Saturday, August 30, 2003

Places to Intervene in a System

This article by Donella Meadows, via James McGee, list ten leverage points where small changes can affect large, complex systems. It is well worth a read and a bit of contemplation. She says:

People who cling to paradigms (just about all of us) take one look at the spacious possibility that everything we think is guaranteed to be nonsense and pedal rapidly in the opposite direction. Surely there is no power, no control, not even a reason for being, much less acting, in the experience that there is no certainty in any worldview. But everyone who has managed to entertain that idea, for a moment or for a lifetime, has found it a basis for radical empowerment. If no paradigm is right, you can choose one that will help achieve your purpose. If you have no idea where to get a purpose, you can listen to the universe (or put in the name of your favorite deity here) and do his, her, its will, which is a lot better informed than your will.

It is in the space of mastery over paradigms that people throw off addictions, live in constant joy, bring down empires, get locked up or burned at the stake or crucified or shot, and have impacts that last for millennia.

Monoculture downside

More Dynomite! from John Gruber over at Daring Fireball. He says:

Incompetent IT professionals are genuinely convinced that PCs are inherently so complicated that they cannot be expected to perform with high-reliability and low maintenance. All over the world, this very week, they are being asked by frustrated friends and family, Why is my email riddled with messages from this virus? And they are responding, with authority and confidence, Trust me, I'm a professional, this is just how it is. You string together a few million computers on a network and this sort of thing is inevitable.

They (the incompentent IT drones) aren't lying. They believe it. They believe it because they don't really understand computers - they just know Windows. In the same way that peasants in Ethiopia can't conceive of a country where even the poor have plenty of food, someone who only knows Microsoft software can't conceive of a platform where computers just work.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Lotus Linux Desktop Products Emerge

This year at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, Lotus will be previewing two new products (generally available later in 2003) that can help bring Lotus collaboration technology to the Linux desktop and expand platform choice: Lotus Domino Web Access, and support for Domino on the Linux on zSeries platform. Another upcoming product, Lotus Workplace - an innovative new platform for collaboration and human interaction - will also support Linux. To find out more about these new offerings, other collaborative initiatives, and what they can do for Linux customers, we talked to Ambuj Goyal, IBM General Manager for Lotus Software. Here's what he had to say.....

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Job Creation Scheme

John Gruber also picks up on the theme of IT being more interested in job creation than saving money. He also argues that Outlook-driven virus creation is simply increasing the high level of maintenance required for MS infrastructure.

He also thinks that this is one reason why there is not much Apple technology in large organisations. Who needs stuff that just works. He says:

So am I claiming that Apple's market share suffers because its products are too reliable and require too little maintenance? Well, yes.

This is not to say Macs are the only answer. Or that Macs never need maintenance. Or that you can't build a reliable, low-maintenance network of computers running Windows. And most especially, this is not to say that there aren't some very smart people who genuinely prefer to use Windows. The point is simply this: if you insist upon high reliability and low maintenance, solutions other than "all-Microsoft, all-the-time" start to look very good indeed.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

I got a note from Adam regarding yesterday's Old Dog story. He mentioned that the article is also an attempt to reduce the fear of Web Services - how can they be hard if you can do it in 30 lines of LotusScript. Fair Point. I suppose I never worry about anything new - learning new stuff is why I'm here. (Adam is one of the best developers I have seen - we have cried over the demise of OS/2 over many a beer) .

He also points out that the new world of J2EE is usually more expensive, complex and requires more hardware to run that a Domino-based solution.

Earlier in the week I saw Cringely's Pulpit (also via MacNN) describing a theory that I subscribe to. IT departments are happy to use Microsoft stuff as it creates jobs and therefore increases the size and power of the IT department. You could also think of Law or Accounting - whose interests are served by increasing complexity?

Cringely was talking about IT vs Apple, but I think Notes/Domino can be viewed in a similar way.

Now, IBM are a company that is relying more and more on services revenue, rather than software sales.

