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Editorial: Is there a market for XPages apps?

I've talked in the past about an absolute need for an app store for IBM Collaborative Solutions (Say it with me: App Stores define the product! and Yes, we *do* need a Lotus App Store...!, just to highlight two posts). I've had great personal success selling $5 Lotus Notes Client applications. Of course, I define great both in that I'm able to help someone out with a pretty cheap cost solution and purchases allow me to pay for my Netflix and XBox Live subscriptions. I'm by no means retiring off of the proceeds from someone buying Junction Lite...

I digress.

With the tonal shift towards modernization of IBM Lotus Notes Client applications in the form of creating XPages-based versions of those same apps, I can completely understand the sales of any consumer-facing solutions specifically designed for the Lotus Notes client waning.

So what can XPages-savvy IBM Lotus Notes Domino application developers do to weekend warrior some solutions to pay for their own Netflix and XBox Live subscriptions? has an excellent solution in their XSnippets, which allows developers to contribute reusable XPages-centric code and controls to better enable XPages as a RAD platform.

Calibre is an excellent ePub-generating authoring tool.

Imagine if there was a marketplace that allowed content authors to setup shop and sell directly to the consumer. Imagine if, as a consumer, you could visit such a marketplace and browse through free and relatively inexpensive subject-specific publications, reusable code snippets, and multiple client apps.

I still maintain that an application platform is nothing without a transparent, consumer-friendly, and consumer-facing marketplace. And I also maintain that there is great potential for the IBM Collaboration Solutions platforms (Notes and Domino, Connections, Sametime, et al) to be a pioneer in the enterprise solutions marketplace.

We just need to build the online presence, and make sure it's not a front for an individual vendor. We need to streamline the delivery mechanism (easier signing, installation, etc.). We need vendor support (that's you, IBM, as well as the larger ISV community). And we need to make it easier for a developer to quickly ramp up on a solution from the IBM CS portfolio and quickly turn that newfound knowledge into money in their wallets.

And, just for the record, consumer doesn't mean Joe the Accountant. The majority of the people who buy my $5 apps are in IT and are looking to address some immediate need, and they figure instead of wasting half a day writing their own individual-case Excel import code to populate a NotesDatabase, they'll spend $5 USD and get something that they can re-use again and again.

With Connections' iWidget adoption, we have an immediate avenue for deploying in-solution add-on applications for that product. The opportunities for IBM Notes and Domino are potentially endless - from end user facing applications to IT utilities to DDE and Notes Client plug-ins. XPages, via priced-to-sell reusable code snippets to products and services integration add-ons, that's certainly got legs. And ebooks that target specific topics, let's say at $1.99, would be an amazing additional to the documentation of the various platforms.

For my part, I'm currently writing an XPages-based version of my Zephyr app. While that app is freeware, I'm seriously considering making Zephyr HD another $5 app, and see if there's actually a market for consumer-priced XPages-based applications.

So what are your thoughts? Think (like I do) that the only way this'll be truly successful is if it's backed by IBM? Think that consumer-priced solutions are not worth the time investment due to internal policies? Have you already stopped reading this in order to download Calibre and start writing your own ebook?

Weigh in via the comments below. Like/+1/Share if you want to help spread the word. And I'm really interested to hear what you, who've made it this far into one of my post without finding a single line of code, thinks on this topic.

About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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