Domino 10 vs NoSQL

By Tim Davis – Director of Development.

With Domino 10 bringing Node.js, and my experience of  Javascript stacks over the past few years, I am very excited about the opportunities this brings for both building new apps and extending existing ones. I plan to talk about Node in future blogs, and I am giving an introduction to Node.js at MWLUG/CollabSphere 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan in July.  However, I would like to digress from the main topic of Node and Domino itself, and talk a little about an awareness side effect that I am hoping this new feature will have, i.e. moving Domino into the Javascript full stack development space.

There are a plethora of NoSQL database products. In theory, Domino could always have been a NoSQL database layer, but there was no real reason for any Javascript stack developer to even consider it. It would never appear in any suggested lists or articles, and would require some work to provide an appropriate API.

The thing is, working in the Javascript stack world, I was made very aware that pretty much all the available NoSQL database products did not appear very sophisticated compared to Domino (or most other major Enterprise databases – Oracle, DB2, SAP, MS-SQL, etc). The emphasis seemed always on ease of use and very simple code capabilities and not much else.

Now in and of itself this is a worthy goal, but it doesn’t take long before you begin to notice the features that are missing. Especially when you compare them to Domino, which can now properly call itself a Javascript stack NoSQL database.

Popular NoSQL databases are MongoDb, Redis, Cassandra, and CouchDb. As with all of the NoSQL databases, each was built to solve a particular problem.

MongoDb is the one you have probably most likely heard of. It is the ‘M’ in the MEAN/MERN stacks. It is very good at scaling and ‘sharding’ which is sharing workload across many servers. It also has a basic replication model for redundancy.

Redis is an open source database whose power is speed. It holds its data in RAM which is super-fast but not so scalable.

Cassandra came from Facebook, and is a kind of mix of table data and NoSQL and is good for very large volumes of data such as IoT stuff.

CouchDb was originally developed by Damian Katz from Lotus and its key feature is replication including to local devices, making it good for mobile/offline solutions. It also has built-in document versioning which improves reliability but can result in large storage requirements.

Each product has its own flavour and would be suited to different applications but there are many key features which Domino provides, that we are used to being able to utilise, and while some of these products may have similar features, none of them have a proper equivalent for all.

Read and Edit Access: Domino has incredibly sophisticated read and edit control, to individual documents and even down to field level. You can provide access through names, groups and roles, and all of this is built-in. In the other products, anything like this has to be pretty much obfuscated by specifying filters in queries. You are effectively rolling your own security. In Domino, if you are a user not in the reader field then you can’t read the document, no matter how you try to access it.

Replication and Clustering: One of Domino’s main strengths has always been its replication and clustering model. Its power and versatility is still unsurpassed. There are some solutions such as MongoDb and CouchDb which have their own replication features and these do provide valuable resilience and/or offline potential but Domino has the most fine control and distributed data capabilities.

Encryption: Domino really does encryption well. Most other NoSQL products do not have any. Some have upgrades or add-on products that provide encryption services to some degree, but certainly none have document-level or field-level encryption. You would have to write your own code to encrypt and decrypt the individual data elements.

Full Text Indexing: Some of the other products such as MongoDb do have a full text index feature, but these tend to be somewhat limited in their search syntax. You can use add-ons which provide good search solutions, such as Solr or Elasticsearch, but Domino has indexing built-in and those indexing solutions themselves have little security.

Other Built-in Services: Domino is not just a database engine. It has other services that extend its reach. It has a mail server, it has an agent manager, it has LDAP, it has DAOS. With the other products you would need to provide your own solution for each of these.

Historically, a big advantage for the other datastores was scalability, but with Domino 10 now supporting databases up to 256Gb this becomes less of an issue.

In general, all the other NoSQL products do have the same main advantage, the one which gave rise to their popularity in the first place, and this is ease of use and implementation. In most cases a developer can spin up a NoSQL database without needing the help of an admin. Putting aside the issue of whether this is actually a good idea for enterprise solutions, with containerization Domino can now be installed just as easily.

I hope this brief overview of the NoSQL world has been helpful. I believe Domino 10 will have a strong offering in a fast growing and popular development space. My dream is that at some point, Domino becomes known as a full stack datastore, and because of its full and well-rounded feature set, new developers in startups looking for database solutions will choose it, and CIOs in large enterpises with established Domino app suites will approve further investment in the platform.

