Lotus is to bolster its attempts to make Notes less proprietary by adopting Java as a programming language within the Notes environment.
Building on the Domino strategy, which opened up Notes to Internet standards, Lotus will introduce Java and JavaBeans as programming environments for future versions of the groupware product. The company is expected to detail its plans at the LotusSphere conference in January.
"This is great news," said Victor Aberdeen, Internet products manager at Lotus UK. "It's a new way for many people to use Notes."
Analyst John Ces of Romtec agreed. "Lotus is following a trend in the software industry to make everything Internet capable and Java compliant," he said. "It's what virtually every software publisher is doing."
Domino 4.5, the version of Notes due out later this year, is to begin the drive towards Java, by containing the Java Just In Time compiler.
In future versions of the product, developers will be able to programme in Java instead of using Notes's own programming language, LotusScript, or Visual Basic. Aberdeen said the exact timetable for Java deployment is still "unclear''.
He denied Java would take over as the sole development platform within Notes. "We will keep LotusScript, keep the @ functions, keep the Notes APIs and Visual Basic interfaces, but also integrate Java into the Notes environment." he explained.
Lotus relies heavily on the Notes development community to build applications for individual companies using Notes. By allowing Java code to run on the Notes platform, Lotus can also tap into the growing community of Java developers, of whom Sun reckons there are over 400,000.
"This is clearly a very good thing," commented David Peacock, marketing director at NetInfo, a firm of Notes developers. "It gives us more opportunity to do more exciting things with Notes.''
As well as increasing choice for developers, the implementation of Java in Notes is good for users, according to Aberdeen: "For the user community it means there will be more and more applications available in Notes."
Being a flexible groupware development environment rather than a single monolithic product, Notes demands a dedicated community of developers to write business applications for individual installations. With the advent of Java as a hot new programming language, Lotus was in danger of seeing developers defect. By opening its product to Java developers, Lotus has ensured its customers will still be able to enlist top talent to build Notes applications.
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