Lotus greets developers with open arms

Lotus Development Corp. wants to expand the usability of its Notes and Domino integrated messaging and Web application platform, and means to make it easier for more people to write Domino applications.

Those were among the key messages delivered to the 1,500 software developers who converged on a surprisingly chilly San Francisco in late June for the DevCon ’99 conference.

Lotus is addressing the mobile market by working on a technology called Domino Runtime Services that will let Web-based Domino applications be downloaded for off-ine use in a browser. That means notebook users can take these corporate Web-based applications (such as supply chain, customer relationship management or employee self-service, said Lotus) on the road, and then synchronize data when they return to the office.

The underlying technology includes ActiveX controls and Netscape plug-ins, which install from Domino Release 5 servers. The application logic and the necessary data is then downloaded locally to the clients (often a 10MB to 18MB file).

With Domino Runtime Services, “you co-locate on the same platform as the browser,” said Nick Shelness, chief technology officer for Lotus. The proposed benefits are for connected as well as mobile users, as more work is done locally, reducing bandwidth use and server loads.

“Network latency goes to zero. It’s a much better browser experience than you normally get,” said Cliff Reeves, vice-president of product management for Lotus. Beta-testing on Domino Runtime Services is planned for Q4.