Integrating Lotus Notes with IBM Workplace Client Technology

The Notes Application plug-in for the IBM Workplace Client Technology, rich edition lets you work with your Notes applications in the Workplace rich client just as you would in the Notes 7 client. Discover the benefits this integration has to offer.

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Gayle Thiel, Principal Technical Writer, IBM Corporation

Gayle Thiel joined the IBM Lotus Software division as a principal technical editor in 1996. Since 1999, she has been writing Lotus Notes and Domino documentation and recently documentation on integrating Lotus Domino and Extended Products with WebSphere Portal.



22 March 2005

[Editor's note: The screenshots shown in this article are subject to change and may not reflect the user interface of the final shipping product.]

Good news if you are a Notes/Domino customer or business partner who has introduced or will be introducing products that use the new IBM Workplace Client Technology into your enterprise: with Lotus Notes/Domino 7 and IBM Workplace Collaboration Services 2.5, there is more integration with the Notes client. In addition to the Notes client and Web browsers, your users will have another option for accessing their Notes applications -- IBM Workplace Client Technology, rich edition. This article describes the Notes Application plug-in for the IBM Workplace Client Technology that enables you to extend the reach of your Notes applications to IBM Workplace Collaboration Services.

IBM Workplace Client Technology is IBM's new framework for creating server-managed business applications. This framework makes it possible to provide applications for the desktop and pervasive devices that combine the rich features of traditional desktop clients with the administrative advantages of central deployment and management.

Workplace Client Technology extends the capabilities of Eclipse -- the standards-based integration platform upon which it is based -- to include support for applications that can be used off-line, for server-based provisioning, and for a choice of operating systems. The new technology allows you to create components that can be plugged into the Workplace Client Technology framework, thereby further extending the platform.

Software developers from different groups within IBM plan to create applications made up of such components, or plug-ins, to provide different capabilities for the rich client. Lotus developers were the first to create such applications: IBM Workplace Messaging and IBM Workplace Documents. Release 2.5 provides updates to these applications and introduces new features, such as activity explorer and project planner, which are part of the IBM productivity tools. ISVs and third-party developers can also create components, allowing them to achieve precisely the client experience they need for their organization.

Workplace Client Technology is available as either a rich edition (for desktop workers) or a micro edition (for mobile workers using pervasive devises). Workplace Messaging 2.0 and Workplace Documents 2.0 already include some integration with Lotus Notes. Extending this integration in the 2.5 release of the Workplace products and 7 release of Lotus Notes/Domino is the subject of this article. Let's begin by learning a little about Workplace Messaging and Workplace Documents.

Workplace Messaging and Workplace Documents

The IBM Workplace Client Technology, rich edition adds the advantages of fast response time and a strong security model (whether connected to or disconnected from the network) to the solid capabilities of Web-based Workplace applications. For Workplace Messaging, these capabilities include email, personal calendar, and personal address book. For Workplace Documents, they include collaborative document management -- the ability to create, organize, and share word processing, presentation, spreadsheet, and drawing files, and with release 2.5 release, project scheduling files. You can create and edit these files with a set of productivity tools that come with the rich client, or, you can use existing desktop applications if you have them. Workplace Documents features include document review and approval, versioning, search, and private drafts.

Figure 1 shows a Workplace Client Technology environment with the Workplace Documents application open.

Figure 1. Workplace Documents
Workplace Documents

More integration between Lotus Notes 7 and IBM Workplace Client Technology means that you can open Lotus Notes directly from within the Workplace rich client and use your customized Notes applications without modifying them. Notes applications perform the same way in both Lotus Domino and in the IBM Workplace Client Technology, rich edition, including applications developed using LotusScript and the Notes formula language. You don't need to change the way you build applications for your Workplace rich client users. When Lotus Notes 7 is released, it will support the running of all its out-of-the-box templates from within Workplace Client Technology, rich edition.


