Lotus has announced plans to make its Lotus Components--small personal productivity desktop applets such as Spreadsheet and Chart--available to users of Web browsers in 1997.
The company has also announced it is now shipping the first version of Lotus Components in ActiveX format. These components can work within its Notes client.
Lotus would not comment on pricing for the Web components or on possible bundling deals with vendors of Web browsers.
"Clearly it will be priced way below suites, and I wouldn't even speculate on the price of the Web version," says Lotus New Zealand manager Ian McDonald. "Our goal is to get these things to as many Web users as possible."
Components are intended to replace office suite-type applications with simple applets that offer the same basic functionality. Components have a smaller footprint and work faster than full applications loaded with high-end features.
The first come in the Lotus Components Starter Pack, which includes six core components: Chart, Comment, Draw/Diagram, File Viewer, Project Scheduler and Spreadsheet. The pack is free to Lotus Maintenance customers who buy products through the Lotus Passport volume licence programme. Free trial versions are available at http://www.components.lotus.com.
Notes application developers can create even more specialised components for specific tasks, such as a special spreadsheet for a particular company's expense reports.
Because Netscape Navigator browsers do not support ActiveX controls, Lotus also plans to support JavaSoft's JavaBeans standards. JavaBeans is an attempt to create a set of component APIs that allow Java developers to create applications for the World Wide Web.