Lotus delays Kona Java app-lets

Lotus Development Corp. has pushed back the release of its first Kona applets by at least two months, but it's promising to fill the void with more features than originally announced.
Written by Lloyd Gray, Contributor

Kona is Lotus' initiative to produce Java-based applets that provide the functions of common business applications; the goal is to lower the cost of ownership of PCs and network computers.

WorkPlace, the first suite of Kona applets, will ship in late November or December, Lotus officials said in a briefing at the company's headquarters here this week.

Unlike the full-blown capabilities of Lotus' SmartSuite, Kona applets offer basic functions of a spreadsheet, word processor, calendar, E-mail client, project scheduler and graphics presentation. New functions include a Web browser applet and a chart applet.

Other WorkPlace applets include terminal emulation for mainframe green screens and mail-merge features.

WorkPlace, originally scheduled for late September, was delayed to give Lotus time to provide a complete product, said Brian Anderson, a WorkPlace manager.

DevPack, the second Kona product, is a set of JavaBeans that enables developers to embed basic tools in Internet or intranet applications. It will ship in the first quarter of next year, Anderson said.

DevPack applets include a word processor, a spreadsheet, a chart, presentation graphics, a calendar, an address book, a project scheduler, a SQL/Java Database Connectivity data access module and a Computer Graphics Interface.

While WorkPlace is intriguing, some users are more eager for DevPack. "To do [Microsoft Corp.'s] Word or [Lotus'] Word Pro document editing on the Web in Java or to paste in a spreadsheet on a Web page is great," said Alan Baren, a manager in the strategic technology group at Coopers & Lybrand, in Jersey City, N.J.

Lotus officials declined to provide pricing information on the Kona products, but they said WorkPlace users will be charged on a per-user basis, and DevPack users will pay on a per-server basis.

The Kona delay could be indicative of the ongoing problems developers are running into with business-oriented Java applets. Corel Corp., of Ottawa, revamped its plans for a Java-based version of its Office suite and pushed its release plans from this year into mid-1998. And a trio of personal productivity applets promised for the first quarter by Oracle Corp., of Redwood Shores, Calif., will not be completed until November.

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