IBM OfficeVision

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OfficeVision is an IBM proprietary office support application that primarily runs on IBM's VM operating system and its user interface CMS. Other platform versions are available, notably OV/MVS and OV/400. OfficeVision provides e-mail, shared calendars, and shared document storage and management, and it provides the ability to integrate word processing applications such as Displaywrite/370 and/or the Document Composition Facility (DCF/SCRIPT). IBM introduced OfficeVision in their May 1989 announcement[1], followed by several other key releases later.

The advent of the personal computer and the client–server paradigm changed the way organizations looked at office automation. In particular, office users wanted graphical user interfaces. Thus e-mail applications with PC clients became more popular.

IBM's initial answer was OfficeVision/2,[2] a server-requestor system designed to be the strategic implementation of IBM's Systems Application Architecture. The server could run on OS/2, VM, MVS (XA or ESA), or OS/400, while the requester required OS/2 Extended Edition running on IBM PS/2 personal computers, or DOS. IBM also developed OfficeVision/2 LAN for workgroups, which failed to find market acceptance and was withdrawn in 1992.[3] IBM began to resell Lotus Notes and Lotus cc:Mail as an OfficeVision/2 replacement.[3] Ultimately, IBM solved its OfficeVision problems through the hostile takeover of Lotus Software for its Lotus Notes product, one of the two most popular products for business e-mail and calendaring.

IBM originally intended to deliver the Workplace Shell as part of the OfficeVision/2 LAN product, but in 1991 announced plans to release it as part of OS/2 2.0 instead.[4]

Users of IBM OfficeVision included the New York State Legislature.[5]


IBM discontinued support of OfficeVision/VM as of October 6, 2003. IBM recommended that its OfficeVision/VM customers migrate to Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino environments, and IBM offered migration tools and services to assist. Guy Dehond, one of the beta-testers of the AS/400, developed the first migration tool.[6] However, OfficeVision/MVS is still available for sale, still supported, and is another migration option for OfficeVision/VM users. OfficeVision/MVS runs on IBM's z/OS operating system.

Earlier PROFS, DISOSS and Office/36[edit]

OfficeVision/VM was originally named PROFS (for PRofessional OFfice System) and was initially made available in 1981.[7] Before that it was a PRPQ (Programming Request for Price Quotation),[8]:321 an IBM administrative term for "not quite supported" software. The first release of PROFS was developed by IBM in Endicott, NY, in conjunction with Amoco, from a prototype developed years earlier in Poughkeepsie by Paul Gardner and others. Subsequent development took place in Dallas. The editor XEDIT was the basis of the word processing function in PROFS.

PROFS itself was descended from an in-house system developed by IBM Poughkeepsie laboratory. Poughkeepsie developed a primitive in-house solution for office automation over the period 1970–1972;[8]:321–323 OFS (Office System), which evolved into PROFS, was developed by Poughkeepsie laboratory as a replacement for that earlier system and first installed in October 1974.[8]:327 Compared to Poughkeepsie's original in-house system, the distinctive new features added by OFS were a centralised database virtual machine (data base manager or DBM) for shared permanent storage of documents, instead of storing all documents in user's personal virtual machines;[8]:329–331 and a centralised virtual machine (mailman master machine or distribution virtual machine) to manage mail transfer between individuals, instead of relying on direct communication between the personal virtual machines of individual users.[8]:331–332 By 1981, IBM's Poughkeepsie site had over 500 PROFS users.[8]:340

In 1983, IBM introduced release 2 of PROFS, along with auxiliary software to enable document interchange between PROFS, DISOSS, Displaywriter, IBM 8100 and IBM 5520 systems.[9][10]

PROFS and its e-mail component, known colloquially as PROFS Notes, featured prominently in the investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal. Oliver North believed he had deleted his correspondence, but the system archived it anyway. Congress subsequently examined the e-mail archives.[11]

OfficeVision/MVS originated from IBM DISOSS and OfficeVision/400, from IBM Office/36.

