Lotus Notes to SharePoint Blog

Blog about Dell's Notes Migrator to SharePoint tool and other things related to Lotus Notes migration projects

Migration basics: Migrating to Document Libraries

From the perspective of a migration specialist, a library is very similar to a list. The main difference is that in a library, each “document” is an actual binary file with various data properties associated with it.

Therefore, migrating a Notes database to a SharePoint document library could be as simple as extracting binary file attachments out of each Notes document and placing them in the library.  This simplistic approach makes sense if the Notes application itself was designed to manage binary files—that is, if each Notes document is really just a wrapper around a binary file attachment.  Domino.Doc is an example of this type of application.  In the screen shot below Notes Migrator for SharePoint was used to extracted the attachments from each Notes document and placed them in a document library.  You can also extract various metadata items about each document and map them to SharePoint properties.

image

Be aware that several things can go wrong with this type of migration job. If there are no attachments in a particular Notes document (i.e., if it is just a normal rich text document), then nothing will be migrated to the library.  If there are multiple attachments in a particular Notes document, they may all be migrated to the library but they will no longer be one self-contained document.  In either case, you have probably misinterpreted the way the Notes application was used, and it should not have been migrated to a library in this manner. 

There are two answers to this dilemma.  The first possibility is to migrate the application to a list instead if a document library.  Even if it was called a “document library” in Notes, it may be more appropriate to map it to a custom list in SharePoint.

The second possibility is generate new documents (one for every Notes document) and check those into the document library.  Notes Migrator for SharePoint can convert Notes documents to a variety of file formats, including HTML, MIME, Word, PDF, and InfoPath.  These are the binary files that you check into user will open when they click on “the document”.   The three most popular choices for formatting Notes documents as binary files are discussed below.

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a popular choice in environments that have standardized on Microsoft Office for document creation. The integration between Microsoft Office and SharePoint libraries is very good and can enable you to build a variety of powerful applications. Users can open documents from libraries, edit them and seamlessly save them back again. If a version control, check-in/check-out, or approval process or workflow has been enabled for the library, it will all work automatically. Office clients even support single sign-on with SharePoint and SharePoint Online Dedicated.

Office documents in SharePoint libraries are easy to search and you can even generate an instant SharePoint workspace to enable teams to collaborate on a particular document. Multiple users can open the same Word document and edit it at the same time, and users can see the changes being made by other users almost instantly.

When migrating Notes documents to the Microsoft Word format, you can migrate to simple unadorned Word documents or to custom Word templates. You can also migrate Notes data items to Word document properties or even to content controls in your custom template.

The following screen shot shows a Notes rich text document that was converted to a Word document on a custom letterhead template and checked into a SharePoint document library:

image

For more details on migrating to Word documents, see these posts.

PDF

PDF is another popular choice for migrating rich text Notes documents. Many organizations, especially in Europe, use PDFs to archive old content. Since PDF is now an open standard, the assumption is that there will always be a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat available in the future. An organization that has a large number of Notes databases with rich text documents may find that PDF is an ideal target format for many of them.

When PDF documents are placed in a SharePoint library, the integration is not quite as tight as it is with Office applications, but the user experience is still reasonable. Even though PDF readers and editors are not generally “SharePoint aware,” the experience of opening PDF documents is similar to downloading them from any web site. PDF documents can work with SharePoint’s search features, but you need to install a free add-on from Adobe for SharePoint’s full-text search indexer to read the content.

A word of warning about migration tools: a number of tools advertise the ability to convert Notes documents to PDF documents, but deliver poor results. If you plan to use this feature, we strongly recommend that you test the tools with your user’s most complex documents. Watch for how nested tables, embedded images, links to attachments and doc links are handled.

The following figure shows a Notes rich text document that was converted to a PDF document and checked into a SharePoint document library:

image

PDF migrations are discussed in more detail here.

Document rendering

In some cases, simply converting the rich text bodies of your Notes documents to Word or PDF files is not good enough because it does not capture the rich form layout that Notes users are used to. Without the form layout, you really haven’t captured all the information.

This is where an advanced concept known as document rendering comes in. With this technique, the migration tool “renders” each document with its original Notes form to generate a new rich text document that includes the entire form layout you had in Notes. To visualize this, compare the generated PDF document in the following figure with the PDF example provided above:

image

In addition to the rich text body, we captured the information that was presented with the original Notes form. Most significantly, we did not have to redevelop the form in SharePoint to accomplish this, nor did we have to explicitly map all the data fields that are displayed in the form header.

