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Teleconferencing provider turns to XML

Using XML to separate business logic from presentation can solve the problem of creating different HTML files for different browsers. However, said Jeff Lamb, chief technology officer at LeaderPhone (http://www.leaderphone.com), the required XSL Transforms can create a performance problem.

Lamb's company provides a self-managed, low-cost Web browser teleconferencing service. It uses XML to simplify the development of applications where users can set up a conference call on the fly and even create PINs for people to call into an 800-number and join a conference call.

''We're targeting multiple browsers, Internet Explorer and Netscape; we're also targeting wireless Palms, Blackberry devices and cell phones,'' Lamb explained. ''Instead of trying to get one HTML file to deal with everything from your high-end browsers, we've created an XML document that generically describes the interface. Then we use an XSL transform to render that generic description of the interface into a file targeted for the browser that the client is on.''

This allows developers at the Columbus, Ohio-based company to concentrate on writing one correct XML description for an application and let the transform process handle differences between browser capabilities, he said. In this way, the same XML description can work on a cell phone with minimal text capabilities, and on a PC with Internet Explorer 6 that can handle 12 or more frames.

However, the XSL transform then becomes a challenge. ''Those transforms are pretty darn complex,'' quipped Lamb.

He found that transform processing with standard hardware servers made the teleconferencing services applications to appear slow on the end users' browsers. To solve this problem, his company deployed XML processing accelerator hardware from Cambridge, Mass.-based DataPower Technology Inc. (http://www.datapower.com).

The time elapsing between when a customer clicks on the Web application and the response was 12 times faster with the DataPower XA35 XML Accelerator handling the XSLT, Lamb said. It reduced cost, including the number of servers required, by 50%, which allows LeaderPhone to offer teleconferencing at 9.5 cents per minute rather than 24 cents per minute, he added.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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