Recent Contacts – blessing in disguise or admin headache?

In Lotus Notes version 8 the Recent Contacts functionality was added. Users love it but for administrators it can be a bit of headache.

The problem is that it adds all recipient and sender addresses to the Recent Contacts list. Not just external contacts but also internal contacts; those that are in the central organizations Directory (NAB). Now for years I’ve been hammering my users NOT to add those internal contacts to their personal address book (PAB). Why? Well because deletions, renames and changes to the person documents in the central NAB are not automatically updated into their PAB as well. Causing the risk of addressing outdated addresses.
Anyone that did add names from the NAB into their PAB was fittingly chastised for doing so and got the “I told you so!” response when problems arose.

Not anymore…. Because with the addition of the Recent Contacts users don’t have to do anything anymore to get those internal contacts into their PAB. The Recent Contacts is part of the PAB and as soon as you address or receive a message the sender / recipient addresses are automatically added to the list. Causing a major headache for the administrator when he has to do a rename or remove a name from the NAB.

There are some options in the Preferences – Contacts section for the Recent Contacts functionality that influence what is put into it but nothing to exclude names from the NAB or any other central directory (secondary address books, Directory Assistance….).

Another problem is the totally nontransparent way in which Lotus Notes seems to resolve addressing. I’ve been doing some tests with different scenario’s and different settings and I’m still not sure I understand all the nooks and crannies that it has. Documentation on how it all works is scarce, especially when you throw things like secondary address books, directory Assistance and off-line laptop configurations into the mix.

So how to limit the downfall?
For now the best option seems to be to set the  “Recipient name lookup” option in the location document of the client to “Exhaustively check all addressbooks” and the “Mail addressing” option to “Local then Server”. This won’t eliminate the problem of having wrong addresses in your Recent Contacts list but will make sure the system throws an error indicating it is finding more then one match and giving the user the opportunity to select the correct address.

Secondly it is worth while explaining to users what the Recent contact list is and how they can clean it up.
Luckily the new 8.5.2 version allows users to right click names in their Type ahead list and select ‘Delete’ right in the list to clean up wrong addresses but this still is far from ideal.

I’m not alone in being frustrated with this new functionality. Check out these suggestions on IdeaJam (idea1, idea2, idea3), Darren Duke’s blog and a Wiki on the Recent Contacts functionality for more information and let’s hope IBM comes up with some solution to make this function more admin-friendly soon.

2 thoughts on “Recent Contacts – blessing in disguise or admin headache?

  1. Naturlijk is het voor gebruikers juist wel handig om collega's direct te kunenn kiezen vanuit de Recent Contacts functionaliteit.Wanneer Admins het lastig vinden, vw door jou genoemde redenen, dan kunnen ze eenvoudig de nots.ini variabele DPABRemoveRule= toevoegen. Waar achter = het gedeelte van de domein naam van de eigen organisatie kan worden toegevoegd.Zie ook: En probleem is simpel opgelost. Alleen de gebruiker kan nu minder gemakklijk de collega's kiezen. Mara wel altijd het juiste adres!Sasja Beerendonke-office

  2. Great tip, thanks! Will certainly test that one out. I totally agree that users love the fact that the names turn up right in their Recent contacts (hence the title) so simply taking all their colleagues out would probably get some opposition. But from an admin point of view it could solve the rename problem. Still think though that it would be better if the recent contact list would either be updated directly or if the type ahead would be filled with recent contacts as well as the central NAB/secondary directories. That would solve both the problem for the user as well as the admin.Another problem is that it won't solve the problem for secondary address books that only hold common names (e.g. customer addresses, etc).

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