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Vultus offers a window to Web services

Vultus offers a window to Web services

Vultus, Inc., a former consulting firm that has turned its attention toward application development, is pitching its new flagship software suite as a viable way to build standards-based user interfaces for Web services.

Vultus' WebFace Solution Suite, which consists of the WebFace Browser Application Platform and WebFace Studio stand-alone integrated development environment (IDE), is geared toward developers who want to bring traditional applications to the Web.

Bruce Grant, Vultus' chief architect and a former consultant for Novell, said most developer tools for Web-enabling applications either rely on non-standard client implementations that are difficult for IT staffs to support or use Java applets that bog down browser performance.

"To deliver a useable, manageable application through a browser, the technology used must be based on existing Web standards like HTML, XML or JavaScript," said Grant, "and the application must run on technologies that execute natively via the Web browser."

Lindon, Utah-based Vultus uses those standards to deliver Web-based applications that mimic the user experience provided by a client-server application like Microsoft Outlook, where data is updated automatically without the need to refresh a browser.

With the growing popularity of Web services, Vultus is also pointing the WebFace Solution Suite at Web services developers. In fact, the product is already compliant with Web services standards Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI), and Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT).

"We are not helping developers to create Web services," said Kevin Auger, Vultus vice president of business development. "We want to tie into other services, especially [those related to] WebSphere and BEA WebLogic."

For instance, said Grant, if a developer wanted to add client-server elements of a PeopleSoft application to a browser-based application as a Web service, a developer would start by invoking the WebFace Studio's Web Service Wizard component.

After it is provided with the location of the Web service, the Wizard then generates the user interface based on the operations the developer wants to embed in the application. From there the user interface can be tweaked to the developer's liking.

Next, the application is saved as an XML file and deployed to a server along with its associated files. When a user accesses the application, it is loaded in a Web browser as HTML but is powered by the JavaScript library of the WebFace Browser Application Platform.

"Then the user would interact by typing in the text fields. Then, each time an operation is performed, the Browser Application Platform is sending a SOAP document to the PeopleSoft Web service [and] accepting the response," said Grant.

Grant added that the WebFace Solution Suite can build applications that interact with either Microsoft .NET or Java-based Web services because in either case the data moving back and forth between the application and Web service uses XML.

Sergeant Jeff Peterson, a project manager for the Utah Law Enforcement Information Network (ULEIN), said his organization has been working with Vultus since 1998 and recently began using the latest WebFace product to build a browser-based interface for an internal Web service for use by law enforcement officers.

Peterson said the WebFace Studio development environment is similar to the Delphi environment his programmers are used to, and has allowed the ULEIN to use Web services and SOAP messaging to aggregate critical data from multiple databases using one application.

While Vultus is competing with similar offerings from Curl Corp. and Altio Inc., Grant said his company is committed to interoperability and creating products that aren't difficult to implement and administer.

"Our competitors have traded interoperability and standard support for features. It's true that one of our competitors' proprietary products might have features that we lack," Grant said, "and feature for feature we're right that with them without sacrificing standards support."

Geared toward small and medium-sized enterprises, the WebFace Solution Suite is priced at $5,995 per two CPUs.


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