Lotus Expands Options for Developers, Users

Lotus Development Corp. will be expanding its market reach on several levels by using technology from its parent company IBM Corp. and rival Microsoft Corp.

At the Lotusphere 2000 conference last month, the company announced that it would integrate Lotus Domino's collaborative and workflow capabilities with IBM's WebSphere Application Server and its transactional services and Java-based programming model.

Integrating these services, Lotus (www.lotus.com) hopes to build a set of core capabilities to accelerate application development. Those capabilities include common program environment, security, servlets and BASIC development models, common HTTP stacks, single sign-on, and simplified administration.

The integration will be delivered later this year through enhancements to Domino and WebSphere. This will enable applications to exchange security authentication and single sign-on. This integration also offers a more comprehensive environment for building the user interface for Web applications with servlets and Java Server Pages (JSPs), while using Domino to provide workflow, directory, and replication services.

IBM (www.ibm.com) will support BASIC development language LotusScript as the language for JSPs managed by WebSphere. This allows Lotus developers to create dynamic Web pages in a familiar development language. When using the Advanced Edition of WebSphere, LotusScript will be able to call Java components, and developers will be able to integrate transactional capabilities with Domino's collaborative capabilities.

WebSphere already ships with Java directory interfaces (JNDI), which offers Java standards-based access from WebSphere to Domino directory information layered on Domino Directory's standard LDAP interface. This allows companies with infrastructures based on Domino to exploit the directory information in Java-based applications for the Web and for the enterprise.

Outlook Looks Good

Every good convention needs a bit of drama. At Lotusphere 2000, this came on the first day when outgoing CEO of Lotus Jeff Papows announced in his opening keynote that Lotus would be opening up Domino access to users of Microsoft Outlook.

This is part of Lotus' effort to extend access to Domino through iNotes Release 5. INotes includes Domino Offline Services and iNotes Access for Microsoft Outlook.

Domino Offline Services takes a componentized model of the server and delivers it to the Web browser so it can do the replication with the Domino server. Now a browser can be taken offline and still have full interactivity with these applications, instead of browsing through static data. The logic is a one-time download, and then the applications are the ones that are synchronized on a regular basis.

INotes Access for Microsoft Outlook extends the Domino messaging platform and application infrastructure to users of the Microsoft (www.microsoft.com) messaging client. "The announcement we made is extending the dial tone of the Domino server to all these devices," says Ed Brill, senior product marketing manager for Domino.

Brill says there are several issues to consider before doing this. The first is productivity. While the Outlook software will access most services from Domino, there are some that Outlook isn't designed for. Interestingly, users can access Domino through the Web and all services are available.

Also, there have been widely reported incidents of security leaks using Microsoft Outlook. But Brill says that since messages are routed through the Domino server, this isn't a concern. In fact, because of the mix of Domino and Outlook, many attacks can be thwarted from an operability standpoint.

To provide access to the Outlook client, administrators need only install a toolkit to the Domino server and then distribute a URL throughout the organization. When users follow the link, it will trigger a download to that user via an ActiveX plug-in that will open the access between Outlook and Domino.

A second new version of Notes is Lotus Mobile Notes, a compact version of Notes engineered for intelligent handheld and wireless devices, including the PalmPilot and SmartPhones. Mobile Notes will use the upcoming release of Lotus Mobile Services for Domino to provide access to e-mail, calendar, and directory services, as well as other applications designed by Lotus business partners and enterprise Domino and Notes developers.