative response, but lacked the knowledge to do so. I felt for them, as management's decisions forced them on the receiving end of a full audience showing of discontent with the IBM refusal to port something we know is vital. Having stated that, the refusal to see the problem and address it was so lucid to me, that the perceived apathetic droning soon became too much for me. My thinking is that if the key barrier within IBM is a lower priority, then fix that. In a moment that I can only attribute to pure stress management, I shouted, "Make it a priority!" I doubt they heard me, but it certainly felt better.

Everything you wanted to know about Domino Designer on Eclipse (DDE), its future, and support on both sides revealed itself in one passionate plea from a seasoned and respected developer.

Bill gets it. Many in the community get it. Sadly, on this point, IBM does not.

1David (The Notes Guy In Seattle)  2/14/11 9:36:45 PM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

Bill, glad to see you pick this up too. I first blogged about this need back on Sep 22,/2010 { Link } in an article describing how over a third of my classmates at Bellevue College use Macs. (Bellevue/Redmond area is the heart of Microsoft) At that time I also blogged how giving the designer client away is pointless (reposted Oct 14, 2010) { Link }

Even more evidence for this need, I blogged about a small business owners organization that held a workshop where there was a 12-to-1 ratio of Apple users to PC users here in the heartland of Microsoft ( { Link } )

And just today I got an email from a friend at the University of Washington who was in a study area on campus and the laptops in use were overwhelmingly Macs.

Two points here:

1. The Mac holds a huge opportunity. These people need no convincing to buy Lotus software. They generally hate Microsoft with a passion. "My enemy's enemy is my friend."

2. The Seattle region is not as committed to Microsoft as IBM seems to think. Furthermore, since there are currently so few Lotus customers here, this is a target-rich environment waiting to be tapped.

Sometimes it astounds me how a company can be so blind and still survive 100 years. What other company, what other industry even, can you think of where its customers can be so faithful to a product in spite of (certainly not because of) the company?

Keep the faith and keep fighting for a smarter IBM.

2David (The Notes Guy In Seattle)  2/14/11 9:43:58 PM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

I forgot to mention for those who missed out on this year's edition of Ask the PMs and Ask the Developers: Yes, I was there and yes, I did present this question in both sessions. I even pointed out how I was part of the college day sponsored by GBS and while I was there at least a third of the college student attendees could not participate in the pre-Lotusphere tutorial on xpages because they own Macs. (No linux users in my anecdotal survey.) Unfortunately, it is unlikely that even if they started today, they will not have a Mac designer client for the 1000 students they are bringing next year. What a waste, what a shame.

3palmi  2/15/11 1:59:46 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

Here you can vote on this idea via Ideajam

{ Link }

4Julian Woodward  2/15/11 3:05:51 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

"Bill gets it. Many in the community get it. Sadly, on this point, IBM does not."

Too true. At the moment, IBM internally does not need DD on the Mac, therefore it's a low priority. They are their own most important customer.

5Ray  2/15/11 3:43:26 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011


Your comment makes sense in a way Julian. A great many IBMers live in Linux and we run Windows in VMWare specifically to run DDE and some other doozies such as Siebel. Our requirements are as valid inside IBM as outside but we get the same responses as everyone else. We used to think it is because execs do not have Linux or Macs but they all have Macs now so how?

Perhaps the Development team should get Macs but then I fear will still not get a Linux client. Perhaps DDE is to big a learning curve or perhaps the word you should have chosen is relevancy instead of priority. Either way we are as dismayed as everyone else.

6Henning Heinz  2/15/11 3:52:30 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

That is why I always was against a free (as in beer) Designer. As good as it is for overall availability I think it is harder to get a budget for it now. Or perhaps Bill looked to healthy and the IBM people calculated a solid 30+ years with us old boys (and girls).

7Peter Presnell  2/15/11 4:36:05 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

Depending on whose report you believe Windows currently has a market share between 83% and 91%. For Mac OS it is around 7%. That in itself doesn't justify IBM not investing in a designer client for Notes but it does make it less than clear cut. Aren't we merely accusing IBM of "not getting it" because they are not providing the one answer some of us are prepared to accept. The question has been asked so many time now that it does not require the skills of Nostradamus to predict what the answer from IBM will be.

