Lotus is ... blue

by Volker Weber

I am still digesting the news presented during the OGS (Opening General Session). The timing was somewhat unfortunate for me, since Lotus wasted almost 45 minutes at the beginning on a celebrity speaker that I never heard of and a long and winding statement from the general manager, before racing through the news.

They threw out a lot of new stuff at us but I am still figuring out how it is going to change people's life enough to make them beat a path to Lotus' door. I will go through them in a few.

But first I want to state something that I really enjoy. Lotus has finally found an appealing visual style for their applications. And it is basically the same style for the whole portfolio, from Notes 8 all the way to Connections and the new announcements made today. I really want to stress that the times of ugly Lotus applications appears to be over. There is even some work done refreshing old templates. This is a very welcome change.

Now let's take a look at some of the announcements:

This is just a small roundup. Most of the stuff mentioned here will happen throughout the year, so there is no rush to report them today. I will need a lot of briefings to get to the bottom of it all.

So why is Lotus blue? It's the dominant background color for most of the design elements which do not have a white background. And I like it much more than the attempt to paint stuff yellow.


Nice summary Vowe, and very fair too...

Stuart McIntyre, 2008-01-21

As always: Vowe is my primary source for valuable truth on todays technology brought to the facts. Very good summary - Thanks.

Regards from the - way too cool - Orlando

Andy Brunner, 2008-01-21

Thanks for this summary - nothing more to ad to it from a content point of view. "Atlantic" will also be a very good strategic move - as some companies claimed the relationship between M$ and SAP ("Duet", etc.) was a top reason to spoil Lotus during the last years... .

Heiko Voigt, 2008-01-22

Very accurately portrayed. Sadly, you miss the point and power of xpages, but then, the totally blew the opportunity to present them properly by giving Maureen less than 5 minutes total. SO MUCH NEW in designer for eclipse -- things that the crowd would really have liked.

Suggest you catch the "designer keynote" coming up.

Andrew Pollack, 2008-01-22

It's great to read your summaries - reduced to the essence without Ed style "unbelievable great stuff!" comments.
Hopefully IBM recognizes that if they want to push RCP based clients they should implement the basic client features there first (have you ever tried to mark a few mails without the keyboard in your inbox using eclipse client?) before they add new features...
Best news to me: script class browser and Atlantic - we'll see, whether our outdated LSX can rest in peace in the future :)

Steffen Pelz, 2008-01-22

Andrew: Do xpages work inside the Notes client?

Thilo Hamberger, 2008-01-22

Thilo, Xpages are a web-only technology at this stage.

Ben Poole, 2008-01-22

Thilo - unfortunately, NDA agreements prevent me from giving you a direct answer. I can say that at this time there has not been a public commitment to the timeframe at which xpages will work in the client and they have not been shown at any public forum that I know of in any interface other than the browser.

Generally, issues like this come down to the cost and time required for QA weighed against the value of getting the feature out in the next big release and then playing catch-up on the issue of parity.

I have an article on xpages that was supposed to be released prior to 'sphere in order to provide background so that they could be better understood in the opening general session when revealed, but I'm told Kevin decided that the article would risk killing the surprise at the OGS. I disagree, but an article based on nda information is by definition subject to the constraints placed on it by the owner of the IP -- IBM/Lotus in this case so I really have no basis to protest.

Sadly, xpages were given so little time that their value was really not shown and the capabilities that make them so important not really explained. This isn't Maureen's fault, just a time thing. She needed another 5 minutes to show about six other small pieces of new designer and xpages functionality and she'd have had a standing ovation.

Now, I'm left unsure as to what has been shown in public (releasing me from NDA) and what is still being kept mum, so I'm overly limited in terms of what I can talk about. I hope to clear this up by asking today what is and is not still proprietary information.

Andrew Pollack, 2008-01-22

Thank you Ben and Andrew for answering. So far xpages seem like a cool tool but as a developer I am worried that I would have to tell my clients that I can do great looking stuff for a browser but for the Notes client that I have defending for a long time you'd have to wait for another release.

Thilo Hamberger, 2008-01-22

Why can’t you do great-looking stuff for the Notes client now? What’s holding you back? Embedded elements (views, outlines, editors), layers, CSS support (albeit limited)… all these things should help you engineer something decent-looking for the client. Although I agree, it can be a lot of work!

Ben Poole, 2008-01-22

@thilo, didn't the 8.0 release bring a huge load of new features for client developers? It looked that way to me. I can't remember the last time there was a significant update aimed at web developers. R5?

Kerr Rainey, 2008-01-22

Excellent posting.

Thank You.

marco foellmer, 2008-01-23

Thank you Ben and Kerr. I just haven't seen any client applications using those features yet. Some teasers would be nice.

