Sunday, December 16, 2007

SDMS Version 4.3 released (16th December 2007)

SDMS version 4.3 (otherwise known as version 4.3.00) was released today, Sunday 16th December 2007.

As you would expect, it's still completely free!

The major enhancement in V4.3 is the ability to run multiple copies (replicas) of SDMS, with some of them operating in "Simple" mode and others operating in "Publishing" mode.

The former mode is very close to the extremely SIMPLE way that SDMS used to operate prior to V4, while the latter mode offers all of the same powerful publishing features added in V4.0 and V4.1.

As before, you definitely should read the built-in Help Using This Database document for guidance and tips. Very important from an operational perspective is the part that database roles play, especially when you're using Publishing mode.

As before, download SDMS from either or

ENJOY, and please send in your feedback!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

SDMS Version 4.23 released (09 September 2007)

SDMS version 4.2.03 (otherwise known as version 4.23) was released today, Sunday 9th September 2007, and it's still completely free!

Version 4.23 contains several usability enhancements and fixes:
  • Bug in the drop-down list of values for the Category and Sub-Category fields was fixed. (This bug slipped in when the "By Category" view was modified to support "special documents" that were introduced with NotesTracker Version 5.1 incorporated in SDMS Version 4.20.)
  • The four Edit / Submit / Approve / Publish views were enhanced, with the Level Number column shifted to be in a more natural position just to the left of the Document Section plus Title column.
  • The Document Section plus Title column was enhanced to better show the five-level document hierarchy.
  • The database's default Access Control List was modified so that default access includes the "Read All Docs" role, enabling all database users initially to access all documents in the database regardless of the readers field settings of those documents.
  • The security section of the "Help Using This Database" document was reworded here and there for better clarity, and some typographical errors were corrected.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NotesTracker Version 5.1.04 released (12 June 2007)

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Visit either or download NotesTracker version 5.1.04 evaluation or licensed editions, released today 12th June, 2007.

And don't forget to retrieve the updated NotesTracker Guide (find it at the bottom of the download page), because it has been updated to include the new features and several paragraphs added to better explain more clearly how deleted documents are tracked.

As shown in the image above, in the "General Tracking Controls" tab of the NotesTracker Configuration Document for each database being tracked you can now specify user(s) that you do not wish to track. For example, a database auditor might wish to be excluded so that his/her activities are not included in order not to distort usage metrics.

Just underneath that, as introduced in NotesTracker version 5.0, you can also specify the names of particular users that you do wish to track (which overrides the NotesTracker default of tracking all users of the database).

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Ignoring of database users (the first list of names) has precedence over explicitly-tracked users (the second list of names. If you happen to have the same user name in both lists, as circled in red just above, then that particular won't be tracked.

Together with the flexible alerting controls (see image below) that were introduced in NotesTracker Version 5.0, you now have an extremely wide range of options for configuring usage tracking in each database.

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And the options are all very easy for you to set up.

With NotesTracker, you definitely don't have to be a technical specialist to monitor and administer your application database usage!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

NotesTracker Version 5.1.03 released (04 June 2007)

Example e-mail alert sent by NotesTracker for a so-called generic event (in this case it was a button click).(Click to view a larger image)

Visit either or download NotesTracker version 5.1.03 (evaluation or licensed editions) released today. Don't forget to retrieve the updated NotesTracker Guide from the bottom of the download page.

This version has a slightly slicker version of the installer, but its main enhancement is the added capability to send e-mail alerts for tracked "generic" events (such as button clicks).

This means that you can now have e-mail alerts generated for pretty much any sort of application activity occurring in your Notes/Domino databases!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

NotesTracker v5.1 working under IBM Lotus Notes Domino 8 Beta 3

Having downloaded and installed the IBM Lotus Notes Domino 8 (ND8) public beta #3 a day or two ago, we have the new NotesTracker Version 5.1 working happily under this tidier pre-release of ND8, as the following image indicates:

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Monday, May 28, 2007

NotesTracker Version 5.1 released (28 May 2007)

We are very pleased to announce that as of a short while ago NotesTracker Version 5.1 has been released today (28 May 2007) -- see either or for information and to download V5.1 evaluation or licensed versions.

For full details, refer to the NotesTracker Guide also downloadable from there. Note that starting with V5.1 the guide is produced using OpenOffice Writer 2.2, which produces the PDF output directly as a simple export (rather than having to use Word with a third party PDF generator).

