Orlando, FLA.-When IBM shipped Lotus Notes 8 in August 2007, its engineers were confident that the new user interface rendered its customers’ inboxes as valuable integrated workspaces, combining e-mail, calendar, instant messaging, office productivity tools and collaborative applications.
The feedback was so positive that IBM is taking this integration up another notch in Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0.1, which are designed to leapfrog Microsoft’s SharePoint and Office collaboration and productivity suites. Due for a February 2008 launch, 8.0.1 will bring widgets to the Notes client sidebar.
Popularized by Google’s Gadgets library, widgets are lightweight applications that deliver information such as news feeds or stock quotes in small pop-up windows meant to be informative, fun and unobtrusive.
They are popular because nontechnical users can import or even drag and drop them into their existing applications without sucking up the time or resources associated with traditional software downloads.
To wit, IBM’s My Widgets feature uses IBM technology called Live Text to find patterns and phrases and associate them with a pertinent widget.
Users can drag and drop, or import various kinds of widgets such as Google Gadgets, news feeds and Web pages, into a new widgets panel in the Lotus Notes sidebar, Penny Scharfman, program director for Lotus Domino products at IBM, told eWEEK in a briefing here Jan. 21.
Live Text resembles a URL in that the text is highlighted and underlined in the body of an e-mail. For example, a manager might click on a purchase order number in an e-mail and see the real-time status of the order. The idea is to save users the hassle of leaving Lotus to find information housed on another site.
IBM is also planning an IBM Lotus Notes Traveler feature for Lotus Domino 8.0.1. Scharfman said Traveler is a push e-mail technology that automatically copies e-mail information-attachments, calendar, contacts-for Microsoft Windows Mobile wireless devices.
Big Blue is planning a slew of additional features for 8.0.1, including Domino Web Access Lite Mode, which uses a document compression algorithm that enables the bits and bytes of the Lotus Notes data to be streamed over dial-up and other slow Internet connections; a mail quota feature that keeps users up to speed on megabyte usage; a default to reply without attachments feature; and a sidebar plug-in for IBM’s Lotus Quickr document management software.
Lotus Road Map
Next in the Lotus road map are Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5 software. Slated for release in the second half of 2008, 8.5 will include support for Apple’s iCal standard; single sign-on with Windows applications; support for alternate directories; a central Notes ID vault; and de-duplication technology to copy weighty attachments and reduce storage consumption.
The release will also include major enhancements to the Lotus Domino Web application environment that will employ AJAX, style sheets, and RSS or ATOM feeds.
IBM will also further tighten Lotus Notes security with an e-mail security appliance called IBM Lotus Protector for Mail Security, Scharfman said.
Lotus Protector, the first in a series of security devices, is an anti-virus and anti-spam box based on the IBM Proventia Network Mail Security System acquired with IBM’s purchase of Internet Security Systems. The machine will block spam at the appliance before it reaches the Lotus Notes server or affects Lotus Notes software users.
In related news, IBM will update its free Lotus Symphony office productivity suite by the end of January. Symphony Beta 4 software will allow independent software vendors to program utilities into the documents that let users directly access and manage business applications from Symphony.
This door swings both ways, as inventory data can be pulled into Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets and extracted for reporting or collaboration. The Symphony team will also provide a set of IBM plug-ins, including IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting, Lotus Sametime Unyte Share and IBM WebSphere Translation Server on its community Web site.