If I were a cynic, I'd say it was more than coincidence.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Custom Portlets for Domino

This Tutorial -- custom portlets for Lotus Domino is available from IBM.

The key to deriving the most value from a portal deployment is to aggregate data, content, and processes from existing applications, such as Domino. This provides users with custom views into the applications they need to do their jobs. In other words, the key lies in building portlets. However, building portlets can be a time-consuming process. With Portlet Builder for Domino, WebSphere users now have a new no-code option: using a portlet to build more portlets. This tutorial teaches you everything you need to know to get started, from downloading the code to creating and using your own custom portlet.

Thanks Marco

Teaching an Old Dog

While I was at Lotus Advisor I also noticed a new article by Gary Devendorf saying that you could create Web Services in 100% Domino (read LotusScript). It is a bit better than the R5 version as you can use a SAX parser to chomp up the incoming SOAP message. However you still manually create the SOAP response - just concatenate these strings.....

Give it up Gary. Domino is never going to do this without a REAL application engine - choose Tomcat or WebSphere. Hand coding SOAP envelopes is just ludicrous.

Oh, and LotusScript is dead too. It is an Old Dog. New tricks are elsewhere.

Disclaimer: Enjoy coding LotusScript in you day job - just don't expect it to be doing it in 5 years time. If you are, you be getting the looks you give those strange TurboPas (or COBOL, or Vax MACRO, or GW-Basic) guys today.

Lotus Advisor on Workplace

This morning's SearchDomino mail pointed me to an article on Lotus Workplace over at Lotus Advisor.

It is high-level stuff, but summarises the direction Lotus are taking pretty well, concluding with an exhortation to take up the new tools and "make it real".

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Tivoli Data Protect for Domino on Linux

Marco Foellmer sent me a note yesterday telling me there is a Tivoli Data Protect for Domino on Linux.

On the BP or Passport site it is listed as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Mail V5.2.0 (Tivoli Data Protection for LotusDomino), Multiplatform, International English.The code inside this package is from version 5.1.5. For all supported platforms the code is not changed until version 5.1.5.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Workplace - son of k-station

Adam sent me a note last week wondering (rhetorically) whether Workplace is just K-station revisited.

Of course it is.

The more I think about Workspace, the more questions I have.

  • Will it be a real application development/deployment platform? OR will you need to pay more for WAS and WPS?
  • Can you manage mail amongst multiple servers like NNNs? OR is it a dumb smtp box?
  • Is it designed to be deployed on lots of servers? OR does it assume everyone who uses it has at LAN-speed access to one (or very few) servers?

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Emotional Design

Don Norman has some preview excerpts from his new book Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things available for download (and whetting of appetites).

If you have ever wondered why attractive are better to use, I suggest you have a read of Don's work. He explores how our emotional response to an object affects our view of its effectiveness and usability.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Web Services Interoperability

The WS-I Basic Profile 1.0 has been released.

The Basic Profile 1.0, which has been formally approved by the WS-I member community, consists of implementation guidelines on how core Web services specifications should be used together to develop interoperable Web services. The specifications covered by the Basic Profile include SOAP 1.1, WSDL 1.1, UDDI 2.0, XML 1.0 and XML Schema.

Next Job:

WS-I is currently developing interoperability guidelines for SOAP with Attachments, and for the Basic Security Profile. These efforts will extend the functionality provided by the Basic Profile and will reference existing specifications.

Workplace Answers from Ed Brill

Ed Brill is quick off the mark with some answers to yesterday's questions. I like getting questions answered whilst I'm asleep!

Thanks for taking the time to reply Ed.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Very Deep Holes

Nature reports on an idea to let nuclear waste bury itself.

High-level waste packed into boreholes drilled 5 km deep in solid granite would generate so much heat that it would melt the surrounding rock, which would then engulf it. As the deadly waste cools, the rock would eventually re-solidify, encasing it, suggests Fergus Gibb of the University of Sheffield, UK.

