Lotus Notes to SharePoint Blog

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

Category Archives: Document Sets

Direct Folder / Document Set Migration

In previous versions of Notes Migrator for SharePoint, users could map document metadata (for example the Category property of a Notes application or the {BinderName} property for Domino.Doc documents) that would cause folders to be created in SharePoint. Folders would be created as needed as documents were being migrated. This worked for most cases, but there were limitations that customers would occasionally ask about:

  • Since we only migrate folders as a “side effect” of migrating documents, there was no way to migrate empty folders.
  • Similarly, there was no way to create the folders ahead of time (before migrating the documents)
  • There was no way to set permissions, created/modified metadata, or additional data columns on the newly created folders

Now in Notes Migrator for SharePoint 6.2 we offer a way to do direct folder migration. This is really two separate features that work together…

Migrating records to folders

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On the Advanced tab of your Target Data Definition, you can now indicate that you want to migrate to a folder in your target list or library.  In this mode of operation, every record you extract from the data source will result in a folder being created, instead of a document!  The only additional requirement is that you map at least one item to a target column of type Folder (which controls the new folder names). Many of the usual document migration features will now apply to folders including:

  • Mapping of permissions (using the “Map Reader/Author fields” checkbox on your Advanced tab)
  • Mapping created/modified metadata to folders (using the “Preserve Created/Modified” checkboxes on the Map Data tab)
  • Mapping additional data items to folders (requires creating a new Folder content type). 

Note that many job features that would apply to document migration will not apply to folder migrations. For example, document generation and duplicate document handling options would be disallowed in in this context.

Extracting information from Domino.Doc Binders

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One of the things that customers clearly want to do with this new feature is to migrate all the information from their Domino.doc Binders to SharePoint folders. To support this, we have added a new option to do exactly that in Domino.Doc Source Data Definitions. Simply check the Binders radio button on the Document Selection job, and now you are extracting Binders instead of Documents. Each row in the Preview represents a Binder in the current file cabinet and we have included additional columns for all of the standard Binder metadata available in Domino.Doc. Of course you can add additional columns to this query as well.

So putting these features together, you would typically map the {Title} property of your data source to a Folder column in your target. Simply checking “Map Reader/Author fields”, “Preserve Created/Modified identities”, and “Preserve Created/Modified dates” should bring over most of the other metadata but you can certainly add additional mappings if desired.

Note that this feature will only write new SharePoint folders; it will not update existing ones with the same name. So a best practice is to run the Binder migration job first (to create the folders with all the properties intact) and then run you normal document migration job.

Also note that we are planning a similar feature for extracting QuickPlace and QuickR folders, but this is not available in the current release.

Migrating to Document Sets

Similar to migrating to folders, Notes Migrator for SharePoint 6.2 also give you the ability to migrate directly to document sets. The situation here is very similar to what was described above. The tool already allowed creation of document sets as files within those document sets were being migrated. This is a powerful and popular feature, but suffered some of the same limitations.

  • Since we only create document sets as a “side effect” of migrating documents, there was no way to create empty document sets.
  • Similarly, there was no way to create the document sets ahead of time (before migrating the documents)
  • There was no way to set permissions or created/modified metadata on the newly created document sets separately from the documents.

The solution is similar to the folder solution described above. On the Advanced tab of your Target Data Definition, you can now indicate that you want to migrate to a document set in your target list or library.  In this mode of operation, every record you extract from the data source will result in a new empty document set being created, instead of a document!  The only additional requirement is that you add a target column of type DocumentSet and map a value to the DocumentSet.Name property. All of the other features of document set migration (described here) still apply. The difference is that every record you select gets mapped to a document set instead of a file within a document set.

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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.
  • Getting Started with Migration to Document Sets

    Notes Migrator for SharePoint 6.0 now allow you to migrate to SharePoint 2010 Document Sets.  Document sets are a great way to keep multiple related files together as one logical document group.  In many respects, one can think of this as a new more-powerful type of folder.  Documents in the same document set may be secured together, approved together, versioned together, etc., and the document set as a whole is displayed with a nice, customizable user interface.  In the following screen shot, the “Notes Migrator for SharePoint” document set in our marketing library contains six documents.

