A recent post over at edbrill.com got me thinking about design philosophy. 'Jason' was talking about his role in migrating existing Notes apps onto the MS framework and declared...
" ... most Notes apps start out poorly designed, have tons of little bells and whistles added over time and as it becomes unscalable developers bandaid the whole thing together with scheduled agents and buttons and all sorts of nonsense. It's hard to just migrate that mound of crap overnight. If a company does it right, they'll spend the time they should have spent originally with the Notes app project and put together a sound design and data model...."
Now there's all kinds of emotive language tied up in his post but lets skip over that for the moment. Of the millions of Notes applications in use today there will be a high percentage which either were built decades ago using Notes R1 / R2 / R3 / R4 or R5 development tools and reflect the technical limits of those tools, or were built to serve a particular need and were so successful in that role that they 'grew like topsy' to fulfil other roles.
Jason's beef seems to be that those Domino applications don't map to his definition of a "sound design and data model". I'd say Jason is falling into the trap of taking a subjective set of criteria (in this case, the capability of the MS toolset) and using it to judge the business value of the existing application. It's a classic IT beartrap - seeking to define the success of a business application using non-business criteria.
When designing applications it's certainly important to pay attention to accuracy of data modelling but its also important to ensure that the application is affordable and available. Unless a business is already far advanced with their implementation of a Business Maturity Model then it's highly likely that their data models and workflows will not fit neatly into Jason's definition of a sound design and data model. Sure, you can take a long term approach and stall the database development until the business gets all of its Ducks in a Row, but in the long run, we're all dead. Incomplete design models and ever-changing business specifications are a fact of life. The Power of Notes is that it has always been capable of helping a business 'where the Rubber meets the Road' and providing good IT applications for the Here and Now. Perhaps Jason should just upgrade his toolset to Domino Designer 8.5 and see if his problems are still insurmountable.