How to: Get Lotus Notes on your iPhone

By John Roling

October 27, 2008

IBM recently made Lotus Notes on the iPhone a reality with Lotus iNotes Ultralite.

When Apple’s iPhone 3G was announced, Apple made a big deal about supporting Enterprise e-mail. The problem for Lotus Notes users was that “Enterprise” initially only meant Microsoft Exchange. And while that hasn’t changed for built-in iPhone connectivity, IBM has made Lotus Notes on the iPhone a reality with Lotus iNotes Ultralite.

IBM Lotus iNotes Ultralite is a web application that you access through the mobile Safari web browser on the iPhone. You go to the same URL you are used to for normal webmail access, and the email template is smart enough to serve up a mobile browser optimized version of your Lotus Notes.

Lotus iNotes Ultralite Homepage

Notes Ultralite includes access to the following pieces of your Lotus Notes:

  • Your inbox
  • The Sent mail view
  • The All Documents view
  • Your trash folder
  • Your Day At A Glance daily calendar
  • Your Contacts
  • When you access your inbox, you can read all of your messages (including rich text HTML messages,) reply, forward and create new e-mails. You can move the message to the trash or even take already read messages and mark them as unread.

    During these transactions, you are actually accessing your live e-mail file on the server so changes are instantaneous.

    Lotus iNotes Ultralite Inbox

    In addition to the normal e-mail functions associated with the Inbox, you can scroll through everything you’ve Sent from Lotus Notes and you can also view every document in your entire mail file by going into the All Documents view. Lastly, you have the ability to look at anything you’ve deleted within the last 48 hours by checking the Trash folder.

    Access to these basic functions are pretty decent, but there are a couple caveats. First, you have no way of seeing your folders or moving e-mail to a specific folder within Lotus Notes. That means that if you have an e-mail saved in a particular folder and not the inbox, the only way to find it is by checking the All Documents folder.

    That in itself wouldn’t normally be much of a problem, but there is no Search function within iNotes Ultralite. This causes a problem if you have to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. Trying to find a message out of thousands in your All Documents folder without being able to search takes too much time. It CAN be done, but it’s fairly tedious.

    Sending a new e-mail

    In addition to e-mail you have access to your calendar via Day At A Glance. Day At A Glance is simply a daily view of your Lotus Notes calendar. You can move back and forth between days to see all of your meetings, reminders, anniversaries and the like. Be aware that this is view-only however. You cannot create a meeting directly on the iPhone and have it show up in your Lotus Notes. This is a feature they are rumored to be working on for future versions of iNotes Ultralite. Once it’s implemented, it will make this a much more useful feature.

    Lastly we have access to your Lotus Notes contacts, and IBM has really done a good job here. If your contact has an e-mail associated with it, there is a little envelope icon next to their name. Clicking the envelope creates a new e-mail to that person. You also will see a little phone icon for users with phone numbers associated. Clicking the phone icon will prompt you to ask whether or not you want to place a phone call to the contact. You can also create contacts directly on the phone.

    There is one thing you need to know about Contacts in Lotus Notes that is a little funky. In the Lotus Notes client itself, contacts are stored locally on the user’s machine in a database called names.nsf. By default, these contacts are only accessible on that machine. The user has to push those contacts to their webmail in order for them to be accessible on the web and through iNotes ultralite.

    This used to be done manually via an agent, but with Lotus Notes 8, IBM added the ability to synchronize contacts via the Replicator tab. Contact your local IT Support or check the Lotus Notes help to see how to make sure your Lotus Notes contacts are available via the web and iNotes Ultralite.

    How to start using iNotes ultralite

    iNotes Ultralite is now available as part of the recent IBM Lotus Domino 8.0.2 release. Once you upgrade your Domino server to 8.0.2, the Notes 8 e-mail template will automatically be upgraded to include Ultralite access. As long as your user is on the new Notes 8 e-mail template, iNotes Ultralite is included. There are no additional licensing costs to enable the feature.

    While there are some rough spots, iNotes Ultralite gives millions of Lotus Notes users the ability to quickly access many of their Lotus Notes functions on the iPhone today. iNotes Ultralite is a great first step and with updates already showing up in the Domino 8.5 Beta codestream it’s only going to get better. Stay tuned.

    About this series

    This series of articles on intranet solutions with IBM Lotus Notes/Domino and it's companion products is intended to help readers understand the fundamental methodology and capabilities of the product and how to utilize it to deliver a feature-rich, secure, and functional corporate intranet solution. It will include implementation strategies, case studies, industry-tested tips and tricks, and, with your input, true value to the administrator or developer who wants to utilize IBM Lotus technologies to deliver winning intranet solutions.

    If you have any questions on the series, Lotus Notes/Domino, or if there's something you'd like to see addressed, visit the Intranet Journal Discussion Forum.

    About the author

    John Roling is the Senior Groupware Administrator for a North American trade-show exhibit company and a certified Lotus Notes Administrator, Developer and all-around geek. You can keep up with him at his blog or drop him an e-mail at jroling@gmail.com.

    Article courtesy of Intranet Journal.



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