IBM Buoys Workplace Development with New IDE
August 30, 2005 Alex Woodie
IBM filled out its Workplace portal strategy last week when it released Workplace Designer version 2.5, a new script development environment for creating composite applications that run on the recently released Workplace Collaboration Services and Workplace Services Express portals. With support for iSeries and other platforms, Workplace Designer is a key component of IBM’s Workplace strategy to combat Microsoft‘s Exchange juggernaut, while providing a Java-centric roadmap for Domino programmers.
You can take your pick of studies that show IBM losing market share to Microsoft in the e-mail server and collaboration marketplace–IDC and Gartner have recently come out with them. While the two rivals have historically had similar sized install bases that number in the tens of millions, Microsoft has begun to put distance between it and Big Blue in the last several years. Workplace is central to IBM’s key to competing in this market, which is increasingly focused on portals that offer an integrated assortment of features like e-mail, instant messaging, Web logs, RSS feeds, file sharing, calendaring, and “presence awareness.”
IBM throttled down on its Workplace development effort earlier this year with the release of Workplace Collaboration Services version 2.5, its enterprise-strength Workplace offering, and Workplace Services Express version 2.5, a scaled-down version aimed at small- and medium-size businesses. Both of these Workplace portals run on OS/400, although Workplace Collaboration Services requires the latest i5/OS release (see “IBM’s Workplace Collaboration Suite Is Almost Ready” for more on the portals).
With the release of Workplace Designer 2.5, organizations now have the tooling to start building applications that will run in these portals. While Workplace Designer is based on the Java-based Eclipse IDE, it does not require a Java genius to use. In fact, while IBM’s collaboration strategy appears to be headed toward Workplace and Java, IBM has done its best to make Workplace attractive to Domino Designer users by supporting Domino scripts and Notes constructs within the Workplace Designer IDE.
The product is primarily used to build role-based, document-oriented applications, such as expense report, change request, or project management applications. In any event, Workplace applications, which are deployed through a Web browser or the “smart client” Workplace interface, feature an array of collaboration capabilities. Applications and portlets built with Workplace Designer are deployed as loosely coupled “composite applications,” in-line with today’s service oriented architecture (SOA) development trend.
Workplace Designer requires a Pentium-class workstation running either Windows or Linux. Licenses start at $649 per developer. For more information, see www.lotus.com/products/product5.nsf/wdocs/workplacedesigner.