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Groove 3.0 Targets 'Occupational Developer'

Peer-to-peer collaboration pioneer Groove Networks is set to take the wraps off a public beta of Groove 3.0, a product upgrade that adds a new forms tool that help non-technical users create project applications.

Groove Networks, which is co-owned by Microsoft , said the addition of the forms-based application environment is a significant addition that targets end users and corporate developers looking to create applications for mobile and geographically distributed work teams.

"You don't have to be a programmer to create applications with this tool. We like to say it's for the occupational developer, said Groove Networks spokesman Richard Eckel. "It is for the business manager who has no programming skills. He can now develop his own forms and applications for his team."

More importantly, the forms tool supports the creation of scripts from macros using JavaScript and VBScript. It also allows the use of custom styles using Cascading Style Sheets , the de facto standard for adding fonts, colors and spacing to documents.

Eckel told internetnews.com the new environment is also geared for enterprise developers looking to connect enterprise data with Groove-based data via a new Web Services API . At the desktop level, the forms tool will also support comma separated values (CSV) based exchange of data with spreadsheets, databases, or other analytical tools.

Ideally, Groove Networks expects users to latch on to the enhanced forms capabilities in order to create lightweight, recyclable applications that can be used to capture, search, track, measure, and report on any type of information. Because it is built directly into Groove, Eckel said full access to created applications could be made available to mobile workforces, customers or business partners without deploying application servers outside a company firewall.

Previous versions of Groove already feature tighter integration with Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint and support for SOAP , WSDL and UDDI , key protocols for Web Services.

The Beverly, Mass.-based firm, which was launched by Lotus Notes pioneer Ray Ozzie in October 2000, has also implemented a price increase in the new version which will ship commercially in the summer. The standard edition will remain priced at $69 but the professional edition will move from $149 to $179 while the project edition will be priced at $229, up from $199.

Additional enhancement in Groove 3.0 includes tweaks to the Enterprise Management Server to include native support for an organization's existing Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for identity authentication; a new centralized auditing capability that lets IT organizations track actions and data within Groove workspaces and improved directory integration.

For end users, the user interface has been enhanced to add a new secure file-sharing technology that enables standard Windows file folders to automatically be synchronized across any number of users own PCs, or shared among multiple users, even across firewall boundaries.

Groove 3.0 has also been fitted with LaunchPad, which acts as a starting point for tasks and contacts available from a single location and Workspace Explorer, a customizable user interface for working within Groove workspaces.

It also features Expanded Alerts for visual, audible and "spoken" notifications and improved speeds on start-up, downloading and navigation.

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