Configurator: Still Most Loved After Twenty Years

By Nigel Cheshire

Here in the western world, it’s Saint Valentine’s Day today, which means that many people’s thoughts turn to love. Although it’s not a public holiday anywhere, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by many people all over the world. As you may know, we’ve been lucky enough to have an office in Tokyo for many years, and the other day I was asking one of my Japanese coworkers about their Valentine’s Day traditions.

The tradition in Japan, since the late 1950s at least, is that women give chocolates to men on February 14th. One month later, on March 14th, which is known as White Day, it’s the turn of the men to return the favor. The only catch: the White Day gift is supposed to be two to three times more valuable than the gift received on Valentine’s Day.

It turns out that there’s a bit of mystery around who St Valentine actually was, with at least three potential candidates. “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” is a quote often attributed (probably wrongly) to Mark Twain. The point is not really who St Valentine actually was, so much as what he symbolizes. Which is, of course, love. And also fainting, epilepsy and beekeepers.

Once I discovered that St Valentine is the patron saint of a few different things, I started looking into what other patron saints there are. It turns out that most aspects of life are covered by someone. From Astronauts (Joseph of Cupertino) to Zookeepers (Francis of Assisi), it seems like there’s a patron saint for everyone. Could there be a patron saint of software developers, I wondered? Yes! Although poor old Isidore of Seville also got saddled with being patron saint of the entire Internet - God bless him!

Anyhow, I’m digressing. Here at Teamstudio on Valentine’s Day, our thoughts naturally turn to our most well-loved product, Teamstudio Configurator. Here is a product that we launched in September 1997, which is still one of our best selling products today. We have sold more licenses and have more active users of Configurator than any other product.

Why does everyone love the humble Configurator so much? It fulfills a simple role: search and replace. With Configurator, you can easily find and replace text strings pretty much anywhere in Notes and Domino databases. It searches design elements and documents, so you can change hard coded server or domain names in a single pass. You can select a view or write a formula to focus a search on a particular set of documents. When searching within a design, you can target just the elements or element types you want. And, it will usually show you the text search matches in context. Configurator is also extensible. Many of its functions can be called from LotusScript.

One question we do sometimes get asked about Configurator though: why the name? Why not just call it “Search and Replace Tool”? Well, believe it or not, the original intention was to enable developers to build high performing and highly configurable applications that could easily be reconfigured (Configurated?) using this tool.

Say, for example, you have a sales force automation system built in Notes. You may have a field that captures the status of an account. When you define the static text for the field label as, say, “[#Status#]”, you can use Configurator to easily customize this static text for a client, who, for example, prefers the text label “Phase”.

Similarly, the keyword list behind the Status field may consist of the following entries: “[#Prospect#]”; “[#Customer#]”; and “[#Ex-customer#]”, which you can easily reconfigure to meet your customer’s requirements.

You can even make your application entirely configurable by creating completely generalized keyword lists that define list members as “[#Item1#]”; “[#Item2#]”, and so on.

Using Configurator you can build a form where every piece of static text is configurable. Your application runs significantly more quickly and efficiently when you use Configurator than when you use run-time @DBLookup commands.

While some people do use Configurator this way, I’m guessing that the majority of people use it as a simple search and replace tool. And based on the popularity of the product, I’d say that works for them just fine.

To read more about Configurator, click below. Happy Valentine’s Day!