We used PDF in this example, but the same concept of rendering documents with forms applies equally well to Word documents, InfoPath documents, pages and even lists.

The Render With Form feature is discussed more fully here.

InfoPath

People sometimes choose the InfoPath document format when they want to migrate complex Notes applications to SharePoint, usually for one of two reasons: either the applications have complex data structures that do not lend themselves to being stored in a SharePoint List, or the applications have complex form designs that contain dynamically hidden sections, input validation rules, buttons, form events, or other sophisticated form logic. Ways of addressing the second issue are discussed in the section “Migrating Application Designs” below, so for now, we will focus on the migration of Notes content to InfoPath documents.

InfoPath data documents (traditionally called “InfoPath forms”) are really XML files that you edit using the InfoPath client (part of Office) or perhaps in a browser if your SharePoint server is running InfoPath Form Services. You specify the layout and behavior of your InfoPath form (and associate it with your desired XML schema) by creating an InfoPath form template. Typically you would store your XML data documents in a special type of SharePoint library known as a form library. This library is associated with one or more form templates in such a way that end users get a fairly seamless experience of creating, viewing and editing complex documents right from the library.

When performing a Notes migration, your main job is to convert Notes documents to InfoPath XML data documents according to a particular XML schema and check them into a form library.  Notes Migrator for SharePoint makes this fairly straightforward.  All you need to do is load in an InfoPath form template and specify how you want various Notes data elements to map to the various parts of your new XML schema.  These elements might include not only simple data fields, but also rich text, embedded images and attachments, links to external attachments, and links to other documents.  As XML schemas are not necessarily one dimensional, you may need to map one-to-many data items as well (for example, a product description document might contain multiple distributor names).

The following screen shot shows a Notes rich text document that was converted to an InfoPath document (associated with a specific InfoPath form template) and checked into a SharePoint form library:

image

NOTE:  We did not specify how the InfoPath form template was created. It may have been created from scratch by your InfoPath developer or you may have migrated an existing Notes form using Notes Migrator for SharePoint.

For more details on InfoPath migrations, look here.

Details, details, details

Additional considerations for migrating to SharePoint libraries include:

  • Notes documents contain metadata such as Created By, Created Date, Last Modified By, and Last Modified Date. Many migration tools drop this metadata during migrations to SharePoint, resulting in a major loss of business data.
  • Most Notes databases contain access control lists, which determine what specific users can do in a particular application. In addition, individual documents contain access restrictions such as Readers lists and Authors lists. Access definitions may use groups in the Domino Directory as well as roles defined for the database. Preserving all this information correctly in SharePoint may be critical to a successful migration of sensitive data.
  • If your Notes application has a concept of document versioning, make sure your migration tool allows you to correctly map the versioning to SharePoint versioning. All versions of a given document in Notes should appear to be versions of the same document in SharePoint.
  • It is common to want to assign folders during a migration. You can dynamically generate folder names in SharePoint based on data extracted from Notes.
  • Instead of folders, you may want to use a powerful new SharePoint feature called Document Sets. This feature is discussed in more detail here
  • When generating documents in a document library, you may with to put images and attachments in a subfolder or even in a different library.  This technique is discussed here.
  • For complex applications with mixed content, may wish to assign Content Types to documents as you migrate them.
  • 6 responses to “Migration basics: Migrating to Document Libraries

    1. roel ang August 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      hi steve, what is the best solution to move lotus notes data to sql server. i used n2n before but its not on the market. thanks

      roel

    2. swalch August 6, 2011 at 12:24 am

      Notes Migrator for SharePoint fully supports migrating to SQL Server. See these blog posts: https://notes2sharepoint.org/category/sql-server/.

    3. pavan November 12, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Can you share the detailed migration steps (settings) that needs to be done to migrate Notes Documents to Info Path documents
      Note: The target state for storing Info Path documents is a Document Library in SharePoint.

    4. swalch November 13, 2011 at 11:05 am

      That is too much to type here. It should be fully documented in the user guide. You can also view a web recording using the InfoPath links on this post: https://notes2sharepoint.org/2011/02/10/advice-for-teaching-yourself-notes-migrator-for-sharepoint/.
      You can also join our ongoing partner training webinar series here: https://notes2sharepoint.org/2011/10/22/free-partner-training-opportunity-notes-migrator-for-sharepoint-webinar-series

    5. Sreeni May 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Great article! Where in the tool can I specify the file type like PDF or Word.All I see in the Options under RenderHtml column in the source definition are Html,Xml,XmlNoBinary,Cd and Mime.Can you help?