Over the past few weeks, Lotus Development Corporation (http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf) has been busy preparing several announcements concerning its Domino Web/messaging server for Notes. These announcements have focused on beefing up Domino's streaming media support, adding the Microsoft Component Object Model (COM) for developers, and adding support for the evolving Extensible Markup Language (XML) data interchange standards. On Monday, September 28, Lotus announced it had integrated RealNetworks' RealSystem G2 streaming multimedia into the Domino Release 5 (R5) messaging/Web server and the company's Notes client, a technology called HotMedia Connect for Domino (http://www.lotus.com/mediaconnect). Domino and RealNetworks products use IBM’s middleware product for integration, a product formerly known as Domino Media Connection Services. This announcement adds to support for the Windows Media protocols and provides a full spectrum of streaming media services for Domino. HotMedia lets developers view, create, and stream media on the Domino platform and expand Domino’s use in various applications, including conferencing, training, and other business-streaming activities on the Internet and on corporate intranets. Domino 4.6 used an earlier version of RealNetworks’ technology, but this announcement adds a new version to Domino R5 complete with many new capabilities. HotMedia comes with Notes, Domino, and Domino Designer. “The integration of RealSystem G2 with Notes and Domino R5 provides businesses with completely new and efficient ways of communicating and training,” said Mark Bretl, vice president of media systems at RealNetworks. “Lotus has shipped the integrated RealNetworks and Lotus product to millions of Lotus customers on the Notes and Domino 4.6 platform. Adding support for the R5 products now makes it easy for users of Lotus' most advanced version of Notes and Domino to deploy rich media applications with RealSystem G2.” Lotus will integrate RealNetworks' RealProducer G2 and RealPlayer G2 with Lotus Notes and Domino R5. RealProducer will let Notes users create and encode streaming media on the desktop, while RealPlayer provides the playback software. Any Notes document, email message, or Web page can achieve this playback. Lotus' announcement also stated that the company will distribute RealNetworks' RealServer G2 Workgroup Edition, which will give Domino R5 the ability to store and stream audio and video from a Domino object store, and thus will leverage Domino’s content management, security, and replication services. By adding RealSystem G2 Workgroup Edition to Domino R5, Lotus hopes to complement its Sametime (http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/sametime) instant messaging (IM) product, which occupies a unique position in the marketplace. Outside of the online services such as AOL and Microsoft Network (MSN), Sametime is one of the few IM products available for an enterprise audience. These new streaming capabilities let Lotus’ messaging platform provide audio and video in real time for use in awareness applications, chat rooms, shared applications (shadowing or remote-control demonstrations), whiteboard applications, and soon in directional voice and video communications. Lotus has invested heavily in applied conferencing, collaboration, and training software, as well as creating one of the most advanced courseware development offerings in the industry today. For example, one program at Lotus brings in domain experts to work in Lotus technology to create unique content for their course. The portfolio of course offerings that Lotus has created makes Lotus the industry leader in long-distance training, one of the beneficial effects of the company's corporate sponsorship from its IBM parent company, in what has been a mutually beneficial merger. Adding the latest streaming audio and video to the Lotus messaging platform might be seen as another building block in this area. On October 6 at Internet World in New York City, Lotus announced Domino's support for XML and Microsoft COM. Lotus has been working to integrate both technologies for a while, and the move reinforces what many developers already know: Adding support for these technologies provides developers with the tools they need to build e-commerce applications based on these important evolving industry standards. Lotus' announcement noted that developers can add XML to Domino R5 applications using Lotus' Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) and build applications using the Domino API to create Java servlets and agents that import or produce XML. The Lotus XSL processor can apply style sheets to translate between XML formats and to render formats such as XML. As a result, Domino will be able to send and receive XML data from browsers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and wireless devices. Adding COM support to Domino lets developers with experience in Visual Basic (VB) and Visual InterDev create Windows-based applications that can integrate Domino R5's workflow, security, messaging and collaboration capabilities into areas of technology that Lotus wants to address: e-business, supply chain, employee self-service, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Using COM, a developer can use Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS) to access Domino functionality for Web site capabilities and have Domino interoperate with Microsoft Office components.