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Why Lotus rocks in usability

Having used an earlier (1997) versions of both 123 and excel, lotus is greeeat in making usable software.

1)The infobox is probably the best revolution in usability since the toolbox. I wanted to integrate it in my app, but found out that it was patented.

2)Versions in 123 beat the hell out of  excel in scenarios, graphs and whatever simply because its far more easier to use

The only con was that amipro/wordpro sucked compared to MS Word.

I wanted to know more about what users think of 123 usability. But whatever happened to lotus corporation?.  Does anyone use 123 after openoffice?

An Indian
Monday, January 12, 2004

No it ain't so get over it.

Utopia is a place where no morons exist
Monday, January 12, 2004

Lotus was a lot larger than Microsoft, at a time.

Microsoft tried to write a successful spreadsheet, because in those times, it was a product that made a lot of money.

They wrote Multiplan for DOS. The product was a moderate success, but 1-2-3 was still dominant.

Then, Microsoft wrote Excel for the Macintosh.

It was way more powerful than 1-2-3, because it also allowed graphs to be generated based on spreadsheet values.

After that, Microsoft created Windows 1.0, 2.0, Windows/386, etc.

Lotus was still a large company, and 1-2-3 for DOS was dominating the spreadsheet field.

Microsoft then released Excel for Windows.

It had huge hardware requirements for those times: 386 or 286, and a hard-disk.

Lotus did not understand the threat - they continued to promote Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS, and also Lotus Jazz (an integrated suite).

So, instead of defending strongly against Excel by releasing a powerful new version of 1-2-3, they did almost nothing.

When they finally woke up and understood that a lot of people had already bought Excel, and that companies prefered Excel over 1-2-3, it was too late - Excel had already gained a lot of ground.

The fact that Lotus products were written in ASM has worked against Lotus a lot - Lotus was unable to adapt it's products fast enough.

Microsoft developed and improved software faster because they were using C and interpreted p-code.

Maybe the Lotus products are very good now. However, they have lost the battle a long time ago, and have given up trying.

Also, about AmiPro: I was a huge AmiPro fan. In my opinion it ran circles around MS Word 2 and MS Word 6, the two versions of Word that were around at that time. It had a very logical user interface.

However, it was written in ASM, so to make it's successor (called WordPro), they have decided to rewrite. The rewrite didn't turn out so well - WordPro was buggy, had problems, etc.

.

MX
Monday, January 12, 2004

For anyone who's never heard of the infobox, here's a link: http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg21088640

I couldn't find any screenshots, though, so I'm still a little in the dark . . . .

Rob Warner
Monday, January 12, 2004

I haven't seen the InfoBox, but it sounds like the property bar in Dreamweaver, or the property bar in QuarkXPress.

It is indeed a nice UI element.

MX
Monday, January 12, 2004

Lotus had a good thing going, but blew it.

In the day, AmiPro for Windows (Or OS/2 for that matter) was excellent.  I prefered it to Word, actually.  WordPro was a poorly conceived redo of it with too many bugs.  Second System effect.

And Lotus Notes.  Gaaaaaaah.

Flamebait Sr.
Monday, January 12, 2004

The infobox is just a fancy windowlet, by the way.

Flamebait Sr.
Monday, January 12, 2004

Isn't this kind of like wondering about Betamax when the whole world switched to VHS years ago ?

Steve Jones (UK)
Monday, January 12, 2004

"Isn't this kind of like wondering about Betamax when the whole world switched to VHS years ago"

No, it's more like wondering about betamax when the world has switched to DVD.  Let that old dog rest already!

Smitty
Monday, January 12, 2004


My copy of AmiPro 3.0 (circa 1992) runs fine on Windows XP!

Common Sense Guy
Monday, January 12, 2004

I just found on old OS/2 demo CD I got when I was in college... anyone know when that'll finally be released?  I mean, *wow*, it sure beats the pants off of Windows!

Bill S. Preston, Esq.
Monday, January 12, 2004

About an year before Microsoft released Windows 95, IBM released OS/2 Warp.

The OS simply rocked. It was more capable than Windows 95 - a Win16 application could not bring OS/2 down, while it could bring Windows 95 down.

After a few years, they released OS/2 Merlin, etc.

It was a good, solid OS, but IBM's marketing incompetence and lack of support for software vendors killed it.

While Microsoft was struggling to get everyone to develop for Windows, including game developers, IBM did all it could to kick game developers in the teeth.

The OS/2 SDK was expensive, etc.

MX
Monday, January 12, 2004

> I just found on old OS/2 demo CD I got when I was in college... anyone know when that'll finally be released?

