| Beta 4 is available as of Tuesday, July 12, 2005. |
7.0 Public Welcome page
7.0 Public feedback forum
7.0 Release Notes for Beta 4
Platforms available for Notes/Domino, Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI) 7.0 and the Extended Products for Beta 3
Notes Client for Windows 2000/XP/Tablet PC
Notes, Designer and Admin Clients for Windows 2000/XP
Domino for Windows 2000/2003
Domino for AIX 5.2 and 5.3
Domino for Solaris 9
Domino for Linux (x86) United Linux 1.0
Domino for i5/OS (iSeries) V5R3
Domino for Linux for zSeries SuSE SLES8 (31 bit), SuSE SLES9 (64 bit toleration mode)
IBM DB2 Access for Domino - Windows (DAV support)
IBM DB2 Access for Domino - AIX (DAV support)
LEI for Windows 2000/2003
LEI for AIX 5.2 and 5.3
LEI for Solaris 9
LEI for Linux (x86) United Linux 1.0
Sametime for Windows, AIX and Solaris
QuickPlace for Windows
Document Manager (Dom.doc) for Windows and AIX
InsideLotus - Lotus, Portal and Social Collaborative Software
TedStanton 0600014754 950 Views
I apologize to the reading community for using way too many acronyms in such a short post. Here is then a second rev to the previous post.
I have been dabbling in the J2EE platform for the past few years and always was left short when it came to developing a web application rapidly. The more sophistication the application required the more complex the code and the artifacts supporting the code became.
Further, even if I developed a whizbang application, we had no hopes of training a novice web or Domino developer (remember, I am a consultant working on customer projects and need to perform knowledge transfer to customer contact before we closed the project). When I first saw Java Server Faces (JSF) a while back, I knew it would answer some of my prayers. In the applications I ported as an excercise from an MVC (Model View Controller) non-JSF application to the JSF model, I hardly wrote any servlet/worker Java code. The bulk of my coding was done in couple of JSPs and a bean (which was just whole bunch of fields defined with getters/setters). I can see teaching this to an existing Domino developer, who understands the data model they are dealing with very well (since they are used to doc/form/field NSF metaphor) and can build good web UI (user interface). In fact, I am trying this theory on couple of Domino developers who wanted nothing to do with J2EE (about a year ago). Will keep you posted on the progress.
JSR168 is a portlet specification that has been featured in the press more than Mars Rover exploration in the past year :) It was exciting because, now I can build and test my portlets on a lightweight container like Pluto or Jetspeed 2 (not every one has the latest laptops with p4/2G RAM) and then deploy it to WebSphere Portal server.
I also started to experiment with pure Eclipse as my IDE instead of the newly released Rational Application Developer (RAD v6). The effort was to ensure that there was a solution for any one wanting to develop JSR168 portlets or atleast get started. RAD is a very powerful tool and can overwhelm some developers.
And now for the second part of the DXL article, I wanted to use these 3 key core concepts and deliver a JSF based and JSR168 based application that lets one create/retrieve/update/delete (hence CRUD) a Domino backend.
Until next time....happy coding!
Raj Balasubramanian[Read More]
IBM is pleased to announce the next release of Lotus Notes, code-named Hannover. "Hannover" will provide users with a single, innovative and intuitive client for messaging, custom applications, and productivity tools, plus J2EE-based functions like activity management, document management, and team workspaces. This announcement came two weeks ago and the buzz is already circulating around the messaging community. The press has already picked up on the future of Lotus Notes. "Hannover" will delivery end users activity-centric collaboration. "Hannover" has all of the function of today's Lotus Notes with a new cosmetic make over to allow users a more custom feel.
Frequently Asked Questions on "Hannover"
Ted Stanton[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 775 Views
You'll be able to build apps visually, add scripts, and integrate with the templating system in the Workplace server. The script editor is nice, with all the features you'd expect around color coding, content assist, and code outlines, etc.
Documents are created according to XML Schemas, which you bind to UI Controls in a form. There's some other cool features in this area, like referencing multiple documents within the same "form/document" UI, that will be very powerful.
There's also a full object model that lets you get access to those documents on the backend. Here's some code that one of the sample writers put together to add a bunch of documents and responses to his Discussion component. You'll get the idea, even if it's not the complete code.
Look for it on developerWorks.
Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development
I have been working on the part2 to my DXL article. The UI for this series was originally going to be a JSR168 portlet(s). But over time I have become overly fond of JSF and will be forcing a JSF-based UI to access the Domino app (and perform CRUD). I will also have the code for a JSF-based JSR168 application. I have really enjoyed coding in the JSF-based metaphor. For experimental purposes and to cater to a broader audience, all of the work (coding) has been done on Eclipse 3.1RC1 (not RADv6) and the test environment has been Jetspeed 2 and Tomcat on my personal laptop. Of course, all of this (applications) will also work on WebSphere 5 and WebSphere Portal 5.1.
Stay tuned for more info...
Raj Balasubramanian[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 587 Views
There's a new article on developerWorks that features an interview with the main architects/team leads for Workplace Designer. This might be the first inside look at the product since Lotusphere 2005.
It's exciting to see the product come out of development and I think folks will be excited to try it...but, you'll have to wait a few more weeks for that.
Sr. Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development Tools
If you need to get a jump on developing components for IBM Workplace Collaboration Services, check out this wizard posted on alphaWorks.
"This plug-in for IBM Rational Application Developer provides a kick-start for developers who want to start creating Workplace components. It contains a wizard for creating the skeleton projects that make up a server-side collaborative component for IBM Workplace Collaboration Services. These skeleton projects are based on the CollabComponent sample included in the IBM Lotus Workplace Collaboration Services API Toolkit 2.5."
Please post your feedback and questions to the alphaWorks forum.
Chris Reckling[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 559 Views
The much anticipated API Toolkit has been posted to the download site.
This gives developers access via Java and Web Services to the Workplace Collaboration Services backend, as well as the Workplace Managed Client APIs. There are also some sample applications bundled in for you to check out.
Sr. Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development Tools[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 636 Views
My colleagues in development have produced an add-on to Rational Application Developer to assist in creating SWT plugins that bind to data sources. Pretty cool if you are doing that sort of work (like making Workplace Client plugins, for instance).
As they say on alphaWorks:
This technology is analogous to the Swing Data Binding shipped in Rational Application Developer (RAD), Version 6, which has been extended to include data binding for Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) components so users can effortlessly access data from various data sources (enterprise JavaTM beans (EJB), Web services, Java beans, or JDBC SDO).
This set of tools includes an intuitive user interface and, used along with the Java Visual Editor in RAD 184.108.40.206, allows easy data-binding through code generation in the most common situations in the development of a SWT-based Java application. It provides users with the ability to connect the visual SWT elements of the Java application so that they can access data from various data sources.
Sr. Product Manager, IBM Workplace Tools
1. Upgrade Central
A new content feature called Upgrade Central is now available for all Lotus and Workplace products. Upgrade Central is a new series of Technotes that provide everything customers need for planning and deploying the next release of their Lotus or Workplace software, including Fix Lists, system requirements, product documentation, installation instructions, required patches and fixes, as well as links to purchase and download the software!
