Making a more versatile Workplace IDE: It’s all about J2EE and Web services

The biggest obstacle to Workplace’s uptake could be the absence of a powerful and easy-to-use IDE that’s on par with Domino Designer. IBM’s Rational Application Developer, the default Workplace IDE, is based on the open source Eclipse framework and has a dedicated following in the J2EE tools space. Even IBM officials concede it’s no Domino Designer. "Even though I can do quite powerful things in Domino Designer, I’m doing them at a level of script development, which means I’ve got a quicker design cycle," says Jim Russell, IBM’s director of application development tools for Lotus. "Also, there’s the fact that at the level of scripting, I’m able to manipulate artifacts, like documents, like fields, that are somewhat higher level and have their own built-in semantics, which makes it easier to build the kind of things that work in the Domino context, forms and views."

IBM recognizes this is a problem and is trying to correct it by essentially grafting Domino Designer features onto a new Workplace-ready version, which should ship by midyear. "We’ve got something we call Workplace Designer, which is there to bring the same kind of scripting development to the Workplace platform, to make it easier to build the same kinds of applications in Workplace," Russell says. "Our goal is to make sure that people who are comfortable in Domino Designer or other script environments, things like Visual Basic or PowerBuilder, are at home here."

Elsewhere, Big Blue is prepping a Workplace Services Express product, which is due out soon, along with the next version of Workplace, slated for release early this year. In both releases, Big Blue promises improved and expanded collaborative capabilities.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor. He can be reached at [email protected].