Aug 17, 2007

This episode is sponsored by the number 8

Blogger: Karen Hobert

IBM Lotus released Notes/Domino 8 to the general public today. It was a little over two years ago when Ed Brill at IBM Lotus presented the "Hannover" vision with a slide deck of designs for the next generation of the Notes Client. It was an exciting turn around for a product that had be neglected in the years preceding Ed's announcements in June of 2005. I've gone on record in at least one instance to say that the new Notes 8 client is a much needed update to an interface that had begun show its age and is likely to keep customers coming back. The modernized interface includes numerous usability enhancements, an updated e-mail client that goes beyond a facelift, integrated open format productivity editors, and new extensibility features with a retracting side-bar for in-context interaction with other applications such as Sametime, Activities, and 3rd party applications. The major development with the Notes 8 client is the Lotus Expeditor-based client configuration which is an IBM extended version of the Java-based, open source rich client platform (Note that there is a Basic configuration of Notes 8 that is not built on Expeditor for those who want to opt out). The new rich-client platform makes it easier to extend the client interface as well as build and deploy composite applications that can run inside the Notes client. This new development model frees up the Notes desktop from only supporting Notes-based applications to supporting applications that can use components from multiple application sources. This is likely to be very attractive to large enterprises that have many business process applications and will keep users inside one desktop client rather than channel switching to accomplish common tasks. Of course this announcement also include Domino 8, which has also had some major enhancements with regard to performance, e-mail management including message recall, provisioning of software components and composite applications, and web service consumer capabilities. Still the big news is Notes 8. The focus has been largely on the Notes 8 client, and although IBM Lotus has said that is works on all platforms right now customers can only buy Windows or Linux based clients, Macintosh users will have to wait. (BTW, check out Volker's blog to see more hot off the press reactions to Notes/Domino 8) All of the nice updates to the Notes Mail and Calendar interfaces are not in the Domino Web Access (DWA) version. And what about Designer 8 which had some additions but has not been ported to the Eclipse-based platform? IBM Lotus has been busy this year with three new products - Notes/Domino 8, Quickr 8 and Lotus Connections - hitting the market. Now that they are out there it's time too see how IBM Lotus will evolve its web client and development strategy.


Jake said...

whew, that's a spicy meatball! All said about Notes 8 is true, but I can't help but be skeptical about any dreams of conquest with this new version. I see R8 being used to retain Notes client users more than conquer new ones -the Notes infrastructure is too daunting these days to people used to getting RIA's with Java, Flash or AJAX for pennies on the dollar that IBM sells Notes for. IMHO, Notes 8 is a very impressive answer to a question not a lot of people are asking. Don't get me wrong, I wish IBM well -esp. since I make a large portion of my living on Notes. Besides a few large clients, I just don't see that many takers for the newfound composite application capabilities that R8 proffers. Nice interface, though.

Karen Hobert said...

I was saving similar comments for future posts. Today Notes is an install-base play. IBM Lotus is at cross-roads with regard to development. The one thing that differentiates Notes/Domino from SharePoint or others is the application development. "It's about the apps!" a close colleague of mine says. Building web apps with Domino Designer still stinks and they didn't make the interface or the tools much better in this release. The days of development for the sake of the Notes client are over. Thus it's all about Domino apps, and like I still stinks. I believe composite applications will have a place in organizations. It sure would be nice to be able to combine components from different applications, make them interoperate, and wrap them up into an easily deployed package. Still that sounds like a lot of heavy lifting and I don't expect users to jump up and say "gimme that!" Lotus Component Designer 2.6 and no one has bought it yet, so there aren't that many developers lining up for composite apps for Notes clients. So yea I'm with you on this one. IBM Lotus still has a lot of decisions to make regarding their whole development road-map. Dare I mention the new products Quickr and Lotus Connections?

Jake said...

quickr and connections are a step in the right direction, but they are still behind the curve of what one can do using the new breed of open source tools. IMHO, enterprises should seriously consider the Drupal framework for a great deal of their collaborative needs. It still lacks workflow, but that will probably come soon. See this.