XML takes the stand
XML Web services is an ideal way for federal, state and
local criminal justice organizations to integrate computer systems, some of
which date back to the 1970s, contends Terry Hanold, executive vice president at
But the problem developers have in tackling Web services
integration of systems used by police, courts, jails, prisons, social services
and probation agencies is how to make sure changes won't break major systems, he explained.
As an example of his argument, Hanold points to the
relatively simple change where a court system adds an alpha character to
previously numeric file codes. How will that impact all of the databases and applications that are integrated with Web services?
WebPutty, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of
service-oriented architecture (SOA) tools and runtimes, has been working with
court systems to develop an automated framework using XML meta data to solve this problem, Hanold said.
''If you think of an n-tier application, you've
got your database, your middle tier, your app server and your Web server,'' he explained. ''The
database is managing tables, the app server is managing components and the
Web server is managing the Web pages. But the app server has no
concept of how these components fit together, and it definitely doesn't have any
concept of database tables and knowing that any particular database,
data table or data set is driving these business objects
and these Web pages. The underlying system has no concept of upstream and downstream dependencies and overall global architecture.''
WebPutty has developed a Court Case Management Framework, which it is
marketing in a partnership announced this week with Unisys, to provide the
needed end-to-end management, Hanold said.
''We're managing the meta data model of the entire application in XML so it is
implementation independent and platform independent,'' he explained. ''This meta
data understands the global architecture of the application and all the
dependencies. So if you upgrade a database, the platform is smart enough to
re-implement and re-optimize the application against that database. If you
create a database table, [it] automatically builds middle-tier objects that
consume that database because we know there's a relationship between them. If
you change something, we will propagate that change through the entire
Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.