IBM backs OpenDocument in Lotus Notes

Big Blue announces an expansion of Lotus Notes to include office productivity links.

IBM has announced an upgrade to Lotus Notes that will include access to office productivity applications and support for the OpenDocument format.

The new version of Lotus Notes, codenamed "Hannover," will feature IBM Workplace applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and numeric data analysis. These "office productivity editors," as IBM refers to them, all support OpenDocument Format (ODF) files.

Hannover

ODF is an XML-based file format that is independent from the particular software application in which it is created and used. ODF files can be imported and exported between any applications that support it, allowing entities using different software applications to work on the same document.

Lotus Notes users will be able to natively create, open, edit and save in ODF.

A public beta version of the Lotus Notes upgrade could be available this fall. IBM is also creating new interfaces for the e-mail and contacts applications. The new version will support earlier content, an IBM representative said.

IBM made the announcement this morning at the Deutsche Notes User Group conference in Karlsruhe, Germany.

"With the Hannover release, we are incorporating the Workplace client technology," Arthur Fontaine, senior product manager for Workplace, told CNET News.com. "(Lotus Notes) will inherit the server management cross-platform capability of the Eclipse-rich client platform, which allows users to run Linux, as well as Windows, and Mac to follow shortly."

In other words, the Lotus Notes upgrade also includes a change in the way it can be run on servers. Workplace currently allows desktop clients to be managed from the server through a browser, and its productivity editors to be deployed on-demand, or based on a customized hierarchy of users. The Hannover version of Lotus Notes will also be able to be operated in this way.

IBM had previously supported ODF in its Workplace software, joining a growing movement to support an integrated file format that frees companies from having to use Microsoft Office documents.

In early May, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) approved ODF as an international standard.

Microsoft has said it will not include support for ODF in Office 2007, citing an insufficient demand and limited capability compared to its own format.

However, a group of programmers recently announced that they had designed an ODF plug-in that would allows MS Office users to use ODF files as if they were native to Office.

According to IBM, there are more than 125 million users of Lotus Notes.

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