It actually has been released quite a few times... In fact, I was  dual-booting OS/2 Warp with Windows 3.11.  32-bit multitasking OS  goodness

SC
Monday, January 12, 2004

Damn MX, beat me to the punch:-)

>IBM's marketing incompetence and lack of support for software vendors killed it
Actually, it's was probably the best decision that IBM made, killing OS/2. It was more pride than business/technical reasoning that made IBM support it for so long.

SC
Monday, January 12, 2004

Does anybody remember the pre-Internet BBS systems?

They traded a lot of text files which contained a lot of information.

Some were illegal - texts about cracking, phreaking, piracy, etc.. the underground scene was huge.

Many people, like me, explored those things in a quest for knowledge.

Some of the text files can be found on:

http://www.textfiles.com/

http://www.phrack.org/

1988
Monday, January 12, 2004

SC: Stories I heard say it was business sense that kept it live so long.

The story (legend?) is that IBM disbanded the OS/2 team once, and announced EOL. Shortly afterwards, a CEO of a large European bank took the IBM CEO of the time to a game of golf, and -- by the way -- mentioned that if IBM drops support for OS/2, on which most European banks at the time were dependent to some level, then they are all going to reconsider their business relationship with IBM.

And in two wees, the OS/2 support team came back to life for a few more years.

Anyone knows if this legend has any relationship to reality, and/or can fill in the correct details?

Ori Berger
Monday, January 12, 2004

Like MX said.  It is not that no one is better than Microsoft in a particular area.  Many were.  But overall Microsoft is less bad than the rest.

Mike
Monday, January 12, 2004

Ori Berger >>Anyone knows if this legend has any relationship to reality, and/or can fill in the correct details?

Don't know, but I just saw OS/2 running on the computer of the employee who handled me at the bank this morning :-)

Frederic Faure
Monday, January 12, 2004

What's interesting is that the market share for Lotus/Domino and Outlook/Exchange is split pretty evently. Lotus Notes has to be the least usable software ever written, but lots of corporations are using it. The only answer I've been able to unearth is that "it's more secure". But my god... the hassle in setting it up? I don't know if it's worth it.

I guess my point is that Lotus (Notes) isn't really like Betamax.

  
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I can believe the story about European (and British) banks and their OS/2 usage because most of our cash machines run on OS/2.

I used to use OS/2, (from when v2.0 was released) because it was fast, stable and reliable.  The whole point of the lousy "Not having to wait" marketing campaign was that when you moved the mouse to a different window, the "timer" (hourglass) disappeared, and you could carry on working.  Pre-emptive multi-tasking in other words.  The Windows hourglass still irritates me.

It wasn't all perfect though.  I particularly hated the "Find" dialogue box.

In 1993 I started dual booting Linux with OS/2, and a couple of years after Windows 95 was released I dropped OS/2 in favour of Windows.

Nowadays I use Linux almost exclusively, and only one of my machines is set up to dual-boot (for those awkward Windows-only apps).

David B. Wildgoose
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I used Lotus 123 AND Excel back in the day when Lotus was King and Excel was just a upstart would-be usurper. Excel was much much much better in terms of User-Interface from day one. 

Forget the functionality, forget graphs, any feature that one had the other got soon enough.

Lotus was great in the pre-GUI days, but it just didn't transition fast or cleanly enough from power-tool to user-tool.

In Excel you clicked a button or a menu, in Lotus 123 you hit the '/' key. End of story.

The King is dead, long live the King.

rhubarb
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Regarding the Windows hourglass, go dual proc and SCSI and you may never see it again.

I see the hourglass less on my dual-800MHz system than I do on my single-proc 2.4GHz system

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Doesn't Joel explain in one of his articles that Excel really took the lead when MS did research on what people actually used Excel for, and found that one of the most common uses was simply to keep lists. So they adjusted the UI accordingly.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Yes, they did a lot of research.

They also discover that people weren't switching from 1-2-3 because they had a lot of macros they already developed for 1-2-3.

So, they made Excel import the 1-2-3 macros perfectly, which is a large feat in itself, because the macro systems of the 2 programs were completely different.

MX
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The reason why Lotus has market share still is because back in the day, Lotus was much much better than the Microsoft Exchange alternative *and* because there were some great groupware applications that could be written for Notes.

Now they are using it because Notes can deal with slightly more platforms (Unix servers) and because there's nothing that works like Notes for the old Notes apps, so it is not a trivial amount of effort if you want to switch.

And big companies *hate* to deal with large IS changes.  Some haven't upgraded their Notes systems and servers for around 5 or 6 years.  Literally.

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

"Regarding the Windows hourglass, go dual proc and SCSI and you may never see it again."

Sounds like my main system, (the one that dual boots with Win2K).

Sorry, it's just not as responsive.

Having said that, Windows 2000 is an excellent OS, it's just that I think Debian is better.

David B. Wildgoose
Thursday, January 15, 2004

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