Developers mixed on direction of IBM Lotus R&D

Some developers want IBM to focus on the Lotus Notes/Domino platform, while others at Lotusphere said the company's collaboration endeavors are dead on.

ORLANDO -- Just five minutes on Lotus Notes Domino 8.5?

That was the reaction of one developer who sat through the opening session at Lotusphere held here recently. Among disclosures of a new mashup tool, a development partnership with SAP and a new series of midmarket servers, John Londano of URS Corp., based in San Francisco, called the scant amount of attention paid to Lotus Notes/Domino 8.5 a blip on IBM's radar.

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"A lot of companies come to Lotusphere because they want to hear about what IBM is doing with Notes and Domino, and we got very little on [8.5] and a lot on products I don't care about," Londano said. "And what I did hear about Domino Designer … I don't agree with the direction of going with [the Eclipse] client. The C client is an easier development environment."

The Domino Designer application development software is shifting to the Eclipse client for developing Java applications, as opposed to LotusScript, a scripting language akin to Microsoft's Visual Basic.

This does not mean, however, that scripting is being removed as an option in Domino Designer moving forward, said Jeff Eisen, chief architect for Lotus Notes at IBM Lotus. "Eclipse is the second biggest development environment to the Microsoft Windows environment, but we are not forgetting that our bread-and-butter developers are scripting," he said. "We are going to be making it easier in the Eclipse program for the scripting crowd, but I can't say anymore about that now."

Technology for employee presence awareness and new social software possibilities were two main reasons J.M. Smucker Co., out of Orrville, Ohio, sent one of its developers, Heidi Wessel.

Wessel said the company is working with Lotus Sametime now and plans to introduce IBM's new team sharing and social networking technologies Lotus Quickr and Lotus Connections sometime in 2009.

"IBM's goals are pretty in line with where we want to go as a company," Wessel said. "On a personal note as a developer, I was excited about the direction they are heading with Domino Designer -- it being open source and Java-based."

The ability to now port development work across different product lines, such as Lotus Domino and WebSphere, had Mark Polly, a developer with business consultancy Perficient Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio, itching to get back to the office. "There's now more client-side integration with [WebSphere] Portal…. We're able to reuse things we did in Portal and translate it to Domino, so it works in both places. That's a big improvement," Polly said.

Phillip Saunders, with B/E Aerospace Inc. in Winston-Salem, N.C., was interested in the mashup tool, which, he said, will help employees develop their own composite applications, and possible integration of that tool and resulting applications with Lotus Sametime. And, he said, the new Notes and Domino/SAP integration partnership will play into his company's migration to SAP.

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