Lotusphere: Taligent finally going Places

Taligent Inc, once the centre of a notably unproductive alliance between IBM and Apple, has returned to the spotlight with a new client for Notes and Domino databases that aims to make it easier for project teams to work together.

Taligent Inc, once the centre of a notably unproductive alliance between IBM and Apple, has returned to the spotlight with a new client for Notes and Domino databases that aims to make it easier for project teams to work together.

The client, which is based on object-oriented software originally conceived during the alliance, is called Places for Project Teams and can be used to set up a place, or "virtual workspace," for project teams, where they can organize discussion databases and related documents, as well as communicate with instant email, officials said.

Places can be used to view existing Notes discussion databases or to create new discussion databases, says Michael Potel, Taligent's vice president and chief technology officer. Currently, Places requires that a Notes client also be installed on a user's machine, because the Notes client sets up a user's account with the server. In a future version of Places, a Notes client will not be needed.

Even so, Potel says, Taligent "didn't set out to build a Notes client replacement." At Taligent, for example, some people use Places in addition to their Notes client, some use only Places, and some still use only the Notes client.

"The basic difference is [the Notes client] is not organized for group use, it's organized for the individual," Potel says. "[Places] is organized for group use of a Notes database."

Key features include timeline, newspaper-style, and other views, to give a "big picture" view of the discussion databases, says Deborah Magid, manager of Taligent's human interface team. Through an "Active Presence" feature, users can also see who else from the group is using the workspace at the same time and send them instant email. Business Cards, live objects, can hold photos, email links, and other information.

Taligent, like Lotus., is an IBM subsidiary. Lotus' executive vice president for strategy, Mike Zisman, says the company generally encourages access to Domino from "as many clients or types of clients as we can."

The underlying Places technology was originally designed as the user interface for CommonPoint, Taligent's operating system project, Magid says. Taligent, originally started as an independent organization by Apple Computer . and IBM in 1992, became an IBM subsidiary in late 1995, and Places was seen as one of the technology assets to carry forward.

Places is currently built from a set of ActiveX components. In the future, it aims to expand the set of components, and in turn tailor application to vertical markets, Magid says. It is also eyeing developing a Java-based version, Potel said.

The product is initially scheduled to be released in English only, Magid says.

Places for Project Teams is in beta now, available at Taligent's Web site. The product, which is expected to ship in the second quarter of this year, runs on Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.5.1 or higher. Lotus Notes 4.1 or higher is also required.

Taligent can be reached on the World Wide Web at http://www.taligent.com/.

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