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'Groovy' collaboration using XML

'Groovy' collaboration using XML

NEW YORK -- Imagine using XML to take almost any application online. Thanks to Lotus Notes creator Ray Ozzie, it now may be a reality.

He and his company, Beverly Mass.-based Groove Networks, announced a new peer-to-peer collaboration platform. Simply called Groove, it is designed to allow almost any program to become a collaborative application.

Groove allows a member of an online team to open a file on a client computer and, without the benefit of a central server, share that file with other clients in a shared virtual workspace. The file could then be viewed and edited simultaneously in real time by all users.

The architecture that makes existing applications "Groovy" is based almost entirely on XML, with some JavaScript. Developers at Groove Networks said the modular framework of the Groove platform works in conjunction with industry-standard programming COM-compliant tools like Visual Basic, C#, or C++.

In theory, this makes it relatively easy for programmers to write code enabling legacy applications for peer-to-peer collaboration via the Groove platform.

"Fundamental to Groove is the theory that third-party developers will customize and extend Groove to meet the needs of individuals and businesses worldwide," said Jack Ozzie, vice president of developer services for Groove Networks.

"Programmers can leverage their existing skills in areas such as XML, JavaScript, and Visual Basic to take advantage of growing marketplace interest in peer-to-peer distributed computing," he said.

Components included in Groove development platform are a persistent XML object store, shared space and member management, security and role management, peer and server communications and transparent peer synchronization.

While an integration framework using XML-RPC and SOAP has been designed to facilitate the movement of information between shared spaces and centralizes systems, Ray Ozzie said Groove is not married to any particular standard.

Ozzie added he is open to working with organizations like the World Wide Web Consortium to further develop XML standards, but has not engaged in any such conversations yet due to his company's stealth status.

"The right thing to happen is not for us to go and say, 'here's what we did, and make it a standard.' What we should be doing... and what we will now do is aggressively start talking to these people and say, 'Look, here's the layering we did and here's why we did it.'

"I think the onus is on us so that as standard protocols emerge... we move to the standard protocols rather than dictating them," he said. "We'll switch over to those standards, but getting to where we did was a learning process."

In impressive statements supporting Groove's architecture during yesterday's release event in New York, Intel Corp. Chairman Andrew Grove and Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates made surprise video appearances touting the platform's development potential.

"Ray has a history of building breakthrough applications. With Groove, he and his team have built a deep and innovative application that is a great example of where the Internet is going," said Gates, who hinted that Groove would play a role in the architecture of Microsoft .NET, the company's upcoming hosted software paradigm.

"Peer-to-peer computing will be a significant paradigm of the first half of this decade, and I look forward to working with Groove Networks to make it happen," said Grove.

While no specific pricing figures for the final version of Groove were announced, Ozzie said Groove Networks would earn its revenue through licensing of the Groove application, and through licensing relationships with business partners.

"We learned a lot from the years and years of what happened at Lotus," Ozzie said, adding that its relationship with business partners will be what ensures a viable business in the future.

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