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Old stars gone, but new stars emerge - I'm impressed with what I'm seeing from IBM-Lotus

By Andrew Pollack on 04/15/2006 at 12:18 PM EDT

Talk about full cycle! In Kevin Cavinaugh's keynote he mentioned that the Notes Client is so strong in the combined Workplace Rich Client/Lotus Notes product that makes up Hannover that there is some serious discussion about not even using the "Workplace" name on it. Imagine saying that three years ago?

There were some rough years for us Domino & Notes fans. It seemed like for a while we were having to convince IBM it had a good product. The last year or two have been so much better and the result of that positive attention and funding inside IBM are getting more and more apparent. The work Rocky is doing -- what I know of it -- is going to be really appreciated by a pretty large user base, and his reputation will only continue to grow as a result. Thomas Gumz has done great things on everything he's touched, and more impressively has made those good tools LOOK good at the same time. I've gotten to have long talks with other developers and it seems like every time I meet someone new down in Westford it seems like I'm more and more impressed. Scott Praeger's (and his team's) work in particular have been fantastic and what vision he was willing to share with me was very forward thinking and real-world focused. Seeing Bob get back into development can't help but be a good thing, too. I have no idea what Bob's working on, but I probably wouldn't understand it anyway. I'm leaving out a lot of people here, but this isn't meant to be a litany of great people.

I guess my point here is that as bad as things may have gotten, and even though we lost some really bright lights, those who stayed and some new people combined are taking great advantage of the regained respect and funding. The strength that was always present in the design of the core products has helped the Westford and nearby teams to literally leapfrog other teams so effectively that it has looked to me for some time like they ended up being the ones to drive key decisions based on their already working products' needs rather than the theoretical needs of other projects.

What needs to happen next? Looking past the new U.I. capability Hannover brings us for a minute -- they've been well covered -- these are my personal opinions. It seems to me they need to keep pushing forward. Though I haven't at all been a fan of Portal Server, some great things have come out of all that work. Activity Explorer is key in that. If the political will is strong enough to pull that power out from under the massive stack that makes up Websphere, Portal Server, and Workplace and end up with an Activity Explorer task or small server (small as in able to run on an average sized machine with a Domino server already on it and under 2gb of ram) you'd have an amazing feature set that would very difficult to compete against. Personally, I'd be thrilled to see 'nactivityExplorer.exe' for the win32 Domino server. I wish I could say it was likely -- so far, I haven't heard anyone willing to say its possible.

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