1201834 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing (Sametime) 6.5.1 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=477&uid=swg21201834
1201845 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to Lotus Notes/Domino 6.0.5/6.5.4 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=463&uid=swg21201845
1201863 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to Lotus Team Workplace (QuickPlace) 6.5.1 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=855&uid=swg21201863
1201948 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to Lotus Domino Web Access 6.5.3 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=463&uid=swg21200199
1203293 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to IBM Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting 2.5 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=1054&uid=swg21203293
1202365 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to Lotus Virtual Classroom 1.1.2 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=2272&uid=swg21202365
1202369 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to Lotus Learning Management System 1.0.5 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=474&uid=swg21202369
1202430 Upgrade Central: Planning Your Upgrade to IBM Workplace Web Content Management 2.0 http://www-1.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?rs=1041&uid=swg21202430
2. Improved "Overview Sections" on product support pages
Product support web pages (the individual web pages catering to content for a specific WPLC product) have been further enhanced with Overview Sections that provide:
-Product info: A brief description of key product features upgrade Central links (described above)
-Component links: Links to Technotes for key product components (such as Domino Server and Domino Administrator from the Lotus Domino page)
-Support info: Links to the Software Support Handbook
-End of Support info: Instructions for searching the End of Support Products page for EOS versions of the product (if applicable)
-Subscriptions: One-stop shopping for learning about Lotus RSS Feeds and subscribing to the feed for that product
Please be sure to visit a product support page today!
Lotus APIs & Utilities http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/api/support.html
Lotus Collaborative Portlets http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/collab-portlet/support.html
Lotus Discovery Server http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/discovery/support.html
Lotus Domino http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/domino/support.html
Lotus Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/damo/support.html
Lotus Domino Document Manager http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/dominodocmanager/support.html
Lotus Domino Web Access http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/dwa/support.html
Lotus EasySync Pro http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/easysync/support.html
Lotus End of Support http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/endofsupport/support.html
Lotus Enterprise Integration http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/integration/support.html
Lotus Extended Search http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/extended/support.html
Lotus Instant Messaging & Web Conferencing (Sametime) http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/sametime/support.html
Lotus Learning Management System http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/learningsystem/
Lotus LearningSpace http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/learningspace/support.html
Lotus Notes http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/notes/support.html
Lotus SmartSuite http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/smartsuite/support.html
Lotus Team Workplace (QuickPlace) http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/teamworkplace/support.html
Lotus Virtual Classroom http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/virtualclassroom/
Lotus Workflow http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workflow/support.html
Lotus Workplace http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplace/support.html
Lotus Workplace Team Collaboration http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplace-team-collab/support.html
Lotus Workplace Documents http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplacedocuments/support.html
Lotus Workplace Collaborative Learning http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplace-collab-learning/support.html
Lotus Workplace Messaging http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplacemessaging/support.html
IBM Workplace Collaboration Services http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/wcs/
IBM Workplace for Business Controls & Reporting http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplace-busicontrols-reporting/support.html
IBM Workplace Web Content Management http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplace-webcontent-mgmt/support.html
IBM Workplace Services Express http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/support/workplaceservicesexpress/support.html
Ted Stanton[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 711 Views
So last week I wrote a whimsical piece about some of my favourite Glue Layer People
Life in the glue layer is about the outside-in. Pipes and filters are your abstraction of choice, you might dream of Markov chains, the calculus of design heuristics and those old standbys, the rules of thumb, as you attempt to put order and infer structure where there was none...
Now I see that IBM has acquired Gluecode and brought a few more of these strange creatures into the company fold.
In a time of tight budgets for technology development, El Segundo, California-based Gluecode helps software developers, including ones in small and medium-sized businesses or in departmental-level operations of big companies, build Java applications that run across a range of computer systems.
I know I can't wait to see what magic they'll conjure up. I only hope I don't get addicted.
Workplace Forms Development
TedStanton 0600014754 775 Views
Danah Boyd posts the abstract of a paper she's writing on The Significance of Social Software for public criticism.
In this paper, I will explore the contributions of social software. I will argue that there have been notable technological advancements, but that their significance stems from the rapid iteration of development in ongoing tango with massive user participation. In other words, the advances of social software are neither cleanly social nor technological, but a product of both.
Flash in the pan or novel?
This certainly sounds like a paper that should generate much discussion, and I can't wait to weigh in with my keyboard in dissecting it. I was reflecting on much the same question a couple of months ago in People, Processes and Things
The terms that have been used about software that aids collaboration have all been unsatisfactory. They have been mostly opaque terms (groupware, knowledge management etc) overloaded and hyped by marketing teams. Correspondingly also, lots of software in this area has been unsatisfactory even if very useful for some groups whether it's mailing lists, usenet. The flight to a quality term like "social software" that people like Clay Shirky have spurred in recent years is an exercise to escape the stigma of the reigning software. I heartily endorse that effort, but when I pass the hungry salesmen in the corridor that are trying to sell software for my company, I know that that effort will be in vain. If it's between their year-end bonuses and calling something "social software," you know what's going to win. Thus I predict that our vocabulary for software that supports groups, organizations and communities will continue to be contaminated.
There is more than mere terminology here as Danah points out; there is also the question of whether the newer software applications and the insight gained in developing them are significant.
From my standpoint, the only difference in the emergent software is that much of it is web-native and can leverage the delightful surprises and scale of the web platform (which thankfully has remained relatively open). Previously this type of software was typically on vertically integrated platforms (e.g., Lotus Notes, Groove, etc). Now if you lived with those platforms, you would know that you can in some cases get much of the immediacy of the web. As an example, Notes has always had hyperlinks of a sort, there are database links, view links and doc links. Ray Ozzie even invoked Lotus Notes' hyperlinking fundamentals in a bid to save the browser from the Eolas lawsuit. The problem with Notes hyperlinks was that they weren't simple URIs - even if you could indeed copy and paste them in Notes; they were only useful in Notes clients. The ubiquity of the web could not be leveraged in other tools. I couldn't jot down the URI to a particular teamroom on a napkin or paste it in an instant messaging window to share. On the whole nobody cares what kinds of clients you use with web-native software.
When considering social software, you have to bring in the sociologists and hence I'd point to some older case studies to consider in this arena regarding the nature of the communities that the software in question is supposed to serve.
The insight of such quotes is about the fluidity of the communities in this modern life of ours. They presage a notion of social networks with sometimes implicit rather than explicit webs of relationships. The kind of thinking required for networks needs to be flexible in order to deal with the diffuseness of our evolving patterns of discovery and social interaction. Handwaving a little, it is like the kind of shift in thinking that we have gone through in the move from desktop productivity applications (like the traditional office suites) to web applications that need to keep the network abstraction and usage patterns in mind.
I'd also throw in some Usage Statistics from Groove Networks but the details from that report seem to have vanished into the cyber ether although the summary is important in what it displays about how people actually use the software (as opposed to how the people who wrote the software thought it would be used). With appropriate metrics, those in the community can get measures of health (since as we know sometimes a group is its own worst enemy - e.g., the kind of collaborative moderation on Slashdot). The metrics can also help those who are developing the community software.
Right now the server logs at del.icio.us, Flickr and Furl are among the most valuable pieces of property in the internet. Certainly for anyone interested in social software, the kind of insight that Joshua Schachter is gaining from his logs would be invaluable.
But this goes beyond research, potentially this is something that can be translated into features of genuine use by glue layer people or perhaps that can be monetized in some fashion (e.g., through advertising supported services). If you want to be intelligent in your design of social software, sometimes you need to go straight to the source and simply ask the users (e.g., the proliferation of "Report Spam" buttons in web mail clients). Enlist the users and get them to feed you their usage patterns (e.g., the Alexa toolbar). It's no wonder that Google is trying to do the same with the launch of its web accelerator.
Workplace Forms Development[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 545 Views
I have been using Rational Application Developer v6 since the early WP5.1 beta days(November 2004).
I updated my install to v220.127.116.11 and found the Domino SDO functionality, and I was pleasantly surprised.
