What is the Future of Domino as a Blogging Platform?

This has been on my mind (and in draft) for a while, I thought I would throw it out there and see what others had to say on the subject.

Throughout the community there are a large number of blogs hosted on Domino Servers, including mine.  While a couple of people are running their own personal Domino blog template, for the most part Domino based blogs are based on one of two templates.

Option number one began as Project DX created by Steve Castledine, it later became the Domino Blog Template and if my memory is correct shipped with Domino beginning in R7.  While the Domino Blog template continues to ship with Domino 8.5.1 it is also now available on OpenNTF.

Option number 2 is the BlogSphere template created by Declan Lynch with contributions from many other individuals. Unfortunately the BlogSphere template is no longer available for download.    BlogShere was removed from OpenNTF during the time when they were sorting out licensing models (Apache vs GPL), and unfortunately does not meet the guidelines to be resubmitted under the new submission guidelines.   For those of us running the BlogSphere template, this kind of leaves us at a dead end.  Having upgraded to the 3.0.2 build a while back, that is the end of the road for BlogSphere development, and there is no real path to migrate a BlogSphere blog in to one based off of the Domino Blog template.

So now we have the state of the options available for Domino hosted blogs, lets take a look at what else is out there.  A few blogs that used to be based on Domino have already migrated off of Domino to Squarespace or WordPress.  Lets take a look specifically at WordPress and what it has to offer Themes – thousands of free (and for purchase) themes that are easily customizable are available for WordPress, and changing the theme on a blog is drop dead simple. (Yes the BlogSphere template supports Movable Type themes, but there are no where near as many as freely available themes, and it takes work to change a theme). Plugins – over 8000 plugins freely available for WordPress, to be fair I have yet to find anything I was not able to integrate in to my BlogSphere based blog, but not as simple as installing a WordPress plugin Mobile Applications – this is what I think is the real killer, while the themeing and plugins mentioned above are “nice to haves” mobile is a must!

WordPress provides mobile applications for content creation for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. Squarespace offers many of the same features, the fundamental difference being that Squarespace is a paid service, while WordPress is available free with some limitations hosted on wordpress.org, hosted for a fee with premium features or self hosted.  Sqaurespace offers an iPhone app today though I have not seen any indication of support for other mobile platforms yet.

There of course are other options like Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous and others (I am not even getting into BleedYellow or DeveloperWorks as options for Blog Hosting here even though they are both viable options), but my intent is not to spend all day reviewing blogging platforms. So what is next? I really like having my blog hosted on Domino, and I especially like having the local replica of my blog database, it makes it very easily available to me, and I tend to littler it with drafts of blog posts, some of those drafts see the light of day, others are simply deleted, but whenever I have an idea for a blog entry it takes me 2 seconds to create a draft as a reminder.  I know some of the options I mentioned above have some off line capabilities, but nothing like a local NSF. I should also mention that I have nothing but appreciation for Declan (who has helped me with my blog personally on more then one occasion)  and all of the other contributors to BlogSphere, but as that seems to be a dead end now, I feel the need to figure out what is next for me.

Beyond my blog however lets get back to the original question, what is the future of Domino as a blogging platform? While Domino ships with a Blog template I don’t really believe enterprises are using them on any large scale internally, yes I know the template is being used but it has not tooling around it to manage an enterprise deployment, an enterprise would be much better served using Lotus Connections as an internal blog platform.

So I think that leaves us with at most a couple of hundred active Domino based blogs.  Is that enough to drive someone to create projects for mobile content creation, plugins, simpler customization, and probably some migration tools to move off of unsupported blog designs.  Is there enough interest/demand to generate these tools or will myself and others move our blogs to other platforms that will support these features? As for me, I have made no decisions yet, I consider myself a consumer in this space, don’t look at me to be developing any tools.  My goal is to allow myself to focus on generation of content, and ease of publishing, not worry about the tools themselves.  I wonder what others are thinking on the matter?

