Exporting Data from Lotus Notes Databases

Lotus Notes was innovative and, by most accounts, a great collaboration software in its heyday. Though there are still some 35 million users of Notes, there are regular rumors of its imminent demise.

Because of this, some organizations that have used Notes over the years may want to move to some other system, such as SharePoint. Getting data out of Notes for reporting or for use in a different system is not very straightforward, as there are several options depending on your needs.

The first is to connect Notes to SQL, which I covered back in June 2012.

Exporting from Lotus Notes
Exporting from Lotus Notes

Another is to export the data into Lotus 1-2-3, and then into Microsoft Excel, if need be. This is problematic for many Excel users today, as you cannot open Lotus 1-2-3 files with versions of Excel newer than Excel 2003.

Exporting view data into a comma separated value (.csv) file is another option. I have read that this particular option does not always work exactly right, especially if there are commas or some other special characters in the data, so YMMV.

The main problem with all of the above options is that you can only export data shown in a particular view with these methods. Unless you want to create (or already have) a view that has all document fields in the view, you won’t be able to see them all. If you want to export all the data in each document, you must export documents into what is called “Structured Text”.

Structured Text, while readable by text editors, cannot be directly imported into CSV or other formats using only Word or Excel. However, some tools been developed for this purpose. One example of such a tool is the Structured Text Parser (STP) written by James J. Schwaller. Tools such as these will make converting data from Lotus Notes into other formats or for use in other systems much simpler, and will not require hiring contractors or buying expensive tools that you will not need once your data is converted.

Good luck!

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