I tried to post this in a more timely manner, but had to wait until I made it home from Karlsruhe. I see that Mr. Brill already picked it up. This post will provide more info.
At DNUG on May 16, Maureen Leland stepped into her previous previous role (I think Vowe called her the "mutter of Designer") and gave a talk on Domino Designer 7. The format of the presentation was to talk about what is in release 7.0, what's coming next with Hannover, and the future vision -
First up was what is in Designer 7.0:
DB2 Query Access Views
Productivity enhancements like shared columns and design list updates
She demo'd each of these in turn.
Then she moved into a discussion of some new things coming in with the Notes client "Hannover" release, primarily around supporting composite applications. For instance, with composite apps, we'll need a way for the Domino app to produce and consume component properties, so we'll include new design elements for that. What this means is that a you can pass data from one Notes component to another, even if they don't know about each other beforehand. That's because the architecture allows for late-binding of these connections. (In addition, you can pass info to/from Notes and any other application component written to this model.)
Maureen then said, "What if we could provide:
A better source code editing experience;
like a class browser for your code;
or, to make it easier to develop for a client platform that blends Eclipse and Notes?" Such a tease! I don't think anyone in the audience knew what was coming next: a prototype of Domino Designer running on the Eclipse platform!
We'll already have Workplace Designer, Forms Designer, Portlet Factory, and Rational App Developer in Eclipse...so, the obvious thing to do would be to also evolve Domino Designer into the Eclipse platform. This means that the current Domino Designer design element "editors" (Form, View, Agent, etc) can be rendered inside of an Eclipse perspective. In fact, she started with the same plugin that the Notes client uses to re-parent inside of the Workplace Managed Client today. We have been discussing this for a few months and support within Lotus is there to do it - plus, Maureen has a good idea of HOW to do it, which always helps. (Executives Kevin Cavanaugh and Jim Russell were on hand at the DNUG session to gauge reaction - I'd say it was very exciting, even applause.)
So, what we will have is the power of Eclipse as a development platform applied to advancing the Domino Designer development environment. You can imagine using the Eclipse script editors (such as the one in Workplace Designer) for coding up agents or any other place a script exists - and using that handy code outline view - a.k.a a class browser. Or, using the same Web Services consumer code as WP Designer; or, the same Navigator, to replace the Dom. Designer bookmarks; or, putting the infobox properties into a properties panel... I'm pretty certain that what will remain the same are the primary editors for the Form and View and probably other areas that are very specific to Domino development - in other words, we are not re-writing Domino Designer in Java. Repeat after me - "Lotus is not re-writing Domino Designer in Java". What we are doing is smartly adding features to our product set as we go forward in time, as we always have. (Who really cares what language the formula engine was re-written in, as long as you got new features, right?)
The demo that Maureen showed was in the Workplace Designer Eclipse perspective, mainly because that's the other project we both work on. It included opening a db by right-clicking in the WP Designer Navigator and choosing "New Domino DB" or "Open Domino DB", thus popping up those native dialog boxes; then, opening a form for editing. When I saw the demo last week, it was really hard to tell that what you were using was the same Domino Designer form editor - I had to ask, "wait, is that the Domino form or the WP Designer form??" But there's the infobox (aka properties box), there's the formula pane, the menus, and all the other great aspects of Domino Designer you know and love.
Here's what it looked like:
Productization will happen in stages and at the moment there is no official commitment to timeframe or features, Some things will have to be discussed later, but you could expect to see this in a product AFTER Hannover is released. I know that some people have already jumped to the conclusion that now we'll have a Linux and Mac Designer auto-magically - folks, there's real work needed to do that, since Designer has been Windows-only since R6.
Let me take care of a few other FAQs, while I'm at it:
Q. When will next release of Domino Designer (using Eclipse) be available?
A. There will be an update to Domino Designer, as there always has been, to coincide with the updates to Notes and Domino in the "Hannover" timeframe. After that, normal updates and feature releases will be planned and announced at the appropriate time.
Q. Do I need to have Workplace Designer in order to use Domino Designer with Eclipse?
A. No. However, developers who use both tools together, may do so, as they build and roll out composite applications, which may include NSF based apps, web apps, SWT apps, etc.
Q. Will I have to learn Java to use Domino Designer now?
A. No. As has been proven before with Workplace Designer, you do not have to know Java, just because Eclipse is being used.
Q. Is Domino Designer being re-written in Java?
A. No - see above. This proposal means Notes/Domino application developers will have improved tool(s) to create and modify applications for Notes and Domino.
Q. Will I be able to open my existing Lotus Notes/Domino applications?
A. Yes. Backwards compatibility is a hallmark of Notes/Domino and will continue to be, in the future. IBM Lotus Software remains committed to lowering the TCO of Notes/Domino and this includes preserving customer's current investments in Notes and Domino applications. Applications that run today in Notes/Domino will run in future versions of Notes/Domino and be accessible through the tools IBM/Lotus provides for Notes/Domino application developers.
Q. Does this proposal mean that Domino Designer will also be ported to Linux and Macintosh platforms?
A. It does not necessarily follow that Domino Designer will be on a platform other than Windows, at least for the first release. The request is duly noted.
Q. What specific features will be added to Domino Designer?
A. As many of you know, at this early stage of the product release cycle, IBM Lotus cannot commit to any particular features being in the release. Some ideas that have been proposed are in the text above, but they do not represent a commitment to provide them.
I'm sure you will have other questions. Please post them here or in the partner forum. The most important thing to understand that Lotus is continuing to enhance Domino Designer, which demonstrates a commitment to Domino as an application platform.
Product Manager, Workplace Designer (and other app dev stuff for Lotus Software)