25 Responses to What is the Future of Domino as a Blogging Platform?
  1. Nathan T. Freeman
    February 24, 2010 | 8:00 am

    “…an enterprise would be much better served using Lotus Connections as an internal blog platform.”

    What feature(s) is it that causes you to make this statement?

    We looked at building a conversion tool from Blogsphere/Domino Blog to Connections, but it’s pretty much impossible to convert comments, so the potential value is low.

    Now that the Domino Blog template is Apache licensed on OpenNTF, there’s a lot of things that we could to improve it. Building a conversion tool from Blogsphere and providing support for consuming WordPress themes sound like two excellent feature proposals.

    Perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to at least work on a Blogsphere -> Domino Blog converter around mid-March, if no one gets to it sooner.

  2. Ben Poole
    February 24, 2010 | 8:20 am

    Re conversion tools, don’t forget the code Matt White wrote to convert from Blogsphere to SquareSpace (via WordPress).

    The Lotusscript works pretty well, and I was able to adapt it for my own (custom) sitecomments and allwhen I evaluated Squarespace:

    { Link }

  3. Paul Mooney
    February 24, 2010 | 8:22 am

    Have to say Mitch I have been thinking (and tweeting) this too recently. Having done some work on wordpress helping a friend, I am tempted to move over. The local .nsf is a hard thing to let go of though!

  4. Stuart McIntyre
    February 24, 2010 | 8:36 am

    Great post Mitch, and your thoughts are very similar to mine. We are at an inflection point.

    My belief is that Domino is still a great blogging platform, particularly for thos ‘in the community’.

    However, we need IBM to put some focus back on the DominoBlog template – not much has changed since Domino 8.0.1, and whilst its good that it is now on OpenNTF, I worry that IBM will now abandon development – which would be a massive shame.

    Re Blogsphere – I don’t see why it not being in the OpenNTF catalog should mean the end of development, but obviously Dec may feel differently?

  5. jake
    February 24, 2010 | 8:54 am

    Patrick Kwinten has a conversation about creating a Domino CMS [url]{ Link } that could -presumably- subsume blogging functionality. Perhaps that is the discussion we should be having?

  6. Tony Frazier
    February 24, 2010 | 9:21 am

    Must be a common thought amongst Domino related blogs. I moved mine from Blogsphere to a self-hosted WordPress a couple of weeks ago. My angle is a bit different since I have not been a heavy blogger. Wanting to resume the effort, and like others having been exposed to WordPress, I thought of no better way to learn it than to use it.

    Re: your question: I agree with Stuart. The future success of using Domino as a blogging platform beyond those active in the community will depend on enhancements to allow for better enterprise management, better/easier theming/plugins, and better documentation.

    Hats off to Blogsphere and Dominoblog for showing what is possible and for allowing the growth of Domino related blogs.

  7. John Head
    February 24, 2010 | 9:26 am

    A couple of comments on “BlogShere was removed from OpenNTF during the time when they were sorting out licensing models (Apache vs GPL), and unfortunately does not meet the guidelines to be resubmitted under the new submission guidelines.”

    1. Declan could put Blogsphere back in the projects section for download. There is no limitation on what can go there

    2. Blogsphere could be submitted to the GPL Catalog very easily.

    So there is nothing stopping declan from putting Blogsphere back on OpenNTF.org but himself.

    As for Domino as a blogging platform, the ability to blog on my laptop with no internet connection outlives any reason to go to other platforms. And I just evaluated WordPress and a few others as I go thru a blog update. Offline content authoring is worth it’s weight in gold.

  8. Ben Poole
    February 24, 2010 | 9:37 am

    John, Declan cannot submit this codebase as is, there’s code in there from other people from whom he doesn’t have a “release”. I was under the impression that that was the issue?

    As for offline-blogging, I agree that that is important, but it’s not the sole domain of Dominoblogging APIs mean that there is a wealth of offline client software out there.

