As eXtensible Markup Language becomes the lingua franca of business-to-business communications, servers with increasingly sophisticated tools are appearing to make it easier to build XML-based transaction systems.
One of these is Scriptics Connect 1.0, an XML server tied to a Web server and XML-authoring tools. The Scriptics Connect Author tool includes an innovative method of listing the elements of an XML document and gives the developer the option of dragging and dropping an element to an existing action. It doesn't matter if the action's procedural logic was created in C, C++, Java or other programming languages because the calling mechanisms that underlie the Tool Command Language (Tcl) scripting language are available in the background, said Paul Koenig, vice president of marketing at Scriptics. A handful of preset actions come with the tool.
Scriptics is the commercial company founded by John Ousterhout, open source code author of Tcl, to produce Tcl/Tk,, which is a Tcl toolkit for working with the scripting language. Tcl's ability to link to other languages allows it to work in the background of a rich, general-purpose XML server, Ousterhout said.
Other firms are active in producing XML servers for business use, including Bluestone Software, IBM, Merant International, Object Design and Persistence Software.
Scriptics Connect is designed to fit into the next wave of e-commerce that seeks to automate communication and transactions between the application software of business partners. By tying certain data in an XML document to an automated process, a Scriptics Connect server receiving an order could forward that order to invoicing, billing and fulfillment systems without additional staff intervention, Koenig said.
The Author tool is equipped with wizards to speed the creation of XML applications, including a wizard to map XML data to a relational database and a wizard to validate data, such as orders.
Scriptics Connect 1.0 "gives developers a tremendous amount of flexibility to mix and match" new processes with existing ones, Koenig said.
Scriptics Connect 1.0 is available immediately at a price of US$50,000 for a deployment environment. A multiple-seat development environment is priced at US$12,500. The XML server supports both Apache and Netscape Enterprise Server under Sun Microsystems' Solaris, and Microsoft's Internet Information Server or Netscape Enterprise Server under Windows NT. It also runs under Red Hat Linux and supports the Apache Web server.
Scriptics Connect 1.1 is currently available as a beta release.