NotesTracker Version 5.1 main changes are:

  • A new action type "Generic" has been added, so that with as little a a single line of LotusScript code you can log general applications actions such as clicking on a button of graphic hotspot. For example, you could easily log the clicking of the Send button in the Lotus Notes Mail database. This new feature enables you to track a wide range of application events for the purposes of gathering database usage metrics, auditing and compliance.

  • One or two very minor bugs have been fixed.

  • The NotesTracker Repository usage log views have been "tweaked" -- for example, the percentage column now displays three decimal places (rather than two places).

  • The LotusScript routines that are the keystone of NotesTracker have been reworked so that all global variables are now prefixed with "_ntr" (quotation marks excluded) in order to vastly reduce the likelihood of a clash of variable names with pre-existing LotusScript code. For example, instead of "uidoc" NotesTracker uses "ntr_uidoc" as a global variable, and instead of "session" NotesTracker uses "ntr_session" and so on. ... This was quite a job! The intention for expending this effort was to make NotesTracker even more robust than before as a developer toolkit.

In NotesTracker version 5.1 global variable names are prefixed with _ntr to minimize the chance of clashes.
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

SDMS Version 4.2 released (14 April 2007)

Already SDMS is up to version 4.2.02 (not just 4.2) after two daily updates since first release last Thursday.

The updates include a number of minor "tweaks" and (see accompanying image) an action button added to the three Alerts views to enable otherwise "dead" scheduled mail to be processed.

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SDMS Version 4.2.02 is now available, and can be downloaded from either or

The reason for having this button is discussed in the built-in Help Using This Database (which gives a brief SDMS tutorial).

Be sure to find out about the new NotesTracker Version 5.0 capabilities now available in this version of SDMS.

The NotesTracker Guide is downloadable from either or

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

CAPTURE Version 2.1 released (12 April 2007)

Today we have released the latest and greatest version of out FREE application CAPTURE ... Customer And Project Tracking (plus Usage Reporting Extensions).

The major new feature of CAPTURE V2.1 is the inclusion of NotesTracker Version 5.0 capabilities (see previous announcement earlier in this web log, at ).

This brings powerful new capabilities to CAPTURE, such as the ability to nominate and track "special" documents (any document that has significance to you, for whatever reason), the sending of e-Mail alerts (when fields are changed, documents deleted, "special" documents are used, etc), the ability to track the actions only for specified users, and more!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

SDMS Version 4.2 Beta #1 released

Version 4.2 of SDMS has been released today, 10 April 2007 (and while being labeled "Beta #1" it should not be much different if at all from the final V4.2 release).

It has been upgraded to include NotesTracker Version 5.0 capabilities (see the recent post for that announcement).

This includes such things a the ability to specify and track "special documents", mailed-in documents, pasted documents and to generate e=mail alerts for all sorts of database events. The NotesTracker Guide Version 5.0 has full details of all such new capabilities.

Here's a sample e-mail alert message;

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SDMS Version 4.2 can be downloaded from either or

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

NotesTracker Version 5.0 is released (4/4/2007)

We are pleased to announce that Version 5.0 of NotesTracker is now available for download, from either:
Be sure to download the latest edition of the NotesTracker Guide Version 5.0 (see link at the bottom of the same page).

Please enjoy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

NotesTracker Version 5.0 Guide (final) is now available

The last feature has been added to NotesTracker Version 5.0 and the new version should be ready to release by early April (or perhaps even the end of March).

A major new feature has been incorporated,in a last-minute burst of development and testing. It was too valuable to be left out. It is described in the Developer Topics section of the finalized NotesTracker Version 5.0 Guide

It goes by the name of "Fast Design Propagation" and means that in many cases it should now take only a few minutes to modify a database to work with NotesTracker. (That is, to use the standard NotesTracker feature set, certainly not to make extensive modifications of the way that NotesTracker interfaces with a particular database to meet special usage tracking requirements.)

This final enhancement goes a long way to addressing one objection about NotesTracker, that you have to devote develop time to getting in and modifying a database's design. It means that you now should be able to justify rolling out NotesTracker more widely than with earlier releases, due to the far lower developer workload involved.

Enough of this sickening super-hyperbolic over-exaggeration ...

The NotesTracker Version 5.0 Guide is available from:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

NotesTracker v5.0 -- works well under Notes Domino 8 Beta2

Over this weekend I've had the opportunity to install the just-released public Beta #2 of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8 (or ND8 for short).

