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Mainsoft Jazzes Up Collaboration

Mainsoft, a provider of .NET-to-Java translation tools, recently released a beta version of its new framework for extending Microsoft environments: the Document Collaboration for Rational Jazz, SharePoint Edition.

Built on IBM's Jazz platform, the framework is designed to extend IBM Rational Team Concert to allow developers to search, access, modify and publish documents on SharePoint sites. The framework also integrates with business workflows based on the SharePoint document management infrastructure, which the Milpitas, Calif.-based company said will help extend collaboration across the enterprise and deliver more effective software project governance.

IBM's two-and-a-half-year-old Jazz project is the result of a joint effort by Big Blue's Rational and Research divisions to build a scalable, extensible team-collaboration platform for integrating tasks across the software lifecycle. It's built on the Eclipse Framework, and the idea is to provide a framework that makes it possible to include everyone working on a project, from developers to stakeholders. With the launch of the community portal about a year ago, IBM hoped to foster an "open, transparent approach to community development" to improve team agility and collaboration -- not to mention products like the Mainsoft release.

Team Concert was one of the first commercial products based on Jazz, and it provides a kind of hub for Jazz-based offerings. Essentially, it's a collaboration portal designed to keep distributed software teams connected through such Web 2.0-type social networking technologies as instant messaging and presence awareness. It focuses on collaboration, process instantiation and bringing the teams together.

Set for general availability early next year, Document Collaboration for Rational Jazz will also support IBM Lotus's Quickr collaboration software. That integration, the company said, will give developers direct access to the Quickr and SharePoint document libraries from a documents browser in the Eclipse and Visual Studio IDEs. The company expects to add support in future releases to for other Jazz-based products, including IBM Rational's Requirements Composer and Quality Manager.

Philippe Cohen, Mainsoft's vice president of products and solutions, sees the emergence of products like the Document Collaboration framework as an inevitable part of the Web 2.0 evolution. Web 2.0-based collaboration infrastructures like SharePoint and Quickr are "transforming the way business teams collaborate and share documents," he said in a statement. Integrating the market-leading collaboration tools via the Jazz platform will enhance "developer-to-developer collaboration on product documents and enable development teams to solicit feedback and approvals from enterprise team members who do not use an IDE," he added.

"The interesting thing about collaboration technologies is that they are inherently strengthened by a collaborative development approach," said Melinda Ballou, program director of IDC's Application Life-Cycle Management group. "This approach sort of feeds on itself."

Mainsoft's raison d'ĂȘtre is developing software that integrates SharePoint technologies and .NET applications with IBM middleware (Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime, Lotus Expeditor, WebSphere Portal and WebSphere Application Server). The company also provides a Visual Studio plug-in for .NET developers that allows them to write Web applications in C# or Visual Basic and run them natively on Java EE platforms.

"We welcome testers, community members and enthusiasts to provide feedback through," Stephen Lauzon, senior manager of Mainsoft's ISV Strategy and Ready for IBM Rational group, said in a statement. "Community usage and input are important next steps for integrating Web 2.0-based collaboration sites into IBM's Jazz technology platform."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance journalist and author based in Mountain View, CA.

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