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The Integrated Development Environment for Domino 6

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Take a brief tour of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to see the four principal areas of the Domino Designer: the Work pane, the Programmer's pane, the Browser pane, and the Action pane. Gain a solid understanding of how Domino Designer functions and be on your way to designing Lotus Notes applications.
This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

  • Working in the Application Design Environment
  • Working with the Properties Box
  • Understanding the Work Pane
  • Using the Programmer's Pane
  • Understanding the Info List
  • Understanding the Action Pane
  • Customizing the Tools Menu
  • Printing Source Code
  • Using the HTML Editor
  • Locking Design Elements

The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Notes and Domino has steadily improved with the dramatic revamping introduced in Release 4; the introduction of Domino Designer, a separate design client in Release 5; and the many improvements made to Domino Designer 6. This interface is intuitive to work with and consistent from one design element to the next because it provides detailed, context-sensitive help with the programming constructs in all the available languages.

Quite a few changes have been added in Release 6. Autocomplete has been added to the Programmer's pane for @Functions, @Commands, and LotusScript. As you type in the Programmer's pane, Domino Designer offers to complete the commands you enter, including prompts for parameters. A new HTML editor lets you view HTML source code and see the results in an embedded Internet Explorer browser plug-in. You can also print source code from the Programmer's pane. A new Designer Tools menu lets you add your favorite editing tools to the IDE. The Tools menu also has built-in functions for Domino XML (DXL).

Programming a Domino database is done using a variety of languages. Each language has its strengths and weaknesses, and there is some overlap of functionality.

  • Formula language
  • LotusScript
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • XML
  • HTML

Part III, "Programming Domino Applications," covers the Formula language, LotusScript, JavaScript, Java, and HTML. Part IV, "Advanced Design Topics," includes Chapter 21, "Accessing Data with XML."

Working in the Application Design Environment

In discussing the IDE, I'll start with the application design area of a database. After launching Domino Designer, open a database in design mode by clicking the Open an Existing Database button on the welcome page. The database that you select is added to the Recent Databases Bookmark folder on the Bookmark bar. As you work on additional databases, they are added to the folder for easy access. When you click the Bookmark folder icon on the Bookmark bar, the Bookmarks window opens to display the list of recently edited databases. The display includes the list of design elements for each database.


You can click the push-pin icon on the Bookmarks window to lock the window in place and permanently display the design element list.

When you click a design element in the Design pane, the Work pane displays a list of the available design elements in the database. New to Designer 6 are expandable design elements. Clicking the plus sign that appears next to a design element displays the available design elements underneath. You can then click a specific design element right in the Design pane. See Figure 3.1.

Designer 6 has added some new design elements and moved others. Style Sheets and Data Connections are new. The R5 Resources category has been removed, and design elements that can be shared are now split into Shared Code and Shared Resources. Table 3.1 lists the design elements available in Release 6, with a short description of each.

Figure3.1Figure 3.1 The HTML Tags by Name view is open in the Work pane. Other views can be selected from the Design pane on the left.

Table 3.1 Release 6 Design Elements




A frameset is a container for displaying multiple pages at the same time.


Like a form, a page is used for displaying information. Unlike a form, a page cannot contain fields or subforms.


Forms are the basic unit of data collection. Forms contain fields (items) and are used to create and display documents.


Views present information stored in documents. Views contain columns, which can contain fields or formulas to display information. Selection criteria can be applied to restrict the documents presented.


Folders are similar to views, in that they present information stored in documents. Unlike views, folders do not have selection criteria. Instead, documents are placed in the folder either by hand or programmatically.

Shared Code


Agents are the primary means of automating applications. They are standalone programs that run against all or selected documents in databases, and they can be run from the Notes client or from a server. Agents can run on local databases or on server databases, can be run in the foreground or background, and can be shared or private. They also can be run manually or on demand, or they can be scheduled.


An outline provides an organizational structure for viewing and navigating through an application.


Subforms can have the same design elements as a form, but they possess an important difference: They can be embedded in other forms, and they are reusable. Whenever a subform is changed, all forms that use the subform are updated to reflect the change.

Shared Fields

Shared fields have the same attributes as a field and can be used in multiple Forms. Single-use fields can be converted to shared fields, and shared fields can be converted to single-use fields.

Shared Actions

Actions created and stored in the Other category can be shared with other design elements in the database.

Script Libraries

Script libraries can be created using Java, JavaScript, or LotusScript. They can be used throughout the database in which they are created. Java and JavaScript libraries can be accessed from other databases.

Shared Resources


Graphic files such as JPG and GIF image files are stored here and can be reused throughout the application.


New to Designer 6. Files, such as HTML files, can be added to the database and can be shared.


Java applets can be stored within the database to provide a single point of reference for sharing applets between design elements in the database.

Style Sheets

New to Designer 6. You can now add Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to your application. CSS lets you control the appearance of pages, forms, and subforms.

Data Connections

New to Designer 6. Data Connection Resources (DCRs) can be created and shared in a Domino database. A DCR can be configured to access external data from other systems.


Database Resources

This is a collection of items that includes icons, the About and Using documents, and the database script.


The database icon is a graphic image that is 32 x 32 pixels, or 1/2 inch on a side. A rudimentary editing tool is available in Domino Designer, or you can create the image in your favorite graphics editor and paste it into the Domino Icon Designer.

"Using Database"

This document is basically one big rich-text field that is launched when you Document select Help, Using This Database from the menu. Instructions for the database application are generally placed in this document.

"About Database"

This document is similar to the "Using Database" document and is launched by Document selecting Help, About This Database from the menu.

Database Script

Database scripts hook into the events for the database object itself. They are written in LotusScript and include events for opening and closing a database, for deleting and undeleting documents, for dragging and dropping, and for archiving.


Navigators are rarely used now that pages and framesets are available. A navigator provides a graphical means of moving between objects and taking actions in a database.


The Synopsis tool is not a design element, but it is included here because it is available in the Design pane. The Synopsis tool produces an analysis of the database design.

It is worthwhile to take a few moments to explore Domino Designer. Many of the design elements have their own context-sensitive toolbars, as does the design area itself. The toolbars appear under the menu bar. In addition, most of the design elements have buttons above the Work pane that let you create new design elements.

When you select a design element from the Design pane—Views, for example—the Work pane on the right lists all the objects that currently exist for the selected design element. This screen is essentially a view of design objects instead of a view of document objects. At a glance, you can see additional information about the design element, including the name of the design element, the alias name of the design element, the last-modified date, who last modified the design element, as well as whether the design element is Web- or Notes-enabled. The Agents view also displays the trigger. See Figure 3.2.

Figure3.2Figure 3.2 Agents are listed in the Work pane of this mail database. New to Designer 6 are the Enable, Disable, and Sign buttons. Also shown is the Design Document properties box.

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