I installed Domino 8 over a Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 image of Domino 7.0.2 and it went without a hitch -- up and running inside ten minutes.


Unfortunately the Notes 8 installer file turned out to be corrupt. But apart from having to download the 635 MB file again, the Notes 8 Client ("Standard" or Eclipse-based) also installed without a hitch.


One observation is that the Notes 8 installation considerably longer than the five minutes that I'm used to. While I didn't measure how long it took (I was multitasking, so didn't really care one way or the other), it seemed to be twenty to thirty minutes. My suspicion is that the bulk of this time is spent installing the Lotus Productivity Tools (IBM's implementation of the OpenOffice tools from, which I reckon in themselves are rather slow to install). Maybe I'm off target here, I'll have to investigate this later.

Anyhow, upon opening the Notes 8 client, I was presented with the jazzy new workspace (see illustration) and within a mere five or ten minutes felt perfectly comfortable with its new features.
One thing that's good is the terminology change, for "databases" now being called "applications" which is as it should be. ... Maybe I'm oversensitive about this. I mention it because, in another blog post, I bemoan the fact that the IBM Application System/400 (or AS/400), with its original emphasis on being an application-focused platform, had its name changed later to "IBM iSeries" and later again to "System i" as part of an IBM branding campaign, which in my mind is a loss of an important part of its identity. (During my decades at IBM, I spent many years supporting the predecessor IBM System/38, then the AS/400, with some intervening assignments on IBM mainframe networking systems, the real-time sensor-based IBM System/7, and the IBM RT System with AIX Version 1.0.)

So now we have moved on to using the term "applications" for Notes databases, and I like it! I reckon that far too much discussion about Notes -- and especially about Notes versus the rest (Outlook, Exchange, etc) -- centers on e-mail topics. There are many, many, many other sorts of applications out there, much loved and still widely used by IBM's customers. Sure, e-mail is still a very important application (the original "killer app"), but let's move the focus back on to applications. I think we'll see that happening with ND8, what with the great capability of integrated "composite applications" -- and not a moment too soon, I say!
My initial interest is to test NotesTracker (in fact, the very latest Version 5.0 Beta 1) databases, as well as the next versions of SDMS and CAPTURE (which, when released, will have NotesTracker Version 5.0 built into them).
Then I played around for a short while with various features, including the Sidebar, added some RSS feeds including this blog's feed NotesTracker news and tips and it looked like this:

(Click to view a larger image)(Click to view a larger image)

Preliminary testing indicates that all of the NotesTracker Version 5.0 features work without problems under this slick new Notes 8 Client.

This is good news all round, because NotesTracker has some fairly intense LotusScript routines, and they all seem to work just like they do in Notes/Domino 7.0.2.

I say this with a feeling of relief, because I had an unsettling experience with Notes 6.0. NotesTracker uses two Rich Text fields to store the before and after values of user database fields that have been updated, and the code worked fine for Notes R4 and R5. However the code "broke" with Notes 6, due to an "undocumented feature" that erroneously created duplicate Rich Text fields. I would call this a bug, but I suppose that Lotus would regard as an "undocumented feature change" added when Rich Text support was significantly enhanced in Notes 6. Luckily I found a way to bypass this bug, so that feature of NotesTracker got back on track for Notes 6 and Notes 7. You will understand, then, why it was one of the first things I tested for Notes Domino 8, and all went well.


I rather like the Sidebar's standard RSS feeds capability, particularly in view of the fact that NotesTracker v5.0 has made it even easier (with some code tweaking and examples) for you to automatically generate data for Notes views that form the building blocks or your own RSS feeds! (Refer to the NotesTracker Guide to find out more about this, in a section near the end.)

Further reports on NotesTracker and Notes Domino 8 will surely follow.

Friday, March 23, 2007

NotesTracker Version 5.0 Beta1 - Customer DB ready for public testing

The NotesTracker Customer Database referred to frequently in the NotesTracker Version 5.0 Guide is now available for download and public testing.

We think that Version 5.0 rounds out NotesTracker with lots of new features, including: e-mail alerting whenever database actions occur (even down to specific database fields being changed), the ability to define and track "special" documents (Particular documents in a database that are of importance to you for any reason), tracking of pastes and mail-ins, the ability to limit tracking to specific users of a database, enhanced RSS-style "Breaking News" view options, plus tons of usability enhancements.

