During the OGS at Connect 2014, IBM demonstrated the next iteration of, what can be described as, the next release of Notes. It’s called “MailNext.” While the OGS gave a fairly good overview of the interface, it was when I took the time to visit the Design Studio UX Lab that I received a much better view of MailNext.
The “home” page:
The pictures below the search bar are of people who you are interacting via e-mail. The floating numbers show you the number of messages from that individual. At a glance, you see everything you need for the day.
I think that one of the better features is in the lower right. There, it tells you who owes you something. For example, if you assigned a “To Do” or a task. Better, it also shows you that you are waiting for a reply from someone, where you asked for something. I think that this is a great tool for managing your peers and managers.
Looking at the interface, if you click on someone at the top of the screen, it pops up mini menus of things you can do with that person:
Some of the little pop up menu items are mail, calendar, chat, share.
As you have selected the individual, you see the interface change to be person (or “context”) sensitive. In the above screen shot, you see that you get a “what’s new” view, where you can view mail, mail threads from that person or that include that person. On the right, is a “team view,” where that person is included in some sort of project with you.
And, in the upper right, you see that you still haven’t read 26 messages in your Inbox.
Finally, in what could be described as your traditional Inbox view, potential enhancements include in-line attachment preview, an option to share content with a Connections Community, and “powerful search.”
Initial thoughts: While I spent quite some time with a developer in the lab, I was getting the feeling that this interface isn’t totally fleshed out. IBM has some ideas on what they want it to do, however they were very curious as to what I thought some of the icons should mean/do. For example, if I were to hover over a person’s image, and get the mini menus, I expected that if I click on the envelope, a new message would be created, populated with that person’s e-mail address. Or, see all mail that I received from that person.
There were more questions from the developer along those lines: “What do you think <x> should do?” “What do you think <x> represents?” “What are your expectations of <x>?”
And, I discovered that only certain parts of the interface work. Click on something, like “Compose,” and nothing happens. That’s one way to make sure everyone that demo’s the software, from the OGS demo, to the breakout sessions, to the Design Lab, communicates the same message. It also showed my naivete toward demos; I thought it was a fully functional demo.
Next, I didn’t get the feeling that proposed delivery dates for MailNext will be met. To me, there is still a lot of work to be done. And there wasn’t any mention of what needs to be done to the back-end Domino server (other than upgrading it).
Finally, if most/all of your users are running the IBM Notes client, you better start thinking about the ramifications of most/all of your users running mail in a browser.
What do you think of MailNext and what you saw/heard at Connect (or on one of the streamed videos?)