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Sunday, 21 February 2010

IBM Lotus Sametime - Toy throwing

The company I work for are a Domino shop and I am a big fan of what Domino server and clients can do.  But when it comes to Sametime.  I loose the will to live.  

Its obviously written by a group of developers who want, and I think are completely outside the control of what's left of the Lotus team.  Other than having Lotus in the product description and that it allegedly 'runs' on a Domino server that's where the comparison stops.

So to my reason for this seemingly un-provoked rant.

We're in the final stages of upgrading our Domino environment from 8 to 8.5 and there are a few stragglers, our Sametime 8.0.2 standard server being one.

So I did the due diligence, found out 8.0.2 isn't supported on 8.5.1 but theres positive reports of it working.  Also found that ST 8.5 had been released, oh, that also doesn't support 8.5.1 - but wasn't it released way after ?  Yes it was, remember my rant at the top ..

So we took the chance and went with the 8.5.1 upgrade with 8.0.2.  Domino install went fine, ST server started, IM came up, web site, meetings etc all working.  Great.  Started to test and found that we'd lost the ability to setup an online meeting from the Domino calendar.  Now we had this when we first upgraded from 7.5 to 8.0.2 and worked with IBM.  It was found to be which we applied to our mail template and resolved the problem.  Now its back.  

The symptoms where exactly the same.  Make the booking and the process sends the message to the mailin db where the message arrives at stcs.nsf and gets 'processed'.  At this point the ST server adds the booking to the meeting centre and I think resource DB and then emails the chair back.  Its here that the process fails - again.

Got hold of the devs and they confirmed the code was still in place, so reverted my mail design to 8 and then further back to 7 and still had the problem.  We also tried upgrading the resources.db design to 8.5.1.  

So decisions decisions.  This isn't a massively used feature but if Sametime is to get any traction in the company other than an overly complicated IM service then it needs to work, also if it wasn't fixed it would have bugged the crap out of me.

The first thing was to roll back to Domino 8.0.2 and confirm the booking function did still work before we upgraded, it did - thank you VMWare snapshots !

Rolled forward again to 8.5.1 and started going through the debug options again ..

All to no avail.

OK, no real choice so lets try 8.5.  We have snapshots, no big deal to roll back and forward.

IBM in their wisdom seem to have taken a simple if not detached application and turned it into a monster - I guess they are trying to keep up with Webex/Meeting Place.   There are now classic, meeting, proxy, WebSphere, DB2 - where does it stop.  None of which we need or want.  Its a small 200 user base who just need IM and some online meeting functions.

As always IBM's software passport site is useless.  I really hate this site with a passion.

Heres an example : Show me all German language Domino clients.  Click.  I'm presented with all English clients, no German.  Tried various ways and in the end needed to wait 4 weeks for IBM to send me the part code, which then miraculously produced a German language install.  And which still doesn't show if you select language filters.

Eventually I worked out that Standard has been renamed and is now Classic.  Then found a number of good blogs with file names .. and similar rants to mine.

Downloaded and installed Classic 8.5, on the un-supported 8.5.1 platform .. :)


Server crashed.  Gave it more RAM, crashed.  Eventually it stayed up long enough to test the calendar function which still fails.  I also found a few other problems we'd had with 8.0.2 and fixed have come back.  One being when you try and assign policies to users and bring up the directory.  In 8.0.2 Sametime doesnt support Internet Site configs so needs a SSO Web Site doc to enable the single sign on in order to be able to run the java applet that runs in the policy assignment.  Great, another example of Sametime devs not talking to their co-workers.  This stopped working again in 8.5 but I could live with that.  Then some more server crashes and a great console error.

Some generated functions exceeded the JVM method size limit and were automatically split into smaller functions. You may get better performance by manually splitting very large templates into smaller templates, by using the 'splitli

Found some scary java documentation which made some sense - but to me another example of the ST devs going with something outside the Domino norm.  Whys it even in JAVA, thats always been a pain as it only runs on Domino, so why not something clever with the native app.

Gave up, rolled back to 8.0.2 and will see if we can get that online meeting working again ..

And finally, the brilliant Cisco Click 2 Call plugin stopped working with the 8.5 IM standalone client.  Voice-mail plugin still works and ST video still doesn't.  Meeting Place anyone ? !!!

or maybe the moral here is just let sleeping dogs lie.  Left the server well alone on 8.0.2 and everything working.  But I suspect it will still screw up with the same problems when we upgraded.  Maybe I'll try a fresh install some day, or by that time just switch to Google Wave when its ready ..

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