Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book Review: IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 User Guide by Karen Hooper

IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 User Guide
by Karen Hooper
Paperback : 296 pages [ 235mm x 191mm ]
Release Date : August 2010
ISBN : 1849680205
ISBN 13 : 978-1-849680-20-2

I've just finished reading Karen Hooper's excellent IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 User Guide and it's awesome. In fact, this book is so good that I'd already gone online partway through the third chapter and ordered a print copy for my workplace library.

Of course, it helps that PACKT Publishing is having an IBM Month this November. There's a bunch of special offers but the ones to really take note of are;
  • 20% off all Packt IBM print books
  • 25% off if you purchase 3 or more books
  • 30% off all Packt IBM ebooks

Back to the Review...
So, who is the audience for the book? Well, it's the layperson, the employees who are new to Notes or who need to brush up on their skills. That's not to say that there isn't good material and tips for the techies out there - but that the best value gains will come from the non-IT staff.

When reviewing technical books, I always have a goal in mind. In this case, my goal was simply to feel like everything had been covered yet still take away at least one "wow" moment where despite my long history with Notes, I pick up something new.

In this book, there were several wow moments. In fact, several times I had to put it down and get in there and have a go just to prove to myself that these "new" features worked. I'm impressed!

A Notes 8+ Book
If you're still using Notes 7, then you've got the wrong book. This is very much a book about the current Notes product. There have been massive changes in Notes 8 - 8.5 and this book walks through each of them in detail.

There are the usual chapters on mail, calendar and to-do lists but there are also sections dealing with RSS feeds, widgets, the sidebar, sametime and more. Thankfully the book is free of QuickR, Sametime (full version) and Connections references. This is a book which respects its core subject and concentrates its full attention on it.

There are a couple of ambitious chapters near the end which cover more on replication and database creation than I'd usually want my users to know but it's refreshing to see this material dealt with so simply. It's a book that you can hand up to the less technical management band and know that they'll come away with the right concepts.

Finally, the book ends with a chapter dealing with Symphony. I'd have preferred this chapter to have been two chapters earlier (in front of the technical stuff) and I'd have preferred it to go into more detail. It does however point to some very useful online resources - and since it's slightly off-topic, it's probably in the right place.

This book is brilliant. It belongs on the shelf in every IT department running Notes 8 and above. It also belongs in HR and there are whole sections which probably should be presented as part of a staff induction.

In fact, as soon as my print copy arrives (I read the eBook version), I've got a long list of people I want to circulate it through.

Don't hesitate - the IBM November specials at PACKT Publishing aren't going to last - get out there and get this book. It's the best Notes Client book I've seen in years.

Honesty Clause: I was provided an copy of this book at no charge to review. Even so, it was good enough that I really did buy it before I'd finished more than a couple of chapters.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Coming Soon - A Review of "IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 User Guide" by Karen Hooper

I've just downloaded the IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 User Guide by Karen Hooper from PACKT Publishing and will be reviewing it shortly - it's going to take me a little while to make it through the 296 page tome.

My first impressions though are good, very good. This isn't a book for developers wanting to learn XPages. It's a book for the users in your organisation, something that has been lacking in the notes world lately.

You can obtain copies of the book at the PACT Publishing Website (

Stay tuned, I'll have the review here shortly.