Novell unveils 'intuitive XML' for building Web services

Asserting that one of the obstacles to creating Web services is the coding required, Novell Inc. is offering point-and-click Web services tools that are not beyond the scope of PC-savvy business users.

Enhancements in Novell's recently released exteNd 5 tool suite for developing and deploying services-oriented applications simplify the building of a Web service, said Ashish Larivee, director of product marketing.

Besides drag-and-drop tools for XML-based integration between back-office applications and Web pages, exteNd 5 includes a 'portal out of the box,' so users automatically have the Web interface, she said.

She noted that traditionally, once programmers solve the integration part of Web application development, they faced the task of ''having to write JSP code to set up the portals.'' But she said once the complete exteNd suite is installed, not only is the integration automated, but the basic portal is generated.

''You get a browser window that shows you a portal that is automatically configured and deployed as part of the installation,'' Larivee explained. ''So [you] can start using the portal right away. And for users who don't necessarily want to write anything customized, the portal is a fully functional portal application that can be configured to have pages for departments, groups and different levels of the organization; and it can also provide access control and authorization for users.''

She said the portal out of a box uses the W3C X-Forms standard for the visual design and the Portlet 1.0 specification for generating the front-end components. She offered a simple example of how this would work in a human resources application that would allow employees to check on the current status of their 401k plan, even though the information is still stored on a mainframe.

''We can, through our integration server, wrap up that functionality of requesting 401k information as a Web service mapping,'' she explained, ''by visually dragging and dropping what goes in and what goes out. Now that Web service can be built from our engine itself. You don't have to write code -- it generates the WSDL automatically. Now you can take the WSDL, go to the portal site, go to the portal design environment and use the WSDL to generate a portlet.''

Once the portlet is ready, it can be dropped into a Web page on a corporate HR site where employees can access it from a browser to check on 401k status, Larivee concluded.

In other Novell news, the company announced this past week that it has moved its corporate headquarters from Provo, Utah, to Waltham, Mass.

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About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.