Thilo Hamberger, 2008-01-23

The “Domino next” release is about web app development, IBM have been pretty up-front about that. It all ties in to the client / server release cycle: Notes 8 was about the client, the next big release will be about the server (and web development will be key here). As for teasers, check out posts by Nathan Freeman and Chris Blatnick with regards the Notes client UI.

Ben Poole, 2008-01-23

So far I did not hear anything new about the productivity tools in Notes 8.01/8.5. Are they still alive?

Peter Meuser, 2008-01-25

To answer the question of what Notes artifacts can be used in xpages...

Image resources and style sheets of course, but you'll also be able to call agents from the serverside JS, letting you get to existing logic.

You can render views or folders through a view control, and many documents can be on a single xpage, using their form definitions.

And that's for now :-)

Maureen Leland, 2008-01-25

The productivity tools, now officially known as the Lotus Symphony Editors are very much a part of the Notes client in 8.0.1 and 8.5. Symphony has had more than 400,000 downloads since last September and the development team has been hard at work making them a viable alternative to spending valuable monies on basic technology based on 50 year old paradigms.

The Notes client will be able to take the most current drop of Symphony code and include it with each version. We are constantly evaluating which features to add to provide linked value for our customers, and are excited by the interest that our customers have shown.

Dwight Morse, 2008-01-25

Dwight, that sounds to me a little bit like: Nothing new to really talk about right now ... I stay tuned ;-)

Peter Meuser, 2008-01-26

@Peter - While office type tools aren't my thing at all, and symphony has been a bit of an ignored tool in my office, I thought the announcements around that suite were interesting.

They've gone a bit beyond simply offering an open office type alternative to MS Office, and are moving to make it part of an overall alternative to the entire .NET environment (office + sharepoint + vs.net). I can't see it ever getting to a fully valid comparison of equal capability, but they may well reach the threshold of "enough" for some sites to no longer need an office license.

Cutting office licenses is being given a lot of attention at IBM. I think there was a huge wake up call when IBM dropped office and saved a fortune, that their biggest competition on software is being spoon fed by even the most ardent IBM customers.

A key competition point for Microsoft with Exchange has for years been "well, you already have exchange client software on all your pc's." Their license model is very confusing and many companies end up with these broad licenses that end up making it seem as if they "already have" exchange and might as well use it. It is a key action point in the competitive sell on the MS point against Notes. It also adds skew to a seat counts on the MS side.

IBM now has their "project liberate" team now which can help go into an IT shop and evaluate their MS licenses to help them avoid paying for what they're not using.

When your own best customers, your biggest partners, - or even you yourself - are handing huge sums of money and marketing statistics directly to your key competition it is time to do something different. That seems to be what is behind Project Liberate as well as Symphony.

Now, with all the steps being taken by E.U. governments and companies, it seems to be having an impact.

Andrew Pollack, 2008-01-26

Andrew, in theory ...

In practice you get to see the taskbar when Lotus PR falls out of their presentation. And what are they running? Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. And Internet Explorer. That is going to be long march.

Guess what is running the giant screen at the OGS?

Volker Weber, 2008-01-27

I'm 100% with you, Volker. Moving away from MS Office isn't easy -- and isn't always desirable. My presentations this year are still in Office. In face, they were created in Office 2007 (which was both good and bad in my experience). I also am doing a lot of development in vs.NET 2005 and prefer to run Windows XP on my laptop and desktop.

So far, all the options for Linux on the desktop haven't swayed me to that choice yet even though I prefer it for my servers. So far, all the terrific work that Apple has done from a design and usability perspective on their OS and hardware haven't swayed me to give up my PC laptops either (though they are getting close enough that next go-round they'll get serious consideration).

Still, the point of what they're working toward with Symphony and Project Liberate is a valid one and it is only pressures like this (particularly Open Office) that have pushed Microsoft to innovate.

My point is that the Symphony work is clearly past the low threshold of being "something worth talking about". I'm not moving to it yet, but the goal is interesting and possibly attainable. To make it work, I think a solid base of 8.5 clients using expediter and a strong ISV community around are both going to be necessary first.

I'm in favor of pushing harder and harder. Of course, I usually am.

Andrew Pollack, 2008-01-27

Here's an answer about XPages for Notes:

Direct from Maureen on her blog.

"As for rich client, yes, xpages are designed for this, and it is in our plans to do, the only reason we are not yet screaming it from the rooftops is that we are not yet sure of a timeframe. Clearly, true write once, run everywhere, is one of the great values of xpages. We will do it as soon as we can, that's as much as I can say (other than I agree completely!)"

Andrew Pollack, 2008-01-30

And I'm way too pleased to say, she's also made such a statement on my own blog as well:

re: XPages: The Most Important New Feature You Didn't Know You Needed

On the rich client question - it is on our plan, it is just not yet known whether it will make 8.5 or not, so we're being cautious. We are committed to doing the web first, but clearly the client is also a large part of the ultimate vision.

Andrew Pollack, 2008-01-30

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