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|File:Lotus Symphony icon.png|
|File:Lotus Symphony Documents.png
Lotus Symphony Documents
|Developed by||Lotus Software|
|Latest release||Beta 4 /
|OS||Linux or Windows (Mac version announced)
DOS for 1985-1992 versions.
IBM Lotus Symphony is the name of a set of applications for creating, editing, and sharing text, spreadsheet, and other documents. Originally released in July 1984 as an integrated software application for DOS, IBM revived the Symphony name for a new office suite that was first released free of charge in 2007.
Lotus Symphony for DOS
The first incarnation of Lotus Symphony was an integrated software package for DOS released by Lotus Development as a follow-on to its hugely popular spreadsheet program, Lotus 1-2-3. Lotus Jazz on the Apple Macintosh was a sibling product.
Although 1-2-3 had originally been billed as an integrated product with spreadsheet, database and graphing functions (hence the name "1-2-3"), competing products such as AppleWorks provided a more comprehensive level of integration and additional functionality; Symphony was Lotus' response.
Symphony is a DOS program that is loaded entirely into memory when started. Using ALT-F10 the user can alternate among the five "environments" of the program, each a rendering of the same underlying data. The environments are:
- SHEET, a spreadsheet program very similar to 1-2-3
- DOC, a word processor
- GRAPH, a graphical charting program
- FORM, a table-based database management system
- COMM, a communications program
Several "add-in applications" can be "attached" and activated, extending Symphony's capabilities, including a powerful macro manager, a document outliner, a spell-checker, statistics, various communications configurations, and a tutorial, which demonstrates Symphony usage by running macros. The program allows the screen to be split into panes, showing different views of the underlying data simultaneously, each of which can display any of the five environments. The user is then able to see that changes made in one environment are reflected in others simultaneously, perhaps the package's most interesting feature.
All the data that Symphony handles is kept in spreadsheet-like cells. The other environments—word processing, database, communications, graphics—in essence only change the display format and focus of that data (including available menus, special keys, and functionality), which can be saved and retrieved as .WR1 files.
Symphony was designed to work completely in the standard 640k of conventional memory, supplemented by any Intel 80286 extended memory configured as expanded memory. Similar and competitive packages included SmartWare, Microsoft Works, Context MBA, Framework, Enable and Ability Office.
The spreadsheet engine is the same as the one used in Lotus 1-2-3, once the most popular of its kind.
Compared to other word processors of the day such as Micropro WordStar 3.3, WordPerfect 4.2, and Microsoft Word 2.0, Symphony's word processing environment was simple, but effective and uncomplicated.
Compared to other database programs of the day—Ashton-Tate's dBase III, MDBS Knowledgeman, Borland Paradox 2.0 and Borland Reflex 1.0—Symphony's FORM environment was weak, lacking the analytical abilities of Reflex and the pseudo relational power of dBase III. However, it was integrated directly into the spreadsheet, simple to query, and fast, and the data could be accessed using VLOOKUP features of the spreadsheet.
Like its predecessor Lotus 1-2-3, Symphony contains a reasonably powerful programming language referred to as its "command language," which can be saved either within a spreadsheet or separately in "libraries" in the form of macros: lists of menu operations, data, and other macro keywords. (One is "menucall," which allows users to call their own menus, embedded into spreadsheets, which behave just like Symphony's own.) One of the most significant features of Symphony is the integration of the various modules using this command language. In its day it was one of the few programs that would be able to log onto a stock market source, select data using dynamic or pre-assigned criteria, place that data into a spreadsheet, perform calculations, then chart the data and print out the results. All of this could take place unattended on a preset schedule.
IBM Lotus Symphony
IBM Lotus Symphony is a set of applications comprising:
- IBM Lotus Symphony Documents, a word processor
- IBM Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets, a spreadsheet program
- IBM Lotus Symphony Presentations, a presentation program
Symphony supports the OpenDocument format (ODF), as well as Microsoft Office and Lotus SmartSuite formats, but not the Office Open XML format used by Microsoft Office 2007. It can also export Portable Document Format (PDF) files.
Symphony is available for Linux and Windows, with Mac OS X support announced for the first half of 2008. It is based on Eclipse Rich Client Platform from IBM Lotus Expeditor for its shell and OpenOffice.org 1.1.4 for the core office suite code. Symphony requires 512 MB of RAM and 540 MB of hard drive space. Because Lotus Symphony is based on the 1.1.4 version of OpenOffice.org which was dual licensed under both the LGPL as well as Sun's own SISSL which allowed for entities to change the code without releasing their changes, IBM does not have to release the source code of Symphony.
IBM unofficially predicts that it will release version 1.0 of Lotus Symphony in the first quarter of 2008 as a free download. IBM plans to incorporate code from the latest version of OpenOffice.org into version 2.0. Symphony 2.0 will also include modules that are already part of OpenOffice.org, including an equation editor, database software, and a drawing program, as well as other modules specifically provided by IBM.
Symphony has its roots in IBM Workplace. In 2006, IBM introduced Workplace Managed Client version 2.6, which included "productivity tools" — a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program — that supported ODF. Later that year, IBM announced that Lotus Notes 8, which was already incorporating Workplace technology, would also include the same productivity tools as the Workplace Managed Client.. In 2007, IBM released Notes 8, and then released Notes' productivity tools as a standalone application, Symphony, one month later. The code in Symphony is the same as that for Notes 8's productivity tools.
Lotus Symphony Beta 4 was released on Feb. 1, 2008, which introduced the new Lotus Symphony Developer Toolkit. The Beta 4 release had a revised edition released on the 3rd of March, 2008.
- ^ Eric Lai, IBM's Symphony Hitting Wrong Notes, Reviewers Say, Computerworld, September 24, 2007
- ^ IBM, Lotus Symphony General FAQs, retrieved November 6, 2007
- ^ Edward Mendelson, IBM Lotus Symphony Beta review, "...Now the Bad News" section, September 21, 2007
- ^ Todd Weiss, IBM Workplace client to support Open Document Format in '06, Computerworld, December 4, 2005
- ^ IBM Press Release, IBM Announces New Version of Workplace Products With Enhanced Support for Open Standards and Improved SOA Functionality, January 23, 2006
- ^ Ed Brill, "Hannover" -- announcing the next (post 7.0) version of Lotus Notes, June 14, 2005
- ^ IBM Press Release, IBM Makes Collaborative Innovation Real With Preview of Next Generation IBM Lotus Notes Client, May 16, 2006
- ^ Candace Lombardi, IBM backs OpenDocument in Lotus Notes, CNET News.com, May 16, 2006
- ^ Ed Brill, Introducing IBM Lotus Symphony, desktop productivity software at no charge, September 18, 2007 — see comment 41
- Homepage and Link to Download IBM Lotus Symphony
- Dinosaur Sightings: Lotus Symphony 3.0 (for DOS) by Greg Shultz, TechRepublic
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