Asking the question again and again even with more and more passion is unlikely to change the priority within IBM. What will change the priority is having senior IT executives (especially from large companies or potential new accounts) make it a requirement in their discussions with IBM. If we want change on this issue, I would suggest that is where the focus needs to be. Ultimately IBM will follow the money.

8Stuart McIntyre  2/15/11 4:48:16 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

@Peter, sorry but that is just the kind of answer I would expect IBM bean-counters to push.

The question is who are that 7% (and personally I think its higher than that)?

It's the cool kids - the folks at school, in college, graduating and leading startups. It's the developers of tomorrow, the development team leaders of today.

From Apple's latest quarterly results:

'Apple sold 4.13 million Macs during the quarter, a 23 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 16.24 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 86 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter... The Company also sold 7.33 million iPads during the quarter.'

Say no more. Growth, growth, growth. Not a priority? Seriously?

IBM, you're in worse trouble than I thought...

9Bill  2/15/11 5:00:29 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

The 7% figure is somewhat old. Its around 10% now.

Thats 10% Mac penetration. Apparently it was enough when only 7% of end-users had Mac to re-engineer the Mac client. Bear in mind that this already includes lotuscript editing, debugging, formula language, etc. Because the client requires it.

A far far higher proportion of developers out there are on Macs. Why ? Its far more stable. And you need a Mac to develop for iPhone. How many iPhone apps and developers are there?

I'm not suggesting dropping windows designer. There's lots of wage-slaves locked in corporate basements beating their heads against XP (and worse). I should know. I work with them.

But ignoring Designer on the Mac ? Thats a #fail.

---* Bill

P.S. No, I dont look healthy. Time is running out for implementation!

P.P.S. Thanks BillMal for highlighting this.

10Julian Woodward  2/15/11 5:17:23 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

I suspect that Mac usage is significantly higher than 10% amongst the Lotus developers who make the investment of time and money to go to Lotusphere. Probably closer to 20-25%.

IBM made the mistake of thinking they know better than their customers and partners when they tried to push us down the W**kplace route. They were wrong, everybody else was telling them they were wrong.

They're wrong about this too.

11Paul Hudson  2/15/11 6:18:34 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

I use Macs and Designer is the only Windows app I use so would love a Mac client. But I don't think it's not as straight forward as some believe.

I work at a Uni.The figures for Mac usage of my system, in terms of raw percentage has not changed in ten years. (Around 7%). There are more Macs on campus, yes, but there are more Windows notebooks as well and the ratio has maintained itself over 10 years. Often when we have Macs available even though all the PCs are in use. (I think we have an 10-1 ratio of PCs v Macs).

Students on our CS courses are still predominately Windows. Even on design courses where Macs are meant to reign supreme, the numbers of PCs has increased in the last 10 years, eating into Mac's market. (because of 3D applications). The simple fact is most students are looking for 'value for money'. On the face of it Macs are significantly more expensive for a similar hardware specification. Also many UK CS courses still use Microsoft's development tools. So the Mac option becomes even more expensive as you then require a VM. So even if they are Mac users they all have a VM. So there really isn't anything holding back Designer usage amongst students, it more a case of IBM doing nothing to encourage Domino development on undergraduate courses and even if they did, since most courses are 'validated' for several years, getting new technology on to curriculum can take a few years. Maybe what IBM should be doing is offering Universities the chance to offer certification to our students at vastly reduced cost. Oracle have starting this. It's taught outside of the curriculum and students pay to put themselves through. I also know a few Uni's who are doing the extra curricula iOS programmes. The OS platform isn't what makes students think Domino isn't cool. IT JUST ISN'T COOL. (Show me one Domino based site that would excite an 18 year old)

At the BOF App dev, the Mac and Linux question also came up again. The room was split between Linux and Mac. (Though there were only about 10 people there). The option presented was that we could have a Mac client but it would take the focus away from improving the current Design Client. Personally if this is the option I would rather they continue to improve the Design client and then port it to the Mac. The new client is significantly better than the old client and I really don't want the head of steam to be lost due to the development team refocusing their efforts on a port. I want the tool to improve.

