Making Domino applications work with IBM Workplace

If your firm is a pure Domino shop but has chosen Workplace as the framework for adding other platforms, you will need a plan for moving your Domino apps to Workplace.

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The value of IBM Workplace is as a uniform front end that can run on a variety of clients and operating systems, enabling Domino as well as non-Domino environments to provide users with consistent, customizable interface to all of their applications and tasks, regardless of the client platform or the application (assuming it runs on the handful of platforms supported, that is).

So if your company needs either to unify a heterogeneous application environment, or is a pure Domino shop but anticipates adding other platforms and has chosen Workplace as the framework for doing so, you will need a plan for moving your Domino applications to Workplace. Following are key steps for planning a Domino/Workplace integration project, based on IBM's Redbook OpenPortalizing Domino Applications: Integration with Portal 5.02 and Lotus Workplace 2.0.1.

Planning the portlet migration process

IBM Workplace is a combination of Lotus Domino, WebSphere Portal, Lotus Workplace collaborative tools and the Workplace Client Technology. Because Workplace sits on WebSphere Portal, moving Domino applications to Workplace requires creating portlets to represent the applications, or parts of them. While a Domino application can be represented by a single portlet, usually each application needs several portlets to represent all of its functionality. This allows the functional components to be combined and reused in different ways.

Before "portlet-izing" your Domino applications, you need to map out the parameters of each application, in order to understand how it's being used, its size and typical workload, and its complexity. You'll need to determine the number of documents, the number of average concurrent users and maximum users, usage patterns, whether it's a single or multiple database application, and whether it uses a Web- or Notes-based client. This type of information will help you estimate the workload on the Domino and Portal servers, as well as what new usage scenarios might arise. For example, Notes users access Domino applications one after another. But Workplace users will be simultaneously using multiple portlets from various applications. The move to Workplace will also open up the accessibility of your Domino applications to greater numbers of users, since they no longer require a Notes client to do so.

The profile of your applications will also determine which portlet pattern you'll use for your various portlets. The options are:

  • The link pattern, a simple Web link from a portlet that launches a native Notes or browser-based application. This is the easiest pattern, but it does not allow for content of functionality within a portal framework.
  • The display pattern, which enables a portlet to display information from a Domino application, but provides no other functionality. To interact with the application, the user has to launch the application's Notes or browser interface. It is mainly useful in situations where the user wants to look up information or quickly scan a document.
  • The integrated pattern, which lets the user perform tasks in other applications inside the portlet, instead of launching the application.
  • The migrated pattern, which is used when you want to replace your applications with entirely portlet-based processes. This requires the most effort, and typically includes redesigning the application.

Besides deploying Domino applications as portlets in Workplace, you can also use Workplace Builder to mix and match Workplace and Domino functions, such as adding a Lotus Workplace portlet to a Domino application, or a Domino portlet to a Workplace application. Workplace Builder is a tool that lets business analysts and designers quickly assemble components into new business processes. The aim is to give people a way to enhance Domino portlets with Workplace functions.

By opening up your Domino applications to Workplace portlets, more users will be able to take advantage of both the collaborative tools that Domino and Workplace offer, as well as the custom applications you may have developed over the years.

Sue Hildreth is a freelance IT writer based in Waltham, MA. She can be reached at Sue.Hildreth@Comcast.net.

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