WebSphere Studio 5.1

Ed tells us that Websphere Studio 5.1 (Site Studio and App Developer) are available. The FAQ says both are electronically available on August 8 and generally available on August 29, 2003 worldwide.

Lotus Workplace Questions

After a bit of thinking last night (and in the shower this morning), there are a couple of things that were not mentioned or commented on in yesterday's Roadshow.

Platforms - I assumed that Lotus Workplace will run wherever WAS and DB2 run today. Perhaps not. Workplace Messaging's system requirements (I'm always glad to see .nsf in the URL) state it only runs on AIX and Windows. What happens for 1.1? Is there a roadmap for other platforms?

The "rich" Workplace client is based on the Eclipse framework and will be targeted at Windows and Linux desktops - there is another.

Installation and Deployment - I know the current installation of Workplace Messaging is a dog's breakfast of separate installs and batch files. This might be acceptable for a 1.0 product, but makes the product look like a bunch of stuff just thrown together.

Lotus Workplace needs to install and deploy as a single product, like Domino does now.

The Domino-using organisations that I have worked for have all been geographically dispersed with 50 - 450 locations - all connected with relatively slow links (64-128K). These links are going to be running at these speeds for the forseeable future so a consolidated data centre is not a viable solution for all users. Sites also need to be able to work independently, so a local server (or cluster) is required.

If Lotus Workplace will not scale to at least 500 servers in a single domain, then it will not be a plausible replacement for Domino in these organisations. I need to be able to manage and deploy policy, templates and portlets across all servers.

Backup -I assume there will be a Tivoli product specifically for Workplace. I can't imagine that manually synchronising WAS and DB2 backups and restores would be a trivial process.

By the way, someone told me yesterday that there is no Tivoli Data Protection for Domino on linux?

Database - I'm not sure how deeply DB2 is buried under the hood in Workplace. Jeff Calow mentions the fact that the plan is to eventually support at least Oracle as an alternate dbms.

Why not use something like Lotus Domino JDBC driver to let us that have Domino infrastructure get a bit more life out of it.

The cynic in me tells me that Domino is not strategic, and there are all those DB2 license to be selling, but again, for a distributed network, I don't want to deploy and manage hundreds of DB2s if I don't have to. Or is support of standard like JDBC less important then getting DB2 into all those Domino sites.

Summary - There is a lot of good things that can be said about Lotus Workplace, but there are still these sort of questions to resolve. At this stage, I'm assuming that someone at Lotus has got answers for these and similar questions.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Workplace Development

As well as the Like for Like licensing already mentioned here today, some more clarification on Lotus Workplace development tools was provided during the Lotus Workplace Strategy Roadshow.

Domino Designer - A newer version of Domino Designer was discussed. It understood that a portlet was an execution target. Only suitable options and components would be available if a design component was targeted at delivery through a portlet (ie through Lotus Workplace).

SEOUL - We saw some screenshots of a newer version of WSAD. It incorporated JSFs (as we know) and showed hints of Domino Designer with a GUI layout area and a list of event types associated with objects. It is said to also understand the backend NSF store.

It seemed pretty clear that WSAD is the development environment of the future.

Lotus Workplace Designer
- This tool is not going to be a standalone development environment like Domino Designer or WSAD. It will be browser-based and delivered through the Lotus Workplace portal administration interface.

Templates - Once a set of portlets has been arranged and wired together (using click-to-action) they can be saved as a Template. A policy can then be applied to the Template to define such charateristics as access, communications, archiving, document management, workflow and approval cycles, discussion types, team mail, calendar and awareness.Instances of these Templates can then be created within Lotus Workplace.

Within Workplace, there will be two broad forms of templates - Centres and Applications.
A Centre is a collection of portlets that are related by context. Think of a Mail Centre, Team Centre, Document Management Centre or Learning Centre, for example.
An Application is also a set or portlets, but also containing customised processes to relate the items together (e.g HR or a specific business workflow).

Mention was also made of existing techniques that can be used to repurpose existing Notes/Domino applications to Workplace/Portal. JSP Tag Libraries, Portlet Builder or even using the raw Domino Java Objects are all viable, depending on the amount of work and functionality required.