The Notes Application plug-in

The new plug-in, called the Notes Application plug-in, is what makes it possible to use Notes applications in both the Notes environment and Workplace rich client environment. To use the plug-in, you must install both a Workplace rich client application (2.5 or later) and the Notes client (7 Beta 3 or later) on the same machine. You can then use Notes features, including bookmarks, menus, document and database links, and status and progress information from within the Workplace rich client. This capability was included previously as part of a Technology Preview and will have generally availability (GA) when Lotus Notes/Domino 7 ships later this year.

When you use a Notes application from within the Workplace rich client, presence awareness and instant messaging capabilities in Lotus Notes are available either through the IBM Workplace Collaboration Services server or through the IBM Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing (Sametime) server used by Lotus Notes 6.5 and later. For customers who don't already have Lotus Instant Messaging, the ability to use the capability that comes with Workplace Collaboration Services allows them to leverage the instant messaging capabilities built into Lotus Notes without deploying Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing servers. Workplace applications communicate with messaging services using SIP (Session Initiation Protocol). Using this instant messaging infrastructure for Notes applications as well as Workplace applications allows for a common user experience regardless of which type of applications you access.

Notes users can also take advantage of the document management features in the Workplace Documents rich client, including the ability to edit documents with IBM's built-in productivity tools. You can attach documents from a shared document library and save attachments to this library.

Organizations that have applications in both Lotus Domino and J2EE may be interested in the Notes Application plug-in. Others that are interested in the plug-in's capabilities include companies that want to use the new IBM productivity tools that are part of the IBM Workplace Documents rich client offering. As this technology matures, IBM will continue to provide the unique advantages of the new technology to its Notes customers, including the advantage of centralized deployment and server-based provisioning.

Deployment

To deploy the Notes Application plug-in, you must install both the Notes 7 client and the 2.5 release of a Workplace rich client application on the client system. The rich client application may be one of IBM's or one that you develop yourself using the IBM Workplace Client Technology Toolkit. The Notes Application plug-in currently supports the Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP operating systems.

To configure Notes integration in the Workplace rich client, the administrator uses the WebSphere Application Server administrative console to confirm that a user policy setting is enabled. Under Manage User Policies - Default User Policy, make sure that the "Allow Notes application plug-in" option is selected.

Figure 2. User Policies
User Policies

The user experience

While you are working in the Workplace rich client, you can open and use Notes applications without opening your Lotus Notes client. Click Lotus Notes in the navigation panel on the left side of the Workplace rich client to open Lotus Notes to the Welcome page or to whichever page is your home page. You also see a Notes Applications navigator that contains your Notes applications and bookmarks.

Figure 3. Notes Welcome page
Notes Welcome page

You use the navigator to open a Notes application, for example, your Inbox. Many of the menu commands that you are familiar with have been seamlessly integrated into the Workplace rich client menus at the top of the screen. The Notes action bar is also still available just above the Inbox area.

Figure 4. Notes Inbox
Notes Inbox

If you create a bookmark from the Workplace rich client, that bookmark will be there the next time you start the Notes client independently. You can even set most user preferences for Notes from within the rich client, but keep in mind that not all Notes features have counterparts in the rich client. For example, settings for Toolbar preferences will have no effect on Lotus Notes while in the rich client, but would be visible if you started the Notes client independently.

If you are set up for instant messaging, your Notes applications have presence awareness and your Contacts List appears to the right of the application's display area.

Figure 5. Presence awareness and Instant Contacts list in the Workplace rich client
Presence awareness and Instant Contacts list in the Workplace rich client

To maximize the application display area, you can click the collapse-bar icons found between the different vertical areas of the screen (click the icons again to redisplay the navigation bars).

Figure 6. Full screen of Notes Inbox
Full screen of Notes Inbox

As you work in your Notes application, the rich client status bar displays the appropriate messages from Lotus Notes. If you are working in a Workplace rich client application that contains a document or database link to a Notes application, clicking the link displays the document or database within the rich client (it does not open the Notes client separately).


Just a beginning

By describing these features, we hope to share some of the excitement being generated by the integration of Lotus Notes 7 with the 2.5 release of IBM Workplace Client Technology. IBM is committed to the ongoing support of its Notes/Domino customers. As the Notes client continues to evolve, you will be poised to take advantage of the added value and greater ease of management that Workplace Client Technology has to offer.

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