Next version of Lotus Notes based on Eclipse

by Tim O'Brien

Here's a quote from an email I received yesterday from a colleague who uses Lotus Domino very heavily. Domino is one of those tools that isn't hip, there are no groundbreaking Web 2.0 sites written in Domino, and as far as other Lotus products are concerned, people tend to have a visceral negative reaction whenever someone mentions Lotus Notes as an email platform. Regardless of your reaction to Notes, this colleague does manage to consistently produce revenue generating applications on Domino. Yesterday he sent me the following:

[Domino] has evidently entered public beta testing. Below is a link to the new features outline:

Interestingly, it appears that the Notes Client and Designer (the user UI and the IDE respectively) have been rebuilt from scratch as Java extensions on Eclipse. I didn't see that coming.

Even though Lotus Notes has a reputation for being a something as an anachronism, lauching the new Lotus Notes client on the Eclipse platform is a big deal for the Eclipse platform as a foundation for end-user applications. Just when you least expected it, someone decides to ship a large client-side Java application.

From the DeveloperWorks article written by David DeJean:

The big news in Lotus Notes V8 is that the Notes V8 client encapsulates all the code that is Lotus Notes within the Eclipse environment. This move puts Lotus Notes on an open-source Java-based platform. Originally created as an integrated application development environment, its open, plug-in-based architecture has made Eclipse itself the foundation for rich client platform development. Lotus Notes V8 is built on Lotus Expeditor, IBM's universal managed-client software, which, in turn, is built on Eclipse.


2007-03-22 09:42:04
It must have been obvious. The really interesting thing will be how soon a Mylar-like, context aware/adaptive product will now appear and help non-developers stay focussed during the day.
I also expect a general task/issue management system a la bugzilla to appear for non-developer tasks.
Then you, knowledge worker, come into the office each morning, activate one of your scheduled tasks and only the relevant emails, tasks, agenda items, sametime contacts etc will stay in view. Also all time spent will be logged and available for billing.
Dan Sickles
2007-03-22 18:44:06
The Eclipse-based Designer is not part of the beta or the 8.0 release. Lotus are working on it for a post 8.0 release and they are serious about making it a "kick-ass appdev platform".
Richard Schwartz
2007-03-23 04:22:00
If your colleague didn't see this coming, I'm afraid he's not been paying attention to Lotus all that well for the past 18 months. It's been shown publicly by IBM at tradeshows for the past 18 since the initial announcment at CeBIT in 2005, heavily blogged about and talked about in the press, and the Linux client for Notes that IBM released in July 2006 already had major elements of the new architecture in place.

And your colleague is wrong: it is not a re-write "from scratch as Java extensions", and IBM has been pretty clear about this from the beginning. IBM have taken their existing C++ code and encapsulated it within the Eclipse framework. They've always had a cross-platform GUI layer in the product (after all, the same code base runs on Windows and Mac, and used to be supported on OS/2 PM and X Windows), and now one of the GUIs it supports is SWT. Of course, there's more to it than just that, but the point is that it's not a client-side Java app. It's a C++ app componentized and hooked into the services provided to plugins in the Eclipse rich client platform. This is why IBM has able to promise 100% backward compatibility with all existing Notes applications... because the core engine is still all the same code.

Tim O'Brien
2007-03-23 08:58:10

*sigh*, sorry the Eclipse framework is not *really* a client-side Java framework. It's just a rich client platform that happens to be based on Java and SWT is "an open source widget toolkit for Java". Sorry but I think you are mincing words. Java is the platform.

Richard Schwartz
2007-03-23 09:38:03
OK. You can sigh and read it that way. I admit to being a bit of a stickler on words sometimes, and I did put the emphasis on the wrong point

I shouldn't have stressed the fact that it isn't a "client-side Java app". Who cares about that? Nobody but us geeks! I should have just left off with the point that its not "rebuilt from scratch". That's the important point.

That phrase just doesn't fit the facts, and it throws fear into the minds of a lot of customers (more than 120 million seats worth of them!) who would justifiably worry about backward compatibility of their custom Notes apps if the whole client environment, with its 20+ years of accumulated code, were ever rebuilt from scratch.

If your colleague was the only person out there with the misimpression that Notes 8 was a from scratch rewrite of the product, I'd probably not have bothered. But trust me on this, he's not even the first person I ran into this week who thought it was the case.

2007-03-28 00:25:28
part of this is actually going to happen - sometimes during second quarter of this year IBM should release Lotus Connections, part of which is "activity based system". More on that on