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Lotus Notes Mail 4.1.x- by Ryan Dill


Warp 4 comes with a number of CDs besides the base OS; one of them contains drivers for your various hardware, another contains a plethora of OS/2 demo and sample programs. A third CD contains a copy of Lotus Notes Mail for OS/2. As the name implies, Notes Mail is the electronic mail portion of Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes messaging software, often used for LANs and intranets.

"So what good is that to me?" you may ask. "I don't have a network running Lotus Notes." Maybe not, but with the addition of a free add-on from Lotus, Notes Mail will also work with Internet email, which gives you two free email clients with Warp 4: Notes Mail and Ultimail. (Incidentally, if you already use Ultimail and would like to switch, Notes Mail includes a migration utility to convert your Ultimail folders and messages into a Notes Mail database; details are available in the help files installed with Notes Mail's Internet Mail add-on)


Notes Mail installs fine from the CD, but the version of the program on the CD is an earlier version (v4.1) which isn't optimized for Warp 4. This is evident by the look and feel of the program after installation -- Windows and fonts look out-of-place and shoddy. Lotus has a number of updates available which improve Notes Mail's looks and performance under Warp 4, bringing the package to version 4.1.5.

Unfortunately, there's no single update to go from version 4.1 to version 4.1.5; all Lotus provides are 'incremental installers' which each have to be downloaded and installed, one on top of the other. Since the installers are built to update the whole Notes package rather than just Notes Mail, there's a lot of redundant information in the updates, making them all multi-megabyte downloads.

Lotus forces you to wade through numerous web pages at their Notes.Net Download Page, so here are the updates a bit more directly:

After installing the last update, you should download the Notes Internet Mail add-on. This is a Notes script which, when run from within Notes Mail, will add POP and SMTP capabilities to Notes Mail, allowing it to send and receive your regular Internet email messages. This package contains a readme file describing how to install, and Notes helpfiles for use after installation. As stated previously, it also includes a utility to migrate Ultimail folders and messages into Notes Mail format.


Notes Mail supports multiple email accounts through 'Locations', allowing you to send and receive email from multiple email addresses. To create a new email account, select File->Mobile->Locations -- this will pop up the Locations folder (GIF, 9.2k) of your address book -- and choose 'Add Location'. This will create the account (Select 'No Connection' under 'Location Type' to tell Notes Mail that you don't use a Notes server to send and receive your email); the actual configuration of the account is performed by going back to the address book and selecting your new account from the 'Service Providers Details' folder. This allows you to enter mail server information, return email address, signature, etc. (If you think it sounds a bit complicated, you're right)

Notes Mail's address book not only keeps track of all people you might send email to, but also all the Locations you use (see above) and contact information for any companies you may deal with. Like some other email clients, Notes Mail address book members can have aliases which you can use in the 'To' field of a new email. In Notes Mail, however, the address database is searched as you type the alias, matching the closest address to what you've typed so far. As you type more, it searches for a better match.

When sending mail to other users on a Notes server, Notes Mail allows for a variety of useful options, such as embedded images, message encryption, spell checking (GIF, 6.2k), letterheads, custom stationary, etc. None of this applies when using Notes Mail to send Internet email, however; if you create a message (GIF, 14k) with any of these extras, Notes Mail will automatically trim it down to plain text upon sending, and things such as encryption and authentication simply won't work with Internet Mail. This means that Notes Mail is weighted down with a lot of things that a typical Internet user won't be able to use anyway, which affects its performance (see below).

