alphaWorks to Provide Window on IBM Research Labs

IBM launched its alphaWorks Web site in 1996 as an emerging technology showcase for developers. A component of IBM’s developerWorks, alphaWorks is where IBM publishes early implementations of technologies and research prototypes, primarily for early adopters.

Now IBM plans to use the site to provide developers with a window on cutting-edge research in its Research Labs.

"We took a look at what we were publishing on the alphaWorks site, and we realized that we weren't doing justice to what is happening in the Labs," explains Marc Goubert, manager of IBM’s alphaWorks group. "This is about getting back to the roots of emerging technology, as opposed to providing preview samples of product functionality."

IBM is providing new online resources around what the company calls "research topics." These resources include technology downloads, demonstrations, articles and researcher profiles to inform developers and academia.

The first two research topics on the site are visualization—using visual systems in development to help application users better perceive and process information—and semantics—using knowledge and reasoning to make software more intelligent, adaptive and efficient. New research topics will be launched throughout the year to help build awareness and understanding around software development trends, Goubert says.

Goubert and his alphaWorks team have put some actual shoe-leather into this project, visiting IBM’s Research Labs. “From that work we’ve found that there are great concepts just budding that we should be able to describe to our early-adopter audience,” Goubert says.

IBM originally planned to publish a new topic every six months, but after Goubert visited two of the company’s labs (New York and California), the company accelerated that schedule to one every three months.

“This finally gives us the opportunity to show more of what we’re glad to talk about,” Goubert says, “all this innovation happening in IBM research labs. It’ll give developers a better chance to learn about concept areas that are going to affect them in the future. And it’ll give them an opportunity to begin evaluating tools that will become more important to their development practice.”

IBM has also launched new resources on its developerWorks site. These include new customizable RSS feeds that allow developers to customize and tailor the way they receive resources and skills-building information, and new collaboration tools that allow developers to share knowledge with other developers.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].