Lotus made a strong showing at the opening of its annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Florida, with a host of new product announcements - both from itself and partners - and some surprising sales figures.
Lotus president and CEO Jeff Papows set the event off for an upbeat start, announcing the deployment of 10.5 million new Lotus Notes seats in 1997, bringing the total number of Notes users to more than 20 million. Jeff Papows also claimed Lotus had gained market share in 1997.
Lotus announced features for the forthcoming version 5.0 of its Notes, Domino and Domino Designer products, all of which are now expected to go into beta in the second quarter, and to ship in the second half of this year.
These much delayed products continue the move of the Notes/Domino environment towards Internet standards, and the opening up of the Domino server functionality to programmers.
Version 5.0 of the Notes client, formerly codenamed Maui, will sport a redesigned, more Web-like user interface, using browser buttons for navigation.
According to Lotus, it brings together in one integrated client the functionality of cc:Mail, Lotus Mail, Lotus Weblicator and Organizer. It will offer its own Web browsing capability, but will also integrate with either the Microsoft Internet Explorer or the Netscape Navigator Web browser.
The Lotus Domino 5.0 server will support additional Internet protocols including HTML 4.0, XML, LDAP 3, S/Mime, IMAP4 and POP3. The groupware server will receive a new graphical administration interface and will allow automatic deployment and upgrading of Notes clients.
The Domino Designer 5.0 development environment for Domino will offer an improved IDE (Integrated Development Environment), giving Web site builders a structured view of the forms, pages and scripts that make up their application.
Designer 5.0 includes a WYSIWYG Web page designer. Another new component called Frameset Designer will simplify the creation of multi-pane interfaces. Also, Domino design elements have been rewritten into Java applets, allowing them to be accessed from other development environments.
Additionally, a Domino Java Development Kit (D-JDK) will facilitate the development of Java server agents that access Domino, allowing Domino applications to be developed in environments such as Symantec Cafk.
Beta versions of Domino and Domino Designer are expected in the second quarter, with general availability scheduled for the second half of this year.
Also at Lotusphere, Lotus introduced extensions of its Domino product range to both the high end, with an AS/400 version of the Domino server, and the low end, with the new Domino Instant! Host Domino Intranet Starter Pack 2.0 and an update to the Domino Intranet Starter Pack, a packaged solution including a number of readymade Notes applications.
Domino Instant! Host, developed jointly by Lotus and Interliant, is geared towards service providers who wish to offer their customers Domino functionality. It allows users to subscribe to such a service from a Web browser interface via a step-by-step process.
Lotus also announced that its eSuite Workplace set of Java productivity applications will be released to manufacturing next week. It will only ship on IBM's Network Station Series 1000 initially. Versions that will run on other NCs and on standard PCs will be released in the second quarter.
A preview version of the eSuite DevPack, a set of tools to allow the development of applications that integrate with eSuite, is now available for free download from Lotus' Web site. ESuite WorkPlace includes a word processor, mail client, spreadsheet, calendar, address book and presentation graphics. It is expected to be priced $49 per user.
Many third parties announced new Notes-related products at Lotusphere. Both Computer Associates and Lotus' fellow IBM-subsidiary Tivoli announced software to manage Lotus Domino servers. A number of companies introduced Domino solutions that make use of Instant! Host.
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