Mobilizing R5 Users
One Domino feature
important for remote users is "mobile setup," which lets a remote
user connect to a Domino server over a phone or an ISDN line and
work with Domino databases on the remote server. Let's explore how
mobile setup works in Domino Release 5 (R5) and step through
configuring a remote user to access Domino databases via
A remote user
can work with Domino interactively (online) or offline via a
database replica. To work with Domino interactively, a remote user
dials up a Domino server and remains connected while working
directly with Domino databases on the server. The advantages of
working interactively are it ensures that server data is kept
updated and immediately routes mail. The disadvantages are costly
long-distance telephone charges and the normal speed limitations
when accessing a remote server via modem over a typical (i.e., 28.8
method of remote Domino access involves creating local replicas of
databases on the Domino server. Domino's mobile setup includes
replication features that synchronize replica and server databases
as well as other information (e.g., e-mail, calendar). You perform
actions on the replica databases (e.g., read, update, delete)
offline. Then, the next time you dial in to the Domino server,
Domino's replication process automatically synchronizes data between
replica and server databases. The main advantages of offline Domino
remote access are that it lets a remote user continue working when a
server is down, reduces online connect charges, minimizes the
performance hit of connecting via a home phone line, and
automatically creates backup copies of Domino server databases
(i.e., the replica databases). The main downside of the offline
mobile Domino setup is that it requires extra disk space on a remote
user's PC for replica databases.
Creating a Domino Database Replica
The next step in Domino's mobile setup is to make
a copy (i.e., a replica) of any server database the user needs to
work with remotely before he or she leaves the office. For example,
to use mail away from the office, you must create a replica of the
user's mail database locally on the user's remote workstation, such
as a laptop, before the user goes remote. Then, the user can
remotely read and compose new messages in the mail database replica.
All the user's outgoing mail is transferred automatically to a
special "Outgoing" mail database on the user's local Domino client
until it's replicated when the user connects to the Domino server
again. All the user's data (including mail and other database
documents) will then be synchronized automatically during
Domino assigns a
"Replication ID" whenever a database is created. When a new replica
is created, Domino stamps it with the same Replication ID as the
original database. Thus, only databases with the same Replication ID
can be synchronized with one another. The newly created replica is
initially an empty placeholder until the data is later remotely
synchronized through the replication process.
To create and use a replica database, follow these
1. Start at the Lotus Notes Workspace
with no open databases.
2. Click View on the menu to display
the pull-down menu. Select Show Server names and Show unread
count. Databases that say "on local" are on your client, not a
server. The unread marks indicate the number of documents in the
database that you haven't read.
3. Click once on your mail database
(i.e., the one with the envelope and your user name). You should
see it fade into the background if it wasn't there already.
4. Click Actions, then Mail Tools, and
then Who Am I? Doing this opens a new document and, toward the
bottom of the screen, you'll see your current mail server listed.
Find the server name and write it down for future
5. Press the Esc key to exit the
document that "Who Am I?" displays.
6. Make sure your mail database is
still selected. Then, click File, then Replication, and then New
Replication. You're about to "pull" a complete replica (an
identical copy) of your mail database from the server to your
local machine. If you use a LAN connection, the copying process is
relatively fast compared to downloading the replica via a modem
7. Important: Add "mail\" before the
file name so it looks like "mail\userid.nsf". Don't skip this step
if two or more users will be sharing the same remote
8. Change the Create time to
Immediately and accept the rest of the default parameters. Don't
change the replication settings at this point.
9. Click OK. Then click the Replicator
button on the bookmark bar at the left side of Domino R5 desktop
to see your mail file replicating (Figure 1).
10. The Replicator screen shows the
data being transferred and the estimated completion time. If the
time is excessive, you can terminate the replication by clicking
the Stop button and then follow the selective replication
procedures under the option Replicating over a modem — alternative
steps to avoid long replication times. After the initial
replication, you should not have excessive replication times on
11. After the replication has finished,
you may notice that the number of updates does not match. This is
because the Replicator exchanges deleted documents (actually a
"deletion stub" rather than a document) that don't appear in the
final count. This is necessary so both databases stay
12. Click the tab where your mail file
was located originally (probably the first workspace tab). You
should see two database icons that represent your mail database.
One says "on YOURSVRNAME," (where
YOURSVRNAME is the name of your Domino server), and the
other says "on Local." (If you selected Stack Replica Icons under
View, you'll see only one database, but it has a hot button in the
upper-right corner for switching from the server to the local
13. If you want to run as a
disconnected client, such as using Domino on a portable
workstation in a meeting, you can now change locations by clicking
once on the lower-right Lotus Notes client window in the
"location" area. It probably says "Office." Change it to "Island
(Disconnected)" by clicking once on the Office location box and
then clicking once on the word "Island" that appears in the pop-up
14. Your location box should change to
"Island," and you may see an Outgoing mailbox. Sometimes the
Outgoing mailbox doesn't appear on the workspace pages, but it
should always appear on the Replicator workspace page.
15. You can now terminate your network
connection by disconnecting your workstation's modem
16. To use the local copy of your mail
file, simply open it and use it as you do on the server. Any mail
you send is placed in your Outgoing Mail database and is held
there until you reconnect to the network. Any mail you delete is
deleted in your local database; the server retains its copy of the
mail document until you perform another replication.
17. Re-establish your modem
18. When you're reconnected, change the
location back to Office. You may be prompted to transfer your
outgoing mail; select Yes.
