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Nexaweb pursues rich interfaces

The latest release of the Nexaweb Platform, due this week from Cambridge, Mass.-based Nexaweb Technologies, comes with Nexaweb Studio, a visual RAD environment that is coupled with a full implementation of the Eclipse IDE.

"More often than not, when people try to tackle the types of applications we're aiming at, it's with a fat client or client/server approach," said Nexaweb CEO Larry Geisel. "A Java Swing application, a Java Webstart application, a .NET application; those are pretty good for departmental or campus applications, but they come with high costs, complexities and often poor end-user experiences that are unacceptable for the needs of businesses today," he said.

Nexaweb 3.0 is designed to provide a rich interface for high-transaction, time-critical applications used internally for things like ERP/CRM, business intelligence and financial trading systems. It is thus in competition with software from Curl Corp., Droplets, Laszlo Systems and Macromedia.

"We have focused on the requirements of true enterprise applications applications that not only require a reasonable level of visual richness, but that must meet very high performance and quality standards," Geisel said. "These are applications that meet the requirements for large, complex data structures, high transaction volumes, complex processes and sometimes delivering information in real time."

The Nexaweb product is built behind a thin, 140KB client, Geisel said. The client component is a Java binary loaded within a Java applet container that can run in any standard HTML browser or as a standalone application. The client has an XML rendering engine and an extensible library of user interface components. Nexaweb can maintain stateful persistence sessions, allowing automatic synchronization for occasionally connected computing or work on mobile devices, he added.

Nexaweb Studio is a full GUI environment for creating applications for the Nexaweb platform, Geisel said. It includes a Designer component that allows users to create screen and GUI prototypes from a drag-and-drop environment that also generates the XML code used in the presentation layer.

"We thought it would be a good idea to make it easier for development teams to build these applications," Geisel said. "UIs are very hard to describe in programmatic terms; they are most easily described in visual terms. So a very visual, drag-and-drop metaphor seemed to us to be the best way to do RAD development of UIs and UI interaction, and that's the way we created Studio."

Studio can take advantage of the full Eclipse IDE capability to create enterprise Java applications that can handle incremental updates to the interface, data or application logic without having to rewrite Java code, Geisel added.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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