These (and lots more) are fully described in the latest draft of the NotesTracker Guide, which itself has been significantly reworked to be more productive to use. See

It will give you the opportunity to try out virtually all of the new features in NotesTracker Version 5.0 ... Not quite all of them, since there are some things that are restricted to the NotesTracker Repository database (but these are only technical features for using the repository itself rather than usage tracking functions).

As with earlier NotesTracker evaluation databases, the database's design is hidden. If you are evaluating this from a developer's perspective, please read the Developer Topics section of the guide for to see how the new features affect the design change tasks. While doing this, you should also refer to the related discussions in the Administration Topics section.

Get the Beta1 Customer Database from either of these sites:

The full set of NotesTracker databases (the Repository, plus extra example databases) will be available soon. And the two free applications SDMS and CAPTURE will be enhanced to have NotesTracker Version 5.0 built in (currently they use Version 4.6).

TIP: when testing this beta version of the NotesTracker Customer example database, be sure to set usage tracking as "Internal" to the database. (You could set it as external to another copy of the same Customer database, which has the necessary enhanced views and Usage Log form designs. This works, although you don't gain much from doing it this way.) Also, set the new e-mail alerting feature to be "Immediate" (because the agent needed for "Scheduled" alerting is not yet part of the Customer database).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

NotesTracker Version 5.0 Guide - Draft #9 for Beta1 is now available

Following a lot of work on SDMS and other things during the last few months, NotesTracker version 5.0 has been progressing well during March 2007 and is in its final stages: testing, documentation, more testing, adding more features, improving usability, more testing. (Some of the ideas tested and built into SDMS are also going to show up in NotesTracker v5.)

Many hours during the last two weeks have been devoted to the NotesTracker v5 Guide. All the new v5 features have been carefully described, with added documentation still happening daily as last-minute usability and function enhancements to NotesTracker v5 are made.

Apart from all the new stuff, the whole guide has been scoured for usability and errors.

Many sections have been substantially rewritten for improved readability and clarity. This includes a much better layout for the Table Of Contents (making it faster to jump to what you're looking for), plus a Task Table in the Developer Topics section making it even easier to follow the simple steps used to incorporate NotesTracker in your database designs. Some of this has rubbed off onto the product itself, as documentation improvements has mandated corresponding improvements to the software.

Since the public Beta2 of IBM Lotus Notes Domino 8 has made available a week or two ago, I've decided to add a further week or two to the NotesTracker v5 release schedule so that it can be tested against the fantastic new Notes 8 client and the Domino 8 server!

I'm also considering whether or not to add a further new feature or two, to make NotesTracker v5 even better. (One such possible feature is being able to nominate that tracking in a database be done only for specified users, which would be very handy for forensic auditing and so on.) If you have any last-minute requests or suggestions, then send them to us ASAP.

In the meantime, you can find out a lot about the new features and capabilities by downloading a copy of the 25th March 2007 draft of the NotesTracker Version 5.0 Guide. This edition is labeled DRAFT #9. Get it from either our web server in Australia or our web server in the USA

The PDF file size is around 5.5 MB, it's nearly three times the size of the V4 guide because lots of additional information and illustrations are in it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

SDMS Version 4.1 released

Following some useful feedback, we have released version 4.1 of SDMS.

You can download it from either our Australian Web server or USA server.

As well as the major new "publishing life cycle" feature of version 4.0, this latest version introduces Breaking News view enhancements, enhanced document security (Reader fields), enhanced documentation (in the built-in Help About and Help Using documents), and more!

Version 4.1 also fixes a bug in the setting of the three heading lines that was inadvertently introduced with version 4.0.

We expect the next major release of our premier product -- that is, NotesTracker Version 5.0 -- to be released for Beta testing soon. The new NotesTracker V5.0 features will shortly thereafter be incorporated into SDMS (and also into out other free application, CAPTURE).

Friday, February 16, 2007

SDMS Version 4.1 beta now available

A test version "SDMS version 4.1 Beta #4" is now available for download.

Get your copy from the download page here or here (go to the middle of the page for the download links and password).

Be sure to read the Help About and the Help Using documents before using the new features, which include:

  • Readers field security to control who can read sets of documents

  • Sets of documents, once approved for publication, can be set to display within a given date range (which can be in the future)

    (Click to view a larger image)

  • The refresh interval of the Breaking News view can be specified from 5 seconds to 2 hours (previously was fixed at 60 seconds).

  • The header fields can be collapsed to free up screen "real estate"