I have been drinking the SDO Kool-Aid for the past year or so, and it was refreshing to see it implemented for my favorite document centric store (NSF). I will have some updates on issues and successes with using the SDO in articles and future blog posts, as I play with the feature more. One of our consultants, Chris Riner, has been playing with it at my customer site and finds it useful with the WSIWYG and rapid application development functionality combined with JSF.
Raj Balasubramanian, ISSL
TedStanton 0600014754 570 Views
Fast Company has a great article on the Top 25 jobs for 2005. I'm glad to see Computer Software Engineer has its place for 2005 along with Personal Financial Advisor and Producer/Director. They considered factors such as high demand, salary range, investment in education, and the ability to be innovative and creative in your job. I had thought that many "science" type jobs didn't allow for innovations so I was surprised to see a lot of engineer and scientist jobs.
Why is Computer Software Engineer hot? They tell us it looks like computers are here to stay. Good for us!
- Barbara[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 661 Views
TedStanton 0600014754 729 Views
I was just asked a question on how to pass usernames between web servers (Domino/WP/WAS to another non-IBM web server that needs awareness) if the environment has Siteminder deployed. The easiest way to pass valid usernames in an environment with Siteminder is using Agent Responses configured on the target agent(s). The response basically adds a custom field to the HTTP header which can then be parsed/looked up from the JSP/PHP/.NET/CGI/Python web page. The response can gets its value from an LDAP Attribute or can compute a value, which could be the user DN used by Sametime. Refer to my Siteminder articles on developerWorks for more information on Agent Response.
For example - PHP page could use $_GET['http_customvar'] or request.getHeader("http_customvar") in Java.
Here customvar is the name of the Agent Response variable being configured for the agent (and we use http_cutomvar to refer it on the target web servers).
Raj Balasubramanian, ISSL
Since blogging for InsideLotus, I've posted a couple of entries regarding spam and different levels of spam. It wasn't until a recent seminar with some anti-spam vendors and IBMers, that I really grasped the impact spam is having in today's e-commerce. Before I continue, I should first give my definition of spam.
"Any unwanted commercial email usually sent in bulk where the sender can gain a profit."
One aspect of spam that I can't seem to draw a conclusion from is how does one define internal email. Obviously, I use Lotus Notes and IBM Workplace as my mail client and receive both internal and external SMTP mail. Now I don't consider any news letters or broadcasts from internal employees spam, but some users do consider this spam. On the other hand, I also have some email accounts with ISP's. The question is, where do you draw the line with internal email in that case? I would like to get the feedback of all the readers of this blog, concerning your thoughts on whether internal email can be considered spam.
Fighting spam is now a million dollar business. To put things into perspective, more then half of all email sent is spam related. Most anti-spam activists agree that the goal is to protect the end user from fraud as well as the time it takes to weed through spam email. Surveys show that some users spend up to 30 minutes a day sorting through email. One method of fighting spam is to allow the end user to decide what they consider spam. Personally, I like the idea of being able to vote on email that I consider spam. Then I leave it up to the server to sort my mail for me and deposit my spam voted mail into a junk folder for me. Some ISP's have incorporated this method and I am glad to see that IBM Workplace has also developed a similar method known as SpamGuru.
So if your serious about fighting spam, I suggest that you try IBM Workplace Messaging junk filtering.
Ted Stanton[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 922 Views
The always interesting Mark Birbeck of formsPlayer has a nice article up on his blog.
Ostensibly it's about "CSS, the XForms Dependency Engine, and 'Dynamic Infosets'", and he starts out by asking why there are 2 main languages (CSS and XPath) for selecting and addressing nodes within a DOM. It's a good question, and one that many have asked before. The piece is probably the definitive consideration of the question and he's a great guide, walking us through all the issues involved.
What is more interesting to me is the wider point that he goes on to make as he lurches into a very useful discussion of how we design languages and layer and model our systems. Almost in passing he addresses an issue I find most fascinating which boils down to importance of ease of authoring and syntax in technology.
The mental makeup of human beings means that brevity matters and "intuitiveness" becomes a concern. So long as the length of phone numbers was low, they were easily memorable, these days however, with 10+ digit dialing, we rely on Caller Id and programming numbers into our phones. Thus our cognitive faculties and our short-term powers of recall come into question. Being able to control the nicknames and identifiers we use in our buddy lists is a very significant factor in the spread of instant messaging and now applications like Skype. Identifiers matter significantly in this respect. The simplicity of a URI as a key, and memorable tenet, of the web architecture is a similar case in point.
From another angle on the issue, consider that not everyone can tilt their heads enough to handle the parentheses of a typical Lisp program. Most programmers can, on the whole, and some, like the Paul Grahams of the world, even wear it as a badge of honour. Of course a good computer science program should expose budding engineers to this way of thinking and many do. But these, like the Smalltalk gurus and others, are sadly outliers in the software landscape. I would hazard here that the largest impediment to the widespread adoption of the elegant programming model of Lisp is not that something like recursion is difficult to understand but rather the dissonance that the proliferation of parentheses can cause when Jane Programmer scans a listing in an editor. Vacant stares and cognitive overload ensues.
Marc Andreessen will be remembered for many things; amongst others: Mosaic, Netscape, the AOL merger, a little dotcom hubris some might say, but simply youthful exuberance I would say, evidence in the flesh of what a monopoly like Microsoft can do when provoked, and a pointer, along with Jim Clark, to the role of gravity in deflating bubbles ala Great Crash).
Historians will point to all that and more. For me though, his choice of the syntax for the hypertext link is his most lasting contribution to technology and to mankind in general. Others argued otherwise at the time and would have foisted semantic doodles on us. The "View Source" impulse that has led directly to the success of the web, that great conversational engine, would have been stymied by much head-scratching by the eveyrday people who created many a homepage circa 1995-1999. Those much mocked homepages were wonderful assertions of identity, and the lowered barriers to entry enabled many people to land their flag on this here internet where they, their friends, parents and children now live, shop and commune. If he ever receives an honourary knighthood from King Charles, his coat of arms should read
In this vein, I was perplexed that in XPath 1.0, it is better, or rather less ambiguous, to write true() rather than true. In other words, it is recommended or even required that we treat booleans as functions and not as literals. Indeed everything is a function and as we know functions need parentheses to indicate their arguments. This always trips me up and maybe this is no longer the case in XPath 2.0. Who knows? I certainly haven't cared to look. What is true is that the cognitive impedance this caused me on my first date with the language will forever taint it in my eyes even though I have daily dealings with it.
If you had to say huh? when you did your first view source of a web page, would you have gone with that newfangled web thing or would you have written it off as one of those overly complicated buzzwords that you would look at later "when you had more time"? First impressions and snap judgments (ala Blink) count surprisingly much in these things.
One of the things that I keep thinking we need, and that I hope someone with an itch will build, is a nice XPath expression editor, a component that parses XPath and walks you through the processes of adding conditions and formulating expressions. Maybe a wizard or something, with selectors for picking the various kinds of things that are typical when building forms applications e.g. this field should be less than the value from this other field. A component that would let you add a library of custom XPath functions that could implement additional rules. Each of these libraries would be able to specify their editors but most could just be simple drop-down lists. It's not a big thing to do and you can sketch out a nice design for such a component and knock it out over a weekend. Make it open source it and be done with it.
Still, my focusing on the critical necessity of such a component is simply a recognition that hand-authoring XPath can quickly turn into a nightmare of missed parentheses, predicates and selectors. It is true that authoring in XPath doesn't require as much head scratching as say XSLT, in which context I first encountered the language, and which mere mortals like me will never understand even as I used to write in Lisp. But it is something that raises the bar quite high for the average author. In contrast there is something strangely satisfying about editing a style sheet (or maybe it's just that I've grown accustomed to that over the years). Something like this I expect is what lies behind the impulse for Web Forms 2.0, and the WHATWG, a pragmatism borne of weighing programmers' familiarity with scripting languages and a tenacious devotion to backward compatibility.