Engage Week & Lots of News

This week was the Engage conference held in Rotterdam – the largest and (IMO) best event Theo Heselmans has given us yet.  Rotterdam is a lovely city and the water taxi that took us from the restaurant back to the boat last night turned a 5 minute ride into a James Bond chase sequence – at several points he took corners by tilting the boat almost entirely on its side (there goes Tim!) and then onto the other side (bye Mike!) before pulling a handrake turn and reversing up to the dock – worth every cent of four and a half Euro.   I don’t usually find time to attend sessions beyond the keynotes because I get caught up presenting and doing other things (I find it hard to think what right now but let’s group it under “meeting people”) but this week I was rushing from presentation to round table to meetup so here’s a summary of my highlights, kept as short as I can so you aren’t tempted to tl:dr

HCL brought the energy, the enthusiasm and a huge team of people showing how far they have taken Domino, Notes, Traveler, Sametime , Verse on Premises etc.  IBM had energy too but their focus was Connections/Workspace and although it continues to develop, we in the ICS community have been starved for progress on the other products.  HCL together with IBM hosted several roundtables on Domino, Application Development, Notes Client, Verse on Premises etc where we got to ask for or complain about what we wanted or felt was missing and answer questions about design priorities.  I won’t go through all of that other than to apologise to everyone else in the Domino/Sametime roundtable who didn’t get a word in once I started.

From that Domino round table we heard about a couple of much needed and unexpected features coming in v10 (both of which I think are so new they haven’t yet been named) around the area of TCO. One is what I’d call a sync feature for Domino where you can tell a server to keep specific folders in sync with other servers in its cluster. Those folders could contain NSFs but also NLOs (DAOS files), HTML files or really anything else.  The server will create the missing files and it doesn’t use replication to do that.  Even better, if the server detects a NSF file corruption it is capable of removing its own instance of the file and pulling a new one from a cluster mate – all without any admin intervention.  Another great tool will be the idea of shared encryption keys for NLO files so that Server B will be able to copy even encrypted NLO files from Server A by decrypting and then re-encrypting them.  Management and maintenance of NLOs and the DAOS catalog was high on my list of enhancement requests.

From the Application round table we heard about how the integration with Node and Domino will work,  there will be a npm install – DominoDB that will allow Node developers to access Domino data via the Node front end. Queries to Domino from the Node server will be using high performance gRPC (remote procedure calls)  – in the same way Notes and Domino use NRPC for proprietary access. The gRPC access used by Node for Domino will eventually be open source.  The front end of the Node server will be surfaced using the Loopback API gateway.

Essentially what this means is that any developer who can program using Node will be able to use their existing skills against Domino NSFs.  That Domino systems will, in one step, become accessible to a much wider group of developers and systems is the main application development goal.

Domino statistics and reporting can be uploaded into and analysed from within the New Relic platform.  If you find this as interesting as I do then you too are clearly an administrator,

HCL Places.  So that was a surprise.  HCL demoed a working (but very basic) prototype of a new product they had been developing in secret (well no-one in the room knew of it).  A lightweight desktop collaboration client that runs against a Domino NSF. It can include mail,, sametime , video, mentions and Notes applications.  All on premises.  Here is a terrible image of the prototype which – yes I know is cluttered – but focus on the features not the look and you can see that HCL are trying to take Domino somewhere we’ve all known it could go but never had the chance.   The image was shared out by Jason Roy Gary who built and demonstrated the prototype and whose role at HCL is (I think)  Vice President Engineering and Innovation, Collaborative Workflow Platforms.

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In a week full of good news the two best were that a beta program for v10 will start with phase 1 in June and phase 2 in July.  June will be a closed beta and July open.  If you want to register for the beta program when it is announced then sign up for the newsletter on the Destination Domino site here

Plus there was this .

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I don’t want to minimise the contribution by IBM themselves at Engage, each of the roundtables included IBM’ers alongside HCL’ers and there was certainly plenty of activity around Connections and Workplace but right now, in this blog, I’m revelling in the fact that Domino is finally getting the attention it deserves.   Plus look at these great pens – they have little yellow highlighters in the top and when I asked IBM if I could buy some for customers they were happy to give me a “few”.

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So – long story (it could have been sooo much longer) short.  A great week , I learnt a lot, my session on Docker was standing room only in boiling heat, I had the chance to talk to people I rarely get to talk to and Engage was in another great location.  I don’t know how Theo will match this next year but I look forward to finding out.  Plus I got chocolate as a speaker gift.

Now don’t go messing with my high.

The Champion & Confidence Dilemma

I wanted to share today something I’ve been dealing with for a few months and inspired by shares from others.  For those of you who don’t know the IBM Champion program, in short it was set up to acknowledge the work done by people who contribute to their Community outside of their regular jobs.

When I started as a business partner in the mid 90s the IBM community I was introduced to was full of people interested in IBM technology, wanting to learn and wanting to share what they knew with others for no reason other than they were excited about it and enjoyed seeing others doing the same.  In the past 20 years a lot of that has changed and I miss those days.  There are still lots of people who share and want to learn but the days of not wanting credit or taking a back seat are often (not always) gone.