  9. Kathy Brown
    February 24, 2010 | 9:44 am

    Personally, as a Domino developer, I feel my blog really ought to be a domino blog. Currently, I don’t feel a need to go anywhere or change anything, but you do have a point about the future. Since I am on the blogsphere template, a converter to the Domino Blog would be an excellent option.

  10. John Head
    February 24, 2010 | 9:51 am

    @8 Ben, the projects section has no restrictions – the same rules that applied to projects before the new license terms apply today.

    As for the catalogs, Declan could still have Blogsphere commited to the GPL catalog if he has licenses for all code. If it’s a third-party piece of code, he just needs to declare it and have a license doc. Even if it’s ‘free’ he just needs a statement from the owner. Now Declan has to decide if it’s worth submitting to the catalog – he might decide to not go thru it. But there is nothing stopping him from putting it into the projects section today. The projects section is the working sandbox and there are no restrictions really. Now, don’t take this to mean you can steal or anything Emoticon , so if we get a legal notice to take something down we will. But that is happens very rarely.

    So as IP WG Chair, my interpitation is that Declan can post Blogsphere back to the Projects section without any issues today.

  11. Chris Miller
    February 24, 2010 | 12:31 pm

    I made this post a while ago when I moved my social networking topic blog to WordPress for many of the reasons you state above. If Domino blogging wants to move beyond an internal or corporate blog base (based on them having Domino) then it needs some added functionality.

  12. John Head
    February 24, 2010 | 12:51 pm

    Mitch and @11 Chris – why don’t you guys come up with a feature/wishlist of what you would like from a domino blog template/platform. Be specific – so we can break down tasks and see who wants to help. I bet half of those features are done here and there across the community, and we can get them added to the template on OpenNTF.org in some fashion. We have to start somewhere – let’s start there.

  13. Craig Wiseman
    February 24, 2010 | 1:18 pm

    @5 that’s kind of funny because Dominoblog started it’s life as a CMS, that’s what led to the DX tags, etc.

  14. Steve Castledine
    February 24, 2010 | 1:34 pm

    Craig you have a good memory cus yes the blog “stumbled” its way into being a blog after being a cms to start. It was a customer who wanted to use it as a blog who’s fault it is 🙂 It still can be used as a CMS if you understand how the templating and config doc works.

    If we find somewhere to create a list of “requirements” I would be happy, with help, to get people some enterprise stuff, features or whatever to help out here.

    I did mention at work today about needing a “kiosk style deployer setup by admin” – file > application > new etc is no good here.

  15. Mat Newman
    February 24, 2010 | 2:15 pm

    Going off-line is not the only reason I use Domino/Notes as a work/personal platform – it’s having everything in one place that’s goes beyond the “killer” feature of off-line.

    Like you Mitch, I create stuff in “draft” mode, whether it’s in the blog or my Personal Journal. Having the ability to hit an Action button in my journal to post things over to my blog is a simple add-in.

    Of course, you already know all this.

    The reason I use a (Domino/Notes) Database-based blog is simple: Subject-Categories-RichText. I know that whatever technology is around in 5 years, and whatever has been done in the presentation layer (eg:HTML-9, XML-8, CSS-6, whatever) my CONTENT will be protected from that, and still available.

    So not only can I rely on the fact that I will be able to re-use my content in 5 years, I’m also able to aggregate and locate that information in one place. That’s the main reason I stopped using M$ Word a couple of years ago – it was just too damn hard keeping track of content in so many locations, and in so many separate files.

    Oh, and it’s MINE. I can take it with me. I don’t have to worry about service providers changing their service level agreement, or preventing me from extracting my own data.

    A Notes database is THE ultimate Content Management System.

  16. Craig Wiseman
    February 24, 2010 | 3:26 pm

    @ Mr Castledine – About some things Emoticon

    Working with the DomBlog template, you can see where it has broader ambitions than just blogging. Wish you’d get the OK to take it where it could go.

    Still, excellent work!

  17. Craig Wiseman
    February 24, 2010 | 3:28 pm

    @15 / Mr Newman

    I bow to your deep wisdom. You have groked what many (including inside IBM) have missed.

