IBM Offers Social Networking Tools for DeveloperWorks

IBM has integrated social-networking tools into its DeveloperWorks online resource, allowing software developers to collaborate on open standards-based innovations, share profiles, communicate and find peers with similar professional interests. IBM's Lotus Connections already embraces the social-networking and collaboration model.

IBM's DeveloperWorks site may be more than a decade old, but the IT giant has decided the old dog deserves to learn a few new tricks: now integrated into the resource are several new social-networking tools allowing designers to collaborate on open standards-based projects.

DeveloperWorks includes tutorials, sample code, standards and other resources for open-standard technologies such as Java and XML. It currently has around 8 million users, according to IBM.

MyDeveloperWorks, found here, adds another layer of tools, including the ability for users to set up customized profiles, receive real-time feeds from blogs and wikis, and create groups. According to IBM, some 65 percent of the software development professionals surveyed wanted social-networking tools as part of building their skill sets and collaborating with colleagues.

With MyDeveloperWorks, developers can tailor a personal homepage to receive content on particular areas that interest them, such as XML standards, and join professional groups. They can "tackle new IT challenges by quickly establishing a worldwide network of peers, gain recognition and easily find technical resources they need to succeed in their field," Stephanie Martin, director of DeveloperWorks, said in a statement.

The site's real-time access to personalized content includes tagging, so developers can sort and track through libraries of content, and includes customizable feeds and events widgets. An in-line commenting feature allows users to ask questions and contribute input, while recommending blog posts and articles to others.

Developers can also search through others' profiles by keyword, tag, location or name to find potential collaborators, or at least someone who shares the same interests or skill sets.

Collaboration tools have begun penetrating deeply into the enterprise and IT worlds, as more and more users find utility in social-networking applications that allow for real-time messaging and collaboration. On May 4, Oracle announced an update to its Beehive platform that includes a wiki, team workspaces with granular file-sharing, and instant messaging.

IBM's Lotus Connections, along with LinkedIn, Socialtext, Jive Software and others, have all created social-networking applications for the enterprise that incorporate messaging and the ability to collaborate on projects.

In a 2008 report, Forrester Research predicted that business spending on social-networking and collaboration tools would become the biggest IT spend by the enterprise in coming years.