More generally though, the issue is that getting general users to author structured content is a big problem, indeed it is a nigh insoluble issue. And all the software that we produce cares very much about structure. The wonder of the spread of HTML and XML is that, ever since Berners-Lee, Bray and others unleashed their projects on us, human beings have adapted to angle brackets, < >, and now don't see them as much ado about anything. The same thing goes with CSS, the tradeoff that was made for syntax is now bearing fruits.
Thus, one of the main questions that will determine the adoption (or lack thereof) of XForms or Web Forms and their ilk is the perplexing matter of whether human beings in the next decade will become as inured to writing true() in an expression as they have become with the angle brackets of html and xml. Put a different way, it could well be something completely orthoganal to the merits of the underlying technology that will determine the outcome: it will be the appearance of the kind of code you see when you do View Source on the first cool forms application you encounter. I'm suggesting then that the language acquisition cost and what I'm terming the cognitive impedance in the average human being of parentheses for functions, and forward slashes for selectors will determine the adoption rates of XForms technology.
I see a bright future in which that much maligned Forms "programming model" that is at the core of the Lotus Notes platform could be brought to the web platform leveraging the native primitives of the Web style (hypermedia, uris, linking etc). XForms is singularly well suited to do this. For those unfamiliar with Notes/Domino, my handwaving elevator pitch is that it is a platform essentially founded on the fundamental insight that a huge class of applications can be built based on just a few compositional building blocks: Forms, Views a standard file format, the note in Notes terms. The brouhahas made about messaging, security, directory services, and all that paraphernalia that marketing people throw about when they pitch the platform to you are all syntactic sugar around the core competency of Forms and Views and the client and server processes that can manage them. A whole cottage industry of business partners are doing very fine thank you building custom and evolvable applications for businesses, small and large, everywhere. The fact that email can be construed as a forms application is just a side benefit and detracts from the real focus of the platform. This is much misunderstood by people whose only encounter with Notes is as a Mail client. It's really just a forms and view app for people and processes. Incidentally this same platform is most likely what is funding my current work and much of the IBM Software Group, even as resources are spent on other "sanctioned" and more "strategic" approaches. C'est la vie.
One thing I've noticed is that many people seem to want to ignore the lessons learned from the Notes world over the past 15 years and and behave as if the forms space is terra incognita - a brave new world indeed. On the contrary, the Forms problem and the wider Process problem is nothing new. These are things that have been with us almost from the time that societies became organized and larger communities formed as Barry Briggs has pointed out. Whenever I plumb those depths however, I am reminded of the notion that Joel Spolksy so eloquently coined that in software it it easier to write code than to read code. In software terms, 15 years is an eternity hence we are fated to reinvent and rewrite anew old software. Just look as WS-* as opposed to Corba. Sometimes I almost despair at this notion, since it bespeaks a total lack of curiousity and historical memory even with those who are sitting in the same building who have learned comprehensive lessons about the many problems of forms: evolvable schemas, metadata, annotations and the like.
Of course I'll continue to build the tools, the processors, the renderers and the infrastructure plumbing to to make the forms dream an easier reality. I'd still argue that adoption will ultimately come down to whether the View Source impulse can be leveraged and whether the average Joe will get turned off by things like true() instead of true. If I were inclined to be a research type, I'd imagine a case study or paper titled something like
"The Importance Of Syntax In Technology Adoption - Historical Insights From The Trenches 1940-2005"A more prescient Historian of Science would note that the issue of notation in mathematics is similarly a longstanding area of concern. A linguist would add insights about how different societies adapted different writing systems and the impact on the writing system on cognition and development. Anthropologists, sociologists or psychologists would have much to say in this vein.
Technologies like XSLT and XForms which are the prime users of XPath are in still in their infancy (as are some of the other takes on this problem space from Adobe and Microsoft). Despite having many implementations at its launch, XForms is still ambling towards its inflection point and I'd hazard that the majority of XForms templates and transactions are machine-generated. Fair enough perhaps. Wearing my prediction hat however, it will be very interesting to see what happens 6 months after the default installation of Firefox includes its XForms extension. We're going to see the same thing in microcosm now that Mozilla have announced that Firefox 1.1 will include SVG which has a more limited utility for mass audiences. With very little tongue in cheek, I'd wonder what contact with a massively vaster audience of form authors will do to XForms implementors. I'd lay bets on the first XForms engine that implements a "quirks mode" for their XPath evaluation engines to dealt with common patterns of mistakes in hand-authored forms. It will be a case of omitted parentheses rather than browser tag soup that will cause much fretting in mailing lists the world over. I wonder whether Peter-Paul Koch will then have to add an XForms or XPath section on his invaluable site that documents browser quirks. The litmus test will be the teenager doing a summer job in a lawyer's office who is asked to write a little forms application to help some workflow. If parentheses make their eyes glaze over, I doubt I'll be proved wrong (although I hope to be), about whether XForms would be used for that custom application. If the typical simplified wiki syntax (whatever Jotspot or SocialText are using) is more intuitive, that will be what gets used.
The other point Birbeck raises, and here the argument is much stronger, is about the tradeoffs that designers consider when it comes to seperating the processing, addressing, eventing and styling models. He speaks to an architectural truism whatever the domain in question. This is where his clarity of thought comes to light. A clarity that stems from being one of the exalted "Invited Experts" on the XForms and HTML W3C working groups, and having an innovative product that daily explores this landscape,
If, for example, you started off in the mad, slapdash world that was early browser development, you might opt instead for a very pragmatic viewpoint on these issues. That's the kind of weighing that has characterized the Mozilla folks. Håkon Lie, Hixie of Opera, fall into this category even if they appear to take it to almost militant extremes at times. Still I see where they are coming from. Your take on these things is coloured by contact with the millions of end-user authors and the daily reality of tag soup.
I've only spoken with the Opera folks a couple of times and always forgot to ask them the burning question I have. How difficult is it, by the way, to add an XPath engine to a browser? I've always assumed that the real reason (as opposed to the stated reason, "we have everything we need in scripting and css") for Opera's almost visceral objection to XForms has been a concern over footprint since the same codebase is used on desktop and pervasive clients. But with the necessity of XML engines in browsers(with the now indispensable XMLHttpRequest) and Moore's law at work on your more limited clients, at what stage do protestatations about XPath (and hence XForms which is a dependency engine over and above XPath) become simply bywords for inertia? As a very conservative software engineer personally, I am similarly not inclined to jump on bandwagons just because they are in vogue. Still I'm interested in the architectural thinking that lies behind their position.
If, on the other hand, like Birbeck, you've drunk the XForms Kool-Aid, you'd be a generalist and will be inclined to see almost everything through rose-tinted glasses in terms of seperation of model from UI and from eventing and actions. You might recite MVC chapter-and-verse as you lull yourself to sleep at night, self-satisfied at your specification. The irony is that the visual effect of mere parentheses on an average teenager could cut short your sweet dreams of empire building.
Of course it's not always so cut and dry, sometimes you're just in the middle, trying to figure out which of the 45 latest buzzwords you're expected to spout fluently tomorrow to get a raise that beats inflation - or even a promotion. Or maybe you're just trying to code for food and get some real work done by helping a doctor's assistant keep track of HMO paperwork more efficiently or something of that sort. Oh well. Food for thought in any case.
