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SoftCon Chooses Nexaweb for Siemens Project

Nexaweb Technologies Inc., Cambridge, Mass., has won systems integrator SoftCon AG's benchmark test for its Siemens AG Web-based application project. Siemens engaged SoftCon to plan and implement a very large and complex, Web-based application for its worldwide sales and engineering staff.

With headquarters in Munich, Germany, SoftCon chose Nexaweb's Internet Enterprise Application platform primarily based on its performance. “The directive for our customer was that performance is crucial,” explains Dieter Heyne, SoftCon's project leader. “That means the fastest solution is just fast enough,” he adds.

The Nexaweb platform comprises a visual development environment, support for server clustering, ubiquitous client support, support for Web services, support for both the Sun Java Enterprise System and the Sun Java Desktop System, enhanced graphing capabilities and internationalization. It offers Web application developers tools for building more fully powered Web clients that behave similarly to browsers but that offer developers deeper control.

The second most important criteria for SoftCon, according to Heyne, was the requirement on the client side. “Even in the pilot phase there will be up to 2,000 users,” he says. “The best solution would be without any installation at all.”

In addition, Nexaweb supports SoftCon's model-driven architecture approach. “The goal was to have the ability to generate code directly from the object model,” Heyne comments. The MDA support “allows us to generate a lot of code directly to interact between the user side and the server side,” he acknowledges.

The application is “less prone to errors on the user side,” Heyne continues. “It saves time because code can be generated. It doesn't have to be written by hand.”

Other criteria included the GUI builder, service support, easy deployment and maintainability, based on Siemens' large-scale deployment requirements.

Before selecting the Nexaweb platform, SoftCon researched, evaluated and tested open-source Thinlet, Macromedia Flex and the Casabac GUI server with HTML client from Casabac Technologies GmbH. All of those came up short for a variety of reasons.

“We tried to solve expectations with a new project with known technology,” Heyne says, referring to his company's experience with Thinlet. What he and his team found in this case, however, was a “significant lack of control,” he notes.

Macromedia Flex looked promising at first, Heyne admits, with rich controls and flashy graphics. “In the end,” he clarifies, “it turned out to be better for a fancy Web shop.” The application with Siemens, he points out, consists of hundreds of forms and replications, so it had to be deployed by the Web.

Casabac, Heyne explains, is a solution based mainly on HTML and Java script. SoftCon found the performance of the product “way too slow,” Heyne contends.

“We would not have been able to meet the deadlines of this project without a proper tool on the client side,” Heyne sums. “Nexaweb for us was the best solution for the moment, and I think on the next project we won't even think of an alternative.”

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at freelancewriter@gates-works.com.

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