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Integra Comparison with in-Application Development

White paper - In-application Development Vs Integra
by John D Head - PSC Group

The most common method used for integrating Lotus Notes with Word and Excel is the incorporation of a developer's own code into their applications. This process involves the creation of a LotusScript agent per export/report that is required which gathers the data from the various Notes documents and the pushing of this data out to Excel and Word using Microsoft COM.

This method raises a number of issues:

  • Invasive - each report requires modifications to the design of the application incorporating a new LotusScript agent. This requires regression testing of the application, modification to documentation, version control and the deployment of the new version of the application. Even if using re-usable script libraries, this process takes time and risks effecting the integrity of the application.
  • High Maintenance - modifications to a report, even simple changes like the addition of a column to the Excel export can take many hours rather than a few minutes.
  • Office/Notes version dependencies - because different versions of Microsoft Office are programmed differently and some versions of Notes implement COM slightly differently too, the in-application development requires the developer to write different branching codes to support the different combinations of Office and Word. When a new Office or Notes version ships, all the integration agents in all your applications need to be re-tested.
  • Reliance on advanced development skills - the techniques required to support this approach are those associated with an advanced LotusScript developer not a junior developer. This is not trivial stuff.
John D Head is the leading expert on in-application development for the integration of Lotus Notes with Word and Excel. John has given presentations at Lotusphere for the last 8 years on the subject of Lotus Notes to Microsoft Office integration.

John is the Frameworks Manager at PSC Group, a leading IBM Premier Partner headquartered out of Chicago.

Having seen Integra at work, in 2007, PSC Group have embraced the solution and John today spends the majority of his time on developing and promoting Notes to Office integration but now using the Integra platform.

Read John's blog

On the other hand:
  • Integra reports/exports/imports are defined within a profile created in the Integra database. Creation of new reports or modifications of existing reports are made in the Integra Profile without the need for changes to the design of the application from which the report or export needs to be undertaken.
  • Dependencies caused by different versions of Office and Notes are handled by Integra who update the software to cater for all new supported versions of these products.
  • The user-friendly approach taken by Integra including point-&-click access to features like the selection of fields to be exported including previews of forms used, the lookup wizard to access data from other views/databases etc ensures that a lower skill level is required for the report definition process. This allows super-users or junior developers to define reports which would otherwise have required an advanced developer.

Developers are however often concerned of being boxed-in by a 3rd party tool, preferring to do everything under their own control. While this is understandable given the restrictions imposed by many 3rd party tools, it has been proven that the depth of capability of Integra is such as to expand the box significantly. A prime driver for this is the event driven programming model that Integra supports which allows access to data and the processing of this data in ways that other products cannot undertake. See more details about Integra's Event Driven Programming Model.

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