Lotus has outlined plans for a next generation of modular Notes-based Web servers built on Internet-only standards.
The Web servers, collectively code-named Domino II, will exploit 'Net protocols such as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, as well as the HTML data format.
Lotus talked up its 'Net plans at the PC Expo show in New York last week. "There are a variety of ways we've already opened up Notes, but we are taking it a step further with Domino II," says Tim Dempsey, director of Notes product marketing at Lotus.
Specifically, the company is evolving core Notes services into modules that may be accessed via Internet protocols.
The first line of Domino II products, expected to enter beta tests by the end of the year, will include the Notes-based object store and manage HTML pages, Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions messages, images, Java and LotusScript applets and other objects. The company will provide a Common Object Request Broker Architecture-compliant programming interface to the server, Dempsey says.
The move will allow developers easy programmatic access to Notes services and allow them to exploit selected pieces -- such as replication, security or directory services -- of Domino II technology.
The company has already begun incorporating Web server technology into Notes. Its Domino I HTTP Services for Notes is expected to ship in July and will also be included in Release 4.5 of Notes, due in the third quarter of this year.
Domino I provides a combined HTTP server atop a Notes server and allows users to open and edit documents on a Web site from within Notes.
Both Domino I and Domino II servers are aimed at moving Web applications beyond simply publishing static data on the Internet to include discussions and even full-blown groupware capabilities.
For instance, Domino may be used to construct a customer service application that gives users access to billing information and a customer support knowledge base via Notes or a Web browser. Such an application could include built-in workflow that initiate electronic mail or faxes.
"Depending on how corporate America defines a Web server, an HTML- and HTTP-compliant Notes server is perhaps the most mature Web server out there," says Matt Cain, an analyst at META Group in Stamford, Connecticut.
In addition to its Net push, Lotus has also shown off several offerings to improve Notes ability to access and update data stored in legacy systems.
Also, a new LotusScript:Data Object allows Notes clients and servers to access and update an open database connectivity-compliant database using LotusScript.
Lotus has also rolled out the Oracle LotusScript Extension, software that lets Notes clients and servers read and write to Oracle databases using Oracle SQLNet protocols.