PDF Converter vs. Seascape for Notes (Part 1)

Our customers frequently ask us which of the two SWING archiving solutions for IBM Lotus Notes/Domino is better suited for their specific needs. On the face of it, both products convert Notes documents to PDF, and both products will also save all of your Notes application metadata and attachments.

However, there are several subtle differences between these two solutions, and also several not-so-subtle differences. In this series of posts we shed some more light on the main points of differentiation between our SWING PDF Converter and Seascape for Notes products.

We also provide a few real-life usage scenarios to illustrate the types of projects each of the products is typically used for.

Starting Simple: Point and Click Export

There are several scenarios where choosing SWING PDF Converter is a no-brainer. For example, a user may need to select documents or emails and export them as individual PDFs on disk, or as a single PDF binder or package. Or, the user may even want to export an entire IBM Lotus Notes view to an automatically generated folder structure on disk, with PDF files saved in the appropriate folders.

These kinds of scenarios can be met using our add-on for the IBM Notes client toolbar. It enables users to simply select documents or emails in Notes and convert them to PDF files. Alternatively, users can launch the conversion dialog directly and choose specific view categories or folders to export, chose a structured or flat export type, select a PDF naming rule for the job, as well as a bunch of other export options.

The users of the PDF Converter toolbar add-on typically export their Notes data for compliance/audit purposes, for sharing Notes data with non-Notes users, or for archiving project-related documents. Every Notes document (or email) becomes an electronic record, which preserves content, original layout, attachments, and metadata.

Mixing it up: Batch Exports, SharePoint Uploads and API

The real power of PDF Converter becomes evident when you throw several dozen IBM Lotus Notes applications at it, and ask it to export the data from these applications to PDF/XML files in a batch process. Hundreds of our customers have used PDF Converter’s server-side archiving jobs to export thousands of applications and generate gigabytes upon gigabytes of archived data.

When the preferred export format is PDF/XML files, and when there are many applications to be exported, then the PDF Converter will again be the correct choice. Using PDF Converter’s batch export feature, administrators can select multiple applications and export them to PDF/XML files without writing a single line of code.

For the code-savvy though, PDF Converter also provides an extensive and well-documented Lotus Script API together with code examples. So when the PDF export capability needs to be incorporated in a custom Notes application, or when an archiving project requires the use of custom built functions, then too PDF Converter will be the correct choice.

The final most frequent scenario where PDF Converter takes precedence over Seascape is when the exported Notes data needs to be uploaded to SharePoint and Office 365. PDF Converter enables you to connect directly to your SharePoint library, and upload the PDF files and metadata.

However since the volumes of data being exported can at times be extremely large, there are several instances where it is actually much better and more efficient to export data to Seascape archives, and not upload it to SharePoint. More on that in our next article.

UPDATE: Seascape for Notes now includes the SharePoint Uploader module for easy migration of archived Notes content and data to SharePoint list or library.

A Few Real-Life Scenarios

Here are a few real-life examples of how our customers deployed and used PDF Converter:

  • Scheduled and ran automated data exports from Notes applications on a weekly basis. Each week, PDF Converter exported only the new documents created after the previous scheduled export.
  • Created and ran an archiving job on the server, automatically exporting 50+ databases and hundreds of gigabytes of data to the destination folder structure. The folder structure was generated automatically using a custom Notes formula.
  • Deployed the PDF toolbar icon to Notes clients for online and offline use, allowing their users to create PDF files from local replicas while not being connected to the Domino server.
  • Copied PDF Converter libraries into their custom Notes application, and provided the users with the PDF creation feature right within the application.
  • Exported 100,000 documents to a SharePoint library with automatic mapping of selected Notes fields to corresponding SharePoint properties. Scheduling was used in order to run the jobs on weekends when they would not interfere with day-to-day operations.

The list goes on, with projects ranging from a single database to exporting hundreds of applications.

In the next post of this series, we will talk about typical usage scenarios for Seascape for Notes.

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