Workplace Forms Development[Read More]
I get asked a lot about how to implement awareness on a non-Domino/non-WebSphere platform. The key is to ensure that the target platform supports scripting metaphor to read cookie data. To illustrate this point, I have a PHP page hosted on a PHP server to get the LTPA cookie and build the awareness into the page using STLinks (just like in Domino or in a JSP). The only key concept was that I had to build in a custom cookie to pass the user DN (distinguished name) in a un-encrypted cookie, so that the PHP page can get the user DN from a cookie and the token from LTPA cookie to login to Sametime. Ofcourse, the PHP server was accessed using the fully qualified hostname and was in the same Internet Domain as the Sametime/Portal server.
I set the variable for the user by
Note that UserDN is a custom cookie that was set by my WAS server.I then get the LTPA cookie using the following
$r = ereg_replace("[ ]","+",trim($_COOKIE['LtpaToken']));
Everything else is setup the standard STLinks way (follow the ST Links documentation, if you need further clarification). You can peruse the actual PHP file here. On some browsers, you might want to use the "view source" option to actually see the code, if the file doesnt download by default.
I tested this with PHP running on a Suse Linux box accessing it from my IE browser on Windows XP.
The same rules of applet restrictions apply if you are using Mozilla/Firefox. Please follow the STLinks documentation to setup th enecessary files to make it work with Mozilla.
Full code of the php page
I have another sample using IIS/ASP.NET that I will post in a few.
In the meantime, bring "light" to a name on a PHP page :)
Raj Balasubramanian, Software Services for Lotus
TedStanton 0600014754 740 Views
The 'Coltrane' release of Lotus Freelance Graphics, the 1998 version bundled with Lotus SmartSuite, was famously held up for a month when it was found out that one of the clip art images had a tiny 20 pixel image of Taiwanese currency (rather than mainland Chinese currency). Or was it the other way round? An eagle-eyed QA engineer had discerned the offending image. Needless to say, this was something that would cause offense and/or affect purchasing decisions in the involved markets.
I was a little canary in that Freelance mineshaft (or was it a minefield?) when a couple of months earlier in the project I had discovered a seriously outdated map of Africa when integrating new clip art into the product. I wrote one of the sprs of which I am most proud titled something like: "Upper Volta should be Burkina Faso". The spr also made a brief mention of the fact that as far as I could tell there were similar problems in our maps with the names of the states from the former Soviet Republic which had changed earlier in the decade. I believe that my spr was deferred to a later release; it was too late in the product cycle and we'd have had to go back to the company we licensed the art from and so forth. As it turned out however, with the advent of China/Taiwan flag issue, the entire suite was delayed as the test team had to painstakingly go over all the clip art and other areas of the product vetting for similar outrages that could endanger sales.
Incidentally the acronym, spr, stands for "Software Problem Report" in Lotus's parlance. After a decade of indoctrination, I still tend to use spr rather than the more clinical, "defect", which is the favoured term at IBM, or bug which is the more widely-used term generally. You can still tell whether someone has the 'old Lotus' DNA rather than the 'new Lotus/IBM' variety by the terminology they reflexively use. For a dissection of recent linguistic trends in technology see this earlier post.
As a further aside, the Lotus spr database is actually one of the most successful and useful applications of Notes technology ever and in a similar manner, the Bugzilla project is actually one of the best things to have sprung out of the Mozilla effort. Certainly it was more useful than the Gecko suite until the M7 milestone was reached years ago. There must be some kind of software law at work here, something analogous to Zawinski's Law on software expanding until it can support email (and now feed technology) and so I'll coin it as Koranteng's First Law of Software Systems:
A software platform reaches its tipping point once it can serve as a bug reporting system.Intuitively this makes sense, once developers can view, file and retrieve bug reports using their own products, they will be more likely to use them and their confidence in their mission will improve dramatically.
Back to my topic though... I'm sure that the artists who created the clip art in that design firm had no subversive intent; they probably used outdated stock art as their source material. Still sometimes you wonder at these things and, in this vein, I'm reminded of the Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese author, Jose Saramago's wonderful novel, The History of the Siege of Lisbon, in which a copy editor proof-reading a historical novel defiantly changes a crucial word in the text changing the outcome of a famous historical battle from a miserable defeat to victory. A masterful alternate history of Portugal then develops and its culture is fully reimagined. I'm sure that bored developers sometimes slip similar things into their products, and not just serendipitous Easter Eggs.
More seriously though, the Freelance incident (or similar incidents relating to any new release of dictionaries or thesauruses from Microsoft) go beyond the cultural sensitivity of which this post is concerned into the rarefied realm of political sensitivity. The same thing goes when choosing product names: you don't want mere mention of your product to cause snickering or offense. A misconceived name or culturally-insensitive feature can be a black eye that will chasten even the most high-flying company. More worrying is that this can translate to a serious financial impact (well beyond a month's lost revenue for the suite) if proper attention isn't paid.
Internationalization however is a mostly thankless, and oft-neglected task even as I've outlined its importance. From a developers standpoint, you first think about it mostly in terms of dealing with resource bundles and having to put all your resource strings into seperate files for different languages. This is a pain because you probably started with a little prototype of a user interface and now you're being asked to find all those hard-coded strings and to "do the right thing". Plus it typically becomes an issue only late in the game when the real interesting work is over and you're ready to think about the next big thing. Instead, you're grudgingly forced to worry about handling different writing systems, dealing with bi-directional text, or that old favorite: the various "special characters" in the wide variety of programming languages, file formats, protocols or operating systems in your software. Those best at this task are akin to forensic investigators and must possess considerable patience and attention to detail.
If, for example, your software mangles names with accents, you'd have real trouble selling in France. Similarly with ampersands and apostrophes - which have significance in SGML and its derivatives (HTML, XML etc). And don't get me started about wider character sets and encoding issues... As an ironic case in point, while developing Lotus K-station, one of our best business partners was somewhat stymied in his development and extraordinary evangelism of our product because, in its earliest release, it couldn't handle the ampersand in his company's name. Luckily for us, he temporarily renamed his organization in his LDAP directory; Sun & Son became Sun and Son until we worked out the quirks. To this day, I always make sure to test whatever product I work on with that organization name. It's surprising though, how often this kind of problem recurs.
In this internet era, most technology, and certainly all software development, has to have global concerns in mind. It is said that the sun doesn't set on an IBM project and I work with a very diverse set of colleagues the world over. Presumably the benefit of such a widely dispersed and diverse workforce should be to mitigate the likelihood of issues in this area. As my current project has been going through translation and localization testing of late, I've been thinking a lot about how we handle internationalization.
The old Lotus process was a more decentralized one, each product group had an internationalization team seconded to it. Members of such teams were domain experts and knew the product inside-out in addition to being localization gurus. This had many benefits, the team was involved from the very beginning in the product development cycle and could give crucial design feedback very early and iteratively. Your first prototype was immediately critiqued from their standpoint. The obvious downside of decentralization was the lack of uniform standards - chaos that our translation teams couldn't bear. Some products were very easy to localize, others were, to put it politely, far less so.
As we transitioned to the more centralized IBM globalization process, we got the benefits of uniform standards and greater resources. More languages could be supported in the initial release and you could at least point developers to documentation about the processes to follow instead of ad-hoc stumbling about. Still this was at the expense of the loss of domain expertise, sensitivity and a much slower feeback loop. Some of the test teams would be barely getting up to speed with the product by the end of the testing phase. Localization concerns would sometimes surface too late in the game and would cause much unnecessary reworking and product delays. These things are tweaked, as all processes are, and in recent years, I've seen a push towards re-enabling more domain expertise in the internationalization teams which has been very useful for our product development.
I'll lay out a brief example then, that I think is illustrative of the kinds of things we're dealing with here I hope it can tease out the technical, design and business issues that can arise...
