On the edge of the Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, N.H., a Lotus subsidiary
called Edge Research seeks to extend the power of Lotus Notes to other
platforms and databases. Their latest effort, Lotus Weblicator, is a
powerful tool that will help you manage two-way replication across Domino
and/or other HTTP servers in your enterprise.
If you wish to reduce Internet connect-time costs or if you operate
intranet applications across multiple sites where data must be shared among
many individuals, then Weblicator can provide the tools you need to manage
data interaction easily. Weblicator runs alongside your browser,
intercepting its HTTP requests. It gives you the ability to monitor Web
sites and Domino servers for changes and responds accordingly, downloading
new data only when necessary. It also lets you schedule automatic
eplication in the background or foreground.
For example, you may wish to pull data every morning from one of the news
services on the Internet and make it available to your enterprise for
offline reading. The Weblicator scheduler can be set to pull the news on an
automatic basis, when you want to exchange data between two of your
intranet servers at scheduled times, or whenever certain changes occur.
Weblicator can also be set to monitor for changes to Web server pages and
When interacting with Domino servers, Weblicator enables two-way,
field-level replication from within your browser -- just like the
client-side replication available for Notes clients -- which gives you
pinpoint control over data replication in the Domino environment.
Replication with standard (non-Domino) HTTP servers is a bit different in
that it works through HTML forms. In the HTTP scenario, you can pull down
some HTML forms, update them offline and then send the updated information
back to the server. My copy of the Weblicator alpha version was a bit
rough, as the installation program and an easy-to-use interface were not
present. Lotus indicated that the installation program and a revised user
interface will be readied for the upcoming December beta release.
These alpha version issues aside, Weblicator operated flawlessly. I tested
both Domino and HTTP replication and found that performance was fast and
monitoring and scheduling easy. The simplest way to schedule a replica is
by taking a Weblicator "snapshot" while viewing a Domino server's or Web
site's URL. You're then prompted for replication options -- whether to run
the replication in the foreground or background, how often to replicate,
and how many levels of hot links to follow from the starting page.
It was also easy to add a monitor in Weblicator's "dashboard" monitor
option, which alerted me to changes in a Web page I was monitoring so I
could quickly navigate to that site and pull down the new information. Take
a look at Weblicator if you need to enable data replication within your
intranet, update HTML forms while offline, or simply pull HTTP data onto
your users' desktops for offline viewing.
Maggie Biggs is an InfoWorld technology analyst who specializes in
application development. Send her e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Lotus Weblicator, alpha
Available on the World Wide Web in beta form in December, Weblicator is a
two-way replication tool that operates from within your browser. With
Weblicator, Lotus has extended Notes' replication features to interact with
Domino and HTTP servers.
Pros: Two-way, field-level replication with Domino servers; two-way HTML
form replication with HTTP servers; easily managed replication scheduling;
monitors that can check for changes in Web pages; fast replication
Cons: Unfinished interface in alpha version; no installation program in
alpha version (both shortcomings to be addressed prior to beta release).
Lotus Development Corp., Cambridge, Mass.; (617) 577-8500;
Platforms: Windows 95 and Windows NT.
Ship date: First quarter of 1997 (beta version available December 1996).