Domino Query Language @ Engage

By Tim Davis, Technical Director

This is my session given at Engage 2019 in Brussels last week.

“In this session, Tim Davis (Technical Director at The Turtle Partnership Ltd) takes you through the new Domino Query Language (DQL), how it works, and how to use it in LotusScript, in Java, and in the new domino-db Node.js module. Introduced in Domino 10, DQL provides a simple, efficient and powerful search facility for accessing Domino documents. Originally only used in the domino-db Node.js module, with 10.0.1 DQL also became available to both LotusScript and Java. This presentation will provide code examples in all three languages, ensuring you will come away with a good understanding of DQL and how to use it in your projects.”

Domino Server Health – Monitoring and Managing @ Engage

This is my session on Domino Server Health given at Engage in Brussels last week.

If you’re a Domino administrator how do you decide what to monitor on your servers and how to manage them ? What are the key things to monitor? How do good practice management tools such as statistics reporting, DDM, cluster symmetry, database repair and policy settings make your work lighter and faster. Finally we’ll talk about some of the “must dos” in the day, week and month of a Domino admin.

Face/Off Domino vs Exchange On Premises @ Engage

Here is my presentation discussing how Exchange and Outlook on premises differs from Domino and Notes given at Engage in Brussels last week.

I hope you find it useful, this was my first presentation pulling together my ideas from the past few years of working with Exchange on premises integration projects.

How do Exchange on premises and the various Outlook clients line up against Domino on premises and its clients? In this session we’ll look at the configuration options and management interfaces for each server as well as the client options and client behaviours. We’ll also discuss the general ecosystems, considerations for migrating or co-existing and lessons learned. A great session for Domino admins who want to know more about the other side.

A Few Days In Brussels #EngageUG

I have just returned from Engage UG – Theo Heselmans’ European conference, this year held at Autoworld in Brussels.  A beautiful location, even for someone who cares little for cars (but enjoys belgian beer, frites and chocolate).

With over 400 attendees, this was the largest Engage yet and I thought the energy level and excitement was higher than before due I think to the presence of vast numbers of the HCL team who were not only presenting but out in force in roundtables, social events and random “stop in the hallway” questions.

As the clock ticks down to the final signing of the contract to acquire Domino, Sametime, Traveler, Connections, etc, from IBM and transfer them in entirety to HCL we are all just waiting for that starting gun.

Richard Jefts brought some good news and the vision that HCL has for all the products they are taking on – see the prominence of Notes & Domino as well as (to my surprise and delight) Sametime.  Sametime is a significant part of HCL’s “Better Connected World” story. The intention, as you can see from other items on the wheel, is to open integration to other technologies and systems as a priority.  You will see an item on the wheel called “LEAP” and wonder what that is, it is the renamed Forms Experience Builder central to HCLs low-code development initiative. Think drag-and-drop form building through the web.

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There were probably 25% new attendees who had never been to Engage before. My session on Exchange on-premises and Domino at 8am had a nearly full room which is very unusual for an early technical session.  Tim’s session on DQL was also full.  All of our sessions will be published here over the next few days.

I also participated in a round table on template modernisation.  I will talk more about that on a later blog but I am co-ordinating a team who are working on updating the existing templates such as discussions and teamrooms. A demo of our live app  for iPhone was presented at Engage and the screenshot below showing the discussions template as it currently is (left), our app (in the middle) and the possible path it could take as iDMA progresses (on the right) gives you some idea of what we’re doing. iDMA is the Notes client currently for tablets and soon for iPhones.

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Speaking to Maxx Sutton @ HCL who heads up the iDMA development team, it’s clear there is an opportunity for both supporting existing and reimagining new Notes applications as iDMA itself develops.   For instance, the icon on the bottom right of the “where we could be heading” screenshot would be a ‘create new’ action that would automatically generate to support any “create” action that appears in the view in Notes. Still early days obviously, and I’ll be reaching out to the Community each step of the way.

Of course as usual our speaker gifts (both Tim and I spoke) were bang on.  Tim is researching if he can paint my yellow mini the grey and black of our own but I’m not sure I want to risk it.

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Once more – a huge thank you to Theo, Hilde, the HCL team, all the sponsors (including us :-), speakers and attendees plus the barman at the Sofitel who kindly brought drinks up to the roof for us.

Exchange 2019 On Prem Install

In a couple of weeks time I’ll be in Brussels presenting at Engage and one of my sessions is Face/Off Domino vs Exchange On Premises (Weds at 8am).  I have an Exchange 2016 install but since Exchange 2019 shipped last October I wanted to update my install with that so I could use the latest version to demo.  In truth very little has changed in Exchange on premises since 2008 but I don’t like using an old version in my presentations.  So this is the story of the 4 days it took me to complete the install.

Four. Days.

Day 1: My big mistake.  I decided to uninstall Exchange 2016 instead of upgrading it. I wanted an entirely clean server to demonstrate.  The uninstall failed half way through.  It wouldn’t uninstall and it was still listed under installed programs.  Several hours of trial and error and internet research confirmed this is a common problem with Exchange uninstalls and the “fix” is to flatten the machine and start over.  The problem was the Exchange install was on the same box as the Active Directory 2016 Domain Controller which I really really didn’t want to flatten.

Day 2: Being Stubborn.  I’d do just about anything to avoid flattening the entire box and rebuilding so some more internet research took me to several blogs that talked about manually removing registry entries in order to clean up the install.  Hundreds of registry entries.  After doing that I still couldn’t delete or rename the folder despite no services being present so then it was into safe mode to do the rename.  That worked and I started the upgrade to Windows 2019 (the only supported platform for Exchange 2019). You can now do an inplace Windows upgrade from 2016 to 2019 and that worked maintaining all my Active Directory settings.

Day 3: Accepting the inevitable. Off I go with an Exchange 2019 install once more which started to install then prompted me for the Exchange installer disk.  It wouldn’t take the mounted disk I had started the installer from.  After a few hours’ research I realised this is a common red herring error that basically means the server can detect some old installation files and won’t complete.  At this point there were no services, no directory, nothing listed under installed programs.  Sometimes you have to accept you’ve strayed too many hacks from your starting point it’s best to startover and do it properly.  Windows 2019 install #2 this time letting it blat the server and rebuilding Active Directory from scratch (luckily it’s just my demo machine and I could do that but good luck if it’s your production environment).

At the end of day 3 I had a new Windows 2019 Domain Controller fully patched and I was ready to start my Exchange 2019 install.

Day 4: The Long Road.  Before Exchange will install the installer program will verify you have all the pre-requisites required on the operating system.  There are many from IIS management tools to .Net 4.7.1 to the basic authentication system.  A scrolling page of missing features is shown with URL links explaining them.  Since 90% of those features were actually Windows features you go to add/remove features to install I don’t know why the Exchange installer doesn’t just offer to install them for me because it took some time to work out where in the multi level hierarchy of features each one was.  In addition serveral of the URLs brought up 404 pages on the Microsoft site refering to Exchange 2003 and that link not being available(!).  Anyway finally after a few hours of digging around, downloading libraries, installing features and restarting it agreed to install Exchange 2019 and I was done.

If you take one lesson from this it should be that the Microsoft solution to many problems seems to be “flatten and start over”.  For that reason I wouldn’t put Exchange on any machine you wouldn’t be happy to flatten and start over or replace.