Bob Balaban's Blog


    Bob Balaban


    Something About Me

    Bob Balaban  March 31 2007 08:57:33 AM
    Image:Something About Me
    This is me at Lotusphere 2006. I almost never wear tuxedos, but I had re-joined IBM only  a few months before, after an 8-year absence/adventure, and I heard that IBMers dressed up...

    My academic background is Asian Studies, particularly Chinese History (I have an M.A.), but I've been interested in computers since I was 10 (I have an uncle who worked for IBM in the 1960's, and he used to take me and my siblings into the office on weekends to play with the equipment. I could sight-read punch cards at the age of 12). I taught myself programming in college and grad school.

    A Really Brief Resume

    In 1987 I was hired by Lotus Development Corp. in Cambridge, MA. to work on a version of the 1-2-3 spreadsheet. After a few years of spreadsheets (1-2-3/G and 1-2-3/W) I began a project in 1993 that our then-CTO, John Landry, referred to as "putting agents into Notes". Lotus and its development partner Iris Associates had just shipped Notes Version 3. I had been a Notes user for several years, but this project was my introduction both to the engineers who created the product (35 miles away from Lotus' Cambridge headquarters, far out in Westford, Massachusetts), and also to the, uh, somewhat unusual world of Notes development.

    Over the next 3 1/2 years I spent less and less time in my office in Cambridge, and more and more in a new office in Westford, to be near (same building) to my Iris colleagues. I worked with Iris and Lotus development teams to integrate the LotusScript language into Notes (LotusScript was originally invented in the Spreadsheet division of Lotus, and first saw the light of day in the Improv spreadsheet and the VIP RAD product. Eventually LotusScript was incorporated into all of the Lotus SmartSuite products). In the summer of 1994 Lotus acquired Iris Associates (it had previously been an independent company), and I was able to work even more closely with the Notes engineers. I wrote what became the "Notes back-end classes" for LotusScript, which first appeared in Notes 4.0 in early 1996, and was also involved with creating the Agent Manager.

    After Notes 4.0 shipped, I officially transferred to Iris and more or less permanently moved my office to Westford. I worked with the languages and the appdev teams to figure out how to integrate Java into the product, and I re-wrote (re-organized, really) the back-end classes to support both LotusScript and Java language bindings, which emerged from the Iris cave into customer sunshine in September, 1997 as Notes and Domino Version 4.6.

    I left Iris in October of 1997 to form my own consulting company, Looseleaf Software (the site is still there, but inactive. Feel free to mine it for the tutorials and other goodies I left there). I wrote a book," title="">"Programming Domino 4.6 in Java" (long out of print, but still available...). I wrote a lot of articles (primarily for The View and Lotus Advisor trade journals), presented sessions at a lot of conferences, and worked on a whole lot of consulting/development projects with all kinds of customers. I learned a lot about how to do consulting and I learned a lot about how IBM works with (and doesn't work with) its partners, and a lot about how different kinds of businesses use software. I wrote and shipped some commercial products for Notes, WebSphere and Sametime.

    After being President and Janitor of Looseleaf Software for 8 years, I closed it down in August of 2005 to re-join IBM as an employee (a process one clever person referred to as "Yet another employee who failed to achieve escape velocity").

    My first six months back at IBM were spent in the ISSL (IBM Software Services for Lotus) organization. One of the projects I worked on was a POC (Proof of Concept) showing how Notes could be used as a front-end to SAP for a time reporting application. It was really fun, partly because I got to recruit my friend and colleague Rocky Oliver to work on it with me. We ended up transferring into the Notes development team to finish building and shipping what became Lotus Notes access for SAP solutions.

    And then, just a few weeks ago, I changed jobs again, still in the Notes/Domino development team, taking on the role of Programming Services Architect. Actually, this blog owes its very existence to my new job. More on that in a future post.

    Other Factoids About Me
    • I have attended every single Lotusphere (14 of them as of 2007)
    • I have been a speaker at all but 4 of the 14 (so far) Lotuspheres
    • I've been a software guy forever, but I'm not much of a gadgeteer. In fact, I'm probably a Late Adopter
    • I like to cook. I like to eat good food


    1Stephan H. Wissel  04/03/2007 6:08:51 AM  Time for a trip to Asia

    Seems to be time to go on a field trip to visit the ISL and Singapore. We can take care of the "good food" stuff.

    :-) stw

    2Bob Balaban  04/03/2007 7:06:31 PM  Something About Me

    Hi Stephan! You know how the IBM system works -- find a business reason, invite me, and I will show up!

    3Enio Basso  04/16/2007 9:32:48 AM  Something About Me

    Hi. Bob!

    Nice to meet you. I made the Lotus Expeditor training with you, April 2007 in IBM Brazil.


    Enio Basso

    4starrow  05/08/2007 8:29:07 AM  Something About Me

    Nice to know a experienced developer of Lotus product, especially with a background of Chinese History--I'm from China:)

    5Prabhakar  04/30/2011 12:37:36 AM  Something About Me

    Nice to know about you sir, I'm from India and working as a Lotus Developer.