Lotus has shown how it will effectively transform Notes into a Web server by releasing a beta version of its native HTTP server technology for Notes, code-named Domino.
The new software, released last week, lets Web browsers access Notes applications, see collapsible views, and use other features of Lotus Notes that are not available on non-Notes Web sites.
Domino also lets browser users take advantage of the bidirectional, synchronous replication services in Notes, putting Lotus ahead of the pack. The replication services from other Web server vendors are still primitive or unavailable.
Lotus says Domino would be integrated with the Notes server as with any other service, such as replication or routing. The integrated HTTP/Notes server, Notes 4.5, will be released by the end of September. Version 4.5 will also have Web enhancements to the Notes client. Lotus' Web browser functionality sits on the server at present. Although invisible to the Notes client, you currently have to go through Notes servers to browse.
In contrast, the 4.5 stand-alone Notes client and Web browser can directly access both non-Notes and Notes-based Web servers over the Internet, and it will support browser plug-ins and local storage of HTML documents.
Lotus' move toward integrating Notes with the Internet comes at the same time that the company faces threats from vendors building groupware for intranets. Several vendors, including one founded by former Lotus employees, have introduced such products in the past few months. As a possible counter to that threat, Lotus is considering unbundling replication services from Notes and other vendors. The strategy might give Lotus control over Internet replication APIs on the Internet; it could also undercut Notes.
"Don't underestimate our ability to eat our own children," says Jeff Papows, chief operating officer at Lotus.
Lotus' Domino beta software can be downloaded from the Web (http://domino.lotus.com) and requires a Notes server to work.