12Albert Buendia  2/15/11 7:06:50 AM  A Response from IBMer one month ago

From Me To a Senior IBM Lotus Developer Engineer:

*** IBM Lotus Desginer for Mac and Linux ***

...I've just asked this question for my friends and collegues who are outside of Windows platforms and are really very frustrated.... they want Lotus Designer for Mac and Linux.

Response from a "Senior IBM Engineer":

Hi Albert,

The designer team really wants to do this, until we get overwhelming feedback on this it competes with many other features that are highly requested unfortunately.

XXXXX XXXX does want to write a book about designer and unfortunately it doesn't look like there is anything out there today.

As for the plugins question, that wont work. Currently the designer plugin relies on the configuration which is specific to designer currently.

Thanks for the kind words!

13Jerry Carter  2/15/11 8:03:09 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

I guess IBM is aware that there is a simple solution for those of us wanting to do our jobs on Macs or Linux machines: use something besides Domino.

I've spent considerable effort trying to run pre-eclipse versions of designer on various flavors of linux under Wine. It WAS very stable for R6 on early Ubuntu releases with older versions of Wine. I've played with every VM and linux distro I could get my hands on to find suitable replacements for Windows. Why? Windows licensing is a PIA. For an engineer like me, if I can't clone and copy my configuration as many times as I like without being told my OS image is not genuine, it's just too much hassle.

Point being - there are many other considerations IBM should look at outside of how many people are currently using Win vs Mac. Lock-in anybody? I know many people who use Macbook Pros who would instantly drop parallels and their windows vms if DDE were available for OSX. Same for Linux. Would it translate to more $$$ for IBM?

No, sadly, I think not. And that's really the reason we won't see it. Consider a big pie chart and how slim the sliver of that chart that is the number of Mac or Linux users who develop for Domino. Consider then the sliver of that sliver who absolutely refuse to use windows to the point of chosing something other than Domino to earn their pay with. It's slim. If you want DDE for Mac, the better path is persuading IBM to Open Source the designer client, or all of Notes. Then the community will grow faster and can handle the port.

14Tim Tripcony  2/15/11 8:11:42 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

Bill is absolutely spot on: if a student hears that they MUST use Windows in order to develop Domino applications, that alone will instantly cause them to view (at least, subconsciously) Domino as outdated. Something only "old guys" use.

Julian also makes a key point: global market share is a completely useless metric for determining the level of demand for a Mac port of the Designer client. The true demand, IMHO, is a combination of the following:

- Developers whose primary machine is already a Mac, so they run a Windows VM to allow them to run Designer. There are two developers (that I know of) in our office alone that fit this description.

- Developers who would switch to Mac in a heartbeat if they didn't have to settle for running a Windows VM just to use Designer. I count myself among this group.

- Most importantly, developers who already use a Mac, and don't develop for Domino because the fact that Designer doesn't run on a Mac sends the signal that it's "yesterday's technology".

It is now common (if not universal) practice for political polls to calculate "likely voters" and take that calculation into account when analyzing the results of the poll. I would be very interested in seeing how many "likely developers" there are out there... just how many people either haven't switched to Mac because they'd be sacrificing processing power by having to constrain Designer inside a VM....... and how many current students or recent graduates simply don't bother developing for Domino because they're already on a Mac and view Domino as outmoded because its IDE still only runs on Windows.

15Chris Whisonant  2/15/11 8:36:05 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

Please don't get me wrong - it would be very cool if there was a Designer client for Mac and Linux. I'm a huge Linux proponent - even more so after some recent projects. I was among the first to blog when the Notes Client was first released for Linux ({ Link }

But, let's come back down to the surface here. There is only around a 10% market share of Mac users and judging from the numbers above, this means that there may be a 3% share for Linux.

But we have to ask ourselves WHO are these Developers writing applications for? They're writing Notes and Domino apps for companies that probably have a corporate user base of 98+%. And they have to write their applications to do many very specific things.

First of all, they have to develop apps with "export to Excel" (or other COM) functions that their users have to be able to work with. How can they test this on a Mac? Natively, without a VM? They can't. Secondly, they have to write their applications to work in a browser. Unfortunately, the standard here is IE7 - and in many larger companies there is still a standard for IE6! Again, how can this be effectively tested on a Mac?