Like for Like

I have just been to the IBM Lotus Workplace Strategy Roadshow and learned a few things.

The major news is that if you already have subscription licenses for Lotus products such as Notes Mail, IM, Team Workspace, Dom.Doc etc you are entitled to equivalent licenses for equivalent Lotus Workplace functions. Many probably already knew this, but I have not heard it expressed publicly before.

For Domino sites, this means there will be no licensing costs to move to Lotus Workplace.

If you need more that the Collaboration features provided by Workplace, you will need to purchase WebSphere Portal which gives you "Enterprise" integration.

Over time, all existing collaboration tools will be ported to the new platform. Initially you will be able to integrate existing Domino-based services (IM, Team Workspace, Mail) through Workplace and, as the Workplace versions arrive, move to the new versions.

They also talked in a bit more detail about the timeframe for upcoming products. In October, there will be a "1.1" update of Lotus Workplace Messaging along with a number of new offerings. Some that were mentioned include:

  • Lotus Workplace Messaging 1.1
  • Lotus Workplace Team Collaboration
  • Lotus Workplace Advanced Learning
  • Lotus Workplace Web Content Management (formerly Aptrix)
Q1 next year will bring version "2.0" and some "tooling". This may mean the Workplace Designer and possibly the rich client - although there was much vagueness about what would arrive when.

There will also be a number of high-value, high-volume offerings that would be aimed at particular business sectors - an example given was "Lotus Workplace for Retail Store Management". These would include standard templates related to the industry in question. Alongside these will be Express versions aimed at the SMB market.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003


There is an interesting article over at RDFWeb about the preponderance of INxx Myers-Briggs types in those that have put up FOAFs. There are lots of reasons why this might be so, but this is not the point of this story. They also point to a lovely concept called Introvertster.

Do youself a favour and have a look. It will make you smile...

Sunday, August 03, 2003


An update. Ed tells me that JSFs will be part of WSAD 5.0.1 rather than Workplace Designer. This is good news. We'll see JSFs sooner, rather than waiting for Workplace Designer.

Friday, August 01, 2003

XACML - eXtensible Access Control Markup Language

XACML - eXtensible Access Control Markup Language, the newest standard in encoded data exchange, makes possible a simple, flexible way to express and enforce access control policies in a variety of environments, using a single language. A new, open-source implementation of the standard -- Sun Microsystems Laboratories' Java technology-based XACML 1.0 -- is now downloadable and attracting the cooperation of the developer community.

Here are three reasons why XACML may soon emerge as the single standard:

XACML is designed around, and written in, XML, which enjoys a wide and expanding base in global enterprise environments.

OASIS, which drives the development, convergence, and adoption of e-business standards, has ratified XACML.

XACML places a set of powerful features at the disposal of developers. It allows a firm to create and deploy authorization policies to match its mix of assets and business use-cases, then plug in additional policies as the business and its standards evolve.

A Programmer's Guide is also available.

It seems you can use XML for just about anything these days.

Java Server Faces

Java Server Faces is a new technology (currently at EA4 in JWSDP 1.2) that simplifies building users interfaces by adding event-driven components to JSPs. has a couple of useful articles to give a bit more detail:

Introducing JavaServer Faces
With JSF, you use web components on your web pages and capture events caused by user actions...
Developing web applications will be similar to the way we write Swing applications today: dragging and dropping controls and writing event listeners...

Why Web Developers Need JavaServer Faces
JSF prescribes an architecture for projecting the UI to a client and allowing different rendering kits to render the UI for the specific client. The state of the components and their values can be maintained on the server and the UI components can generate events that are handled by the server. JSF also defines functionality for data conversion, validation, and localization.

I had a vague feeling that JSFs will be part of Lotus Workplace (and google remembers, of course). Here is the story from Lotusphere 2003 that mentions JSFs as part of the new RAD Web designer tool. I assume that now means Workplace Designer. Ed?