Lotus Notes is an integrated messaging and groupware product.
Basically, Notes provides group communication through personal email
and discussion forums. Notes comes with a database management system
which allows both structured and unstructured multimedia objects to be
stored, indexed, retrieved, updated and transformed. The basic
element in a database is an individual document which is defined by a
form containing fields. Documents can be presented in multiple views
and can be delivered through email to other group members. The Notes
Discussion template provides a form-style database to which users can
add messages/replies and attach files into discussion forums.
Additional Notes features include workflow, directory and security
services. Notes employs a heterogenous client/server architecture
which is customizable on both the server and client platforms at a
number of levels. Notes provides different data replication facilities
that allows information to be distributed and shared by different
groups at different locations and maintains consistency of distributed
copies of information. Users and developers can build applications
that meet certain requirements in Notes environments. LotusScript, a
programming language, and Notes' APIs (Application Program
Interfaces) allow programmers to take advantages of Notes' internal
functionalities. Notes also provides a visual programming environment
to speed up application development. Third-party products, such as
group calendaring and scheduling software, can be well integrated into
Notes environments and utilize the variety of Notes' basic services
including message and directory transport, database, and remote-access
services. The integration of third-party technologies adds additional
functionalities to Notes, such as making Notes Internet-compliant or
full-text search database. Notes users can communication with other
people on the Internet. Notes documents can be transformed into the
Internet format, HTML standards, allowing Web access on Notes
documents. Lotus Notes provides varieties of functionalities and
flexibilities, scalability to support collaborative work.
LotusScript is an embedded, BASIC scripting language with a set of language extensions that enable object-oriented application development within and across Lotus products. It provides a common programming environment across Lotus applications on all platforms supported by Lotus. It also allows placing of more complex scripts in a variety of locations and events. Through scripting language, applications are viewed as toolboxes, or collections of objects, instead of as an individual, specialized tool. User-developers are given the ability to manipulate in building custom applications to suite a particular need. OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) technologies support the idea that everything can be treated as objects. It then gives a standard framework to applications for data exchange and communication among different modules.
Lotus C++ API:
Lotus C++ API consists of a set of C++ classes which allow application programs to create, access, and manage Notes databases. It is an object-oriented interface for Lotusnotes R4. This API has the capability to create, send, forward, and reply to a mail, because it is supported by client/server messaging and mail functionalities. Other capabilities of Lotus C++ API are: multi-platform support, sophisticated memory management, run-time parameter validation that protects Notes from invalid input, type-checking at compile time (reducing debugging time). Variety of applications can be created using Lotus C++ API, such as a program to transfer data between Notes and non-Notes databases. Any program using Notes C++ API can interface to other software products using the other software product's API; for example a program to read data from relational database using another API, and write the data to Notes database. Example of Notes Third Party: GWI Software's Help! is a third-party help-desk for LotusNotes. It has numerous features, including taking Notes' replication feature. User inventory and profile database are incorporated, including a self-populating knowledge database.
Microsoft Exchange Server is an enterprise-wide messaging system with integrated group work support. Email server is the primary feature, but other forms of information, such as electronic forms, meeting requests, faxes, and multimedia, can also be handled by Exchange. Users can access the server from the local Exchange Client running of a desktop or a remote-access computers. It incorporates a structured message database management system that allows message attributes to be associated with messages. This provides index, search, and filter capabilities. Messages can be replicated among multiple servers and between local and server machines. Messages and their threads stored in public folders can be shared by every group member. Exchange provides different levels of security, including access rights of folders, messages and their attributes, digital signature, and centralized key encryption for messages. Open message APIs allow other email front-ends, as well as other email servers, to work with Exchange Server. It also provides built-in connectivity to the Internet access and email Exchange can be transparently integrated with other groupware applications, such as group calendaring and scheduling programs, so that meeting schedules can be distributed to all the users via messaging service. Exchange's electronic forms allow group members to share structured information. In addition, the Exchange Server software development kit allows development to build server or groupware applications. Microsoft Office 97 incooperates Exchange and Schedule+ into a single application, Outlook 97, which offers better user interfaces.
GroupWise has just released its latest version, i.e. GroupWise 5. The highlights of this version are the client/server architecture, improved user interface and document management features which integrates messaging, scheduling and task assignments.
The messaging system supports MAPI (Microsoft's Messaging API) by facilitating GroupWise servers the ability to communicate with MAPI clients which runs MSExchange and Lotus Notes. It can use Exchange and Lotus address book and messaging functions, but for public folder access, it requires matching MAPI clients.
The Internet integration includes having its post offices accessible to the WWW and the capability to exchange notes as well. Common Internet mail standards, such as POP3 and IMAP, will be supported in the improved architecture.
In the administrative focus, GroupWise's document management is facilitated with the capability to set up a central library which stores documents for simultenous viewing and editing. In addition, GroupWise also has management utilities integrating it with the NWAdministrator tool from NetWare servers.
The user interface of GroupWise is vastly improved. It has a navigation feature and conversational thread. It is nice to have the incoming and outgoing messages are displayed in the in-box.
TeamLinks/LinkWorks is a groupware product of Digital that focuses on automation of document-based business processes. It is based on an open client/server Object Orientation architecture, which makes it scalable for use with desktop clients, servers, databases, network services, and external interfaces.
TeamLinks provides facilities to build, implement, and maintain solutions for the controlled and integrated information systems and resources. Basically, it covers the basic office productivity applications, such as email, conferencing, scheduling and shared documents.
The desktop applications are integrated by LinkWorks with its object-oriented environment. The back-end is a database and the front-end is standard user interface (Windows, Mac, OpenVMS, etc).
To accommodate TeamLinks/LinkWorks to be a powerful system it requires a separate server for each application instead of having them on a single integrated server.