XPages - are they really that dead, yet?

Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 2:04 PM UTC

Today most of us came across the following Tweet and blog post:

Though some of the statements are true I wanted to outline my point of view.

First of all: I don’t think XPages as a development platform are dead, and here is why:

XPages is a set of tools for rapid web development on Domino. There is currently no comparable toolset on Domino to achieve a similar result. No, I am not talking about forms and web query agents - these are not RAD but just a crutch.

Of course you could utilize the pure servlet approach like Eric McCormick showed a while ago but that’s just half of the story - there is no frontend and rendering involved directly.

Regarding means that help the developer to get a quick and ok-ish result, XPages still rule.

The downside of XPages is that they were outdated even when they were released back in 2008, because the base platform (JSF) was old and still is even older - but it works.

People who say that XPages are dead mean that they could have been updated since several versions and during fix/feature pack updates and that is true. The version of Bootstrap that is shipped with them is not the measure I’d use because Bootstrap never was a part of the XPages itself but of the Extension Library. The Extlib is part of the platform, yes, but this was just a topping since 9.0.0 - and not a native platform feature.

Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of things I don’t like in XPages, but overall they do their job. If you are completely into modern web development the question should be: „is Domino the right platform to do that?“. The answer is „no“ if you ask me. If you ask for the right database platform my answer would be „yes“. I’d prefer Domino over all the other database around - except when it comes to performance in large environments.

Security-wise Domino is the winner with out-of-the-box settings that protect your data instead of exposing everything until you do „something“.

But back to the XPages platform. I am with those people who ask for a clear roadmap for XPages. Since the times of V10 (even during the beta phase) the focus was on opening Domino for other web platforms such as Node.js. Though I don’t think that I will ever create a complex application on Node.js which interacts with Domino data, I think HCL was right in focusing on that technology instead of „modernizing“ XPages. Keep in mind that HCL only had roughly a year to bring a new major release with completely new features such as DQL.

I guess we will have a roadmap for XPages when V11 is out. The problem with XPages on V10 is that some user complain about unstable behaviour and errors in apps that worked perfectly on 9.0.1. If there are differences then HCL has to react and fix the problems. Otherwise adoption is doubtful.

There are even more important things that have to happen for V10 - and this is language packs. I heard Group 1 languages will be available in the beginning of February 2019 - but let’s see what happens.

My two cents is that saying „XPages is a dead platform“ just because we don’t have roadmap is the same as saying „Domino is a dead platform“ because we didn’t have a roadmap for years a while ago - and look what happened during the past year.

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