With Notes Migrator for SharePoint 5.3.3, it is now possible to “Render” a Notes document with its original Notes form. Rendering basically means taking a snapshot of the way a document is supposed to appear in the Notes client, and putting the entire thing into a single rich text field. This includes all the visual elements on the form, including form layout, field labels, graphics, and even “computed for display” fields. This can be a nice alternative to migrating all the individual data elements of a complex Notes application, especially in cases where you just want to archive the content from old applications and do not want to invest effort into migrating the application’s functionality.
Here is an example that will hopefully make things clear. Consider a standard document library in Notes. As shown below, a document in this library consists of many data fields and the form used to display such a document shows it all in a nice layout.
The most obvious choice would be to pull out fields you wanted and map them to similar fields in a custom list, a wiki page, a Word document or some other type of SharePoint document. The example below shows mapping just the Subject, Category and rich text Body field to SharePoint (along with the created/modified metadata).
If I also wanted to grab the Originator and Reviewers data I could have done a little more work to get these as well. If my Notes database had many different forms for displaying different types of documents, I would have to start thinking about how to handle them. Perhaps I would start using Content Types or split the data into multiple lists. If I wanted to keep the “look and feel” of the original form layout that we had in Notes, I could start customizing my form in SharePoint Designer or InfoPath. All of this is certainly possible, and Notes Migrator for SharePoint contains many advanced features for making all this as easy as possible, but sometimes it is hard to justify the effort. We especially see this with old, out-of-date applications. Sometimes our customers don’t care about rebuilding a working application in SharePoint, they just want to archive the data in a user-friendly format.
Our “Render” feature is intended to solve this problem. Here is an example of the above document rendered with its original Notes form and saved as a single rich text field. We did not have to figure out what the various fields in the application did; we simply captured the way it used to look in Notes and put it in the Body field.
Notes Migrator for SharePoint 5.3.3 contains several new features for rendering Notes documents. If you want to skip the boring details of defining a source data definition for rendering the documents in your application, you can start by loading in the prebuilt “Render.pmsrc” data definition included with the product. Or you can customize your own data definitions as described below.
First of all, there is a Render target column type that you can use in your Source Data Definitions. In most cases you will want to set the Option to HTML for mapping to SharePoint. Specifying a Form to render with is optional. If you don’t specify one, each document will be rendered with its default form (using the “FORM” item in each individual Notes document).
Images, objects and attachments from the form may be included in your migration job by using the “Scope” properties in those source data definition columns. Again you can specify an optional FormName property. This should match the FormName you specified with the Render columns (above).
On the mapping tab, you can map the Render column and attachment/image/object columns described above to any in a SharePoint list or page in SharePoint, just like you would have done with a rich text Body field.
Note that there are limitations with form rendering. As a general rule subforms, computed subforms, hide-when formulas, and computed text all work fairly well. However, some complex structures (for example hide-when formulas inside the subforms) will not always resolve correctly. In some cases it may be necessary to develop a simplified form to use while rendering documents. You can override the default form in the source data definition columns.