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XPages - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - A Final Word

Peter Presnell, Oct 27, 2009 12:25:01 AM

Over the past few months I have been making my way through Xpages Kindergarten and on into 1st grade.  As I have been learning more and more about XPages I have made an effort to share my experiences.  Not so much with code, but rather my impressions of Xpages and how my Xpage learning may be relevant to my role as a Notes developer.  My views have evolved over time - not always in the same direction.  A school excursion last weekend to the Taking Notes Podcast studios allowed me to catch up with fellow XPage bloggers Matt White & Declan Lynch along with hosts Bruce Elgort and Julian Robichaux to share our experiences with Xpages.  So perhaps now is a good time to bring this series to an end with a final few thoughts before moving on to the next phase of my Xpage experience.  The part where I start to walk the talk and write (and share) some actual code....

The Good:

In my mind there is no one "Outstanding" thing about XPages.  Rather, there is a lengthy list of good points.  XPages adds another design element to the Notes developer's arsenal.  It is especially relevant to the Domino Web developer looking for ways to produce high quality Web applications without a high effort.  It brings to Notes development new capabilities such as the Repeater Control allowing solutions that were previously very hard to do.  SSJS also has HUGE potential as a Notes programming language.  In the future Xpages promises to extend the reach of the Notes platform significantly when it provides access to other data sources such as Relational Databases.

The Bad:

At this time Xpages struggles to provide a compelling case for Notes client development.  When rendered in a Notes client at best an Xpage looks/feels like the Web browser it is in fact running inside.  There are still a great many features in Classic Notes that cannot be reproduced in XPages.   Classic Notes design elements cannot be easily migrated to an Xpage.  XPages also doesn't support LotusScript preferring to use SSJS.  It is to be expected that these issues will be addressed in later versions of Notes.  Until then I do not see a major move towards XPages outside of Web client (and some dual client) applications.  We are in a development platform void with Notes Classic no longer being extended/modernized and XPages still incomplete.

The Ugly:

The clear winner here is documentation.  I still find it difficult to believe that IBM invested so much time and energy in developing XPages, made the Designer client free, but still forgot the importance of explaining to developers how to use this new technology.  XPages are complex and challenging to learn.  It is a good thing the Notes community has stepped in to fill part of this void with Declan's 54 part series, the DominoDesigner Wiki, David Leedy's Notes in Nine, and a growing number of opensource projects on OpenNTF.  Even in 8.5.1 the documentation didn't improve.  In fact it fell behind with very few of the new XPage features in 8.5.1 being documented at all.

For more details on these and other topics covered in my series:-

Part The Good The Bad The Ugly
I View Reuse Importing Legacy Code
II Source View No LotusScript Support Documentation
III Drag/Drop Documentation
IV Outline Panel
Designer Stability
V Custom Controls
Screen Real Estate
VI So Many Features Too Complex
VII Computed Values Nothing Is Added To Notes Classic
VIII Data Sources Cross-Browser Compatibility
IX Multi Client Fidelity Multi Client Fidelity
X Themes Importing Forms
XI Controls Controls
XII Repeater Control
IBM's Sole Focus
XIII Page Lifecycle
Page Lifecycle
XIV Validation Validation



Over the coming weeks I will be focusing more on code and solutions based upon XPage technology.  Much of it will be blogged here on the XPages Blog.  Many of the examples will be available via my xDomino Framework project which can be downloaded from OpenNTF or viewable online at

3 responses to XPages - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - A Final Word

John Turnbow, October 28, 2009 12:34 AM

Very nice post... Yes, Documentation is ultra ugly. It's great so many people have stepped up and offered so much of their time and knowledge. Hopefully IBM/Lotus is listening to you and does a better job.

Elijah Lapson, October 27, 2009 8:04 PM

Thanks Peter I am finding these reviews incredibly useful as well being in Xpages Pre-School (I dropped back a year while waiting for 8.5.1). I find myself nodding my head in the affirmative direction as I read your posts particularly around the Documentation piece. Without the vibrant community pitching in I surely would have given up ages ago.


Vamsi Guduri, October 27, 2009 4:57 AM

Peter, Thanq very much for sharing your views regarding to XPAGES, I am following your reviews right from the beginning and they are really very interesting and educating.Recenlty i started my own encounter with the XPAGES and hope all these details are helpful.