As expected, Lotus Development has posted the Notes/Domino, Release 5.0, Beta Preview to the Lotus Web site.
Lotus Business Partners and customer beta sites can now download the beta preview, Lotus officials said. The company plans to make the fully public beta available in August.
Notes 5.0 -- with a new user interface that looks similar to a Web browser -- will arrive in final form by year's end, Lotus officials said.
The first screen to appear in Notes 5.0 is now a user-customisable headlines page rather than the existing regimented workspace with database icons. Users can populate the headlines page with items such as priority e-mails, the day's scheduled events, or links to selected Web sites.
A navigator bar offers browser-style forward, back, and refresh buttons, and a bookmarks feature lets users move quickly to frequently visited databases and views.
Lotus has also added simultaneous messaging, or chat facilities, to Notes 5.0 under the name Sametime. It has its own instant messaging client, Coworker.
Moreover, Lotus has turned to its parent IBM for new availability and directory interoperability clustering services in Version 5.0.
The Availability Services were originally part of IBM's Distributed Systems Series product line, which was announced last fall. One of the reasons for moving Availability Services to Lotus is that users are looking to integrate Domino's directory with that of other IBM products.
The directory interoperability will be built around the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) Version 3. IBM currently supports the standard, and Lotus plans to add LDAP Version 3 support in Domino 5.0.
The upgrade also sports improved search capabilities, better administration of the Notes infrastructure, and greater scalability, Lotus said.
Lotus Development Corp., in Cambridge, Mass., can be reached at http://www.lotus.com.