Domino and Sametime through Outlook

Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook (DAMO)

DAMO has basically been designed for people who want (or have to use) a Domino server but do not want to use the Lotus Notes client to access their emails.

DAMO is a plug-in for Outlook and installs with ease from the setup executable, there is no server side code. Outlook doesn’t actually communicate with the Domino server. The architecture can be seen in the diagram below.

This drawing has been re-drawn directly from the IBM Redbook (see further reading at bottom)

The client uses a local replica of the address book and a local replica of the mail database in nsf format. The local mail.nsf file replicates documents to and from the server but after replication replaces the full document with a truncated document thus allowing DAMO to keep track of documents using their unique ID. By using truncated documents the size of mail.nsf is mimimal. (note the file is note called mail.nsf and normally defaults to shortname.nsf). The data, DLLs and other code is all stored in Program FilesDominoForOutlook.

Digging into the DAMO Layer

The extension manager allows DLL calls and other tasks to be triggered by specific Domino events. The real aim of the extension manager is to allow DAMO to be changed easily as more functionality is made available in future Domino releases.

The replication layer uses nwrdeamn.exe to create the replicas initially and then maintain synchronisation between the .PST and Domino server .nsf. The local .nsf files are referred to by IBM as the cache. The sequence for first replication is:

• Create mail.nsf

• Create names.nsf

• Pull data into mail.nsf (documents and folders only)

• Create folders in .PST

• Push documents into .PST (see mapping module below)

• Truncate documents in cache (local nsf)

The mapping module works in tandem with the replication layer. This comes into play when messages are moved, created or received. Lets look at when a document is delivered to the user:

• New mail arrives in mail.nsf on the server.

• DAMO polls the server (at a defined interval) for new mail.

• Replication Layer pulls changes to the local cache.

• Mapping Module then creates, or modifies, documents in the .PST.

• The Mapping Module also provides the necessary mapping between Outlook and Domino to allow for calendars, meeting invitations, reminders and free-time lookups to work correctly from within the Outlook client.

Outbound mail is a similar flow:

• New mail stored in Outbox within .PST

• Outlook informs DAMO of pending message.

• DAMO then uses MAPI to create a message in the local mail.box.

• Replication Layer then pushes mail over NRPC to the Domino server mail.box where server routing processes look after onward delivery.

The users Lotus Notes ID file is used to secure access and features such as encrypted emails to be created and read from within the DAMO client. The look and feel is the same as Outlook with no real changes to the front end.

Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook look and feel:

At the back end shows where the plug-in has modified the menu options in Outlook:

Usability

I like Outlook as a client for email and use it personally at home for pop3. Being familiar with Outlook already made the transition to DAMO a no issue switch. So if you are considering switching your back end from Exchange to Domino and want to retain the look and feel then DAMO is for you. I’m not going to review Outlook usability here.

Applications will be a different kettle of fish, in that unless the application has been written to be browser accessible then the Lotus Notes client will be needed on the desktop and DAMO becomes redundant.

One problem I experienced was that Outlook with DAMO did not recognise http:// as a URL and hence hyperlinks were not available within messages. Messages transmitted as html messages with <a href…/a> tags were fine but it appears that NRPC messages are transmitted locally as rich text and the HTTP links are not recognised as such.

Domino Clustering and DAMO

It works! Enough said! Now you can have Outlook clients with an application level failover solution which has a proven track record and does work.

DAMO Server Load

The redbook from IBM claims that 1 DAMO user = 1.2 Lotus Notes client users. I assume by this they mean Online Notes compared to DAMO. In our accounts we have observed that a DAMO client compared to an offline Notes client can consume as much as 100 times the resources of a correctly configured offline user.

DAMO and Directory Catalogs

Using directory catalogs (a cut down lightweight version of the address book) is a popular for taking address books offline. Unfortunately if your directory catalog server is different to your mail server it does not appear to be possible to set a different address book server (though I’m sure I remember seeing an Address Book Server Dialog somewhere). Hence you end up with the full directory (although the replica is very small in comparison). So design of your dircat topology needs to reflect this (i.e. host dircat on the mail servers).

Presence Awareness

MSN Messenger presence awareness works as with Outlook connected to an Exchange server! (and hence I assume but haven’t tested Office Communicator 2005 with Live Communication Server (one for future testing I think!). Perhaps someone with MS experience will be able to comment and let me know what the Outlook roadmap includes – for example I’m not sure whether the Office Communicator Plug in would be configurable to provide presence awareness with the necessary active directory tweaks (i.e. mapping email addresses).

Presence awareness with TeamMessenger, an Outlook plug-in which connects to Sametime, also works with DAMO (and interestingly also works concurrently with MSN Messenger). The functionality is a compromise whereby presence and chat is enabled through a separate window which hovers over the screen (see below).

Wherever you place the window it obscures some part of the screen which you will need to use at some point. You can run without the window but you have to click the “whos online” button to see who from a message distribution is online.

Here is the TeamMessenger window:

Presence awareness in the email you are reading is shown in the item tab.

The buddy list shows your buddy list as stored on the Sametime server.

Nice features of Team Messenger are a link with the Outlook Calendar which changes a users presence status to away when the user is in a meeting (this can be turned off).

In my view this functionality does not meet the in-message in-folder presence awareness available in the Notes client (incidentally this is soon to be extended to the Domino directories in release 7!).

Further Reading

http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/redbooks.nsf/0/3ffdf52c5e37973085256fb500562032?OpenDocument

2 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I’m trying to get a 3rd party app to talk to Outlook whilst Outlook is talking to Domino server via DAMO.
    The 3rd party app is setup to use Outlook’s MAPI interface and works fine when Outlook is connected to exchange. The app puts calendar entries into a mailbox.
    When using DAMO, the 3rd party app claims not to have access to the mailbox even though Outlook requests permissions via dialogue box when the app attempts to make the entry. Permission is granted by clicking ‘allow for 10 minutes’ (for example) but then the 3rd party app claims not to be given permission. Using the Outlook client to make a calendar entry works fine.

    What do you think could be going wrong and can I fix it from a setting somewhere?

    Ta,
    Mark.

    Like

  2. DAMO with OCS (MS Office Communications Server). I am trying to use Office Communicator with Outlook 2003 & DAMO 7.0.2. The Outlook with DAMO seems to work fine. The OCS however is unhappy with Outlook giving me am “outlook integration error”. It says there is a problem with the profile.

    Any ideas on this?

    Like

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