IBM is previewing a blogging tool on its AlphaWorks developers Web site, where it is a free download, while also introducing an application development component for blogging in the upcoming Workplace Designer 2.5 release.
The first product, known as the Weblog Preview, will work with the Workplace 2.5 and Workplace Collaboration Services 2.5 releases. IBM has yet to determine what release of Workplace the Weblog Preview would eventually be a part of. Part of that will depend on how developers respond to it, IBM representatives in Cambridge, Mass., said.
The Weblog Preview includes such features as integrated search, security and predefined user roles, as well as application templates and a single point of control for administration of blogs and other Workplace components.
Bloggers who use the tool will be able to maintain a list of favorite other blogs, with links to either external or internal blogs. In addition, the Weblog Preview provides both an Atom and an RSS syndication feed format so that readers can subscribe to their favorite blogs using their feed readers of choice. Other features include Rich Text editing, comments, support for permalinks and archiving.
IBM will also introduce a blog component as part of the Workplace Designer 2.5 release in August. According to IBM representatives, this component, targeted to developers, is intended to be more of a "learning tool" that developers can extend.
By contrast, the Weblog Preview will ultimately develop into a complete plug-and-play tool, IBM officials said.
"Weblog Preview is meant to be an out of box, full-featured blog component to add to other Workplace applications," said Chris Reckling, senior product manager for Workplace application development tools at IBM. "The Designer blogging component is partially a learning tool and partially for developers to extend with new functionality."
IBM already offers blogging capabilities within its flagship Domino collaboration product. Richard Schwartz, principal of RHS Consulting Inc. in Nashua, N.H., has used the Domino tool to publish his own blog for the last two and a half years, one of more than 100 publicly accessible blogs built on Domino. Schwartz said the Workplace blogging tool announcement was about more than gaining feature parity with Domino.
"I think [blogs] are an industry-wide trend, and IBM is making sure that all their collaboration products are keeping up with the trend," Schwartz said.
"I believe that bottom-up collaboration via blogging can be a strong complement to centrally managed enterprise collaboration and knowledge management technologies that are already in use in many enterprises, and at a low incremental cost," he said, noting that Microsofts future version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, and the upcoming Hannover release of Notes also will support RSS.
Reckling said IBM envisions enterprise blogging as a simple tool that adds to other collaborative efforts. "Its another tool in your basket for sharing information among projects and inside team spaces," Reckling said. "You post information and share ideas. Its the type of thing that really helps spur innovation, and keeps everybody up to speed within the team."
Blogging can be effective outside project teams as well, Reckling said.
"You can connect with people you dont even know who arent on your team by virtue of reading their blogs and finding out what theyre working on. It becomes a social networking tool," he said.
Smaller vendors like Traction Software Inc., Socialtext Inc. and Six Apart Ltd. are also in the process of developing enterprise blogging technologies.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information about the blog component of Workplace Designer 2.5.