This afternoon, I worked with a client and I was showing him the new features of Notes 8.5.1 after we upgraded him from 7.0.3. The first thing he. like all of my clients asked for is to restore their workspace and bookmark bar. (Why these are now disabled by default continues to baffle me - they are such productive features of Notes!) OK, that was easy enough. Workspace and bookmark bar restored.
20100610 - Erics Notes Workspace.jpg
I then stepped back and watched as my client began to work with Notes and set up his environment as we teach for maximum productivity with Notes. Then, he did something unusual - at least he tried to... he dragged an icon from his bookmark bar to the Notes workspace. It didn't work of course, but when I asked what he was doing he said that if we could drag book marks from the workspace tabs to the bookmark bar then why shouldn't he be able to drag things from the bookmark bar back to the workspace. This then led into a discussion around usability. The conclusion of the conversation and similar observations I have made before left me thinking about two workspace features I'd like to see:

Ability to drag a bookmark from the bookmark bar to the Notes workspace. From an end-user point of view there's no difference between a bookmark and a db icon on the workspace - both represent an a target. This way, I can have icons that represent databases (Applications) and icons that represent anything else I want - documents (e.g. doclinks) or URLS (web sites) etc. After all, if it is MY workspace, let me put anything on it anywhere I want it. I can do that in Windows/Mac/Linux - why not in Notes?

Ability to clone icons on the Notes workspace so I can drag them to other workspace tabs. Let me explain. I currently have icons for 400 Notes databases across 15 workspace tabs. Each are organized by context - as any good GTD Boy would do. The problem is that some of these icons have meaning in multiple contexts. If I could clone these icons (effectively making shortcuts to them) I could have EVERYTHING I want in the context I want to see it. If you are a GTDer you will immediately understand the cognitive and productive benefit of this capability.

What do you think?
 (Don't limit yourself to the way Notes has always worked before.) What would like to see you do to make the Notes workspace even more productive? As an add-on questions, how are you using the Notes workspace to better organize how you think about your work?

Discussion/Comments (9):

Ian Randall (): 6/11/2010 1:09:10 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace more productive

Youn can't drag & drop things into the Notes Workspace, but you can drag & drop stuff around in the docked Bookmark bar and with folders & sub-folders created within the Bookmark bar.

But I agree, that it would be creat to be able to drag & drop files and other object types into the Notes Workspace.

For example to drag Widgets there, use the Workspace to dock a Dashboard. Other types of objects that would be great to see in the Workspace would be things Like DropBox or an Enterprize backup folder.

I still like the Workspace because it has multiple Tabs and I remember where to find stuff more easily because of the Whitespace.

However, I would like to be able to partition the Workspace further by including Sections (like in a Notes rich text field into the Workspace and place Chicklets & other objects into each Section) or even to be able to set security to different Tabs or Sections within the Workspace would be great. Alternatively, if we could configure Sub-Tabs in the Workspace that would also be great.

Paul Farris ( 6/11/2010 4:12:54 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace more productive

Being able to Sort database icons would save time when you have pages of them and are looking for one. Searching also would help.

tom oneil (): 6/11/2010 5:09:37 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace more productive

I think IBM could learn something by taking a look a the file management UI of Windows 98. Being able to sort the Workspace icons by size, creation date, modified date, and name would probably save 3-4 hours of productivity a week.

Granted, this is all developer-speak. Our company has 1,000+ apps (not including teamrooms) and I don't think any of my users would fill up a workspace page.

Oliver Regelmann ( 6/11/2010 5:35:43 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace more productive

This all has been available in R7 using the "display this bookmark folder as workspace" feature.

Unfortunately someone decided to get rid of this in the Eclipse client.

I'm not using the workspace anymore. It's unusable, especially because of its auto-filling with databases opened from somewhere else. I'm happy with one folder of bookmarks containing the applications I use daily plus few subfolders with applications I use from time to time.

Oliver Regelmann ( 6/11/2010 5:47:06 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace more productive

BTW: Something never mentioned in these discussions: You can create links to Notes databases into your Windows start menu by just dragging the tab or bookmark to the appropriate folder.

Makes them available to tools like the Windows 7 startmenu search or Launchy. Survives client upgrades and deletions of bookmark.nsf.

Integrates totally into the users usual experience of how to start applications.

Works when Notes is not running.

I wonder if someone uses this in producton.

keith Brooks ( 6/11/2010 7:47:47 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace more productive

Bookmarks and workspace present different ways to work for different people.

Personally I don't use the workspace any longer.

Instead I use the launcher in the home page.

i use home because i can see quickly my email, cal, to do etc AND get one quick link to the apps I need(that aren't in the sidebar already or a bookmark on the left side).

The average user really doesn't touch many apps in a day compared to IT people.

But that is the beauty of Notes it's flexibility is just astounding to people when they realize it truly will work in "your way" not a forced way.

Yes some quirks exist, as you outlined above, but one can move a bookmark in the left bar to the appropriate tab in the workspace using the left bar.

Non notes apps can not reside on the workspace easily.

Eric Mack ( 6/11/2010 11:13:52 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace more productive

Good points. My comments were in no way meant to disparage the Notes Workspace. On the contrary - I think it's a powerful metaphor for information organization - one that can (and I say should) be expanded to support contextual work mode for increased productivity. It's effectively a windows environment in a windows environment. Great stuff - and great ideas in the comments.

Eric Mack ( 6/11/2010 4:24:24 PM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace even more productive

I'd also like to have the ability to drag tabs to reorganize the order -- just like I can do in Excel or most other apps. That would be a nice feature to have.

Torben Volkmann (): 6/21/2010 1:41:25 AM
Two features that would make my Notes workspace even more productive

More integration in the Vista/7 style. For example: my opera is able to open every tab in the preview windows of the task bar, while my Notes is always only a single window.

To open the Notes search for Windows search will be great, too. Something like Thunderbird, were mails can be accessed by the windows indexer. Maybe this is possible for applications AND content.

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