  18. Mat Newman
    February 24, 2010 | 4:50 pm

    @17 – two things:

    1. Groked. Man, what a sweet word! I have added that to my vocabulary.

    2. “(Including inside IBM)”. A Sad, but true comment/indictment from a participant at one of my Designer FUNDAMENTALS courses:

    “I worked at IBM GSA for five years, and I’ve learned more about using Lotus Notes and Domino in four days. In conclusion: Lotus Notes and Domino is a powerful application, and IBM should do more to promote how powerful this software truly is. I had no idea til’ now that Lotus Notes could be used to maintain a database AND a web interface.”

    [forest gump] An tha’s all I got ta say ’bout that [/forest gump]

  19. Henning Heinz
    February 25, 2010 | 6:01 am

    I think IBM missed an opportunity by opening up Designer but not providing an easy way for running a server. Domino Express does not allow anonymous http access. More users and more developers are a good way for promoting Open Source solutions.

  20. Ferdy Christant
    February 25, 2010 | 6:26 am

    As a Domino blog template author myself, I can think of only two reasons to stick with Domino:

    – Evangelism, because of an emotional tie with the platform.
    – NSFs allowing for replication and very easy backups

    That’s it, really. Other than those reasons, Domino blog templates are miles behind what a platform like WordPress offers, in features, plugins, widgets, mobile clients, etc. I don’t think we will ever catch up, either. Blogging is commoditized and the big players have the budget, software, brand/popularity and eco system of developers.

    This is not to say that Domino blogging is dead. It is a noble cause for our community to improve Domino-based blogging tools that can be used by ourselves. Personally, I think there are more worthwhile causes to work on. I have stopped maintaining my own blog template and will in the future switch to WordPress. The world has solved blogging already, it does not need another tool. Since we cannot compete with the standard tools, my take is to just use them. Bloggers in other tech communities (Java, .NET) also tend to just use the standard tools, a .NET developer could care less that his blog is built in PHP, just like he does not care that Facebook or Digg is built in PHP. It’s a service, and Domino has no differentiating advantages to offer in this area.

  21. Ferdy Christant
    February 25, 2010 | 6:31 am

    Sorry, forgot to mention the following. Besides Domino not offering any real advantages in blogging, it has a few disadvantages as well:

    – Hosting. Sure, you may be able to solve it. But WordPress hosting (which is PHP hosting) is widely available and dirt cheap. Domino hosting is not.

    – Compatibility. Once you go Domino for blogging, it is hard to switch later on. There are migration tools from MT to WordPress, but none that I know of for Domino. Domino’s URL scheme can be a problem as well if you want your links to keep working.

    – Integration. The common platforms allow for a lot of integration scenarios, for example a blogging client for the iPhone, or Twitter integration. These plugins and clients obviously do not work for Domino based blogging templates.

    All in all (my two entries combined), the only reason I can think of why to use or stick with Domino for blogging is emotional.

  22. Alan Lepofsky
    February 25, 2010 | 12:33 pm

    My fav thing about blogging via the Notes client is pasting in images. No need to upload a picture, then reference it. I just just hit paste! That said, I don’t get all the HTML image attributes.

    I would most likely move to WordPress if it were simple to move all my content (comments and links intact) over.

    Now that my blog looks a lot nicer, I’m happy with Notes/Domino based blogging for now.

  23. Tim
    March 8, 2010 | 8:44 am

    For those of us who put lots and lots of content into BlogSpere and now have to move it out, can anyone provide a way to do so? We have jumped to blogger (not happily). Comments from the comments sections would also be nice but we would be happy with being able to just move the daily entries? <>tim

  24. Kim Portert
    June 8, 2010 | 2:56 am

    Another interesting video I have recently come across – { Link } – how you can easily create and maintain a feature-filled web site with the Lotus Domino CMS. Hope it will be helpful Emoticon

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    June 22, 2010 | 10:28 pm

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