So there are two choices here for developers to test their code (written to support 98% of corporate users) from Macs - run Windows virtually or use another workstation to do the testing. At this point, why not just develop on the machine (P or V) that's being used for the testing?

And, yes, I understand the scenario with students. You can't just tell them to go buy Fusion and a Windows license to learn Domino development, but this is still the route they'll have to go in a corporate environment where licensing won't be as much of a personal financial issue.

OK, flame away, but it really doesn't seem like anyone other than IBM has done a rough cost:benefit analysis on whether or not this makes sense. How many PMRs/SPRs does IBM have open that relate to this need? How many customers do they have where this is a major problem?

16Stuart McIntyre  2/15/11 8:49:21 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

Interesting we've just had a similar discussion in a chat I'm involved in (no, not THAT chat), about how IBM continues to be morbidly focussed on those few large corporate environments that drive $$s through the existing user base for Lotus products, rather that the massive opportunity that exists outside - the 1000s of small businesses, the whitespace accounts that don't even consider IBM right now...

Chris, your arguments make sense. Today. In large corporate environments.

That is ignoring the other 99% of market opportunity for social business and application development. If IBM truly wants to succeed in the new economy of Social Business, it must go outside the bubble, it must seek those organisations and individuals that right now wouldn't even consider IBM or Lotus technology. Most of all, it must ENGAGE with those folks.

Right now, whatever Loti say, we are not bringing new people into the Lotus appdev community. So we must change. We must go to them, not insist they come to us.

Mac and Linux development environments are one tiny piece of that story. BUT, if IBM doesn't do this, the perception will continue to be negative. What is the cost of NOT implementing DDE on Mac/Linux? Thats the question...

17Julian Woodward  2/15/11 9:13:26 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

I'm looking for a 'Like' or '+1' button for Stuart's comment.

18Ben Poole  2/15/11 10:03:08 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

I started to comment, and it got long, so I put it up on my site instead. Great thread though, and I like Stuart's comment very much—the cost of *not* doing something should always be a factor.

19Volker Weber  2/15/11 10:03:19 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

You guys realize that you discuss how COBOL would be cool if it had a Mac dev environment? :-)

20Volker Weber  2/15/11 11:23:47 AM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

OK, it's worse than I thought. There IS a COBOL compiler that runs on Mac, and it even has all the buzzwords like "open". { Link }

21Rob Darwin  2/15/11 12:35:53 PM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

I think the real visionary step if you're going to do a DDE conversion is going to a web-based IDE.

22giulio  2/15/11 3:02:05 PM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

The techocratic deafness within ibm is astounding. The mac DDE support issue is only symptomatic of a larger issue which seems to be IBMs fear of apps in domino. Note its absence in any advertising, especially references to xpages. Very much a case of fingers in your ears and "la la la I can't hear you.. connections connections that's what your saying isn't it?" is perhaps the most polite way to put it.

If ibm can rediscover the second millennium and see ppl want apps, They will soon realise that domino can deliver in spades. Then link that with making money, and mac support for DDE will become a "higher priority".

Ibm is not a s/w business they just buy IP and sell licenses, they follow and believe that a product has a lifecycle, and like a self fulfilling prophecy are pushing domino into its twilight phase for domino.

add to this a public service approach to promoting ppl and you end up with ppl in senior roles without effective vision taking significant products that lead down narrower paths. Also ibm (still) really (really) suck at marketing

23David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  3/12/11 3:01:18 PM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011: I have a better idea

On second thought Bill, I have a better idea: { Link }

24David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  3/22/11 9:53:47 PM  A Passionate Plea for DDE on Mac at Lotusphere2011

@7 Peter, I'm a bit perplexed by your response here as well as to my suggestion to bring back some basic development functions that were once available to everyone. Clearly there is an interest in restoring the access to create databases in Notes that was once available to people. The more that development is constrained to only a small group of individuals on a single, specific platform, the more certain it will lose its appeal. Lotus software boasts of running on something like 5 or more different platforms and was founded on the philosophy of providing a development environment for people to create their own custom applications rather than providing pre-packaged solutions. If you would not have either of these solutions, what would you have?

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