On activities

by Volker Weber

Here is an interesting way to learn where the innovation is happening. The Domino team explains (emphasis mine):

Domino 8 is 100% Domino - no 'ifs' or 'buts'. It will run all your existing Domino applications and email. It is a regular in-line upgrade from earlier releases - no rip-and-replace of servers is required. Domino 8 has no hidden prerequisites or new requirements for you to install (IBM WebSphere Application Server, IBM WebSphere Portal Server, and IBM DB2 are all optional extras you can chose to deploy). Nor does it require that you deploy any of our collaboration products such as Lotus Sametime, Lotus Quickplace, or Activities.

Chris Reckling expands:

Activities does require WAS to run, but that IS optional. Besides, Activities is basically a pure Web 2.0 app that can be used in lots of different contexts, both with Notes and standalone.

I hope this makes it crystal clear that Activities is not a Notes/Domino application. It runs on WebSphere Application Server, it requires WebSphere Application Server, and it has the characteristics of a WebSphere application. Notes 8 (the Eclipse version) will be able to run it, much like Notes 7 can run browser applications.

Screenshot IBM, June 2005

I advise you to visit the Research lab at Lotusphere. For the last few years almost everything there has been running on WebSphere.

[Thanks, Ingo]


I hope that replication will not forget for activities.

cheers marco

marco foellmer, 2006-12-11

Replication only works for Notes/Domino applications. Since Activities is not a Notes/Domino application, it won't replicate.

Volker Weber, 2006-12-11

@Volker, is that an assumption or a confirmed fact?

The reason I ask is that within Workplace, the plan was always that the Activity component would be replicated between the server and Rich Client as any other Workplace app would be... Therefore, at Notes 8, with a eclipse-based client, and Activity server (a cut down WCS server I assume), surely the capability would be there to replicate (or "synchronise" to avoid confusion) the Activity data between server and client?

Stuart McIntyre, 2006-12-11

It is a confirmed assumption. ;-)

Replication is for .NSF-style applications only. Synchronisation is a possible solution, if you have an application which works against a local database. From what I have been briefed, that does not seem to be the case.

The current plan seems to be to provide an Atom feed, so that you can access your activities through mobile devices like a Blackberry. They can be kept online more easily than a PC. Atom is also a publishing protocol. This would allow you to manipulate activities from a mobile device.

Volker Weber, 2006-12-11

"Confirmed Assumption" - I'll remember that for another occasion ;-)

So, (and I'm sorry if I'm lagging behind with my understanding of the Notes 8 platform - it still seems so vague to me...), the Notes 8 client doesn't have the local Cloudscape database from the Workplace Rich Client, and therefore won't be able to replicate any Workplace apps?

If the above is true, then surely the productivity editors will be greatly hampered by not having a server-based document respository to work with?

Stuart McIntyre, 2006-12-11

So regardless of what platform it runs on and whether or not it can replicate is Activities worth it for my business to use?

Bruce Elgort, 2006-12-11

Stuart, you cannot make any assumptions about whether the client has the Cloudscape database or not, if looking at one application.

Let me try to explain. If you build a Notes application with forms and views, using formula language and Lotusscript, and you store all your data into this one NSF, then you inherit the capability to run this application offline. Notes will replicate your application and all of its data between servers, or between client and server, but not between clients.

WebSphere applications are completely different. They do not automatically inherit this replication from the platform. Example: You can write an application, which stores its data into a DB2 database on the server. You can write an application which stores its data into a Cloudscape database on the client. But it does not automatically replicate the application itself between client and server, and it also does not automatically replicate the data.

You just can't do the equivalent of a "File/Replication/New Replica".

Volker Weber, 2006-12-11

Bruce, that is too early to tell. It is an interesting concept, but we will have to see how well it works in Notes 8, and whether users will want to adopt a different method to handle their tasks.

