My Lotusphere 2005 technology overview

Admin side
TCO Performance Boost. Domino 7 will benchmark anywhere from 50 – 300% better depending on platform. So your windows servers should be able to handle up to 50% more people on them, or at least run more efficiently on your existing hardware. Should allow you more time before your next hardware refresh.

Domino Domain Monitoring. This is basically a central repository for monitoring all of your Domino servers much more in-depth than before. It also gives you pre-emptive information to fix problems before they occur, and gives you fixes to common issues as they creep up. Basically this database will allow you to see everything in one place without having to run around and check several locations.

Linux Web Admin client. The web version of the admin client now works through Linux as well, so you could have someone fully on Linux doing admin for everyone on Windows. It’s pretty slick, and is starting to down the path to a full Linux desktop. Now only if they would port Designer!

Smart Update enhanced. Smart Update is the piece that allows automatic upgrades to happen over the network of Notes clients without us having to intervene. Supposedly a lot of little bugs are fixed, and there are some new features that allow you to do things like limit how many upgrades can happen an hour etc.

DB2 Back-End. You can now convert your NSF’s into DB2 on the back end. This allows you to use SQL queries when building views, as well as allowing you to hit external data more easily. Cool Stuff.

Polices get a face-lift. Currently, people can change settings that are governed by policies themselves. They can changethose policies to something else, but the next time they log in Domino changes them back to the policy setting you had set on the server. This can be confusing for users. Version 7 allows you to lock those settings so end users cannot change them. Also, the new policies let you customize a LOT more things including some calendaring and replication settings.

Not really an admin thing, but the Notes 7 client will now have an Auto-Save feature. So you could have it Save every 5 minutes, so if Windows or Notes were to crash, you wouldn’t lose any more than a few minutes of work.

Most other client improvements are concerning usability and cosmetics, but they will make a difference, although subtle. One feature in particular lets you save your window layout so the next time you open Notes everything will be in its same place. Nice.

Development Side
As I’m not a hardcore developer, I didn’t hit many of those sessions at all. I do know that primarily the big change was the addition of Web Services. They also have in-place Java debugging now (pulled in from Eclipse) that they didn’t have before. They also showed off Workplace Designer which looks just like Domino Designer but allows you to create Workplace Java apps without having to know Java… more on that below.

Workplace Stuff
I’m geeking heavily about Workplace. I think the portal framework (especially when coupled with the rich client) really points to a good future for Domino shops. You don’t lose Domino, but do gain portal capability, all in a standards-based platform. Excellent.

Workplace Services Express is out and allows people to get all of the Workplace portal functionality for less than 1000 employees. It’s client access license based (no cost for server software) so you just pay per user. It ties right into your Domino, Exchange, or POP3 email, so for the SMB market, this should shine.

Rich Client. The rich client allows people to run Lotus Notes apps natively in an eclipse based open source framework. Basically, instead of needing a Notes client, people can run a rich client that has access to all of the Workplace functionality plus a button that can access all of your Notes stuff. It’s not FULLY there yet though. In order to install, you have to install the plug-in and the Notes client separately. So, you have two installs to do instead of one. That will change in the future, but for now, it’s the only way. It’s also only compatible with the Notes 7 client. So in order to use it you have to upgrade your client to 7. It seems like in version 8 it will be one rich client install, and you won’t need the Notes install.

Document Management. The document management functionality is really cool. It allows you to have the standard folder metaphor to hold documents, and you can edit in place with Lotus tools, or use the actual clients. For example, you could edit a Word document in the browser with Lotus tools instead of Word if you choose. There are tools for word processing, spreadsheet, and presentations. It also allows you to add menus to Word, Excel and PowerPoint that allow you to save and open directly into and from the Workplace server without having to be in your browser or Notes. This allows you to edit your document in Word and save directly to the document management server from a separate menu.

Teamrooms. Teamrooms basically allow a secure area for groups of people to collaborate. So for example, your finance team could have a teamroom, and within that teamroom they could have task lists, a group calendar, their own document stores etc. It’s basically the functionality of Quickplace portalized for Workplace.

The UI is very clean, user-friendly and unlike anything IBM has done before. This is a GOOD thing and really makes the apps more user-friendly. Navigation should be easy for even our most basic users.

Workplace Designer. This is one of the things that impressed me most. Workplace Designer is being created to allow those of us who are familiar with Domino Designer to make the jump into the Java world. You can use WD to create portlet applications for Workplace the same way DD creates apps for Domino. The coolest thing is that they were showing @Functions in WD. Yes, they converted @Functions over for use in Workplace. For the people who aren’t hard-core code monkeys this rocks. I’ll be able to create basic apps without knowing a lick of Java. Once you do get up to speed on Java, you will get a lot more out of it though.

All in All, a pretty killer show. Notes seven is due mid-year and Notes 8 is slated for end of 2006/beginning of 2007.