I embarked over the past couple of weekends on a mass digitization project and scanned, retouched and uploaded 2000 or so old photos from shoeboxes under my bed. The technology involved in this exercise was scanner hardware and image aquisition software, the bundled Adobe Photoshop Elements for color adjustment and red-eye correction and a couple of online photo-sharing services: Yahoo Photos and Flickr (I started the day Yahoo's acquisition of Flickr was announced).
The first thing I very quickly noticed: somehow all the photos that I uploaded to Yahoo Photos turned out darker than on Flickr (the services both resize uploaded photos). The photo-resizing algorithm used by Yahoo Photos was giving worse results. This was noticeable to me because a large number of photos featured darker-skinned people such as myself. The originals were fine and where there were lighter skin tones everything looked good, but with darker skintones, the resized photos were not so good. This meant that if I didn't believe in the virtues of Save Lots of Copies Everywhere (SLOCE), I would have leant towards Flickr and stopped using Yahoo Photos.
Secondly, I don't have Flash installed on my Mozilla browsers and so my experience of the Flickr website was very different from that of my family and friends who started looking at the photos with Flash on Internet Explorer. There were immediate complaints about the first bunch of photos. It turns out that images that are rendered in the Flash plugin have a slightly darker tinge than the images rendered directly by the browser itself. This is not normally noticeable but again this exacerbates contrast issues when darker skintones are in evidence as in this case. This was made worse when users tried the slideshow feature because the background of a Flickr screenshow (also implemented in Flash) is black worsening the contrast further.
Thirdly, when retouching photos, the Quick Fix or Auto Correct options in Photoshop seemed tailored for lighter skintones so I was constantly having to do manual tweaking of my photos. Now this is not a big deal for a few photos and indeed it's fun to fiddle with photos but after a couple of hundred images, it gets tiresome. I found mysef longing for "smarter" recognition by the software or for at least, a nice 'dark skin' option that I could set in a preferences dialog. In short I started considering using different software instead of Adobe's.
Now I mention these nitpicks on otherwise excellent and useful products because of the design issues they raise. Technology is simply a tool in aid of people and as human beings we live in different society and cultures. We find that different cultures adapt technologies in different ways to suit local preoccupations and concerns. And I certainly had my own localized concerns these past weeks.
Even when the technical 'fixes' are easy there are design issues and economic tradoffs that also arise. True, Macromedia could implement better JPEG rendering in Flash but that comes at a certain expense - a good renderer is a hard thing to write (even if they could license the photo-rendering from the Mozilla folks). Also what they have appears to be good enough for most people (except me obviously). When do you decide that your product is good enough and stop pandering to the Long Tail? Can you afford to do that? Or are you missing out on a vast market opportunity?
Yahoo Photos could certainly implement a better photo-resizing algorithm although presumably there's a performance penalty to be paid if you use a more color-accurate algorithm (or perhaps a larger resultant image size). At the kind of intenet scale that the Yahoo service operates on with tens of millions of users and photos, this could potentially seriously affect the scalability of their platform. Conversely, if all Yahoo users switched en-masse to Flickr which uses the more expensive algorithms, would that platform be able to handle it? Or would it generate a case of teething problems and turn users off because of poor response times?
Similarly Photoshop could implement a slight variant of their various Quick Fix and AutoCorrect features that were more attuned to my kind of skin colour (indeed I assume that photographers in Africa have written macros or filters that do such a thing). How best though, to phrase a global preference in an options dialog in Photoshop? "Adjust for darker skintones"? Documentation writers would have a field day finding the right verbiage for such an option. Also what about usability? If you add all these preferences to your product what will your user interface look like? Try typing about:config in a Mozilla browser to get a sense of the kind of complexity that modern software developers have to cope with.
If there was a huge market for these products and services in Africa the issues I faced could be a real problem for the companies in question (although this is unlikely given the low internet penetration rates and the likely widespread software piracy). There would be demand not just for local language versions (say a Swahili language version in Kenya) but also for tweaks that would make these services more closely attuned to the prevailing culture and, in this case, ethnic backgrounds. Thus photographers in Africa over the past 150 years have had to deal with brighter sunshine, higher contrast as well as darker skintones when processing their photos as photography has gone through its various evolutions and has now moved into the digital realm. The people who install photo laboratory hardware in Ghana where I come from, always have to recalibrate their equipment to deal with the kind of skin tones that are present in the local market. The factory defaults simply won't do. I've had better results developing film in Ghana than in the US because I often forget to tell the labs here that they should "watch for skintones". I'd expect then that software that were truly local (and all web software should be local or adjustable to fit local concerns) might sometimes need not just run-of-the-mill language changes or even writing system changes but also, as seems needed here, algorithmic adaptations.
As software designers, we try to engineer simplicity and refrain from overwhelming users in their interaction with our services and products. Software is not the user's main focus, it's rather its use that is most important for the user, for the business and for society as a whole. Yet there very real concerns in the application of technology in different cultures. So the next time you see a vaguely-worded so-called "Turkish option" somewhere in your application's configuration dialogs, know that someone somewhere was likely adapting their product for a local market. Join me though in saluting the developers, testers, product managers and designers who collectively worked together to come to that solution. I'd hazard that the tweaking of the product was to fix a deal-breaker in some market.
Finally, for what it's worth, I find endlessly fascinating this notion that cultural sensitivity in technology sometimes necessitates algorithmic adaptation. Maybe though, iterative adaptation in response to local environments - evolution in short, is the name of the game. Perhaps that's simply the way things should be.
Workplace Forms Development, Lotus Software[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 588 Views
The folks over at Teamstudio are at it again. This time with a free utility to help you with your LotusScript coding efforts, called Teamstudio Script Browser. It lets you browse ALL of your script in the database all at once, find out where code is referenced by other code, and browse to it in Domino Designer.
I'm sure the Domino developer community will be quite grateful for this useful tool. (And be sure to check out their other Domino development tools, which have always been first class!)
Sr. Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development
I don't usually like to do this type of competitive blog, but considering all the FUD that Microsoft has been dishing out lately with their "Notes integration" seminars and the previous "LotusScript is going away" blather, I've been pushed to the edge.
Microsoft will soon stop official support for Visual Basic 6, at the end of March. To be fair, it is the free support that is ending, the product itself will be supported for some time to come meaning that your apps will continue to run on Windows, but the development environment will not be updated - i.e. no VB7 is forthcoming as of this writing.
Recently, there has been an outcry by a group of developers that was reported in various online trade mags, including in eWeek here and here, and Cnet. They've realized that VB.Net isn't really VB at all, and that the migration path isn't all that smooth. VB.Net isn't just an upgrade to VB6 - it's a rip and replace. While Microsoft has an impressive set of documentation on their website about migration to .Net and some tools to help with it, apparently the transition isn't all that smooth.
This website captures some of the sentiment from the public: Visual Basic.Not. I guess the title says it all.
Contrast that to the IBM model, where you can continue to build and deploy Notes and Domino applications and optionally integrate them into IBM Workplace at your own pace. And lest you actually believe MS when they say they can migrate your Notes/Domino applications, you might heed the same advice as in the VB migration article cited above. It ain't easy or foolproof.
So, with that in mind... as long as you are going to have to migrate off of Visual Basic, you might as well look at the alternatives:
1. Move to Domino Designer and LotusScript. You can continue to use your code and call your COM components on Windows, in a LotusScript agent. Plus, it's cross-platform - everything from a PC/Windows to Linux to iSeries to a zSeries mainframe! There are a lot of VB apps that could easily be re-implemented in Domino and take advantage of the industrial strength security model, offline usage, robust and scalable database store, etc. Plus, it's not that hard to pull the application data from wherever it is today into Domino.
