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Lotus development sets sites on Java Server Faces

It is more than eight years since IBM's purchase of Lotus, and the path of Lotus tool solutions has taken a new turn. Moves discussed at last year's Lotusphere -- that promised an accelerated migration to Java (and J2EE) for Notes and Domino application developers -- appeared fuller fledged at this year's Lotusphere get-together.

The moves stem in some part from IBM's efforts to forge a coherent tools strategy, from a general ascendance of J2EE to standards prominence, and from an industry effort to make J2EE easier to use.

The indications are that the typical "Lotus Notes developer" will become a Java developer. IBM has made attempts to make that move a simpler one than might first appear to be the case. The firm is also endeavoring to provide new sets of tools that allow savvy end users to create apps, as they did in the earliest days of Lotus 1-2-3. Of principal interest: Lotus Domino and Notes development will increasingly take place using WebSphere Studio tools marketed by the IBM Rational Group.

"A lot of tools, from a management viewpoint, are being brought into the Rational brand," said Eric Naiburg, market manager, IBM Desktop Products. Not all kits are involved, but WebSphere Studio/Site Developer and WebSphere Studio/Application Developer are, he said.

Central to efforts to ease J2EE development at IBM-Lotus are Java Server Faces, now winding its way through Java Community Process standardization. These tags are intended to abstract-out some of the complexity inherent in J2EE today.

Former Lotus hand Beverly DeWitt, now product manager for WebSphere Studio, said Java Server Faces support is already shipping beta form in WebSphere Studio 5.1.1. "We can't call it 'GA' [Generally Available] until the spec closes," said DeWitt, adding that she expects that to happen fairly soon.

"As soon as it closes, we update our components and flip the right switches to get it into golden 'state,'" she said. DeWitt noted that Domino developers doing demos at last week's Lotusphere were generally able to build J2EE apps pretty quickly.

As described by DeWitt, Java Server Faces form a framework for J2EE. They bear some similarity to other frameworks, such as Ants and Struts. But she said Java Server Faces provide a broader scope of client-side features that are, for the most part, absent from the frameworks. Easier handling of DB connections is said to be a Java Server Faces trait.

IBM developers can package these tag frameworks as wizards that, theoretically, can increasethe ability of savvy end users to create their own apps.

In past years, the Lotus developer was in an odd position -- terribly demanded at times, mostly overlooked the rest of the time. Java Server Faces promises to help some of these developers move into the wider J2EE space, and others -- business analysts, for example -- to get along with less programming responsibility.

The "Java Server Faces for Everyman movement" was on view at Lotusphere as well. Attendees received an early look at a "Workplace builder" tool that will allow end users to pick up some slack in application development, indicated John Caffrey, manager, product management, Lotus Workplace.

For other Programmers Report articles, please go to http://www.adtmag.com/article.asp?id=6265

About the Author

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

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