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    From a Notes migration perspective, there are number of ways to think about migrating content to document sets:

    • Map multiple Notes documents into the same document set.  Typically you would use some Notes data item (for example the Category field, the Product Name, or the Binder fields) to define the document sets.  In the above example, “Notes Migrator for SharePoint” was actually a Domino.Doc binder name and the six files were the documents inside the binder.
    • Map each Notes document to a unique document set.  Each attachment, image, or embedded object can now become a document inside the document set.  Not only that, you may map the rich Notes document itself to a document in the document set.  In the following screen shot, we generated a Word document to contain all the Notes rich text content and migrated all the attachments as siblings inside the document set.

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    You can easily add document sets to any migration job.  In your target data definition, simply add a field of type “Document Set” and give it a name.

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    If you are using generic document sets, that’s all you need to do here.  If you have designed a custom document set (that is, a custom content type derived from “Document Set”) edit the Document Set Template property where you can specify your custom content type as well as any additional document set properties you wish to map Notes data to.

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    Finally, return to your job Map Data tab in the Notes Migrator for SharePoint Designer and map data into your document set.  At a minimum, you need to map something to the Name property of your document set.  This value defines the name of the document set and ultimately controls what constitutes a unique document set.  Two documents migrated with the same document set Name will be packaged together inside the same document set.

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    Most the standard features that you have come to know and love when migrating documents apply to document sets as well, sometimes in interesting new ways:

    • You can migrate additional properties at the document level, the document set level or both.
    • You can migrate Notes readers and authors fields to document set permissions
    • You can place document sets into dynamically generated folders
    • You can migrate version histories of documents inside document sets
    • Document links are still preserved between documents

    Introducing the Notes Migrator for SharePoint 6.0 beta program

    Here we are with Notes Migrator for SharePoint 5.3.3  just out the door and we are already talking about the 6.0 beta!  For a variety of reasons, we were working on both releases in parallel for several months now.  The release is far from done, but the beta already includes some very cool stuff:

    • Support for InfoPath List Forms (SharePoint 2010)
    • Support for Document Sets (SharePoint 2010)
    • Adobe Acrobat (PDF) document generation
    • Option to migrate via native SharePoint 2010 web services
    • Ability to authenticate with servers running Claims Based Authentication
    • Office 365  / BPOS-S support (utilizing the above 2 features)
    • Lightweight Migration Services (for even better BPOS-D support)
    • Migrate to SQL Server databases
    • New Designer menus (including MRU lists)

    This time, the beta will be managed on the new SharePoint for All community site.  If you would like to participate in the beta program, go to http://communities.quest.com/groups/notes-migration-product-beta-group.  Sign in with your Quest Community ID, or register to create a new one.  Then press the “Ask To Join This Group” button.

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    One of the site owners will review your request and will typically approve it the same day.  You will receive a notification and then get full access to technical content and (of course) the beta build itself.

    Quest Support will not be able to help you with this version until it releases, so please use the group’s Discussion area for any questions, problems or suggestions.

    Recap of Domino.Doc migration features

    We have had pretty darn good Domino.Doc migration features since the beginning, but until recently I have not blogged about it very much.  Now that we about to release support for migrating to SharePoint Document Sets in Notes Migrator for SharePoint 6.0, I thought it was time for a quick Domino.Doc feature roundup:

    • Notes Migrator for SharePoint gives you default data definitions for migrating the defaults
      • If you really use Domino.Doc to store attachments with some metadata, than SharePoint “document libraries” are a great choice
      • If you store rich text or multiple attachments in one “document” you might prefer to send it to a SharePoint list instead
    • In the cases where users have build custom “Document Types” we give you full power to migrate the custom fields, etc.
    • We allow you to map Document Types to SharePoint Content Types (but you have to design the target Content Types yourself in advance in the current version)
    • We allow you to map Binders to SharePoint Folders
    • We map access control rules at the Cabinet level and Document level
    • You can migrate complete version histories [link]
    • You can migrate unpublished documents
    • Our analysis tools discover the hierarchy of Libraries -> Cabinets -> Binders -> Documents (similar to what we do with QuickPlace)
      • Using the automation features, you can automatically provision sites/subsites for every Domino.Doc library/cabinet
      • You can also automatically generate a new SharePoint list/library on the same site for each Domino.Doc library/cabinet
    • Our analysis tools help you zero in on which Cabinets have been customized and what customization have occurred (new Doc Types, changed subforms)
    • Using Notes Migrator for SharePoint 6.0, you will be able to migrate to SharePoint 2010 Document Sets.  Either…
      • Map each Domino.Doc Binder to a Document Set and out all the documents inside it
      • Map each Domino.Doc Document to a Document Set and out all the attachments inside it

    Putting all this together, we do a good job at automating the discovery, target assignment, site/library provisioning, and content migration.