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Lotus enters Web publishing battleground

Lotus Development will next week take on Microsoft in the Web publishing and development tool arena.

Lotus Development will next week take on Microsoft in the Web publishing and development tool arena.

Lotus FastSite 2.0 works with files that have been created in a number of different desktop applications, including Microsoft Office, Lotus SmartSuite, and Corel WordPerfect, by converting files to Web formats.

As earlier reported, Lotus includes FastSite in the SmartSuite Millennium Edition which began shipping last summer. The application acts as the link between the desktop applications within SmartSuite and the Web.

With next week's launch of FastSite 2.0 , the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based software company starts shipping the application as a standalone product, entering a new battleground against Microsoft which develops its own Web publishing product called FrontPage.

Lotus is hesitant to say it is setting up to compete directly with FrontPage.

"We will and we won't" said Robert Norton, director of product management for FastSite. "This is for those in the corporation who think nothing of writing HTML and would like to post their own files by themselves without going to the designated Webmaster. FrontPage is a much more complex product. We see a niche within the corporation, where regular desktop professionals need a tool to be able to post their own documents."

He describes FastSite as a link between proprietary data and the Web. It eliminates the bottleneck at the Webmaster. Once documents are converted, files are typically submitted to a Webmaster who then create links to the documents, designs the page using an expert-oriented Web publishing tool, and then posts the documents to the Intranet, or corporate Web site.

FastSite 2.0 requires a Pentium PCs or higher running Windows 95, or NT, and a CD-ROM drive.

Starting Monday, the application will be available as a free-30-day trial from the Lotus FastSite Web site. A final ship date has not been disclosed.

FastSite 2.0 will be priced at $99.