HCL proves Lotus Notes will never die by showing off beta of lucky Domino 14.0

It’s a major upgrade to venerable groupware suite that might break it a bit

HCL Domino, the product that started life last millennium as Lotus Notes, will soon reach its 14th version.

It’s a major upgrade that rebuilds the code’s core, changes the compilers that can work with the suite (VS 2023 will be an option), and the supported Java version jumps from 1.8 to 17 which will mean apps need to be revisited to ensure compatibility. The update adds Eclipse 4.6, too. Version 14 requires glibc version 2.34, which isn’t present in current versions of SUSE Linux or the imminent 15.5 release. RHEL does support that version and therefore looks the sole option for those taking Domino 14 for a spin.

Domino’s last release was version 12. Version 13 was skipped for cultural reasons and to reflect the significance of the changes to this release.

Client apps will be 64-bit and no 32-bit clients will ship. That decision means field sizes can be larger in clients, meaning more data can be entered. But it creates issues because it means add-ons and integrations may not work – including antivirus software. As Domino retains email client functionality, broken A-V could be very painful indeed.

Domino admins get a web-based management client. It’s not a replace for the full desktop client, but as that program has never been made available in a macOS edition HCL is pitching the web client as a win for Apple admirers.

A feature from the “I can’t believe they haven’t had that for 25 years” list advises admins when updates to Domino – mostly patches – become available, so that systems will be patched more promptly. Hopefully more promptly than the 15-odd years in which a Java applet could do basically anything to a Notes client before IBM spotted that mess in 2013.

A new inclusion in Domino 14 is a 50-seat license of the OnTime group calendar, with paid upgrades possible. HCL’s Verse messaging app, and Nomad mobile app for accessing Domino applications are also bundled, rather than requiring an opt-in download.

HCL has already released one Early Access release of Domino 14, plans a second in July and a third in late September or early October. Version 14 is due by the end of 2023.

The update will be supported on IBM POWER and i-series hardware, reflecting IBM’s ownership of Notes/Domino for almost a quarter of a century and an installed base that still relies on the software.

HCL has published bucketloads of info about Domino 14 here.

IBM acquired Lotus, and with it Domino, in 1995 in a $3.5 billion deal that was at the time the most expensive ever acquisition of a software company. Big Blue’s buy came just as email use was exploding into the workplace, and for a while Notes ruled the market. But Microsoft’s Exchange came to dominate, in part because it focussed on email and calendaring while Notes/Domino was pitched as an environment in which to build and run messaging-centric apps.

IBM offloaded Domino to HCL in 2017. That the India company is still bothering to create updates bespeaks the stickiness of custom apps built on the platform, although HCL always says it manages to score the occasional new client. ®

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