Volume 6, Number 19 -- May 16, 2006

IBM Lotus Toots Open Source Horn

Published: May 16, 2006

by Dan Burger

The IBM Lotus executives love to talk about open standards for productivity tools. And it's no coincidence that the next-generation Notes client, code named Hannover, is based on the Eclipse open source framework. Eclipse-based benefits include modern graphical and modeling frameworks, plus support for service oriented architecture (SOA), composite applications, and WebSphere Portal.

During a Hannover preview at the Deutsche Notes User Group (DNUG) conference Monday, IBM Lotus executives showcased the office productivity editors that will be included in the fall 2006 beta release of Hannover. In doing so, the executives "let it slip" that the XML-based tools will offer "over 125 million Lotus Notes users alternatives to existing integration with proprietary document formats, such as those in Microsoft Office. Not that they were taking a swipe at their main competitors or anything. They just hate to see anyone get "locked in" to one software platform or vendor.

The productivity editors will include word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities, and will enable Lotus Notes users to create, edit and save documents natively in the OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard that has been approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The editors will also import and export to supported file formats used by Microsoft Office and previous versions of Sun Microsystems' OpenOffice.

IBM is touting Hannover as the first major commercial collaboration client based on the Eclipse open source framework and claims the next release of Lotus Notes will set new industry and customer precedents for openness, value, and productivity. The next version of Notes, including the productivity editors, will be available to Lotus Notes users who are current on software maintenance. IBM hopes these customers, the leading edge of the Notes installed base, will begin using Hannover in the earliest stages of its availability. The componentized architecture of Notes/Domino is important, since business logic can be deployed to either Web applications or rich-client applications.

In the hand-to-hand combat that is going on between IBM and Microsoft in the collaboration trenches, the Lotus Notes strategy is to trumpet the server-managed client capabilities as an important component for creating composite applications that extends the middleware value from the server room to the desktop. The message IBM is taking into battle is that with the next version of Lotus Notes, users will be able to combine disparate desktop applications into reusable services. It will be faster and easier to work with these new composite applications as less data is being sent across the network, IBM says. Users will also be able to work with their composite applications when not connected to the server.

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Editor: Alex Woodie
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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