I was encouraged and inspired for 20 years by people many of you will have heard of and many of you wouldn’t.  Without Andrew Pollack to tell me I was smart enough to learn this stuff and present, or Chris Miller offering to present wtih me or Rocky Oliver encouraging me to write, or Ben Langhinrichs asking the tough business questions about why I don’t charge more, or Carl Tyler giving me no leeway to make excuses, or Paul Mooney who was as enthusiastic about educating as I was and happy to work with me – without those people and many more in Penumbra and further afield I wouldn’t have chosen the path I did.  The path that led me to be an IBM Champion and 3 years ago one of the first (along with the amazing Theo Heselmans) IBM Lifetime Champions.

That should have been it right? Validation. The pinnacle of achievement.  Confirmation I was doing something right.

I hadn’t allowed for two things.  People’s misjudgement and their need to tear you down. Those two things in the past few months have brought me near to walking away.

I’ve learned to trust my judgement and my judgement says when people isolate me and ignore me it’s because they want to cut me out, and I assumed because they didn’t like me. I don’t consider myself that likeable so that’s a reasonable, although sad, explanation.  However I have realised in the past few weeks that apparently I am in some sort of competition that I was unaware of:  “Don’t let her get involved, she has enough credit”,  “Don’t get involved in ideas she has, she has enough credit”.  Little comments people have said in passing in my hearing serve to destroy my confidence daily. There have been many of these incidents, all small but incemental.

In a group discussion a few weeks ago I was trying to encourage someone I respect to put themselves forward to be a champion.  Another person in the group asked of the group, “Who thinks they deserve to be a champion?” and I, along with the other couple of champions there, put up my hand thinking we were supporting the discussion. This person said, “I don’t. I don’t think any of us do”.

I felt blindsided

I felt awful.

I still feel awful.

Maybe that person was right.  In which case the validation I had been accepting and working to deserve was just ego.  I didn’t think I had much ego but maybe I do. Maybe that’s what puts people off.

So this is to say to all of you out there:

  • Don’t project onto anyone a motive for their actions. Least of all your own.  Someone once said to me “well we all present for the applause don’t we”.  No. No we don’t.  Some of us do it to learn and to help others learn. That’s it.
  • Don’t project confidence where none exists. Don’t assume how you see someone is how they see themselves.
  • If you’re jealous, own that as your problem. I will put my hand up and admit to in the past being jealous of successful friends (Paul, Rob, Stuart) but that was my problem about where I felt I fell short and I truly hope they never felt the effects of it.
  • Don’t try and tear people down to make yourself feel better.

Your comments hurt. your actions or in-actions hurt. You cause hurt.

I wish it was still the mid 90s and we could still be that community that recognised the success of one is the success of all, but that was pre a lot of things and this is where we are now.

I’ll keep doing what I do because that’s the only way I know how to work and because presenting, blogging , sharing, learning, teaching make me happy.

 

Air Chat – Instant Messaging On A Plane

Flying back from the US yesterday, Tim and I had window seats one row behind the other (by choice, long story).    I’m a nervous flyer and this was the first time I haven’t had him right next to me so as we boarded I started to get more tense.  Tim suggested we find a way to message each other during the flight and quickly found Air Chat which we both downloaded.  It provides encrypted bluetooth messaging.

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We paired our phones and that was it, we were able to chat the entire flight (Airplane mode does not require BT being disabled).  I’m not sure how far it would reach in a cabin, we were a row apart and it’s obviously limited by BT distance.  Useful I would have thought for families or groups travelling together.

Best of all they have a watch app so when my phone was turned off and he messaged me it would vibrate on my wrist and I could read it.  I couldn’t reply from the watch but we probably talked more during this flight than we do sitting next to each other.

 

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Destination Domino (yes, yes I’m late to the party) **

Well this is a lot of good news all at once.  IBM have launched the Destination Domino site – a one stop shop for all your Domino v10 and future strategy news.  If you doubt their commitment to the future development of Domino and the community that believes in it, well just look at all that yellow.

On Thursday 24th May (the day after Engage) I’ll be participating in a webcast on what’s new for Mail, Verse, and Chat for v10.  I will be joining Andrew Manby (Director of Product Management @ IBM) and Ram Krishnamurthy (Chief Architect, Notes, Designer and Xpages @ HCL) on the call.  Registration is here. I recommend you also sign up to the newsletter on the Destination Domino site to stay on top of the developments happening because those are coming at us pretty fast.

