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Stemming "XML service creep"

Swingtide Inc., a Portsmouth, N.H.-based start-up, has unveiled its initial product line aimed to stem ''XML service creep'' and provide a knowledge base for designing Web services and Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs).

The two offerings, a seminar on XML technologies and a software design tool with a built-in knowledge base, are designed to help developers make informed decisions, said Jack Serfass, Swingtide's co-founder and chairman. XML service creep is the term he uses to describe the ways in which XML is showing up in unexpected ways because developers weren't aware of the implications of deploying the standard.

''There are literally a thousand different choices you can make based on the standards and schemas that you may be deploying,'' he said. ''And as you make these decisions, it can affect decisions that you will have to make in other areas of network design. So it's important to have a thoughtful approach to it. It's important to lay down the network model. That way when you go to deploy the system, you have something to manage against.''

Swingtide has announced plans to offer a suite of Quality of Business (QoB) products to help with the decision-making process. The company's QoB Lab is a three-day, intensive hands-on technology session led by what Swingtide reps describe as 'some of the world's foremost XML experts.'

The software product, QoB Assistant, includes a project-planning tool with a knowledge base of XML standards information as well as links to an online community to provide support, Serfass said. The company spent more than a year assembling vendor-neutral information on the wide variety of XML-based standards, including those for vertical industries such as insurance, he added.

As an example of how it would work, Serfass said, ''Let's say there's an XML project that spans six or seven different XML standards. It could be things like SOAP, WSDL or if you're in insurance it could be ACORD or a security standard like SAML or WS Security. In the [QoB] Assistant, all the interoperability choices are defined for you and all the assertions from the standards are there. So as you're going through and designing the way your XML network is going to be laid out, you're able to go through and tag these interoperability decisions.''

QoB Assistant is designed for collaborative teams, including groups of developers from separate companies that may be trading partners in a B2B Web services application, Serfass said. The tool automatically creates documentation so teams can understand why choices in XML technology were originally made, he added.

''Since it's a collaborative system, all of the other people who attach themselves to this process can get e-mail alerts that a change has been made,'' he said. ''They can get on discussion threads [where a team leader might explain:] 'This is something I want to recommend to my team. We're going to go with SOAP 1.2 instead of SOAP 1.1 for these reasons.'''

The end result is an automatically generated network design document that explains the rationale for the standards choices that were made, Serfass said.

For more information on Swingtide, go to http://www.swingtide.com/.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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