Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Forms - The Front End of a Business Process

I've been an evangelist of IBM Lotus Forms ( fka IBM Workplace Forms ) since the product was first announced on 21 October 2005, following the aquisition of PureEdge in the middle of that year.

I've always got the value, and have been able to describe the architecture, components, use-cases etc., and have been demonstrating forms through the Designer, Viewer, Webform Server and, of course, via a portal.

However, one feature of Lotus Forms 3.0 ( released in 2007 ) kinda passed me by - the Forms Services Platform ( FSP ).

However, I sat through a most excellent session here at Lotusphere, where one of the product developers showed how to use the data pipes architecture of FSP to rapidly build connectivity between a data file ( an XForms data model, of course ) and a Web 2.0 client-side application built ( sooooo quickly ) using the newly announced Lotus Mashups tool.

He then showed how the mashup could be quickly extended to bring in data e.g. a personal photograph from Lotus Connections into the composite application, merely by extending the pipe through Eclipse and a configuration file.

Thus, I'm converted, and will start to learn more by doing more with FSP.

On a related note, I watched another demonstration of "Total Forms", which was designed to be used by the developer's mother ( no kidding ). The speed at which a XForm was designed, deployed, stored, shared and completed is totally amazing.

The final killer blow was that my colleague, who specialises in Microsoft Sharepoint etc., was impressed and confirms that TF is a much more simpler solution.

In short, old dog, new tricks ( me, that is )

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