IBM courts collaboration developers

Lotusphere will showcase development tools, forthcoming Notes Domino 7

Next week at its annual Lotusphere conference, IBM will extend its collaboration vision with an increased focus on tools.

Big Blue is expected to unveil a new version of Domino Designer, the visual, script-oriented programming tool used to build Notes and Web-based applications. Also on tap for Lotusphere: a new Workplace Designer scripting tool, details about Notes/Domino 7, and information about the next release of the IBM Workplace platform.

Lotus Notes and Domino customers have weathered much change during the past few years as IBM has inched more and more of its collaboration technology toward J2EE and WebSphere. Throughout that storm, IBM has reiterated its commitment to Lotus Notes and Domino technologies, while offering a standards-based collaboration vision for the future.

To that end, IBM will affirm support for Lotus’ flagship development tool, Domino Designer.

Version 7.0 of Domino Designer will gain capabilities to expose Notes/ Domino applications, including Lotuscript, through Web services interfaces, said Ken Bisconti, vice president of Workplace, portal, and collaboration at IBM.

Support for Web services standards such as WSDL and SOAP in Domino Designer 7.0 “will allow customers to broaden the reach of existing Domino applications and further integrate Domino with existing application needs and data sources,” Bisconti said.

Extending Domino Designer capabilities is part of IBM’s vision to offer its collaboration customers a variety of developer tools, ranging from those geared toward the business user to those aimed at the professional programmer, including Domino, Workplace, and IBM’s Rational line.

IBM will also shed light on its Eclipse-based Workplace Designer, a scripting tool for building stand-alone apps or components with its Workplace Builder development tool for business users.

IBM will also use Lotusphere to detail the forthcoming Notes/Domino 7, slated to ship this summer. Expected additions to the feature set include IM integration and the option to choose DB2 as an alternative back-end data repository to Domino.

Big Blue’s effort to reach out to developers of all stripes is a necessary step, according to David Via, an analyst at Ferris Research.

IBM realized that most Notes/Domino applications were built by businesspeople, who for the most part have shied away from J2EE tools, Via said.

“Developers of Notes applications have said the [J2EE] learning curve is just too hard,” Via added.

The new Domino Developer illustrates IBM’s commitment to development tools that businesspeople can get their arms around, Via said.

“We haven’t seen a huge rush onto the [Workplace] platform, but everything in collaboration for the past few years has been slow,” Via explained.