IBM to add blogging tools to Workplace

IBM revealed plans for two new corporate blogging tools it plans to add to the forthcoming Version 2.5 of its Workplace collaboration platform and Workplace Designer development tools.

In addition to releasing details of the Workplace blog offering, Big Blue made available a free preview of the blogging tool that will ship with Workplace 2.5 later this year. The trial download can be accessed at IBM’s alphaWorks site.

Version 2.5 of Workplace will ship with a Weblog component that allows users to create blogs with features such as archiving, permalinks, comments, search, and syndication, according to IBM officials.

The Weblog tool preview also offers enterprise-level features including security, roles, application templates, and a single point of administration for blogs and other Workplace components. Another feature, dubbed blogroll, allows bloggers to show a public list of favorite internal and external Weblogs, IBM officials said.

In addition, the Workplace 2.5 blogging tool will offer both an Atom and an RSS syndication feed format so that readers can subscribe to their favorite blogs in their feed reader of choice.

The forthcoming blogging tools will be an integrated part of the Workplace platform, and a core piece of how IBM customers will use collaboration and productivity tools, according to Ed Brill, business unit executive in Lotus sales at IBM. Brill also is a well-known blogger at IBM.

“The compelling thing is that we are building [these tools] into the collaboration platform itself instead of being add-on tools or third party [tools],” Brill said. IBM envisions intranet communications as the main application for its blogging tools, Brill said.

“From our perspective, we’ve seen more of that. The majority of IBMers who blog do so on the intranet… to share information amongst ourselves,” Brill said. “We are designing these tools in that context.”

Internally at IBM there are about 2,800 blogs that function mostly as an aid for team members when problem solving, IBM officials said.

The main benefit to incorporating blogs into business communications, both internal- and external-facing, is that blogs can become part of the corporate memory, according to Brill.

“The advantage is the stateless nature of [blogs],” Brill said. Communicating “via e-mail you have to know who you want to read it. Publishing via blogs makes is searchable and lets it have a corporate memory,” he said.

Blogs can be easily exposed to others in somewhat of a directory tree structure, through full text search, or passed around via permalinks, he added.

For the Eclipse-based development tool Workplace Designer, due in Version 2.5 in August, IBM is adding a fully built blog component that can be deployed to Workplace or customized for developers.

The Workplace Designer blog tools will give developers at starting point for blogging applications they can build for Workplace deployments. It will include blogging templates, in addition to features such as form and view creation, scripting, debugging, and workflow.

IBM Lotus Notes and Domino already offer blogging and blog reading tools.