2. Move to Java. As long as you have to learn a new language, you might as well learn a proven standard. Plus, Eclipse provides plenty of tool support, as does Rational Application Developer. There seem to be a lot of VB to Java tools offered if you search for them. I have no idea how well they work, but they're out there.
Anyone out there want to share a successful VB to Notes/Domino migration story? or VB to J2EE?
Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 749 Views
The annual issue of Parade's Magazine "What People Earn". came in my Sunday Boston Globe last weekend, and as usual it did not disappoint. Not only do I get some good insight into various jobs and what they pay in the US, but it's also a great source of overall labor statistics.
Yes, the economy in the US did improve, creating 2.2 million jobs in 2004, but it was still too few to replace the 2.4 million lost from 2001 through 2003. Productivity improved, corporate profits rose, interest rates remained low, and we had relatively low inflation. Looking to the future, job growth will continue to be erratic, with a projection of 2.1 million jobs in 2005, and employers will likely continue to look to temporary or contract workers in the near term.
Where is strong hiring expected? Financial services, energy construction and health care. They also single out information technology security as having more vacancies than job seekers, and this market is expected to grow by 14% a year to more than 2.8 million jobs in 2008.
So what did people earn? Once again, I am amazed at some of the salaries. For example, several teachers are pictured with salaries of less than $25,000 per year, yet a teacher in Stockton California, which is not an expensive area, receives an $88,000 salary -- a wide disparity. The only IT worker, called an "Info Systems Analyst," in New Jersey receives an income of $55,000. A couple of jobs related to the huge growth in real estate prices, mortgage broker and real estate broker, are listed at $280,000 and $600,000, respectively. Wow!
And if you're trying to steer your kids toward majors that will help them earn a buck on graduation, stay away from psychology, which has a starting salary of $28K, or English, at $32K. Steer them toward computer engineering ($52K) or economics ($40K) or maybe no college at all -- go right to real estate.
- Barbara Bowen, WW Certification Program Manager, Lotus Software[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 459 Views
At Lotusphere 2005, Dr. Ambuj Goyal announced in the opening session that ALL Lotus customers would be granted licenses for the hot new IBM Workplace Services Express. Today, the details of this promotion are now available on ibm.com.
This offer is available now in North America and South America (including Caribbean nations), Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan and Korea. It will be available soon in other countries; please check back for updates.
--Ed Brill[Read More]
Tom Duff gets it. And so should you. Every Domino developer should go read his article on e-pro's website. As a product manager for IBM Workplace tools, I live this stuff.
We are trying to make developers more productive when using Domino tools, as well as allow them to expand their skills into J2EE - but only on their own schedule. IBM Workplace Designer will provide a smooth transition to J2EE and let Domino developers (and others with similar skills) build components for IBM Workplace - browser first, and Workplace Client later.
You'll be hearing more about Workplace Designer soon. In the meantime, check out the application development area on developerWorks.
Sr. Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development[Read More]
TedStanton 0600014754 708 Views
To kick off my shot as a guest blogger on InsideLotus, I thought I would share with you some insight into what we are seeing in the marketplace for Linux as a client environment as well as Lotus' response to this opportunity. A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to hit the floor at Linuxworld Boston. This was my first Linuxworld and with our new missions of the Lotus Workplace Project Office and Business Transformation teams, I thought it would be an interesting chance to see how the industry is growing first hand.
Having been in the software industry over 20 years, I find the Linux market quite refreshing. Linuxworld reminded me a bit of some of the Comdexes I went to in the early days of PC Software. Larger players are coming out in force, but there still seems to be a wild west feel and electricity in the air -- there are new fortunes to be made and new companies trying to establish themselves. As I toured the floor, I was on the desktop hunt to see whether Linux on Client was gaining momentum. I was quite pleased with what I saw. Several companies were touting Linux client, and I was impressed with the support and announcements made by Novell, Sun, Redhat and the OpenOffice organization. Sun was announcing a new release of their Star Office suite that looked very slick. One of the issues that we continually run into with accounts and Linux discussions are how they can support their Microsoft macros on Linux. Sun demoed to me some of their new macro translators, and I was very impressed with the progress they appear to have made. Next stop was to the Novell booth, where I got a chance to talk to them about their new desktop environment. It was great to hear Novell folks tell me that they have moved to Linux on the client for all of their employees and they have also moved 8 major accounts over as well. We shared some thoughts on migration methodologies, and I had a good chat with their services teams.
Next stop was the Redhat booth, where I got to take a look at their new desktop that is coming out in association with their Redhat 4.0 release. Redhat is focusing hard on the usability of the environment, and I was pleased with the work that they had done around file system representation and navigation as well as simplifying network connectivity. Not to be derogatory, but they are really focused on taking the Geekiness out of Linux. I fondly recall my days of UNIX shell commands, but in order for Linux on the desktop to gain traction it has to be easy enough for the account rep to download their latest sales presentation from a bad connection in a crappy hotel room on the road.....it has to work in the real world.
Of course, Art Fontaine and Nalu Reddy had our booth hopping. We had the Workplace Client on stage, and there was a massive IBM presence. This was a good show to cut our Linux teeth on for Lotus and Linux, and I felt very positive from the comments I got from other vendors, press and analysts welcoming our presence and our investment in this space....all definitely want us to be successful and feel that Workplace can be a killer app to validate Linux Client directions. To help communicate the strength on our commitment to this space, on Thursday that week we announced an investment of $100M across our software family specifically focused on Linux support. I got to do a few interviews and analyst meeting with Surjit Chana, our new Workplace VP, and I was very pleased with the positive vibes and support that we got from those we talked to.
So I left the Hynes Center feeling very good about our opportunities and the Linux path that we are on. It is still early days, but the pioneers are out there making their land claims and it looks like early adopter customers are willing to start the transition. Always on the technical forefront, I have just put my request in to the support guys to sign me and my diehard machine up for the journey, so there will be another Linux client convert in a few short weeks. I'll try to take some time in future blogs to let you know how it's going.
Till next time.....
Vice President, IBM Software Services for Lotus
TedStanton 0600014754 476 Views
It's always gratifying when people independently grapple with the same ideas as you and come up with different perspectives. Even better is when this becomes a conversation such as the blogosphere can serve up and aggregators can monitor...
I've recently been ruminating about People, Processes and Things and so, I was immediately drawn to Joe Kraus, erstwhile of Excite and Jotspot founder, who delivers a wonderful essay and insightful presentation (PPT) about The Long Tail of Software. Read it for the concentrated insight and great care with which he makes his argument - borne of the practice he's gained pitching his company for the past few months.
Handwaving a bit here, he essentially takes on Barry Briggs' notion of The Decade of Process - anointing the primacy of processes in business, and adds the key insight of the necessity of lots of customization (since no two businesses do things the same way) and also that processes continually evolve. Then he melds it with one of the most successful memes in technology of the past year, The Long Tail concept, lovingly detailed in Wired, pondered in a blog and due, for a book, and triumphant tour ala Malcolm Gladwell or Jared Diamond real soon now.
Having seen great demos of Jotspot and the way it handles schema evolution, about the only thing missing in the product is an explicit addition of tagging and metadata ala del.icio.us for it to be buzzword nirvana. It's almost there. I'll try not to be too flippant nor indeed, something of an echo chamber, since I obviously think there's the kernel of a very powerful notion here. Annotating and customizing business processes seems to be an interesting space in today's software world.
