IBM Notes 9 - embedded Lotus Symphony is gone, but Application Developers should not fret!
Many of you have now downloaded and experienced the IBM Notes & Domino 9 public beta. I have been using it since it was 8.5.4 code drops, and overall I think this is an excellent release. But as a long time Lotus Symphony champion and developer, the ND9 release provides a nasty shock. The embedded version of Lotus Symphony is gone! What about all of those applications that use the Lotus Symphony LotusScript and Java API that require the embedded version?
First, some background. At Lotusphere 2012, IBM announced they were putting full support behind Apache OpenOffice.org. Take out that debate, the subtext of that announcement was that development on Lotus Symphony was shifting. I think IBM realized that a forked version of OpenOffice.org, even branded with unique features, was not the direction they wanted to go in. We can argue the merits of that decision, but it was made. It was also stated that Lotus Symphony would no longer be embedded in the Notes client with the next 'major' version. Seeing as 8.5.4 was coming in 2012 and the next major version was in 2013, I was confident a solution for custom applications using the Lotus Symphony LotusScript and Java API would be found.
Enter IBM Notes & Domino 9. Most of you reading this know that 8.5.4 was rebranded 9. I think it was a good decision, but this brought the removal of Lotus Symphony embedded from the Notes client far earlier than I had expected. And before a solution for the LS and Java API was found. I was frankly stunned and angry. I let my voice be heard at the Leadership Alliance event and online. I actually had a blog entry ready to go live last week that was not so nice. But I was able to delete it. Why?
Eric Otchet, Product Manager of Lotus Symphony (and much more) surprised me about two weeks ago. He sent me a Notes plug-in that enabled the Symphony API for LotusScript to work with the stand-alone version of Lotus Symphony. I tested this with Lotus Symphony 3.1 Upgrade Pack 2 and it worked perfectly. Just install IBM Notes 9 and then this plug-in (I just dragged and dropped it into the Widget sidebar) and it worked. A few issues that need to be worked out, but this makes applications work with zero level of touch to the code. Just need to make sure you have the stand-alone version of Symphony and deploy the plug-in. I have not tested or confirmed that the Symphony Java API (not UNO, but the custom Java API IBM built) works. Hoping to update on that soon.
Eric asked me to clarify that this was an IBM solution and would come from them. The plug-in would not be in the 'box' but would come from the Solutions Catalog as a free download. That probably means it is unsupported officially as well. I don't know about timing but this is definitely an alpha version of the code. Put all of that aside, this is great news that IBM has heard the request and has a solution coming. Those looking for more info can find Eric's info in IBM Notes & Domino 9 public beta forum.
Thanks for making this happen Eric!