Notes 8Okay, first here’s the caveats. Lotus Notes 8.5.1 will be released “soon” – I know when but I’m not telling you. Also, this post relates to a future product and as such some of the discussed features may change or be absent from the shipping product – it’s unlikely but I’m covering my own posteriour.

Notes 8.5.1 is primarily a maintenance release – in the past a maintenance release would usually be devoid of new features, but IBM Lotus’ agile development process allows new features to be slipped in where possible and provided that big changes to the core code aren’t required. So here’s a quick run-down of some of the new features. By the way, some people may look at some of these and say “huh, my mail client already has that” or “that’s a catch-up feature”. If you do, fine, knock yourself out.

  1. Accept / decline a calendar invite from the preview pane, and other calendar actions like checking your calendar. Nice.
  2. Auto-correct – type in ‘teh’ and it’ll correct to ‘the’, and of course many other common items of finger-based chaos will be corrected too. Oh, and double-capitals, and starting a sentence with a lower-case letter.
  3. Mouse resizing of table columns, and dragging contents from one cell to another. And you can shift-click to create new columns and rows.
  4. Text tools on the tool bar – such as a colour picker and highlighter pen.
  5. A much-simpler and quicker method of inserting a URL or assigning a URL to selected text.
  6. You can now select a preference for unread e-mail – bold black or normal red.
  7. There’s some more roaming improvements, including roaming of the Notes workspace.
  8. Empty your Trash folder with a right-hand mouse click.
  9. Drag an e-mail onto the main or side-bar calendar to create a new calendar entry.
  10. Drag shortcuts and documents onto the open button and bookmark bar.
  11. Numerous archive improvements – a visual indicator that you’re looking at an archive, and a ‘Recently Archived’ folder shows you what you, errr, recently archived. It’s also easier to open an archived e-mail from the summary that remains in your main mail box.
  12. Append a vCard to your mail signature.
  13. Improvements to the process of creating a widget, including making a widget from a plugin. And you can look at widgets as a list in the side-bar.
  14. Add a Notes view as a search engine to the search bar (very nice and very useful).
  15. Add another web search engine to the search bar – for example, I just added dictionary.com.
  16. XPages support for the Notes client – I’d be lying if I said I fully understood it, but I’ve had a go and it works. The offline support means that you can create what looks and acts like a web application when used through a web browser, but then run it offline with the same look and feel in the Notes client with a single design.
  17. And there’s loads of new things in the Domino Administrator, on the Domino server itself, and in iNotes (like unread message count on folders).
  18. Last-minute addition – you can now set up to ten sender colours to distinguish e-mails from important people. Previously you could have just three. I wonder if this is a good idea – setting ten colours could be seen as going overboard, and may take the focus away from those few important people. Still, if you like a bit of colour in your life, here’s to the rainbow inbox.
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