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IBM launches development tools for Workplace

New capabilities for building composite applications into Workplace aim to help customers fashion customized productivity tools.

IBM launched a new set of development tools for its Workplace software on Wednesday in an effort to encourage its customers and partners to build composite applications into the collaboration package.

Dubbed IBM Workplace Designer 2.5, the development offering is based on the Eclipse standard and promises the ability to help people build composite applications into Workplace more easily. Composite applications are programs built using functional pieces of other software tools brought together using Web services technology.

For instance, IBM said that someone could create project management applications tailored specifically to their company's business processes in Workplace using the new development offering.

"One of the key innovations of Workplace in making teams successful has been the addition of technology for building composite applications, to customize the team space more effectively," said Jim Russell, director of application development tools for IBM's Lotus Software division. "This yields higher productivity by giving people exactly the tools they need to collaborate."

Included in the new Workplace Designer package are set of preset forms and scripts presented in a visual development environment that promise companies the ability to create composite applications using a drag-and-drop interface. IBM has also included a number of sample collaboration components that developers can use to build their own tools.

Additional components built into the package include tools for adding blogging programs, project management tools, contact management lists and online discussion forums to Workplace's existing features. The system is also capable of importing forms from IBM's Lotus Domino applications to use in building new Workplace applications.

IBM said that more than 2,000 developers have accessed a beta version of the development package since it was first made available in June.

"The idea is to makes it easier for people to create components to plug into these composite applications," said Russell. "It allows IBM's partners and customers to be faster and more efficient in creating specialized collaborative team spaces."