This is a replicated copy of Going Remote: Mobilizing R5 Users from Domino Pro Magazine. We provide this copy for completeness and avoid broken link.

 
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Published October 1999

Going Remote: Mobilizing R5 Users
By Richard Sinn

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 replication.

Direct Access vs. Replication
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 Kbps) connection.

The offline 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 replication.

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 steps:

    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 reference.

    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 connection.

    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 workstation!

    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 subsequent replications.

    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 synchronized.

    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 copy.)

    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 window.

    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 connection.

    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 connection.

    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 tab.

    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 synchronized.

Replication Settings
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 (Figure 2).

    3. Click the Replicate a subset of documents checkbox and select a folder you want to replicate.

    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 forwarding.

Once you've installed the modem, you need to configure a communications port to use for remote Domino access. To configure the comm port, follow these steps:
    1. Choose File, then Preferences, and then User Preferences to access the User Preferences dialog box.

    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 COM1.)

    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 in to.

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 Dialup Modem.

    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 document.


Creating a Location Document
Once you've 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 Domino servers.

To create a dial-up location document for a remote Domino user, follow these steps:
    1. Choose File, then Mobile, and then Locations to access the Address book advanced location window (Figure 5).

    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 Direct Dialup.

    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 server.

    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.

When working 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 OK.

Winding Up
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 webmaster@openloop.com or at his Web site, http://www.openloop.com/.


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