The next version of IBM\u2019s Lotus Sametime real-time collaboration software will include capabilities that allow users to instantly connect with others around the world as part of online "social networking" communities.The new Sametime functions are among the highlights expected at the 13th annual Lotusphere 2006 conference, which begins Sunday in Orlando, Fla. and runs through Thursday.The new social networking tools have been used inside IBM for the last three years, said Ken Bisconti, vice president of product management for Lotus, and allow users to be part of online "communities" that are organized like newsgroups or listserves. That means users don\u2019t have to send an e-mail to a text-based listserve and wait for a reply; Instead, they\u2019ll be able to send an instant message (IM) to all other participating online members of the community, who can reply immediately.Inside IBM, the feature is called SkillTap, though a name has not been chosen for the commercial product that will be released for use with Sametime later this year, Bisconti said. The new feature will run on top of the next version of Sametime and will include broadcast alerts that allow users to quickly reach participating members of the communities."We\u2019ve found inside IBM that it\u2019s fostered thousands of communities" involved in a wide variety of subjects, including Linux, Bisconti said. "[Participants] see a question pop up and they can respond or help if they\u2019d like."IBM is also adding an application model to Sametime for building real-time applications, Bisconti said. The new framework will be built using the Eclipse open-source platform. That opens the Sametime infrastructure to thousands of independent software vendors so they can build real-time-enabled programs that work with the Lotus offerings.About 4,800 attendees are expected at this year\u2019s conference, an increase of about 15 percent over last year\u2019s event, according to IBM.About 135 vendors are expected to show off Lotus-related products at the event. They include:Collaboration software vendor Trilog Group, which will launch its new Darwino visual data conversion tool. The tool is designed to help move Lotus Notes and Domino documents into IBM\u2019s Workplace Designer XML document repository. Darwino will convert Lotus Domino forms and data into XML documents that will be stored in the repository and can help developers move from Domino Designer to Workplace Designer, according to Woburn, Mass.-based Trilog.Messaging administration software vendor DYS Analytics, which will unveil its new DYS Control Guardian application. That software gives e-mail administrators automated controls for enforcing e-mail and IM compliance, security, data protection and enterprise reputation management by stopping non-compliant messages from being sent. DYS Control Guardian will be available in March, with versions for Domino, Sametime and Microsoft Exchange, according to the Wellesley, Mass.-based vendor.Derby, England-based CommonTime, a mobility-application vendor, which will announce a new mSuite application that provides integrated mobility for Lotus Notes and Domino. The application can help deliver secure wireless Lotus Notes e-mail and applications to new platforms, including Windows Mobile 5.0 devices, according to the company.Anti-spam application vendor Postini, which plans to announce the availability of its full Integrated Message Management application for Notes and Domino, providing security, archiving, compliance and directory synchronization for e-mail and IM users. The product extends Postini\u2019s offerings beyond e-mail security, according to the San Carlos, Calif.-based company.- Group Technologies AG , which will unveil the latest version of iQ.Suite e-mail lifecycle management software for Notes and Domino. The application can be installed in stages, allowing businesses to add components as they\u2019re needed for e-mail archiving, sorting and storage, according to the Karlsruhe, Germany company.Messaging security vendor CipherTrust, which is expected to debut technology that will allow its Lotus Notes customers to forward suspected spam messages as attachments to anti-spam researchers at CipherTrust. Presently, according to the Alpharetta, Ga.-based company, Notes users who forward spam e-mails using the built-in forwarding feature in Notes don\u2019t send all of the needed details to researchers, making the originator of the message harder to track. The new capability will be incorporated into CipherTrust\u2019s products, including its IronMail messaging security appliances.