Like other email clients, Notes Mail can check for and download new mail from your mail server every once in a while, and inform you when new messages arrive. Unfortunately, its options in this area are limited; the only audible notification Notes Mail can give you is a beep from the PC speaker; it doesn't allow you to select custom WAV file like some other clients. Another beef is the fact that the email Inbox isn't updated when new mail arrives; you have to manually refresh the Inbox before you can read the new message(s), be either pressing F9 or by closing and reopening the Inbox. Lastly, there doesn't seem to be a way to easily check mail on-demand; there is a 'check mail' button when you're in the Outbox folder, but none while in the Inbox folder. I don't know about you, but I think it makes more sense to want to check mail while you're in the folder which new mail appears in. (There is a 'Receive mail' option in the toolbox of the lower right of the notes window, but it doesn't work, since it fails while attempting to replicate the Notes Mail Inbox database)

It handles attachments fairly easily; just drag the file you want to attach into the message you're composing, answer 'yes' to the confirmation message, and you're done. The file can be compressed if desired (usually this is the best option), and will be transmitted in the MIME format, so should be able to be handled on the receiving end by most mailers available today. Attachments arriving on your end are also dealt with nicely; double-clicking on an attachment in a mail message brings up a properties box which allows you to view the attachment with Notes Mail's built-in viewers (which even handle ZIP files), open the program using OS/2's default associated program, or save (detach) the attachment to a particular file. (The attachment can always just be dragged out of the message and dropped into a folder, too)


By far the biggest problem with Notes Mail is its size and speed. Even after applying the latest Notes Mail updates, the program occupies over 10 megs of system memory while simply sitting idle (more when actually doing something), which causes the entire system to slow down considerably. I was running it on a Pentium 120 with 64 megs of RAM, and even with only a few other programs running, trying to get anything done resulted in so much disk swapping it was close to unbearable.

World Wide Web URLs in Notes Mail have a cool little hand appear over them, which implies you can click on them and launch your browser of choice. Alas, it's not to be. Notes Mail is hard coded to use the browser of a Lotus Notes server, so you can't access URLs unless connected to such a server. Your only solution is to copy the URL to the clipboard, fire up your favorite Web browser, and paste the URL in.

There appears to be a cosmetic glitch in Notes Mail when combined with Object Desktop; as you can see (GIF, 9.4k), the window controls of Notes Mail's internal windows are a little confused. They incorrectly use OS/2's normal 'minimize' button as the 'close' button for the window, and OS/2's normal 'maximize' button as the 'minimize' button. (the Object Desktop 'maximize' button you see works correctly)


Support for the Internet Mail add-on for Notes Mail is hard to find. The support web site listed in the add-on's own help file (http://service2.boulder.ibm.com/nov/) no longer mentions it, and the place where the official IBM page for information on the add-on used to be (http://www.austin.ibm.com/pspinfo/mailpop3.html) has disappeared; pretty much the only useful IBM site I could find still around is the Internet Mail Problem Database, although it does answer some good questions. In fact, it's difficult to find the Internet add-on package itself anywhere on IBM's or Lotus' servers; without third-party sites like Gary Hammer's Must-Have, you might not be able to find it at all. (It wasn't even on Hobbes until I realized this and uploaded it)

As to support for Notes Mail itself, the Lotus site at http://www.support.lotus.com/ offers a variety of documents on aspects of the full Lotus Notes package, but since Lotus' support libraries include a LOT of stuff on Notes, finding anything on just Notes Mail 4.1.x for OS/2 is like finding a needle in a haystack. Pay-as-you-play support is always available from Lotus via phone and fax, of course; see the file SUPPORT.TXT on your Notes Mail CD for more details.


Lotus Notes Mail looks nice and includes a variety of features, but most of those related to Internet Mail are simply done better by other email clients on the market. Support for other modern features such as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy, for Internet email encryption) and message filtering are nonexistent in Notes Mail, so despite the fact that its price (free) can't be beat, I simply can't recommend Notes Mail for the typical Internet user. The program is simply too great a resource hog to justify using it just for email. If you're on a Lotus Notes server, I can see where its use would be a good choice, but if all you'll be using it for is Internet email, don't. Spend the money to get a regular email client and you'll save yourself a lot of aggravation.

* * *

Lotus Notes Mail 4.1.x

by Lotus Development Corp.
from Warp 4's Notes Mail CD
Registration: Free

Ryan Dill is a student in Computer Science at Acadia University in Wolfville, NS and e-Zine! 's assistant editor. He is reported to be relieved that, with the advent of Warp 4, talking to your computer is no longer considered a sign of mental instability.


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