Suffice to say that this bears attention especially since the venture capitalists haven't drenched this sector as yet. I'd hazard though, that a pitch like Kraus's could well be the spark that makes things combust, especially when there are so many memes to mine. The big integrators and consulting firms have long been in this space as have any of the platform vendors and they will be tenacious competitors. I'd hazard that Jotspot or SocialText are already keenly watched by those who do strategy and marketing, if only so that sales teams have a response ready for competitive bids. For larger businesses, it has always been ease of integration with existing infrastructure that matters when it comes to purchasing decisions.
The insight of the Long Tail though is that there are huge opportunities in targeting small and medium businesses, the kind that the big guys only pay lip service to. It's more than enough of a market even if you don't get the WalMarts. Incidentally, Paul Graham touches on this almost in passing recently.
All this of course is predicated on accepting the primacy of the "process" view of things, I've argued that the "people" view (communication and group-forming) might be another lucrative area to focus on, and a viewpoint potentially more exciting or motivating for developers. Tradeoffs like these are the stuff of engineers or historians, entrepreneurs or CEOs, however, have to bet on something.
Lastly, wearing my prediction cap, leverage will be everything in this oncoming scramble. Web-native software (i.e. software that is easily addressible and customized) will be the fastest mover in the space. The usabilty issues in evolving schemas and handling annotations are going to be the key differentiator. There should be lots of give-and-take in the software that ensues because real world processes are forgiving. There's always someone who knows how the process is meant to work no matter what the rulebook says. Our research folks and product development teams are going to be burning the midnight oil and that's a good thing. Kudos to Krause and others for the exhilarating glimpse of what is to come. Like Miles Davis said, "I love tomorrow".
Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah[Read More]
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I suppose I should comment on Microsoft's acquisition of Groove Networks and Ray Ozzie's ascension to the post of Chief Technical Officer. Certainly there was a little buzz in the corridors of Lotus yesterday (virtual corridors of email, discussion forums and Sametime chats for me since I was working from home). I'm sure there'll be "official" responses in due course but some ground-level musings are in order.
First there was a surprise factor: Microsoft hasn't made significant acquistions of late (or perhaps they have but nothing significant has manifested itself recently). Their previous investment in Groove notwithstanding, an acquisition goes far beyond hedging once's bets.
Second was the overwhelming human interest angle and that sense of wonderment that occurs when dramatic things happen to people you know or are vaguely related to. "Bought? Bought!" For me it was remembering the period a few years ago when friends and acquaintances were interviewing at Groove - back when it was a startup in stealth mode, and even the vague soundings-out about any potential interest on my part. Perhaps they would now be Microsoft employees.
Sidenote: hearing reports that the interviewers at Groove wouldn't even discuss the product that they were developing put paid to any incipient wisps of enthusiasm from me. Engineers, especially curious technologists like me, like to discuss platforms, designs and architecture. I'd be beyond handicapped without that kind of stimulation in an interview. Also, if I remember correctly, at the time I was on the most interesting project I'd worked on in my professional life. IBM was quite good at weathering those dot-com seductions with lots of challenging technology.
Third is a strategic angle. There's a sense of cousinry in the offerings that Groove, Microsoft and the Lotus/IBM portfolio straddle. Vague concepts like productivity, collaboration, 'groupware', shared spaces, presence, messaging, replication and offline-use abound, whether in marketing theory or in product practice. These are ideas that Lotus folks live, breathe and hopefully develop in software. Consequently there's a little curiousity as to how things will pan out in the future. The C.T.O. position seems somehow significant in this respect.
Lastly, and most important to me, is the technology angle. In the speculative marketplace of ideas that the technology world is, a track record is about the greatest currency there is. Ozzie can mint his own currency on Lotus Notes alone. Also he, along perhaps with Joel Spolksy and Tim Bray's Technology Predictor Success Matrix, has written definitive treatments about software platforms and ecosystems and how to husband them. I tend to evaluate all the software platforms and frameworks I encounter or create with these words in mind. It would serve everyone well to read (or re-read) Ozzie every now and then. How does your technology or framework-du-jour stack up in this light? And if it doesn't, what are your plans for getting it there, and how long will it take? I suspect that such questions will be asked a lot in Redmond in coming months. In grasping at answers, I have only one clear hint: this web thing begs to be internalized and, more to the point, duly leveraged.
Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah[Read More]
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The other day I was trying to grapple with some WebSphere Application Server internals. I normally start with Info Center, search IBM Intranet, IBM support and then Google (in that order). I was surprised to find Billy Newport's blog http://www.devwebsphere.com/devwebsphere/ on the public web.
Billy is the WAS HA lead and a very smart/practical architect. His blog sheds light on WAS internals that some time gets left out of the Info Center. A very good read and additional resource if you want to understand HA concepts.
There are couple of blogs worth mentioning as well, that provide a different insight into the IBM Software Group thinking luminaries- Don Ferguson's blog http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/dw_blog.jspa?blog=393&ca=drs-bl
and Grady Booch's blog http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/dw_blog.jspa?blog=317
Until next time....
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I've finally recovered from Lotusphere 2005...I'm not one of those spontaneous bloggers who are writing, live, during one of the breakout sessions. It seemed like the week was over before it started - as it does every year for me. I always feel like I didn't talk to enough customers, see all the partner exhibits, or get enough sleep. What follows is my Lotusphere "Best of Show" (You know, Maureen Leland is in New York with her puppies at Westminster!)
Best escape from the North - Luckily, I got out of Boston on Saturday and beat the big blizzard that dumped 3 feet at my doorstep at home and stranded many other staffers. One person I talked to arrived at about 3 A.M. the day he was presenting at 8:30 A.M. on Tuesday.
Best briefing - Also on Saturday, Jim Russell, Maureen Leland, Philippe Riand, and I took a few hours to talk about Workplace Designer with the Penumbra Group members. Thank you all for your time and comments during the session.
Best swag - I thought the best giveaway were those Lotus User Group buttons. They had about 10 different sayings, like @function Addict, or Domino Diva that were clever and captured the persona of a true Lotus geek (as Rocky would say).
Best T-shirt - The C.U.L.T shirt. You can still purchase logo-embossed merchandise here.
Best moment during Opening Session - The spontaneous applause for Maureen when she appeared on stage. This surprised her a bit.
Best ride at Universal - This is a tough one, but I have to give it to The Hulk. Carl Kriger and I accidentally ended up in the "front row line". That was exciting!! In fact, after that, we had to ride in the front row for the Dueling Dragons, too.
Best session I didn't give - Well, I only got to go to one, other than the 3 I gave (for the record, 2 on Workplace Designer and 1 on Workplace Builder). So, Sami and Miki win this category for AD402 Overview of the IBM Workplace Contextual Collaboration Architecture. It was a great explanation of what this is all about and how to think about Workplace applications, with an excellent demo.
Best buzz - No, not at the Blue Zoo! I mean the buzz around the Workplace Client and Workplace Designer. Both of these products demonstrate IBM's committment not only to embrace Notes and Domino, but also to bring forth new applications that couldn't be built previously. Customers and partners are starting to understand the strategy better.
Best freebie (new stuff category) - Ambuj Goyal announced that all Passport Advantage customers will be able to get a free 20 user license of IBM Workplace Services Express with details to come later in Q1. PartnerWorld members can also take advantage of this offer.
Best freebie (old stuff category) - For the historians in the crowd, you could download versions 1, 2, and 3 of Notes and try to run it on those old door stops you have lying around. (Personally, I'm fine with 6.5.)
Overall, the feeling of attendees and staff alike was that this was one of the better Lotuspheres in a few years. Let's do it again next year.
And you thought I was somehow going to connect John Coltrane's tune, Impressions (based on Miles Davis' So What) to riffin' with the cats at ESPN. Maybe next time.
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