In-Depth

Cincinnati consultant talks XML

A new product category emerging is the XML server. While it is a promising new technology, it still represents a "roll-your-own" development experience in comparison to established EDI.

"You could talk for hours about all the potential uses of XML," said Bill Benjamin, vice president of business development at LANSA Inc., Oak Brook, Ill., which markets a development platform for the AS/400. LANSA is XML-enabling its product line for data integration between the AS/400 and other platforms, including PDAs, wireless phones and WebTV. The company has embedded the IBM XML for Java Parser into its LANSA XML engine.

"With XML, the fact that you're putting intelligence into the data gives you lots of opportunities," said Thom Davidson, vice president, consulting and services at Rippe & Kingston, a Cincinnati software and consulting company. Rippe & Kingston has been working with LANSA's beta release of its XML engine, and is in the process of building XML capabilities into Methos, LANSA's facilities maintenance management systems, as well as e.ssential, a supply-chain solution resold by Infinium Software, Hyannis, Mass.

"We're able to take green-screen applications and with LANSA, have that generate XML," said Davidson. "Now you have a Windows-type application running over the Internet under Java. It's very appealing for use over intranets or extranets. It carries other nice features: People can go to multiple platforms, say if you want an iMac going against an AS/400 box. That's particularly attractive in the Infinium situation and with Methos; you want to run applications over the Internet, but you want to control the process of events. With XML, it allows us to do that."

Davidson and others also point to XML's potential to extend trading partner applications to wireless devices. With XML, said Davidson, "you have the ability of taking the same logic and control [you have with an AS/400 application] and putting it into a non-traditional computing environment like phones or vending machines. With XML, the guy writing the code doesn't have to worry about how to work with this [non-traditional] environment."

With cell phone use predicted to grow into billions of users over the next few years, IT managers will be required to address this platform, said Bob Bickel, senior vice president, development, Bluestone Software, Mt. Laurel, N.J. Those cell phone users "will need to be connected to information sources."

-- Colleen Frye

About the Author

Colleen Frye is a freelance writer based in Bridgewater, Mass.

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