The goal overall is to have tools like Designer jumpstart a third-party ecosystem, where systems integrators and software vendors alike are building extensions or specialized applications atop Workplace.
Designer fills in the middle of the tools line for Workplace. At the simplest level, there is Workplace Builder, a GUI-driven, web-based tool intended for business analysts and non-technical users, enabling them to copy or make minor changes to existing Workplace applications or application templates.
At the other end of the scale is Rational Application Developer, which is aimed at programmers, coders, and architects requiring an industrial-scale tool. Like the Rational tool, Workplace Designer is available as an Eclipse plug-in.
In making an array of tools available, IBM hopes to duplicate for Workplace the kind of ecosystem that Lotus once built for Notes in its heyday. Bisconti expects that Designer will be highly suited for resellers and systems integrators who are customizing Workplace for clients, whereas third party software vendors are likely to require Rational or some other heavy-duty Eclipse-compatible Java development and design tool.