As we all know, it has become standard practice for IBM to refer to the next release of Notes as RNext. As engineers we usually know that the next major release coming after 7.0 is likely to be 8.0. Perhaps one of the reasons IBM is guarded about locking itself into a specific release number is Marketing. Last year IBM planned an enhancement release for Notes that was originally proposed to be 8.5.4. This later became 9.0. I am sure there were many reasons for this dramatic change from a point release to a major release without changing the content. The one most publicly stated was confusion about the addition of the Social Mail Experience that was being made available at the same time.
It seems to me that Marketing has had a fairly significant impact on the numbering scheme for Notes over the years. Prior to IBM’s acquisition the numbering for Notes followed what I would term an engineering approach. Numbers increased sequentially and major/minor release numbers reflected what was in the product. Since then a marketing approach has been adopted aimed more at trying to influence the perception of how big a change the new release is. If we were to extend the engineering approach to later releases we probably would have ended up with a different set of product numbers.
If we then look at the release date we can see that time periods between true major release has been slowly getting longer. In fact it has now been over six years since we have seen a true MAJOR release for Notes/Domino. This is despite the adoption of an agile approach by IBM for the product’s development. I would liken IBM’s approach to agile as being more in line with Dave Lavery’s experience working on the Mars Rover project than what we are becoming used to in the era of mobile development.
At Connect 2013 IBM outlined a road-map that showed the planned release of 8.5.4 with a RNext release that sounded like it would be a major (9.0) release. At Connect 2014 we still had an RNext planned with proposed dates of Q4 2014 (cloud) and early Q2 2015 (on-premise). The list of enhancements proposed for both mail and application development (XPages) all seemed to point to this being a 9.0.2 release. But that’s an engineering perspective. Marketing may feel the need to create a different perception. By then we will have gone 7.5 years without a true major release for Notes.