This is a replicated copy of Lotus eSuite WorkPlace: Business Tools for Network Computing. It is provided for completeness and avoid "broken" link.

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Lotus eSuite WorkPlace: Business Tools for Network Computing
by Richard Sinn
NEWS/400, July 1998 , pg. 35
Article ID: 2423
Related Topics: Domino/Notes, Networking

In the ever-changing world of computers, most IT managers face the common challenge of rapidly building and deploying business solutions that require less training and maintenance effort and cost less to operate. End users want to focus on their work and not worry about the technologies. Powerful networking software, a high-bandwidth communications infrastructure, and platform-independent Java technology are tools all IT managers want to incorporate into their companies. But can they do so without upgrading, say, 100 PCs every six months and training 100 end users? Lotus eSuite WorkPlace for the IBM Network Station offers one solution.

Lotus eSuite is a set of business productivity software designed specifically for the emerging network computing environment. Built entirely in Java, Lotus eSuite gives business users a single point of access to business productivity applets, e-mail, calendar, legacy applications with terminal emulation, and the Internet.

You can think of eSuite as a Java client/server implementation of business applications, in which IBM Network Stations running eSuite desktops are the clients and the AS/400 is the server. (The product is also available for the AIX and Windows NT server platforms.) IT managers can customize the eSuite environment to the needs of individual users or groups of users and can deploy eSuite applets quickly across the enterprise and maintain and upgrade them centrally.

Business organizations with in-house development teams can use another member of the Lotus eSuite family, eSuite DevPack, to develop strategic, interactive Java applications that tap the potential offered by Web-based solutions. The eSuite DevPack gives enterprise developers a set of ready-to-use applets, a collection of utilities, and software samples, all written in Java.

The first release of Lotus eSuite is designed for network computers, but future releases will run on any platform that has a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). The current version works only with IBM Network Station Series 1000 machines. In this article, I introduce you to the Lotus eSuite WorkPlace. Future articles will cover eSuite WorkPlace configuration and administration and the eSuite DevPack. For eSuite WorkPlace platform requirements and ordering information, see "Prerequisites and Ordering Information." For an overview of the IBM Network Station, see "The IBM Network Station Revisited."

A Closer Look at the eSuite WorkPlace

From a technology point of view, the eSuite WorkPlace is a Java application that lets Java applets be downloaded from the server and run within the JVM on the Network Station. It uses advanced Java technology to allow communications between applets and the creation of persistent user desktops.

From a business point of view, the eSuite WorkPlace incorporates a task-oriented work environment, a Web browser, a file manager, a file viewer, and a comprehensive set of Java applets for performing basic business tasks. Figure 1 shows the eSuite WorkPlace desktop. The applets provide an e-mail client, a word processor, a spreadsheet application, a Web browser, presentation graphics, a calendar, and an address book. Let's look briefly at each of the eSuite components.

Calendar and address book. The eSuite calendar and address book applets offer basic calendaring, scheduling, and personal information storage functions. Figure 2 shows the calendar applet. Not only do these applets provide basic calendar functionality, such as the ability to create, edit, and delete appointments, but with the address book applet's Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)-enabled Universal Address Book, Internet-based group scheduling is also possible. Business users can use the Internet-standard iCalendar group scheduling function, invite users from the Universal Address Book, send invitations, and respond to any application that supports the iCalendar specification.

E-mail. The eSuite mail component (Figure 3) is a lightweight e-mail client that supports standard messaging formats and open protocols such as Post Office Protocol Version 3 (POP3) and Internet Message Access Protocol Version 4 (IMAP4). It provides features for reading and composing mail messages in a business environment on the Internet. The eSuite calendar and address book components can easily be used to read and create e-mail messages in Rich Text Format (RTF) or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) format. Attachments, creating meeting proposals from e-mail messages, and active Universal Resource Locator (URL) links in mail message bodies are also supported.

Word processor. With the eSuite word processor applet (Figure 4), users can create traditional business documents (e.g., memos, letters, faxes) intended for high-quality printed output. The word processor provides basic formatting and editing functions, such as applying text attributes (e.g., bold, italic, underline), manipulating data (e.g., drag/drop, find/replace), creating and editing tables, inserting images, creating clickable hypertext links, and importing Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) 3.2, ASCII, and RTF files. (A spell checker, absent in the current version, should be available later this year; for information about other eSuite enhancements that are in the works, see "eSuite Puts Java Business Tools on the NC Desktop.") The eSuite documents are stored in HTML format, so users can access them using a standard Internet browser.