Volker Weber, 2006-12-11

Volker is correct re synchronisation and Workplace Websphere-sourced applications. When I attended a Workplace workshop (try saying that quickly) looking at the managed client, certain steps had to be taken to ensure that a Workplace-sourced application (OK, now a Websphere Portal-sourced application) could be taken off-line.

Given the nature of the beast, I'm not sure it makes that much sense to take activities off-line anyway: a push from the server in the form of Atom makes more sense than replication synchronisation to me.

Ben Poole, 2006-12-11

Ok, it's a day for dumb questions from me...

Surely ATOM is a unidirectional push of info. Wouldn't you want to be able to add information back into the Activity even if you are in disconnected mode (i.e. publish it back into a local copy now, and replicate later)? For me this is where so many web-based collaboration tools fall down, and IBM should be building on Notes' heritage of disconnected-working, rather than offering new functionality in an "only connected" model...

Stuart McIntyre, 2006-12-11

Volker, so you're implying that because the activities part will not be NSF-based, no innovation is going to happen in the NSF-based part of Notes? I wouldn't agree at all. There's al lot going on in both Eclipse / J2EE and NSF / NRPC.
Most of your facts look OK - based on the current status, but I won't agree on the conclusion you make in the first sentence.

Arnd Layer, 2006-12-11

Arnd, glad to here it. I think the innovation in nsf land apps must be getting lost in the noise of all the eclipse based goodness. Can you point to some innovation going on there?

Kerr Rainey, 2006-12-11

@Arnd - that's great! Here's hoping that 'innovation' means more than 'integration with the WAS/DB2 stack'.

Craig Wiseman, 2006-12-11

Activities is a service, with a design goal of reaching as many customer segments as possible (thus not limited to Notes users). It also has added capabilities uniquely available when surfaced through Notes 8.

We're doing our best to design the products from customer need and addressable markets first, then decide which technology to apply. We remain very committed to NSF repository and the Notes/Domino application meta-model.

Stay tuned to hear more in the near future.

Ken Bisconti, 2006-12-11

Ken, I am very tuned to hear more in six weeks. Hey, it's only six weeks. :-)

Stuart, Atom is not unidirectional. It has both subscribe and a publish protocol. It would enable a suitable client application to subscribe to acitivies, as well as to publish new or alter existing ones. There is no replication like in Notes, but you could certainly queue changes locally.

Volker Weber, 2006-12-11

"I hope this makes it crystal clear that Activities is not a Notes/Domino application. It runs on WebSphere Application Server, it requires WebSphere Application Server, and it has the characteristics of a WebSphere application. Notes 8 (the Eclipse version) will be able to run it, much like Notes 7 can run browser applications."

There is an Activities service, as Ken states above. This service is implemented as a server based Java application and it is what requires WAS.

Now, exploiting this service from within the environment in which people work is also part of the Activities effort. This is accomplished differently based the work environment.

In the case of Notes 8, for example, there is a fully integrated user experience which is not browser based as stated above. A preview of this was actually shown last Lotusphere.

There is also a user experience that is fully browser based. This is of course available to anyone with a browser. A preview of this was also shown last Lotusphere.

See you at next lotusphere to see what will be shown next.

Miguel Estrada, 2006-12-11

Miguel, I am not implying that Activities in Notes will be a browser application. I assume it will be an Eclipse application. Is that correct?

Volker Weber, 2006-12-11

Yes. That is correct.

The following statement made me think that you were assuming that Notes8 will be run "it" as a browser application so I just wanted to clarify.

"Notes 8 (the Eclipse version) will be able to run it, much like Notes 7 can run browser applications"

So yes, it is Eclipse based, integrated into Notes8, and uses ATOM for getting and giving info from and to the Activities service.

Miguel Estrada, 2006-12-11

Hey, that is excellent news. I did not know you were using Atom for everything. If this becomes an open and documented interface to the service, the possibilities are endless.

Volker Weber, 2006-12-11

I am anticipating we'll be given a rest API with URIs available for most of the creation functions in Activities - tasks, people, activities, history, etc. and atom feeds for it all as well.

Rob Novak, 2006-12-13

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