I was fortunate enough to visit HCL’s offices in Chelmsford, MA last week and met many of the development teams working on Domino, Verse, Traveler and Sametime.  Some I have known from their years at IBM before they moved to HCL and some were new to me – most of the day is under NDA and you’ll be hearing more about what they are going to deliver at some point if you attend Engage, DNUG, MWLUG and other conferences this summer. If you can’t attend just keep an eye on the Destination Domino site.

One thing I can share that isn’t under NDA is how impressed I was not just with the rapid development of features many of us have been waiting a long time for but also the innovative and open thinking behind Domino as a development platform and the energy and enthusiasm just about everyone I met that day (over 30 people) had.  We are going to see a lot more on the Notes client for iPad and the integration of Node.JS in the next few months and that’s all very exciting.

**I have a good excuse since I’m currently on holiday in St Lucia BUT we interrupt this pool / beach time because this is really important.

That Scream You Just Heard? Thanks Apple

<still screaming>

I take screenshots probably 30x a day every day. Sometimes to a file (CMD-SHIFT-4) and sometimest to the clipboard (CMD-CTRL-SHIFT-4). Imagine my delight when I got my new Macbook Pro and discovered I could add the “screenshot” icon to my touchbar.  No more key combinations, just press the touch bar.  After presssing the touch bar it shows me options of clipboard, desktop, documents etc and remembers what I last used.

What a great feature.  Until it wasn’t.

Apparently Apple “thought” that those touchbar settings should always and with no warning override the keyboard options.  Here I was in a presentation this morning taking about 100 screenshots (laptop closed using external monitor) CMD-SHIFT-4 only to discover none of them NONE OF THEM were on my file system because apparently Apple now use the touchbar settings (which I can’t see with the laptop closed) to override any keyboard settings.

There’s no excuse for that terrible assumptive UI behaviour.  None.  Hopefully this saves someone else the same pain and I’ll revert to using Skitch where I need to be certain.

Macbook and Me

Last week I changed to a new Macbook Pro 13in with touchbar.  I had my doubts but it was the only model with the disk and RAM I needed.  I planned to just ignore the features I didn’t think I’d use (especially anything touch related as I was fairly sure dirty or greasy fingers would render it useless).

Favourite things about my Mac week 1:

  1. Touch ID to login and access admin settings.  I enabled multiple fingers and added some fingerprints for other people too.  It does require a full password entry every 48hrs (I think) even if I don’t restart but I’m fine with that
  2. I enabled filevault which encrypted my entire disk.  There were issues with earlier versions of filevault and using time machine so I had avoided it but the more recent versions (in the past 12 months or so) have been stable and there seems to be little latency on encrypting / decrypting.  The main change is that now I have to login after boot to unlock the disk rather than login after the OS loads.  It’s an almost unnoticeable change but I opted to also increase my password to a very lengthy phrase since there’s little point encrypting a disk with a flimsy password.
  3. USB C. I thought I’d hate the loss of my magsafe connector for power, the number of times I’ve tripped over my own cable and the magsafe popped off rather than drag the Mac to the ground. The new Mac has 4 USB C ports which can be used for anything including charging and I find being able to plug the power into any of 2 ports either side of my Mac is so much easier than being forced to plug it into one side and means I’m less likely to get tangled up in my own cables.
  4. Love my Touchbar – LOVE.IT.I know a lot of people hate it so clearly its appeal is closely tied to how people work. I’m very much a keyboard person, I prefer keyboard shortcuts to any mouse action for instance and with the Touchbar I can configure it to display what I find useful in each application.  I have done that in some examples below and am completely addicted
    Finder

    Finder. I’ve added the “share” icon which allows me to Airdrop items (the touchbar changes to photos of people I can airdrop to) as well as quickview and delete., The best feature is that I can add the screenshot icon to my default touchbar. I screenshot all day and the key combination is hard to get working in a VM

    Safari

    Safari shows me all open tabls I can touch to move between them as well as opening a new tab and I added the history toggle because I go there all the time

    Windows10Parallels

    The touchbar even works in Windows 10 running in a Parallels VM where I use the explorer icon all the time to open Windows explorer. I would get rid of Cortana but it’s in the default set

    Keynote

    Keynote mode 1: When writing a presentation I can change the page size move through slides and indent / outdent

    KeynotePresenter

    Keynote mode 2: when presenting I can see a timer and the upcoming slides I can touch to move backwards and fowards. I think I’m going to use this a lot

On the other hand I also bought a new iPad mini to replace my 4 year old iPad.  I bought the mini because I didn’t want to go bigger with an iPad to a pro.  My old iPad worked fine other than freezing in iBooks, being slow and restarting itself regularly.  My new iPad restored from a backup of my old one exhibits the same behaviour. I think it’s going back.