Spreadsheet. With the eSuite spreadsheet applet (Figure 5), users can analyze numerical data and create financial applications, such as budgets or income statements. The spreadsheet applet provides basic spreadsheet functions, including data sorting, HTML and WK1 file importing and exporting, cell formatting, image importing, and @Functions. More than 20 of the most commonly used @Functions, including SUM, AVG, PMT, and NPV, are available.

Presentation graphics. The eSuite presentation graphics applet (Figure 6) provides simple presentation creation functions and graphical navigators for use with Internet applications. With this support, users can create simple presentations within an HTML page. Users can also use eSuite's SmartMasters - presentation templates designed by graphical artists - to create professional presentations for work. The applet also offers predesigned templated pages, drawing tools, standard clip art, screen show, and file import/export functions.

Web browser. The eSuite Web browser (Figure 7) is based on Sun Microsystems' Hot Java browser. Integrated into the eSuite WorkPlace, the Web browser provides common browser features such as forward and back browsing, bookmarks, search, and history listings. Users can have multiple URLs open and active at once in the browser to connect to customers, suppliers, business partners, and other Web-based resources.

File manager. The WorkFiles component of eSuite (Figure 8) is a file manager that gives each user a hierarchical view of and access to all the files available to that user. By default, the WorkFiles manager is set to show the user's storage place on the server. Users can use the WorkFiles file manager to find files and to sort files by file name, type, or modified date. WorkFiles also lets you copy, move, delete, and rename files and folders.

Simplicity Is the Key

Lotus eSuite WorkPlace is not intended to be a replacement for full-fledged office suite solutions such as Lotus SmartSuite or Microsoft Office. The two kinds of products are not mutually exclusive. SmartSuite and Office are designed for "power users" who create complex documents, spreadsheets, databases, and presentations. This user set might include engineers, research officers, financial analysts, or management consultants. The eSuite WorkPlace, on the other hand, is targeted at task-oriented users - users who need information to perform daily business-related tasks but don't need to take part in detailed information processing. Lotus eSuite gives these users a new option for their desktops. For users ranging from manufacturing-floor workers to purchasing agents, office clerks to bank tellers, midlevel managers to executives, Lotus eSuite serves as an alternative to a full-featured suite with additional tools.

By simplifying the deployment of end-user productivity applications and providing a focused, task-oriented desktop work environment, Lotus eSuite addresses some common business needs and can help companies gain a competitive advantage. Lotus eSuite running on the Network Station reduces software cost of ownership, increases productivity, and gives IT management full control of end-user software.

To learn more about eSuite, visit the official Lotus eSuite Web site, http://esuite.lotus.com/. For information about IBM's Network Station, see http://www.pc.ibm.com/networkstation. For information about the AS/400 Network Station software, see http://service.boulder.ibm.com/nc/as400/index.html.

Richard Sinn is a freelance writer. He is a software engineer in IBM Rochester, a frequent speaker at IBM user group conferences, and a lecturer at the University of Minnesota. You can reach him via e-mail at webmaster@openloop.com or at his Web site, http://www.openloop.com/. is a freelance writer. He is a software engineer in IBM Rochester, a frequent speaker at IBM user group conferences, and a lecturer at the University of Minnesota. You can reach him via e-mail at webmaster@openloop.com or at his Web site, http://www.openloop.com/.

Sidebar: Prerequisites and Ordering Information

The official name of the eSuite WorkPlace offering is Lotus eSuite WorkPlace for IBM Network Station 1.1.0.0. The current product works only with IBM Network Station Series 1000 machines. If you already own the Network Station product for the AS/400, Lotus eSuite WorkPlace is free of charge. To order, U.S. customers can call IBM at (800) 879-2755 and select Option 1. Customers outside the United States can order online at http://www.elink.ibmlink.ibm.com/pbl/pbl or go to http://as400bks.rochester.ibm.com/bookmgr/home.htm and click "Order Publications" for telephone ordering information.

To use eSuite with the AS/400, you need OS/400 V4R2M0. You must also have the IBM Network Station software (product ID 5733A07, plus PTFs for Releases 2, 2.5 and 2.5+) and the AS/400 Developer Kit for Java installed on the AS/400 server.

- R.S.




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