IBM is getting ready to unveil the final beta of its Lotus Notes/Domino 7.0 platform at Lotusphere 2005 in Orlando, Fla., even as it directs attention to its Workplace platform initiative.
Scheduled to ship in the first half of this year, the latest Lotus Notes/Domino release improves the Web services enablement of Domino applications and supports use of DB2 as a data store.
Better Web service support will largely take the form of improvements to Domino Designer.
"In Notes/Domino 7, our developers will be able to create WSDL code out-of-the-box with Domino Designer that describes the interface to a Domino application," said Ken Bisconti, IBM vice president for Workplace, Portal and Collaboration products. WSDL, or Web Services Description Language, works with XML SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) software to allow loosely coupled interoperability between programs and data running on different platforms.
In the Domino Designer rev associated with Notes/Domino 7, indicated Bisconti, Lotus software tools are able to "generate the WSDL that you put into the Web services program." In effect, he said, developers can make SOAP calls over HTTP to Domino.
Just as notable in the Domino beta is support in developers interested in using DB2 as a data store. This relational database technology has been associated with many enterprise-wide application development projects over the last 15-plus years.
Said Bisconti: "We can store application constructs and data in a DB2 store." The reason you would do this, he continued, "is to expose capabilities to do joins and to improve ad hoc query performance."
"We have done the integration at a deep level," said Bisconti, noting that popular Domino traits, such as replication and security models, are preserved in the new environment.
Some viewers suggest this DB2 connection, even if it is not likely to be readily used by the majority of today's Notes and Domino installations, does represent a competitive edge in the collaboration software space in which IBM Lotus vies with Microsoft and Exchange.
Microsoft loudly touted Project Kodiak in recent years as it readied a new version of Exchange. It was said to use relational SQL Server technology. But delays in a new file system and general slippage of Microsoft's Longhorn OS program apparently caused the Redmond, Wash., software maker to backtrack from such major changes to its Exchange platform.v
This release of Notes/Domino should be accompanied by an Eclipse-based plug-in for the Workplace rich client. Prototypes of such a package have been demonstrated in the past, but a more full-fledged version is anticipated at the Orlando conference.