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VelociGenX builds high-speed Web services

VelociGenX builds high-speed Web services

The Internet is indispensable not only for information dissemination and Web business, but also for distributed applications. Broadly called Web services, these "meta-applications" reside on various servers. This allows users to invoke a simple Web order form that kicks off a complex data flow between, say, the legacy inventory system of a supplier and an e-commerce application residing in yet another data centre.

But developing these meta-applications is challenging and costly. Software engineers must struggle with the time-consuming task of integrating computer records - often in different formats - of multiple companies for which they must then write code to manipulate and deliver the resulting data to a variety of devices. Once the hard-coded application is complete, its parts cannot easily be reused or shared with other projects.

VelociGenX overcomes these main obstacles associated with building meta-applications. First, its rapid development environment enables users to create meta-applications, such as one that transforms information from one database format to another, in as little as 10 minutes. VelociGenX accomplishes this by automatically wrapping desired data or other applications - from enterprise or external sources - into reusable XML components. You can use these modularised components separately or assemble them into more elaborate Web services.

Second, VelociGenX employs SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), a standard that enables applications to communicate with one another. As such, users can use the growing public domain libraries of UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration) and SOAP as building blocks to customise software, making application development even more cost-effective. Although some of these standards are just now being adopted, VelociGenX's leadership role in building solutions based on Web services earns it four stars.

Business process alignment

For this review we built two meta-applications: a stock quote lookup based on a public Web service and a database query Web service. The tasks exercised the main features of the product: integration with third-party Web services and existing applications, database access, XML transforms, and flexible data delivery. In the end, we were extremely pleased with how well VelociGenX reduced these complex projects to a few simple steps.

Using a graphical Web browser interface, we quickly selected from a menu of available VelociGenX components, inserted them in the desired workflow order, and defined each item's characteristics. For our stock lookup program, which retrieved a delayed stock price and e-mailed it to a distribution list, we merely required a trigger (in our case, a link on a Web page) and VelociGenX's standard Web service and e-mail components.

Moreover, configuring these off-the-shelf components to make a functional application was easy. Most parts use what's called a "discovery method" for configuration. That is, after we entered the Web address of the stock quote service's server, VelociGenX inspected the WSDL (Web Services Description Language) file on the site and automatically showed us the XML format and variables available for input and output. Then, the e-mail component's dual-pane view allowed us to visually map the XML output from the stock service (such as time, price, and volume) into the body of our e-mail message. This XML transformation was as simple as clicking a tag in each window and linking them together.

Eays advanced development

Our second project took data form a Web form, passed the query to a SQL database (Oracle, Informix, Sybase, DB2, and other ODBC-compliant database are also supported) and reformatted the data into XML. This enabled an online partner to access our database via an extranet.

The VelociGenX database and mapping components required for this testworked flawlessly. For instance, to define the behaviour of the database component, we merely entered the data source. VelociGenX then queried the SQL database, displayed a list of fields we could select from, and automatically built the SQL query based on our choices. The mapping component then took the results from the previous step and wrapped the search and formatting criteria into XML. As a last step, we took our Web service that was developed on a Windows NT server and published it on a Unix server, where it ran perfectly - and extremely fast - without conversion.

Finally, we revised our first project by integrating Verison's Mobile Messenger application, which sends text messages to cell phone users. After pointing to the public Mobile Messenger Web page, VelociGenX automatically discovered the phone number and text fields required by this application. We then simply sent our stock quote information to the mobile application instead of to VelociGenX's built-in e-mail component. In doing so, we incorporated the functionality of an existing application with minimal effort.

For more customised development, VelociGenX can pass information to and from Java classes, read and write files on remote servers through FTP, and reformat XML documents using predefined templates.

VelociGenX allows users to achieve operability between IT systems in a fraction of the time and cost required by traditional hand-codingapproaches. The reusable XML-based meta-applications we developed and deployed were quickly modified to deliver data to different destinations, including wireless devices. And the applications' components, which utilise SOAP, were readily placed on external servers for others' use.

At this stage VelociGenX has no channel partners in Australia, however, VelociGen's solutions are currently under evaluation at companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The bottom line - VelociGenX 1.1 ****

Business Case: VelociGenX allows users to build high-speed, Web-service meta-applications quickly and easily. By integrating syndicated Web services into applications, a company can reduce development time and costs. Enabling rapid application deployment generates immediate ROI without adding staff or infrastructure.

Technology Case: With VelociGenX, users can wrap data or applications written in almost any language into reusable XML components to create customisable meta-applications using HTTP standards including SOAP. An easy-to-use GUI reduces application generation to a few drag-and-drop and point-and-click steps, but full programmability is retained for senior professionals. XML mapping and XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) greatly simplify data manipulations.

Pros:

- Incorporates XML, WML, SOAP and UDDI standards.

- Facilitates rapid application development.

- Can deliver applications via wired and wireless networks.

- Eases development of applications using a business workflow model.

Cons:

- Web services standards continue to evolve.

Platforms: Windows 95, Windows NT, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, IRIX, AIX and LinuxPrice: Begins at $118,750 + 22 per cent annual supportContact: Cyrus Fassihi account manager: cyrus@velocigen.com, or Paul Gain vice president of implementation partners: paul@velocigen.com.


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