Exciting news from Lotusphere '04 for VSB's

by Ken Porter

Lotusphere is a massive event, and it is simply not possible for one individual to see and do everything in five short days. A few years ago, I started developing a 'short list' of topics to research while at "The Sphere!" Nothing fancy or overly complicated, just a collection of mental notes to help me decide which sessions and labs to focus on while at the show, and what topics I can research on my own when the show is over. This year was my seventh Lotusphere, and I only had one item on my short list. I wanted an answer to the following question: Is there anything new and exciting that IBM/Lotus is building into the core Notes and Domino products?

When I first heard IBM's definition of the Small & Medium Business ( SMB ) segment, I remember thinking to myself that seems kind of big! So I started to describe the segment which I work within as the Very Small Businesses (VSB's) segment. These are companies with less than 100 employees, a comparatively small computer infrastructure, and little or no interest in investing in a Workplace/Portal platform. Now before I get accused of being a "tree hugger", I want to state I like the IBM/Lotus Workplace/Portal strategy. I just fail to see what's in it for a VSB that runs the majority of their business on a Notes & Domino platform.

So at this point you are probably wondering "What on earth would excite Ken at Lotusphere this year? It was all about Workplace!" After the first couple of days I found myself wondering the exact same thing.

Monday's keynote had little in it that spoke to a VSB. The one very important thing that did come out of the keynote was Lotus' public pledge to keep investing in the Notes and Domino platform by releasing a ND7 and ND8. This was not news, but it was important for this message to be repeated again in the keynote. In fact it should be repeated whenever possible to help undo the impression that the NSF is 80's technology. It may very well be 80's technology, but that doesn't mean it still isn't relevant in 2004. I spent the remainder of Monday attending the "6.5 and Beyond" sessions about the Notes Client and the Designer. Some interesting stuff, but nothing that really made me want to write home to the office. By the end of Monday I was grumpy, and I had yet to find that VSB nugget that would excite me.

Thankfully, my mood started to change on Tuesday when I attended the "ID211: NSFDB2 - Plans and Status" session. I first heard about the NSFDB2 project at last years Lotusphere and thought it had huge potential for existing Domino customers. One year later, the story has only gotten better. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, there is a project well under way for Domino 7 that will:

A follow-up session on Wednesday; "STR115: DB2 Strategy and Integration with Lotus Software" only re-enforced my sense of "Wow" about this project. In my humble opinion, the NSFDB2 project represents the single biggest enhancement to the Domino application server since it started to render NSFs in HTML on the fly. If you haven't researched the NSFDB2 project stop reading my comments, and go get the slides!

Another cool enhancement to the Domino platform was covered in the "AD205: Web Services and Lotus Domino" session. I have done web services in Domino 6, but I always felt like I was using a hack instead of using a proper Domino programming construct. But in Designer 7, there will be a new design element for a web service. I'm sure this was covered during the Designer 6.5 and beyond session on Monday, but some how I missed it! That's what I get for having too many pre-session sodas!

Web Services in Designer 7 will support both Java and LotusScript web services which are really Domino agents with all the SOAP and WSDL stuff layered on top. The cool thing is Designer 7 will be able to import an existing WSDL and use it to create the skeleton code of the web service. Or if you create a web service from scratch, Designer 7 will build the WSDL on the fly for you. The demo of web services in Designer 7/Domino 7 was very impressive. Finally, developing web services in Designer 7 will no longer fell like a hack. I can't wait!

At the end of the week, I was exhausted. I met tons of new people this year, and I saw many cool new things. Most of all, I was excited by what I heard was in store in Notes/Domino 7.


I've heard somewhere that with domino 7 it's possible to re-use an existing notes application of any type via webservice in a browser, without any modification.
I find this hard to believe, did you hear anything about that?

Julian Buss, 2004-02-05

I was pretty grumpy at the end of the day on Monday as well. I wonder if the Mac BOF had anything to do with it? ;-)

Richard van Geilswyk, 2004-02-05

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