CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (06/21/2000) - While Microsoft Corp. and Lotus Development Corp. battle it out for dominance in the messaging and collaboration world, IT executives would rather see the two work together on integration.
Because the possibility of that is remote, third-party application and development tool vendor IT Factory last week began delivering BowTie, a set of Microsoft-to-Lotus integration software components recently acquired from Dutch company Documentaal. IT Factory plans to make the components widely available in the U.S. for the first time.
BowTie enables bidirectional sharing of files and data between Lotus Domino and Microsoft Office applications. The software lets users store and access Office documents in Domino databases using its Windows interface. It also lets users view Office files with a Notes client, and lets Domino applications incorporate Office data.
Typically, integration of this type was done with clumsy OLE technology from Microsoft.
BowTie lets Domino store Office documents in their native format, which is important when they are used as file attachments to Domino forms. That means users no longer have to detach, edit and re-attach Office documents when changes are needed.
"If you have Domino as your back end and you are looking to develop applications with Office as the front end, BowTie feels like a must have," says Mark Levitt, an analyst with market research firm International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts. "Without it, you cripple a user's ability to access files from either environment."
Lotus plans to offer similar integration features later this year under the code name BlueJay. These extensions to Domino, however, are not bidirectional and basically create another set of client interfaces into Domino. Conversely, the BowTie software gives users the option of working from a Notes client or Office application to view data stored in Domino regardless of file format.
Additionally, BlueJay only supports integration with Office 2000, while BowTie supports all versions of Office.
IT Factory plans to exploit some of BlueJay's features, especially the iNotes for Outlook client, which provides Notes replication features to Outlook.
"Collaboration is not limited to Lotus Domino," says David Shimberg, executive vice president of IT Factory. "We're taking the strengths of both platforms and allowing them to work together."
BowTie adds a "Lotus Notes" drop down menu to each Office application, which lets users send documents directly to Domino. It also lets users open multiple Notes documents simultaneously in Office and provides support for document versioning.
IT Factory plans to make BowTie available in four versions. ITF BowTie Architected lets BowTie components be used within IT Factory's component-based ITF Software Development Kit. A second version, ITF BowTie Professional, will ship as a set of APIs for connecting Microsoft and Lotus environments. Both are priced at $3,900 for a 100-user license. ITF BowTie Lite provides a set of Office-to-Domino connectors and is priced at $39 per user. All three versions are available now.
A fourth version will ship in September and fully integrate BowTie into the IT Factory development tool set. Additionally, IT Factory's Business Suite, a collection of prebuilt applications, will incorporate BowTie features. Pricing has not been set.
IT Factory: www.itfactory.com