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IBM Ships Workplace Designer, Preps Notes/Domino 7

Designer is an Eclipse-based tool for building J2EE-based applications.

IBM Software is now offering its toolset for building Workplace component applications and plans to ship Notes/Domino 7 in the next few weeks.

Workplace Designer 2.5, is the first iteration of the Eclipse-based tool for building J2EE-centric applications for IBM's Java-centric Workplace world. IBM shipped Workplace Collaboration Services 2.5 and Workplace Services Express 2.5 earlier this summer.

Workplace Designer is important because "it takes this really complex J2EE machine and makes it malleable so that even your average non-Java techie can work on it," said Rob Novak, president of SNAPPS, an IBM partner and collaboration specialist in Overland Park, Kan.

While the primary languages are JavaScript and XML, Workplace Designer also includes an array of Wizards and other tools aimed at developers from the traditionally proprietary Domino/Notes world. Workplace Designer will add full support for AJAX controls next year, according to IBM. AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is a toolset for building fast-response interactive Web applications.

IBM executives said Workplace Designer suits both highly proficient developers and relative novices. "You can drag something onto a page, preview it to see what it looks like, tweak it and put it into production very quickly. You can do very useful things with not a lot of lines of code," said James Russell, director of application development tools for IBM's Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Group, usually known as Lotus.

IBM will also continue to offer Domino Designer for Domino-centric developers and a host of other tools for server programming. It also will continue to offer Domino Designer for Domino developers, Russell said. Workplace Designer acts as a kind of bridge between the Java-based Workplace world and the Domino realm by letting Domino developers preserve their investment in Domino scripting tools.

Suggested retail price for Workplace Designer is $649.

Novak said that IBM -- which caused much confusion a few years ago when it signaled a wholesale migration off Domino technologies to J2EE analogs -- has clarified the situation in the past year by stressing continuity of both product lines.

Notes/Domino, with its proprietary, client-server roots, blazed the trail in enterprise-class mail and collaboration in the 1990s but for years has faced stiff competition from Microsoft Exchange in messaging.

Novak said there is enough business to sustain both Domino and Workplace offerings.

"We see a mix of customers going to both Workplace and Domino. We have customers who don't have Domino at all using Workplace and we have customers who are interested in adding Workplace incrementally to Domino," he said.

IBM and its allied partners have been combating the perception that Domino is a lame duck. Integrasys, a Houston-based reseller, recently helped migrate Plymouth Tube from Novell Groupwise to Domino, not Workplace, according to Shobe John, president of Integrasys. When complete, the migration will touch 800 to 900 users, he said. One key consideration was the need to provide integrated instant messaging, which Domino offers.

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