IBM is developing a next-generation Lotus Notes client that incorporates many of the rich-client features of the companys Lotus Workplace offering and may ultimately eliminate customers needs to embrace Workplace as a separate platform.
IBM had previously envisioned the next-generation Notes client release as sitting on top of Workplace, with licensing issues unclear. The updated version, slated for availability by the end of next year, incorporates much of the Workplace rich-client technology and even code, but it will not require Notes customers to license any Workplace technologies beyond upgrading their Notes and Domino licenses.
Lotus Workplace is IBMs J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition)-based messaging and collaboration platform, which the company has developed in parallel to its flagship Notes and Domino platform for the past two years. IBM has steadfastly maintained that Workplace was not a replacement for Notes and Domino, though technology road maps released by the company have envisioned some eventual merging of the technologies. In the meantime, demand has surged for Notes and Domino, with the flagship platform enjoying 17 percent revenue growth over the last two quarters.
The new Notes client, which Lotus Software General Manager Ambuj Goyal previewed at the Deutsche Notes User Group Conference and which will succeed the Notes 7 release due this summer, is code-named Hannover.
Hannover will include many of the rich-client capabilities of the Workplace client. Users will be able to drag and drop e-mail addresses to their contact lists and then have a record of all collaborative interactions and projects with which that contact has been involved. Users will also be able to track all collaborative activities in Notes through a new Activities tab. Lotus officials call this activity-centric computing.
Hannover will also support contextual collaboration—collaboration in the context of another activity—and composite applications that integrate data and functionality from third-party applications within the Notes client. Domino Designer will support the building of these applications, company officials said.
But the activity-centric capabilities should be the biggest draw for most Notes users, according to Richard Schwartz, a Domino developer and president of RHS Consulting Inc., in Nashua, N.H.
"Its going to be great new ROI [return on investment] for Notes and Domino customers, and by proving the value of activity-oriented collaboration, its going to stimulate the market for all of the Workplace technologies," Schwartz said.
Hannover will also be a server-managed client, according to IBM officials, with the client run-time provisioned, deployed, managed and locked down by the Domino server, technology that was introduced in Workplace last year.
While Notes and Domino are absorbing technology and code developed for Workplace, IBM officials said the company will continue to position Workplace as an offering that will give Notes and Domino customers additional functionality they couldnt get with Notes.