IBM's European Networking Center (ENC) in Heidelberg, Germany, developed prototype extensions to OfficeVision/VM to support Open Document Architecture (ODA), in particular a converter between ODA and Document Content Architecture (DCA) document formats.[12]

Earlier ODPS in Far East[edit]

OfficeVision/VM for the Far Eastern languages of Japanese, Korean and Chinese, originated from IBM Office and Document Control System (ODPS), a DBCS-enabled porting from PROFS, plus document edit, store and search functions, similar to Displaywrite/370. It was an integrated office system for the Asian languages, that ran on IBM's mainframe computers under VM, offering such functions as email, calendar, and document processing & storing. IBM ODPS was later renamed as IBM OfficeVision/VM [13] and its MVS version (using DISOSS) was not offered. After IBM's buyout of Lotus Development in 1995, the ODPS users were recommended to migrate to Lotus Notes.

IBM ODPS was developed in IBM Tokyo Programming Center, located in Kawasaki, Japan, later absorbed into IBM Yamato Development Laboratory, in conjunction with IBM Dallas Programming Center in Westlake, Texas, U.S., where PROFS was developed, and other programming centers. It first became available in 1986 for Japanese, and then was translated into Korean by IBM Korea and into Traditional Chinese by IBM Taiwan. It was not translated into Simplified Chinese for mainland China.

IBM ODPS consisted of four software components:[14]

  • The Office Support Program, or OFSP, was PROFS enabled to process the Double Byte Character Set of the Asian languages and added some more functions. It could handle email, address, scheduling, storing/search/distribution of documents, and switch to PROFS in English.
  • The Document Composition Program, or DCP, was a porting from Document Composition Facility, enabled for processing the Double Byte Character Sets with additional functions. It allowed preparation and printing of documents, with a SCRIPT-type editing method.
  • The Document Composition Program/Workstation allowed preparation of documents on IBM 5550, PS/55 and other "workstations" (personal computers), that offered IBM Kanji System functions.
  • The Facsimile Program offered sending/receiving of facsimile data.


  1. ^ IBM Archives - 1989
  2. ^ Howard, Bill (12 September 1989), "OFFICEVISION: Bringing PM to the Workgroup", PC Magazine, Ziff Davis, Inc., 8 (15), p. 129, ISSN 0888-8507
  3. ^ a b Cooney, Michael (8 June 1992), "OfficeVision/2 dies; Notes, cc:Mail rise from the ashes", Network World, International Data Group, 9 (23), p. 2, ISSN 0887-7661
  4. ^ Desmond, Paul (1 July 1991), "IBM refocuses office tool", Network World, International Data Group, 8 (26), p. 51, ISSN 0887-7661, IBM last week said some features originally scheduled to ship in OfficeVision/2 LAN will be bundled into the current release of the product, while others will be either integrated into OS/2 or delayed indefinitely... IBM's Workplace Shell, an enhanced graphical user interface, is being lifted from OfficeVision/2 LAN to be included in OS/2 2.0... The shell offers the capability to trigger processes by dragging and dropping icons on the desktop, such as dropping a file into an electronic wastebasket. Porting that feature to the operating system will let any application take advantage of the interface...
  5. ^ Shea, Christopher (20 January 2000). Handbook of Public Information Systems, Second Edition. CRC Press. pp. 304–306. ISBN 978-0-8247-8244-3.
  6. ^ "DTM for iSeries - Inventive Designers".
  7. ^ "IBM100 - The Networked Business Place". 7 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Gardner, P. C. (1981). "A system for the automated office environment". IBM Systems Journal. 20 (3): 321–345. doi:10.1147/sj.203.0321. ISSN 0018-8670.
  9. ^ Henkel, Tom (24 October 1983), "IBM Disoss, Profs Updates Link Different Office Units", Computerworld, IDG Enterprise, 17 (43), p. 11, ISSN 0010-4841
  10. ^ Henkel, Tom (24 October 1983), "IBM Introductions Seen Escalating Market Struggle", Computerworld, IDG Enterprise, 17 (43), p. 11, ISSN 0010-4841
  11. ^ "National Security Archive/White House E-Mail".
  12. ^ Fanderl, H.; Fischer, K.; Kmper, J. (1992). "The Open Document Architecture: From standardization to the market". IBM Systems Journal. 31 (4): 728–754. doi:10.1147/sj.314.0728. ISSN 0018-8670.
  13. ^ I.B.M. Plans Major Move In Software (The New York Times, May 9, 1989)]
  14. ^ IBM enhances its integrated office work software, ODPS (in Japanese)

Further reading[edit]