Lotus to put JavaServer Faces on future tools

[February 4, 2003 - ADT's Programmers Report] - The Lotus Notes developer has been on the sidelines a bit over the last few years as Microsoft has marched its Visual Basic troops toward .NET, and another army of developers moved to the new Java platform. Lotus, as well as parent IBM, has moved more recently to help these developers shift to J2EE, but it hasn't been easy.

At Lotusphere in Orlando, Fla., Lotus managers talked about what is in store for Domino and Notes specialists, as the Lotus platform continues to become a more intrinsic partner with IBM's other middleware offerings. Java and EJB classes have been supported in the Lotus developer environment for some time now, but the upcoming moves are aimed at vastly simplifying the developer's tasks.

Key in Lotus's plans are a Lotus Domino Toolkit for WebSphere Studio, available in the near term, and new RAD features that will follow later. The RAD features are of special interest because they are said to implement aspects of the JavaServer Faces technology that is now being worked on by the Java Community Process (JCP).

With the new toolkit, Domino developers can more easily use Domino 6 custom JSP tags to access existing Domino data in WebSphere Studio. Also enhancing the kit is new support for the Eclipse open-source platform.

The tags add a useful level of abstraction atop Java classes, said Martha Hoyt, senior manager of collaborative application development at Lotus. ''It simplifies your work with the Domino [software] objects,'' she said.

Future RAD features were demoed at Lotusphere. They are being built to fit in with JavaServer Faces technology, which is now in a nascent state. Said Roger Rea: ''We're trying to extend the skills of Domino developers so they can easily create apps for WebSphere.'' Rea serves as IBM WebSphere Web development market manager.

''[Domino developers] look at Java as a fairly complex [job]. Most are oriented to visual development tools. Most Java developers are oriented toward object programming. We are adding a visual development environment to the studio that eases those object tasks,'' said Rea.

What RAD features are in the wings? Expect a project navigator that provides a simplified hierarchical list view devoid of the many descriptor files that proliferate in J2EE development. Also look for an event box controller that lets you write code or drag pre-canned actions instead.

On one level, these traits could be likened to the kind of abstractions IBM competitors BEA (with WebLogic Workshop) and Microsoft (with Visual Basic for .NET) seek to offer their developers. IBM may have an advantage here, if its bet on JavaServer Faces pays off. That standard must come together, and in good time, if developers are to gain.

The Lotus Domino Toolkit for WebSphere Studio will be included at no added cost in a future version of Domino Designer 6. It requires both Domino 6 and WebSphere Studio V5, as well as a separate installation. A beta version of Lotus Domino Toolkit for WebSphere Studio is available now. Final code is currently scheduled to be generally available with Lotus Domino Designer in Q2/2003. Pricing and scheduling for new Web RAD feature rollouts are not yet available.

A beta version of Lotus Domino Toolkit for WebSphere Studio is available for download at

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About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.


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