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On Monday, IBM will begin offering a trial download of IBM Workplace Designer 2.5, an Eclipse-based tool that brings the concepts of Domino Designer to the J2EE and service-oriented architecture space. The download of the pre-release will be available for free through August at IBM's developerWorks site.
"We're giving this pre-release of Workplace Designer 2.5 to the developer community for the next two months in order to get it into as many hands as possible," said Dirk Nicol, program director of IBM Workplace Application Platform. "Developers can use it as much as they like for 60 days or so." After that, IBM will release the final product, sometime in August.
No Domino developer needs to move to Workplace Designer, but for a Domino developer who needs to expand into the J2EE space, "the skills and experiences they have with Domino Designer can be taken forward with little additional education," Nicol said.
One difference, and advantage, according to Nicol, is that all the components created in Workplace Designer are XML-based.
With Workplace Designer, Nicol added, "We were able to take a lot of functionality based on Eclipse -- code complete, color coding of classes and objects within classes you're writing, and an advanced IDE experience – and make it available to the Domino developer community.
IBM is also hoping that Workplace Designer will attract some of the Visual Basic community. "With the recent announcement that Microsoft is dropping support of Visual Basic 6 and moving it to .Net, the VB community is faced with a choice," Nicol said. "If they want to move to a scripting environment that will support J2EE, this would be a seamless move for them."
Workplace Designer is part of the Workplace product umbrella, which includes the Notes/Domino family, the WebSphere Portal family and WorkSpace Collaborative Services. The new toolset is also designed to fit in with Workplace Builder, a tool used by nonprogrammers to do custom development work. The product is being given a 2.5 nomenclature in order to synchronize it with the server release number.
Meanwhile, IBM will also announce a new tool for developers on alphaWorks, its emerging technologies Website. The Collaborative Component Wizard for IBM Workplace Applications is a plug-in for IBM Rational Application Developer that provides a wizard interface to help developers start creating IBM Workplace components. The tool is available now at www.alphaworks.ibm.com/tech/wcswizard.