Lotus answers Java debate

Lotus Software Group Wednesday said it was putting to rest a simmering feud over Java support by bundling with the forthcoming Domino 6 a free version of IBM Corp.’s WebSphere application server.

The feud began in January when Lotus pulled from the Domino beta a technology called Garnet that supported Java Server Pages and allowed Domino to function as a Java 2 Enterprise Edition server. The company said the code was not in line with J2EE standards.

“This puts the question of delivering WebSphere, Domino and J2EE to bed,” says Ken Bisconti, vice-president of messaging solutions for Lotus. “This positively addresses users concerns. Customers and partners want rich functionality; they don’t want crippled functionality. This is a better answer than Garnet, which would have left people with investments they would have had, to eventually move to WebSphere.”

Domino 6, which will ship next week, will include a free version of WebSphere Advanced Edition that users can deploy to run Domino applications that incorporate J2EE and JSP. The only licensing restriction will be that any application that runs on WebSphere must integrate Domino capabilities, Bisconti says.

“It’s nice that they are going to offer it for free,” says James Greene, president of Jagre, a Lotus development tools vendor. “It’s a great opportunity for Domino developers to learn development in WebSphere for free.”

Lotus also is working on a Domino plug-in for IBM’s Eclipse development tool. Bisconti said the integration will allow developers to use the JSP tags library in Domino to access the server’s features. But developers still won’t have the ability to store JSPs in a Domino database.

But Greene said Jagre’s Jasper technology will provide developers the ability to store JSPs in a Notes database if they want to retain that functionality and to deploy them to the WebSphere platform. And an open source project called Crimson is currently developing technology to run a Java servlet engine natively on Domino, bypassing the need for WebSphere.

Both those developments were born after the Garnet exclusion in January touched off a firestorm among users who wanted J2EE support within their familiar Domino platform, which provides such features as replication and security. Users felt the demise of Garnet was IBM’s way to push them toward WebSphere, IBM’s J2EE platform. Many users objected saying they did not want to buy another server platform.

IBM and Lotus are trying gracefully to transition millions of users to a future in which the Domino server’s collaborative functions will be available as a set of components that can be added to Web services and J2EE applications.

The Domino bundle is in line with the Domino Developers’ Roadmap that IBM published last month, which detailed three roads to the future: Domino, WebSphere and a next generation platform that would incorporate the two.