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First Impressions: IBM Lotus and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog

Hot off the press from Lotusphere 2010, IBM releases the IBM Lotus and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog. Having spoken quite publically about a need for a consumer-facing App Store -- consumers being the IT Professionals in most regards, but what's to stop a power user from downloading a plugin?! -- I was more than eager to check this out.

First Impressions

Design via OneUI and delivered via XPages, the Solutions Catalog looks right at home on IBM Lotus Greenhouse (IBM Lotus Greenhouse registration/log-in not required to browse the Solutions Catalog...).

IBM Lotus and 
WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog - Home Page

I suspect that this home page will evolve with the Solutions Catalog, but at first glance... the carousel navigation timestamps the UI for me, and while I like the easy-to-navigate advanced search, I was shocked that there was no Browse feature from the home page.

Once you run a search, and clear those search results, you are able to freely browse the Solutions Catalog:

IBM Lotus 
and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog - Browsing

Two slick features here that will help you navigate through the paginated catalog: Category Filters, and Ratings & Download Counters.

Lotus and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog - Browsing Filters, 
Ratings, and Download Counters

Once you select a product, like eProductivity for Lotus Notes, you'll be presented with information on the given solution. In the case of eProductivity, we have a brief description, categorization tags, User Ratings and Number of Downloads, a solution Overview and Details list that appears to allow open-formatting. For example, the eProductivity Overview includes an embedded YouTube video and customer testimonials.

IBM Lotus 
and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog - Bookmarks

One nice feature is the solutions Click-to-Share-styled Bookmarks (Greenhouse Log-in Required), that allows you to bookmark the given product in Lotus Greenhouse's Connections or push to various online bookmarking services.

Now for some negatives...

The Download link, which can be found at the top-right of the given Solution page often takes you to the vendor's website... not directly to the download or a method of purchasing the solution.

Ed Brill mentions on his post announcing the go-live for the new Lotus solutions catalog:

In short, a much more e-commerce-like (note, I said "like") experience, and directionally indicative of where we'd like to go with it in the future.

No app store here per se, but I like his mention of a future direction of the solutions catalog...

My second negative comment here is something that I think will be easily remedied:

Lotus and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog - Search for OpenNTF


An excellent start, but we've got a lot of work to do before we can say that the IBM Lotus and WebSphere Portal Business Solutions Catalog is ready to be the resource for all one-stop-shopping for the IT Professional (and the occasional power user).

To really make this the resource, it needs to be all-encompassing. Including OpenNTF Projects would be a no-brainer given IBM's strong support of the open source community initiative, and I was surprised that I didn't see any OpenNTF projects in there...

In closing, after a refined user experience overhaul & a push to a true e-commerce solution, this could be an excellent online resource.

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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