19. Regardless of whether you were
prompted to transfer outgoing mail, you still need to replicate
your mail databases again to send any changes you made to your
local database to the copy of your database on the server. For
example, you may have deleted several documents from the Inbox,
created some draft documents that you haven't sent, or simply
moved documents from one folder to another. Replicating again
sends any changes you made to your local mail database to the
server and transfers new mail in your server mail database to your
local mail file. Re-replicating also transfers any outgoing mail
if you were not prompted.
20. Click the Replicator workspace
21. Change your location back to
Office. Make sure the small white box at the left of the Send
outgoing mail and your mail database are checked.
22. Click the Start button once.
23. You should see several updates. The
number by "Sent" reflects the total number of e-mail documents
sent (i.e., one document sent to a distribution list of 100 people
displays only as "1 Sent."
At this point, both the server and local mail databases are
Each database replica
can have its own replication setting. You can perform the following
steps to set some of the replication features:
1. Verify that the Mail database
replica is selected.
2. Choose File, then Replication, and
then Settings. You'll then see the Replication Settings dialog box
3. Click the Replicate a subset of
documents checkbox and select a folder you want to
4. Click the Send icon and then click
the Do not send deletions made in this replica to other replicas
checkbox. With this option enabled, all the documents deleted in
the Mail database replica aren't copied back to the server Mail
database during replication.
5. Click OK to close the Replication
Settings dialog box.
Configuring Domino's Mobile Setup
To use Domino's mobile setup, a remote user must,
of course, have a modem connected to the remote PC via a direct-dial
analog (i.e., voice) phone line or ISDN line. Domino supports a wide
variety of modem types and models. You can configure the modem when
you install the PC's operating system, modem hardware, or Domino, or
later when you need to add, edit, or remove a modem. Make sure you
disable special phone services that can interfere with modem
transmission, such as call waiting and call
installed the modem, you need to configure a communications port to
use for remote Domino access. To configure the comm port, follow
1. Choose File, then Preferences, and
then User Preferences to access the User Preferences dialog
2. Click the Ports icon to display the
port options (Figure 3). Select the type of the port your modem is
connected to (normally, TCPIP).
3. Click the Show Status button and
verify that the selected port has no current activity and is a
valid communications port. (If the selected the port is in use,
choose another port number. For example, choose COM2 instead of
4. Click Cancel.
5. Check the Port Enabled checkbox to
enable the port.
Creating Server Connections
Once you've configured a comm port, the next step is to
define settings (e.g., server names and telephone numbers) for each
Domino server the remote user will dial in to. You do this via the
server connection document in your personal address book. At
minimum, you need the name of the Domino server that contains the
remote user's e-mail databases (i.e., home server) to let the remote
user access his or her Domino mail. Note that you need a separate
server connection document for each server the remote user will dial
To create a home server
or other server connection, follow these steps:
1. Choose File, Mobile, Server Phone
Numbers, Create, and then Server Connection to display the new
server connection document (Figure 4).
2. Verify that the connection type is
3. Type the remote user's exact home
server name, area code, and phone number.
4. Click the Save and Close button on
the Action bar to save and then close the
define the home server connection and other Domino server
connections, as needed, you need to create a location document (also
in the personal address book) to define specific communications
settings for each location in which the remote user works. You can
create as many location documents as you want, so the user can
switch among locations as needed. Domino provides four default
dial-up location documents: Island (disconnected), Office (network),
Travel (modem), and Home (modem). The location document specifies
your Domino server's location, how to dial up the server, how to
handle e-mail during the work session, among other communications
details. For example, you could have one document using a company
calling card number to access server and another using a
long-distance call to access the same server. Thus, the location
document lets you customize how a remote user communicates with
To create a
dial-up location document for a remote Domino user, follow these
1. Choose File, then Mobile, and then
Locations to access the Address book advanced location window
2. Click Add Location to access the
location document (Figure 6).
3. Type in the name of the location
document next to Location name. Use a meaningful name such as
"Hotel-ISDN Dial" or "Company X Home."
4. Verify that Location type is Notes
5. Verify that No is selected in the
Prompt for time/date/phone field. Choose only Yes if you work
across different time zones.
6. Click on the Mail tab and make sure
the Mail file location is Local (Figure 7), to work offline with a replica of your mail
database on the hard drive. Choose On server if you want to work
online with your mail database located directly on the
7. Click the Save and Close button to
save and close the document.
You can either skip entering data in the other fields (e.g.,
Location name, Internet browser) and accept the defaults or enter
your own values.
with Domino, a remote user can switch between server locations by
selecting the current location document. To do so, choose File, then
Mobile, and then Choose Current Location. Then, at the screen in
Figure 8, select a location and click
Using Domino's mobile setup
and replication support, you can read, update, and compose
information for a Domino server offline. The advantages of working
with mobile Domino include the ability to work while the server is
down, better performance than a typical online remote connection,
lower connection charges, and a local backup copy of the replica
databases you work with. Domino's mobile setup lets you truly take
advantage of Domino's groupware ability to work collaboratively both
in the corporate office and at home or on the road. For more
information about Domino, see http://www.lotus.com/ and http://www.ibm.com/.
Richard Sinn is a
staff software engineer at IBM's Santa Teresa Laboratory in San
Jose, California. He is also a lecturer at San Jose State University
and a freelance writer for different magazines and journals. You can
reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at his Web site, http://www.openloop.com/.
For more of Richard's
work, check out:
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